Not only is one of my fave authors a great and talented writer, she is also a wonderful speaker. Her messages are clear and simple yet profound.
It was my husband who sent me the information on the upcoming Writers Week in Wellington.
I received the email and glanced at the poster but then forgot about it as one does. Only, how could I have forgotten? I am an aspiring author. I am a full on lover of words. I adore books and yet I completely forgot to look into the festival.
Yet as fate would have it, I was reminded nearer the time and when I heard him say two words I just knew I had to go book tickets right away.
Those two words were Elizabeth Gilbert.
I, like millions of others on this planet, adored Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. I like countless others before me went on a trip to Bali as Elizabeth did. However, I wasn’t aiming to get over anything or seek something. That part of my life was completely sorted when I found the Love of My Life (aka hubby) when I was just 21 years old. We have been together ever since, although there is a whole story that goes with that one and that will be talked about in a future post I am certain.
The seeking is constant for me too so I don’t have to ‘go’ anywhere special for that. In truth I simply wanted to go to Bali because I wanted to visit this spiritual place people talked of. I had already been to Italy and India has never been high up on my list. Well it wasn’t but I would like to go some day.
Anyway, I am digressing.
Post EPL, I quickly consumed everything Elizabeth Gilbert had written. Then one day on twitter I noticed she had written another book called The Signature Of All Things. I couldn’t wait to get it on my kindle!
I read it joyously and when it was finished, I was sad. That’s the sign of a great novel to me, when I miss the characters after the last page has been devoured.
This post is my take on Elizabeth Gilbert coming to town. If you were there you likely took away different nuggets than I but here is my account for what it is worth.
So Liz (can I call her that? She wouldn’t mind I’m sure) Liz talked about how in every novel either someone goes on a trip or a stranger comes to town. Liz almost doesn’t feel like a stranger though, I’m guessing not to the people who read her books and have been affected by them. She also made a brilliant reference to one of my favourite TV series Breaking Bad when she said that her main character, in the second half of the novel, changed and became ‘I’m the one who knocks.’ Those of you who haven’t seen BB can just ignore that bit though.
She also talked about her childhood and she said a line, which struck me in my solar plexus. She was talking about the triad of female relationships and how her mother once said to a small Liz, when her and two friends were going through something at school within their friendship, ‘there’s nothing more evil than three little girls.’ It struck me because I have personal experience with evil and the forms it comes in (again, in another post I promise).
Liz didn’t know it, but she was giving me lots of ideas for future novels during her talk. Something else she gave me, which I actually didn’t expect, was a swelling in my chest and a full feeling in my eyes. She was talking about how women need a vocation. Not necessarily the source of your income but a source of your identity. She said that if you don’t give this something to do (pointing at her own head) it’s gonna do something bad.
Again, I have personal experience with this. I won’t leave this for another post because I think it needs to be understood.
I am a lifestyle coach and a meditation teacher but I don’t seek clients. I know weird right? I don’t seek clients because I don’t want to let my writing go by the wayside as I feel it would. Yet, I have guilt surrounding my husband supporting my lifestyle and dreams. Yes, I have clients but I could have more. Yet, the writing won’t do itself now will it?
I can also get quite destructive up here (pointing to my head) when I don’t let my creativity flow. So I heard Liz when she said this. I mean, I really heard her.
Liz said that her writing has kept her sown together (at least that’s what it looks like in my notes of the talk but I apologise profusely if I have it wrong Liz, if you ever happen to read this…ha ha I wish).
She said that she is lucky to be able to write and said that things like writers block still beats doing any other job for her. She said she goes over, under of through any obstacle with her character and this works for her. Good to note!
She then went onto to talk about the Creative Genius. Something she is very passionate about as I watched her practically leap out of her seat!
Again what she said spoke volumes to me. She said you don’t need a permission slip to create art. WOW!
I am aiming to coach my 12-year-old niece at the moment as she is quite into writing and books and creating. When we wait for someone to tell us its ok to do something we may just be waiting forever right? Liz said that she once had a teacher who basically said to her that she would never be a writer because she hadn’t suffered enough. Then she gave the audience the double fingers. Well, she didn’t give us the fingers but rather she said that was what she thought about someone saying that to her. I was almost cheering at that point. I now keep those words close by, you know right under my shirt slightly to the left where my heart sits under my skin and bones. There is truth and power in them and I’m all for that.
Liz even said that when she was researching her book, because of the time period, she consumed research until she knew the language in her bones. She said she didn’t need to tell everything to the reader that the author knows. However, I would love to know everything this author knows.
I asked a question at the end of the talk about my own manuscript that I have just completed. I even got a congrats from her, which was lovely. I told her that my first beta reader (a term she wasn’t familiar with) had read my first draft and given me tips and great feedback. I asked her how she knew when her books were ready to send in to publishers. She leaned forward and told me that feedback is great but it’s like a house, don’t dismantle everything you have already built (the bones of your book) from others’ feedback. You will intuitively know when it’s right.
Intuition has always served me well when I go with it so I nodded in agreement.
She said much more but this post is getting on a bit so perhaps I will pepper it through future posts like little nuggets of wisdom for you to chew on but for now I’ll just say that Liz’s talk was not only insightful but its like she handed me a permission slip to create my art and that is what I am going to do.
This is my first post and I would love to take you on my journey. Please find me on twitter @safespace for future updates.
P.S, I know I look like a hobbit in the above picture but by golly she is tall, although to be fair she was wearing mules :)