Liz Gilbert – TED (click link to be taken to TED)
This is the latest installment of Elizabeth Gilbert at TED, talking creativity and doubt and passion and failure, all things we chew on hard here at tyomd;)
I was once called a Lizbian, over coffee, at Powell’s Book Store in Portland, by Liz Gilbert’s editor and friend Anne Connell. I have to admit, that didn’t settle well with me for some reason. I guess somewhere in the realm of the ego I’d still like it to be known that I am the unlikeliest of Eat, Pray, Love fans, but it happened. It did. I couldn’t help it.
I avoided reading it; I tried. But the Universe had a bigger plan, I suppose. And just like all the fucking Lizbians, I loved it. I loved every second of it.
Except the Love part–total dealbreaker–only because, by the time I was reading it, I too was on my own quest of spirit and on my own jaunt with celibacy. And her hot foreign man, on her exotic little island was so not part of the deal.
After Eat, Pray, Love I was one of the few who read Committed and enjoyed it. No shame in that game. But it wasn’t until the process of writing my own book, I Think I’ll Make It, that I went back to Gilbert’s work and began to see her as the distant mentor that she became for me.
As I anxiously stared at the blinking cursor on my blank computer screen (circa 2011), the one thing I love more than myself began to take shape. I’d open up Youtube and search for interviews with Gilbert that would give me any inkling whatsoever as to how to conquer this painful start to what I considered a life affirming project. Her transparency on doubt and fear were just the cure, however temporary, for my gnawing ailments. She openly talked pain and struggle, all things I was all too familiar with at the time.
I re-read Eat, Pray, Love and Committed from a writer’s standpoint this time, watching closely for grammar and style. I too wanted to infuse humor and grace and deep hurt and sarcasm, and with only a short library of authors to turn to, Gilbert’s work became my guidebook.
Four months later, after I had spewed as much of my story onto the page that I could poetically muster, I was terrified nobody would “get it.” I thought the only person who wouldn’t be offended by my infusion of dark humor and deep pain was Liz Gilbert’s editor.
After almost a month of going back and forth about whether I should really contact an editor clearly out of my league, I did it anyway. Anne Connell was kind and gracious; she replied almost immediately. And although her schedule was full, she hooked me up with an editor that both got me and my story, Holly Franco. (Highly recommend!)
I had reached out to Anne a few times throughout the course of publishing my book, thanking her for teaming up me and Franko (or is it Franko and I?). So, almost two years later, after my first message to Connell, my frantic email was again received with grace as I had no idea how to get a hold of Liz for permission to use the quotes from Eat, Pray, Love in my book (something no one had pointed out till the very last minute).
Liz was in Australia, Connell was in Portland, I was new to Brooklyn, making it all up as I went along, and with a few short magical emails, I had permission.
After all that incredible shitstorm of publication and serendipity, I have since met Gilbert twice. I giggle each time I see her in person. We would have so not been friends in high school;) Yet, our paths have crossed in such a way that I have deep respect for her and her work, and in perfect Lizbian fashion I feel like I know her.
This short TED is brilliant. I love the metaphor of coming back home. Check it out; you will be all the wiser for doing so.
I leave you with this: Have you tapped into a distant mentor yet? Is there someone out there who is doing what you want to do whom you can learn from their successes and mistakes? Get on that, even if it means tucking your tale and becoming a (blank)-bian;) You’ll be happy you did.