Scrapbooking in the Media: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” . . . We’re Makin’ This SBR

Technically, I only talk about scrapbooking books or novels here. I mean, it’s called Scrapbook Obsession after all :P

But I broke from tradition not long ago to write this post and now I’m about to do it again. This time I’m talking about “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert. We’re going to take a mainstream non-fiction book and make it scrapbook-related (SBR).

big magic elizabeth gilbert

She’s the author who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” that you may have read; it was quite the bestseller.

eat pray love

She’s been writing for most of her life, has wrestled with creativity, and won. I mean, for one thing, she wrote another book immediately AFTER “Eat, Pray, Love.” Given all the attention, all the praise, all the criticism – about her book and her life – that was a brave feat in itself.

Elizabeth Gilbert has been on a speaking tour promoting her book this year and I was supposed to see her on one of the stops. But my plans fell through and I wasn’t able to travel the 3 hours. I did still get my signed copy of “Big Magic” though:

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I first became interested in this book because all my creative entrepreneur contacts were talking about it. These are my clients, potential clients, their friends, etc. I don’t make a living from being “a creative” but I’ve always been a writer, as a hobby and pulling it into my work whenever I can (blogging, copywriting, and editing for clients). So I intended to read the book straight-on, from the perspective of a writer.

As I started reading it, I found that I was able to apply almost every single point to being an entrepreneur as well. The author talks a lot about ideas, how we get them and use them (or don’t); not going into huge debt to learn how to be an artist because there are so may free/cheap ways to do so; no whining when publishers and patrons don’t seek you out; etc. Well, all the same things could be said for starting and nurturing a small business. So I was psyched – this book was applicable to TWO distinct parts of my life! Pretty dang cool.

Um, yeah, make that THREE: How about applying her ideas and wisdom to scrapbooking? It doesn’t get much more creative than this wonderful hobby. Now that I’m about 90% done with the book, I’m feeling the need to read it all again. There’s so much good stuff in here and I’m going to share a few important ideas of Elizabeth’s as they might apply to scrapbookers.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from early in the book (starts on page 88 … ooh, magical number!):

Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody “a creative person” is almost laughably redundent; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it.

If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. You and I and everyone you know are descended from tens of thousands of years of makers. Decorators, tinkerers, storytellers, dancers, explorers, fiddlers, drummers, builders, growers, problem-solvers, and embellishers – these are our common ancestors.

The guardians of high culture [and scrapbooking] will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design. Even if you grew up watching cartoons in a sugar stupor from dawn to dusk, creativity still lurks within you. …

All of which is to say: You do not need a permission slip from the principal’s office to live a creative life. Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip — THERE, I just gave it to you. I just wrote it on the back of an old shopping list. Consider yourself fully accredited.

Now go make something.

I want to scream this to all those people who, upon hearing that I love to scrapbook, say, “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not creative.” Bull puckey! (as my mama said as I was growing up, because she didn’t curse in front of minors). YOU are creative and YOU are creative and YOU are creative. Every single person. It’s in all of us. Granted, some might be shy about letting out their creativity, feel it’s a waste of time, or feel their efforts are lackluster. But no one can say they truly aren’t creative. It’s just IN us.

I also want to share that passage with you scrapbookers who feel your pages are too plain, you don’t do all the techniques, you don’t have $80 per page to spend on supplies, or you’re “just a pocket page scrapper.” I’ve been guilty of thinking and saying these things about myself. So I needed to hear this. No matter what form our scrapbooking takes, we are creating layouts, writing down memories, choosing pleasing colors and themes, and making our own version of art. We are creative, just as creative as those “creative scrapbookers”!

elizabeth gilbert big magic
~Quote graphic courtesy of Penguin Books

Another passage that spoke to me was this one, starting on page 179:

I firmly beleive that we all need to find something to do in our lives that stops us from eating the couch. Whether we make a profession out of it or not, we all need an activity that is beyond the mundane and that takes us out of our established and limiting roles in society (mother, employee, neighbor, brother, boss, etc.). We all need something that helps us to forget ourselves for a while – to momentarily forget our age, our gender, our socioeconomic background, our duties, our failures, and all that we have lost and screwed up. We need something that takes us so far out of ourselves that we forget to eat, forget to pee, forget to mow the lawn, forget to resent our enemies, forget to brood over our insecurities. …

Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir – something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.

Can I get an AMEN?? For those of us scrapbook obsessed, this is the wonderful, magical, amazing thing that keeps us sane. Scrapbooking allows us that time and space to escape the real world and all its obligations and crushing blows and just be creative. I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a single moment scrapbooking that hasn’t been enjoyable (well, except for editing and printing photos but let’s not count that).

How many times have you been so consumed by paper, photos, embellishments, and adhesive that you forgot to pee? Or eat or drink or pay the light bill? Yeah, that’s a magical escape my friends and aren’t we lucky to have found the key to the portal.

We are all creative and creativity keeps us sane. Those are just two of the scrapbook-y takeaways I got from this book. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas and your scrapbooking creativity in general.

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