My Creative Muse Is from … New Jersey?
(A Reflection on ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert)
by Lisa A. Beach
When I think of people who inspire creativity, I instinctively look to deceased greats in their field, like Georgia O’Keeffe, Leonardo da Vinci, Erma Bombeck, or Ella Fitzgerald. Often, I’m drawn to people from other cultures, like Frida Kahlo or an African basket-weaver, because they seem so exotic to me.
But my latest creative muse? She’s from New Jersey. And not only is she still alive, she’s actually younger than me.
I absolutely love the way Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) writes, speaks, inspires . . . even the way she bravely sings karaoke and posts it online to raise money for a favourite cause. On so many levels, Liz (I like to imagine we’re on a first-name basis) motivates me to write, to follow my passion, and to live authentically.
Ironically, Liz lives in Frenchtown, NJ, just a short drive from Mt. Laurel, NJ, where I lived for 10 years. If I still lived there, I’m sure I’d try to meet Liz, or hear her speak at some local Kiwanis Club breakfast meeting or at least stalk her store, Two Buttons, in hopes of bumping into her while she’s there checking inventory.
Liz writes and speaks deliciously, using such delicately articulate words as “sublime,” “enchanted” and “transcendence” as naturally as I use words like “bummer” and “dude.” (I grew up with two older brothers and I gave birth to two sons. Being surrounded by guy stuff since birth, I practically have my own Man Card. The mid-life chin whiskers I’m now sprouting don’t help my cause, either.)
In her newly released book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Liz encourages readers to “put yourself out there” and pursue something “that calls to your heart and brings you to life.”
I leaned on this advice for inspiration, as I tried to find my way back to a writing career that I’d abandoned for a decade while I raised and homeschooled my two boys.
Before kids, I’d worked in PR and tackled freelance copywriting projects on the side. Although I enjoy and have a talent for this (and it certainly pays the bills), it doesn’t bring me to life.
“I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure,” Liz affirms in Big Magic. “The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.” So I hunted.
What makes my heart sing? What brings me to life?
Instead of immediately jumping back into familiar copywriting territory as I revamped my writing career, I first needed to dust off my writing mojo and find my groove again (sort of like Liz’s self-discovery journey in Eat, Pray, Love—minus the divorce and the year-long, exotic paid sabbatical).
And then it hit me. I love to make people laugh, often by poking fun at myself or finding the humour in a common frustration. Copywriting pays the bills, but humour writing? That brings me to life. I’m following a small, whispering voice (perhaps Liz, telling me to put myself out there) that told me to start writing a humour blog.
That’s a great way to revive your writing career, said no one ever.
I’m not seeking fame or fortune (although I won’t refuse if either comes a knockin’). No, I’m just resuscitating my dormant, creative self, as I spend my days toying with words to find the exact phrasing that will (hopefully) evoke a smile. I can’t predict where this new writing path will lead me, but I am so putting myself out there to create my own Big Magic. (Liz, you would be so proud of me.)
Next summer, I’m going back to Jersey to visit friends and family, and I see a Two Buttons shopping trip in my future. Liz’s store, filled with exotic treasures from her globe-trotting travels, invites visitors to “come for the day and see the whole world.” But I’m not greedy. I don’t need to see the whole world—just Liz, my creative muse.
Who inspires you?
About the author
Lisa Beach, a freelance writer for 25+ years, is a recovering stay-at-home mom and homeschooler who lived to write about it. Her humor writing has been featured on Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Midlife Boulevard and Ten to Twenty Parenting. Her blog, Tweenior Moments, humorously tackles middle age, friends, family and all the baggage that goes with it.
You can find Tweenior Moments on Facebook and Pinterest.
Buy the book
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“Big Magic is a celebration of a creative life…Gilbert’s love of creativity is infectious, and there’s a lot of great advice in this sunny book…Gilbert doesn’t just call for aspiring artists to speak their truth, however daffy that may appear to others; she is showing them how.” —Washington Post
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About the Creative Life Essays and Stories
“Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done” said John Patrick Shanley. Likewise, Creative Life is a safe place to share ‘unsafe’ things that need to be said.
The stories and interviews from this site share the personal experiences of courage, fear, vulnerability, flow, creativity, and happiness from the perspective of the artist.
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4 thoughts on ““Copywriting pays the bills, but humour writing? That brings me to life” – [the book that changed my life]”
Glad to hear you’re back to writing. I put my creative muse on hold too, while raising kids. Even if it doesn’t pay my bills, it’s a great outlet for me!
Yes! Writing has absolutely brought me back to a creative life, especially the humor writing I’m doing on my Tweenior Moments blog. It definitely does NOT pay the bills, but that’s not why I started the blog. It’s just what I needed to move me in the right direction, whatever that might be.
I have this book on my beside. You have inspired me to read it!
It’s a great read, Anna! Liz also has a great podcast called Magic Lessons that accompanies this book. It’s available on iTunes and is definitely worth a listen. Some great stories about real people facing creative challenges, and Liz jumps in with great advice.
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