An astonishing turn of events. Hopefully I'm not too proud to cover it honestly here! So, me and self-help books.
What a crock (is that the Aussie expression? I only know what Alf Stewart taught me).
I think they're a load of nonsense (just in case I didn't use the correct expression then).
Then along comes Big Magic. It's about 'creative living beyond fear'. So far, so typical, yes?
I went to see the author of Big Magic - one Elizabeth Gilbert - at the Opera House and covered it in this here blog. The event was essentially publicity for this book and was highly entertaining and thought-provoking. She's also ridiculously likable as a person. Big Magic was released, but I wasn't fussed about reading it, principally because self-help books are, to my mind, twaddle. I think plenty of people spend their lives (and money) reading about self-improvement without actually making any changes. I thought no more about it.
That was last year. Cut to a couple of weeks ago, when I saw it in an op shop. I remembered my friends talking very recently about this awesome book: Big Magic. I handed over the princely sum of $6 - actually quite a lot for a Vinnies paperback! - and was pretty sure it would be months before I actually read it (because my to-read pile is a whole bookshelf. A whole set of bookshelves, in fact. It's Dymocks/Waterstones/Barnes & Noble).
So I don't know why I began reading it the next day. But I did.
Well, what a revelation. It's applicable to so many situations, not merely that of the stereotypical struggling/aspiring writer. I thought about it mainly in terms of my novel and this blog, however, as I am a writer. (One of the suggestions from the book: announce yourself! "I am a writer!" Still feels stupid, and I didn't say it out loud as recommended - as if - but that's beside the point. Writing it out here is even more of a statement, because I would have said it in an empty room but I know at least three people will read this).
Has to be said, there is a lot in there that I still find utter bunkum. Inspiration and creativity are spoken of as almost tangible beings, and Gilbert repeatedly asserts that creativity has feelings and inclinations and goes around the world looking for people with whom it can collaborate. I do not believe any of this.
I also don't believe in Big Magic, which is a little unfortunate, given the title of the book. Other-worldliness aside, she talks a lot of sense. She acknowledges many of the fears that 'creative people' may have and the ways in which creativity can be limited/stifled/bludgeoned to death by these fears. More usefully, she offers solutions. Different ways of thinking. Positive ways of thinking! It could be Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway for the 21st century (wouldn't know, never read it, never read it, wouldn't know, phew).
Some things I have already put into practice. For example, my most recent blog post - about rocky road, as it happens - was a good one. But nobody has read it. Okay, three people have read it. Out of seven billion or so.
This is my least-viewed post of all time. Even allowing for the fact that it was published only a day ago. There is generally a surge of views as soon as I publish a new post - it's normally rather exciting! And I was looking forward to seeing how this one was received.
But nothing. In fact, today, nobody has read it, although they have been reading some of my other posts (sometimes having so many statistics available is depressing). At first I thought I must have got it wrong: it must actually be a crap post.
But then I thought about it: if nobody has READ the post, how can everybody think it is crap? Maybe everybody thinks it WILL be crap, so they're not going to read it, but that's not the same thing!
I'm well aware I do not market my posts to be read. I hate clickbait, I have no interest in trying to lure readers with a misleading opening line or paragraph and I don't include pictures, captions or anything that may help with SEO (for my mum, who is one of the three readers, SEO is about getting Google to find my blog and bring it up as a result when people Google stuff). I don't care about any of that. So it's not surprising that no-one has read it; more importantly, I need to remember that it is not a reflection on me. People are busy! My blog is not their thing, it's mine! Who would want to read a post with such an obscure title anyway (I reckon Hannah G will get it, but that's probably it)?
So, Big Magic has already taught me that, although my blog content matters to me, it's of minimal interest to the world. And that is okay. I write it; what happens when I release it is not to be worried about.
I'll probably do a few more posts on aspects of this book that have been illuminating. It's definitely worth a read, but don't say you weren't warned about all the hippie, law of attraction stuff. I will not be dressing up for creativity to come and find me. But I will keep writing and not re-evaluate the quality of that writing based on the number of readers. It's exactly as good - or as bad! - as it was before I published it!
Back soon x