Big MagicThis book is making all kinds of waves for all sorts of good reasons. It is highly recommended. I tried reading it. I liked the first few pages but then I got slightly annoyed with it. Which I think is more a comment on me than a comment on the book.

Without much more ado, a brief review. This is about the creative life. Which isn't, you know, giving up everything to go live naked in a shed somewhere without running water or electricity to do pure art. The creative life is you doing your thing the way you want to do it, without thinking too much about what other people will think.

I paraphrase, but only slightly. Her message, essentially, is be yourself. I mean, dare to be yourself. Even if you're scared to death.

If you think you need a primer on why you should learn to tame the fears that live within you, by all means read the book. It's good.

End of book review. Was that one minute? Close enough? Good.

Now for the real serious stuff. The most important part of her message, as far as I'm concerned, is twofold. 1) You do not need to become fearless to live a creative life, and 2) the creative life is simpler and easier to live than you thought.

Fear of allowing yourself to be who you are is a real thing. I've been living with it for decades. It's big, heavy, and it crushes your soul. There are all kinds of semi-valid reasons, and a bunch of half-baked excuses, for my fears. What I have to say is trite. I will never make it as a novelist. I don't have the courage to open my heart to all and sundry. I mean, what if they trample all over it and hurt me? What if they laugh? What if they point and say, who's that idiot who thinks she can write? What if they're right to laugh? 

I've always wanted to sing. My husband says I should. He says he loves how I sing. I've always been too chicken to do it, except in my car on deserted roads where nobody can see or hear me.

What if I have no talent? What if my singing reeks? What if my stories suck? What if they reveal too much about me? What if, what if what if.

[Does this sound in any way familiar to you?]

The best piece of advice from Big Magic is that you don't need to tell your fears to go for a long walk on a short pier. There is no need to become fearless. There is only a need to learn to master the fear, to be its boss, to tell it not to try controlling your life. That's it's OK for the fear to be there, but only in the background, as a spectator without any power.

I like that idea, and I've decided to try implementing it. (Whence this rambling blog post.) We shall see where it takes me.