Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book Love: Big Magic (also, why I think you should blog)

I said back in this post I said I wanted to try to do more book reviews and here is my first one!! I'll still be including some in my Things I Like series but there are books that need more said about them. For the honors program in college (which I only used to get out of a semester of freshman English), we had to read this horrible book Dakota. We had the option to do a traditional book report OR write about a significant place to us (since the author had written about why one of the Dakotas was significant to her). I definitely wrote about the significant place, using my parents' yard, my grade school playground, and my high school marching band field. It's one of my favorite papers I ever wrote. (Which I no longer have saved on my computer although I do have some econ homework from 11 years ago as well as a 12 page paper titled: "Managing Quality in Health Care through Human Resources". Parts of college were GIANT wastes of time.)

So it's been a really long time since I did a full-on book report.  High school?  I feel like that had to have happened at some point? But I'll do my best to do this book justice.  And tell you why you should read it.  Any why I wish pretty much every I know had a blog.  And why I blog.  There is a lot going on in this post.  Strap yourselves in.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
by: Elizabeth Gilbert
page count: 273
approximate reading time: 3.5 hours

I was reluctant to add this book to my "to-read" list because I don't consider myself much of a creative person.  I've said that many times here.  I'm too much of that side of the brain that likes organizing to be creative.  Then I read this book and now I am convinced I am a creative person.  Or at least a person who can create.  I'm not going to paint a masterpiece (or paint at all, besides walls and spray paint) or compose some great symphony (I barely remember how to read music) but this little blog, it's my own little art.   It's me, putting myself out there and having a creative outlet.  

This book is broken down into section: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity with a lot of little stories and encouragement in each.  I think "Permission" was my favorite because I've long felt I need to be given the authority to tell people what to do.  I struggled with this when I started my accounting job right out of college.  I was 22 and telling people double, triple my age how to run their business.  What did I know??  (Honestly, not a lot.  Degree aside, I felt like I learned everything on the job.) 

Those feelings have carried over to my blog.  I have no problem telling my son what to do.  He's 2.  I'm his mom.  I obviously know better.  He's not going to learn to put his dishes in the sink unless I (or Dad) teach him.  But this blog?  What kind of real authority do I have?  None.  Who says I do any of these things better than any of you?  Nobody.  And I'm sure I don't.  But that's ok.  
“You made it; you get to put it out there. Never apologize for it, never explain it away, never be ashamed of it. You did your best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time that you were given.” 
Am I saying anything super original?  No.  I think I learned at some point that there are no truly original thoughts.   But, again, that's ok. 
“We're all related, after all, so there's going to be some repetition of creative instinct. Everything reminds us of something. But once you put your own expression and passion behind an idea, that idea becomes yours.”
“It might have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you!”
Most of us aren't going to make a living out of being an "artist" but most of us also have the ability and need to make some sort of art.  One of her examples was a friend who was in her 40s and loved ice skating as a child but gave it up as a teenager because she knew she'd never be Olympic caliber so why try?  Then, as an adult, realized she was missing some creativity in her life and started skating again 3 mornings a week, bright and early.  And she got a lot of joy out of that. 

That's what making art is to many of us.  Finding those little things you can do, make, write, paint, knit, sew, etc. that bring you happiness.  For me it's (mostly) home decor crafts, sewing, baking, and this blog.  Sometimes I create something I really like.  Sometimes I make things that are just ok but I enjoy the process.  We don't have to label ourselves as artists and move to Italy to get joy from creating.  We don't have to make money from it to be successful.  

I wished I owned a copy so I could highlight as I went because there was a lot of good stuff worth remembering.  It was a very comfortable, chatty style which made for an easy read.  I don't know what you would consider your art but I hope you have something you create.  Who doesn't need more joy in their lives?

“Go be whomever you want to be, then. Do whatever you want to do. Pursue whatever fascinates you and brings you to life.”
I've struggled with this blogging thing on and off pretty much since I started.  I don't make any money doing it and it can take up a lot of my precious "Luke is asleep" time.  It's very easy to feel like everyone else is going it better and has done it all before so why put it out there?  But I don't quit because I like doing it.  What would I do if I didn't blog?  Probably waste time on the internet, watch tv, or read more (which certainly wouldn't be a bad thing but I do a lot of that already).  I like sharing things we've done and made. 

Yes, probably everything I post about has been done already, somewhere on the internet but that doesn't mean I've seen it.  Or that you have.  And you certainly haven't seen my take on it unless I post it (or come to my house).  Personally, I wish more people I knew had a blog.  I might just be nosy (we all are to some extent if you are reading blogs) but I also like seeing what other people are doing, what home projects they are taking on, what books they read, clothes they buy, recipes they make.  I like being inspired by people or finding something I wouldn't have stumbled on otherwise.  Pinterest is helpful for that but you usually don't know what people have tried and how successful it was.  If I'm reading someone's blog I probably trust their opinion to some extent and am more likely to try something if I know it worked for them. 

So I'll keep blogging.  It's part of my art.  It's something I get to put out there to hopefully help or inspire someone.  If not, sometimes I just inspire myself and feel good about having a writing outlet.  I hope you consider reading this book.  And starting a blog.  If you do either, let me know!  (I'd have to say, the first would certainly be less time consuming than the second.)

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