Finding Inspiration in Big Magic

big magicAfter devouring Eat Pray Love earlier this year, I was craving more from Elizabeth Gilbert. Enter: Big Magic! I’d heard good things- but, wow, I was not prepared for how much I would love it. It’s just pure, sparkly *inspiration* in book form. It’s safe to say, Big Magic had cast its spell over

Bringing forth magic of creativity, there’s a hint of euphoria in this book. It sweeps you up in equal doses of optimism and tough love. Much like with Eat Pray Love, I adored Gilbert’s self-awareness and humour. I couldn’t help warming to her all over again and feeling like I was being taken on this journey by a good friend.

No doubt, like any guidebook for the (chaos that is the) creative mind, bits and pieces of this book will be relevant to different people (or at different times of the creative process). I personally felt called out for my perfectionism (described as fear in a mink coat) and welcomed the long-deserved kick up the backside. I’m positive that every creative will see parts of themselves reflected back at them here (and will benefit from the honest assessment).

I also liked the quirky analogies and unique ways of reassessing your mindset- such as asking yourself what you’d be doing in the apocalypse, so that you can know if you’re on the right path (which, you know, we can all kinda answer now that it’s rolled around 😉).

There were a whole bunch of great takeaways- which I’m going to paraphrase and you may want to skip over if you plan to read this:

  • I LOVED her point that yelling at creativity is like yelling at a cat- it has no idea what you’re talking about and you’ll just scare it away- VERY TRUE!!
  • I also agreed with her mantra: “Everything sucks some of the time”. There’s no such thing as a perfect job (and I think it’s not healthy to be in the mindset that there is).
  • She said no one is worrying about what you do with your life- which is great advice and reminded me of some advice my grandpa gave: no one is worrying about what you’re doing when they put their head on the pillow at night
  • And we have to keep pushing forward, no matter what!
  • Her point that people shouldn’t strive to be the suffering artist is so apt- writing is something to be enjoyed (and even in writing misery, it should be to untether your soul a little). I do not think it’s healthy to chase darkness around the world (it’ll catch up with you eventually anyway). I always think if you feel like you can’t write something dark, write something fun- the world needs more joy! I very much appreciated the quote: “Love over suffering always”
  • Plus, I liked her advice to lighten up!
  • And, by the way, “It ain’t your baby” (I’m certainly guilty of describing my work in those terms, but it’s not healthy!)

This book brought me joy and laughter- and most importantly it brought me hope. It taught me to have a fierce trust in myself, knowing I will fail and that’s okay. On a personal level, I’ve learnt something this year about how simply turning up can make a huge difference to your life (although the great irony is that then we all found ourselves locked up, so I guess occasionally the universe likes to have a laugh at my expense 😉). However, the point still stands! You can’t win anything if you never play the game (just make sure you wear a mask and bring hand sanitiser 😉). I feel like this was a kick in the right direction.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So, have you tried a little bit of BIG MAGIC for yourself? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – April

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Well now that we’re living in the end times/our dystopic nightmares/a peculiar alternate reality, it feels a bit odd to talk about books… and yet we all could’ve guessed that us bookworms were bound to bury our heads in books as things fall apart 😉

I myself have been putting together an end of the world playlist (including: End of the Line, Over and Done With, Thriller etc.) and been bunkering down to read (sod all else to do anyway, since most of my work has been put on hold and most of us are currently under house arrest).

spam jail

In all seriousness, I hope you and your families are all okay, wherever you are in the world ❤ Thankfully everyone I live with is in good health, though I’ve had other issues created by this ongoing crisis, which have taken me away from blogging. So, thanks for all your patience and for continuing to stick with me ❤

Now that the (somewhat unusual) life update is out of the way, let’s get back to the books, shall we?

sea witch

The Sea Witch– this was a decent, if ultimately uninspiring retelling of the Little Mermaid. While I appreciated the use of Danish, giving the story some much needed authenticity, other aspects of the writing were a little colourless. Plus, parts of the story drifted by a little slowly. That said, I did like some of the twists and how it took the story in a darker direction than I anticipated. Yet, I will say that after that one bold turn, it seemed like the ending could have gone to greater depths. Instead, it sort of washed over me and left me wanting. Not a bad book by any means, but not brilliant.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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eat pray love

Eat Pray Love– I often don’t like to talk about memoirs, because it feels too much like critiquing someone else’s life, but I got so much out of this, I thought it was worth sharing. Upbeat and positive, I instantly warmed to the author and was happy to take a globetrotting trip with her! I loved the locations, each offering something different: Italy fattens you up with joy; India gives you the opportunity to open your mind; Bali offers friendship… and more! Admittedly, I didn’t connect with some parts, because I’m not a very spiritual person (despite loving yoga) but I still found reading this was a surprisingly positive experience. More than anything, it fed my wanderlust and makes me ache to travel more… though for now I think we’ll have to be satisfied with books!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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this is how you lose the time war

This is how you lose the time war– the only downside to this compact time travelling story is that it whizzed by so relatively fast, I felt like I didn’t lose any time at all! Despite its length, this was packed with things to love: it had a compelling concept, awesome opening, beautiful writing, wonderful references and heartstopping romance. I heartily recommend giving it a go- whether you like sci fi or not.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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queen of ruin

Queen of Ruin– well it’s never a good sign when you get to the last page I thought “at least it’s over”. I really liked the first instalment in this duology… but unfortunately this didn’t live up to that- either conceptually or in terms of character. It felt like this story was just tacked on to round off all the events of the last book- which, while often the case with YA sequels, was disappointing to say the least. Unlike the Grace and Fury, where I was impressed with the characterisation, this had no character progression. Apparently, the characters had done their developing in the last book, so didn’t need to go anywhere emotionally here. The romance was pretty much sorted at the end of the last book, so it was no surprise how it all resolved here. And all the other plotlines were resolved very quickly (though they took longer here to get going!). The only “new” aspect for this book was characters taking inopportune moments to jump on the occasional soapbox- which I didn’t appreciate. Nothing about this made me buzz with excitement and it left me a little cold.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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sometimes I lie

Sometimes I Lie– well this was an unusual read. When Alexa Donne mentioned it on her channel, her impression seemed to be “I’m not sure what to make of it”, so I thought I’d read it and see what I made of it… and I think my conclusion is I’m not sure what to make of it! It was well written and twisty and unpredictable. Even if I felt like I got a handle on it at times, the story would turn in the next moment and go in a different direction. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it- it was a little too dark to say that- but I do think it was a strong and memorable thriller. In the end I settled on…

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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the guest list

The Guest List– I was surprised by how much I liked this. At a remote island off the coast of Ireland, where guests have gathered for a wedding, readers are invited to witness to a murder. Introduced to multiple perspectives, we are given a sense of the bride, the groom and many of the partygoers. As the story progresses, flipping from timelines before and after the murder, it soon becomes apparent that many characters have more than a few reasons to commit a serious crime… and we still don’t know who the victim is yet! Compelling throughout, the tension amps up, until we’re given more than a little slice of satisfaction. This was a masterclass on how to lead a reader on a merry dance. I do pronounce this book a worthy thriller!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!