Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, was in Brisbane for the first time today.
She has an open face and a warmth of human understanding emanates from her. She is the type of person you just want to hug. She has a big white American smile that is generous and genuine framed by blond flippy-up hair.
Where does she feel she belongs after all her travels?
”Definitely New York. It’s the only place I don’t feel like a fraud.”
Gilbert shared, with a mainly female audience at the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre her ideas on creativity. It’s similar to her Ted Talk but there is more. She is devoted to the ”shameless and stubborn pursuit of magic”. The magic, supernatural, inexplicable ways of creativity. Yes, and when she says magic, it is in ”the Hogwarts sense’’.
She talked about her theory of ideas: how ideas, all ideas whether it’s science or music or writing, are looking for a channel in, so when they come to you ”they just want to get out of the ether and into the world’’.
Ideas are ”like a butterfly hunt,” she says. ”You have to be ready to see one and open to see one.”She spends a lot of time speaking out loud, she says, encouraging ideas to enter, saying things like you may think I’m doing the laundry but ”I’m totally ready. Any time guys.”
When she was seven years old she wanted a rose bush for her birthday, when she was nine, she wrote ”Plant Science”, completed with staples and a hand-drawn cover. (The best cover she’s had yet, she says).
She explained how, as a child, before she could read or even correctly print her name, she was fascinated by plants and specifically etchings of botanical species in the original 1784 edition of Captain Cook’s voyages that her great grandfather had collected. Finding this in her mother’s house was one of the triggers that led to four years of research, five orderly shoe-boxes of notes and her latest novel The Signature of All Things.
But Gilbert wanted to focus, not on finishing this novel, but on the years of failure before.
People who want to create need to cultivate a willingness to let ”stuff go and come,” she says. If something isn’t working we need to take another look at what the universe is sending us, because it wants to plant and sow those ideas. It wants them to have a voice.
So we need to be open, gracious and welcoming, not competitive, she says.
And this she applies to every facet of life.