“It’s like a drug that doesn’t have a terrible side effect.”
Hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak Wednesday night at the Rio was such a pleasure. Even better than I expected. And guess what?! From my third row seat (from which I could admire all the details of her poppy-colored eyelet summer dress) I got to ask her a burning question: How has your work been influenced by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way?
“Hugely,” she replied.
She said there would be no Eat, Pray, Love without the weekly exercises in The Artist’s Way that led her to discover a fervent desire to learn Italian. It was a wish she wasn’t even conscious of until she started regularly writing morning pages and a new vision and new priorities began to surface.
She has gone through the course three times now, and said on Wednesday, “It's probably time for me to do it again. [...] It helps me to figure out where I'm at. Because we change and grow. Every time I do it, it's a new program with new revelations. It's actually great fun to do.”
(You can listen to her complete answer for yourself at minute 04:55 in this recording.)
Earlier in the Q&A, Elizabeth described how the creative process of writing her latest book City of Girls helped her "curate her energies" and "rebalance her water levels" after the loss of the love of her life, Rayya.
And then she reiterated that brilliant point I shared with you last week in Big Magic: "One of the great gifts of creativity, one of the really great salvations of it, is that when you're making something [...], anything you're doing where you're taking nothing and making into something else, when you get to be absorbed in that, you get this extraordinary, wonderful vacation from being who you are. You get this small break. It’s like a drug that doesn’t have a terrible side effect. [...] So while I was writing this book, I had hours a day where I got to forget that Rayya died because I was so absorbed in crafting something and making something. [...] And I feel like something cellular happened to me during those breaks where some healing happened behind my back."
(You can hear this and other questions she answered in this recording around minute 14:10.)
*This*, Seraj, is truly the raison d’etre for All Hands - whether the relief we seek is from sadness or simply life’s daily stresses - and it was profoundly reassuring to hear it expressed so poetically by this lioness of the writing world.
PS. The start date for The Artist's Way is tomorrow, but we don’t actually meet in person until next week. This first week is about getting the book and getting prepared, so there is still time for you to grab one of the remaining couple of spots!
PPS. On Tuesday two new calligraphy classes begin at All Hands - one for teensand one for adults. :)