Elizabeth Gilbert and creativity

While I did enjoy listening to a famous writer openly contemplate the possibility of not living “up” to her established genius (clearly demonstrated in Eat, Love and Pray, and most easily proved by its sales figures) in any subsequent endeavor, what touched me most about Gilbert’s sincere declamation was her acceptance of her accomplishment as–I will say the word again– “genius.”  It took her a while to get to the possibility that we all have genius inside of us–so long, in fact, that I began twitching in my seat.

I remind myself she is young–only 40–for so much luck.  That kind of luck  is bound to go to one’s head.  What other excellent writers know who have NOT hit the, ahem, “big time,”  is that there is such a thing as chance. Good Luck.  Having the right work out there at the right moment with the right agent. Being born at the right moment, in the right country–nay, in the right city!

As Connie, esteemed literary judge and my devoted friend, reminded me  (and I hope she keeps on reminding me) yesterday after I had submitted a 10,000 word nonfiction piece to a contest and had duly written out my check to send along with it, “You do deserve to win, and you should feel that way. Once we stop believing we’re good enough to belong at the top, we lose our edge. I doubt any writer has made it who hasn’t felt that way most of his or her life.”

The question is, dear reader, how would you react to great success?  Would you feel like Hurley/Hugo–after he won the lottery and landed on the island in TV’s Lost series? How set apart from others would you feel?

The recently deceased J.D. Salinger decided he had had it with success after Catcher in the Rye.  (Stopped wanting to have anything to do with the world in the mid 60s at the height of his fame.  In the 70s he stopped giving interviews and in the 80s he appealed to the Supreme Court to prevent a British critic from quoting his letters in a biography. But you can google all that–) Note this: he did not stop writing.

Gilbert is right about a person needing a philosophic construct–though I was actually surprised to hear her say that after describing her epiphany (you gotta read the book!) of faith. I thought spiritual faith and philosophic constructs were package deals.  Silly me.


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