Some time ago on a faraway Christmas tree farm, in a small town called Waterbury, a young girl stumbled upon her inspiration for storytelling and adventure in an old family heirloom ~ the adventurous voyages of Captain Cook and that inspirational storyteller is none other than the acclaimed author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’- Elizabeth Gilbert.
Invited to move from our comfortable seats in the middle of the auditorium to the VIP seats right in front of the speaker’s stage, our cups felt filled up with excitement to the brim. The Sydney writers festival’s personnel introduced Elizabeth as an insightful and creative individual. Her sense of humour was apparent in the way she spoke about her novel of a lifetime ‘The signature of all things’, a sprawling tale of 19th century botanical exploration and how it took form.
Getting into the rhythm of things Elizabeth shared with us her personal experiences of the creative writing process, explaining that when an idea behind a novel wants to take form, be born…it swirls around the world looking for a collaborator to inspire. The ideas do this by giving signals similar to shivers or goose bumps on the arms, along the spine, serving out one coincidence after another, until the receiver opens up to the inspiration and enters a contract with it. This initial stage of the process is followed by a flow of more ideas, feelings and thoughts that form the soul of the story. What is required next is a fair amount of effort that finally gives birth to a book that is well received by its readers.
Elizabeth’s advice to anyone who has even a slight inclination of putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!) is tobe open and joyful in life and live in a state of wonder using sensitivity to find an idea, like looking for a butterfly. Creativity has nothing to gain by setting up obstructions in front of us. It is not only vital to have the right kind of eco system at home and workplace, but also to be aware that every good thing comes out of collaboration rather than domination.
Sharing her personal mantra, Elizabeth explained that when she feels a creativeblock, instead of focusing on any negativity or anxiety, she detaches the self from the drama linked to it and is eventually successful in figuring out the puzzle.
It’s the solitude of a writer and the knowing that she is the truest incarnation of the person she is meant to be, that brings her a feeling of great communion within herself, those around her and the environment Elizabeth finds herself in.
“We spend a lot of time pushing away what we should be embracing and embracing that what we should be pushing away”, said Elizabeth as the evening came to a close, adding that it’s up to us to have emotional, financial and political autonomy and that at no point we should allow perfectionism to hold us back from being our creative best. Elizabeth Gilbert parted from her engaged audience with a reminder for us to~ ‘Give all the breadth and space to the inspiration that is waiting to come through and take the form of a wonder…’
Compiled by Komal & Guneeta Kaur