Ten things I learned from a re-reading Big Magic
I recently joined a business book club and last month saw me hosting the circle and picking the book. In the end Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert was chosen and I was pretty pleased at the choice because I’d already read it. Result, I thought. I don’t need to read it again. Only I did. There was no way I could get away with devising some appropriate questions without doing so.
The number of times I have read a book twice can be counted on one hand. I’m way too lazy for that, so this was a novel (excuse the pun) experience for me. Well, well, well, what a revelation! Who knew that reading a book a second time could be so fruitful? For a start I read it with a pen in my hand so I could underline sections that leapt out at me. Second, I read it carefully and slowly. Creativity is part of who I am and so I had to do a good job.
In the end, I was so blown away by this second read-through that I determined to share the most ‘bigly’ magical elements with you in this month’s Inspirer, so here goes:
Re-reading Big Magic was a big deal for me, with the excellent points seen more clearly than ever. I hope you have enjoyed my brief round-up of the biggest bits of magic in its pages and trust that you will be curious enough to go and read it for yourself.
Curiosity --> Inspiration --> Creativity
Writer events go online
This week I should have been in Italy at the Watermill in Posara, teaching my usual How to Write Life Stories class to 12 residential guests. I should have been teaching on the vine terrace, at the monastery and in Fivizzano on market day, but the course has been postponed til next year.
The annual mecca for wordlovers, The Hay Festival, is cancelled because of the coronavirus.
The Arvon Foundation, a company offering residential writing courses, can no longer provide classes.
I have run a free writers' circle once a month for the last 30 years, but now it's forbidden to meet in groups.
The Edinburgh Festival is cancelled and we'd booked our accommodation.
All these amazing events, events that fuel my muse and teach me so much, cancelled until goodness knows when.
The bright side
But last night I watched an interview with Paulo Giordano, author of How Contagion Works. I watched from my own sofa as the local Borderkitchen organisation conducted the event via Zoom. The event went ahead and better still it was free of charge. So, you see, there is a bright side to the awful pandemic that is keeping us confined to our homes. Many enterprising folk are embracing the new normal and finding new ways to deliver amazing content.
Twice in the last month I had the pleasure of attending poetry workshops by my favourite modern poet, Anthony Anaxagorou, for the bargain price of £16.50. Not living in London (yet) I would have been unlikely to be able to attend his workshops so easily nor at such a low cost.
The Watermill is offering my Writing Life Story Piece by Piece workshop on June 18th online and it's free of charge!
The Arvon Foundation are offering a range of workshops with great writers and, instead of having to pay for accommodation and travel to a residential course, you can take them online for about £30 a time.
The Hay Festival is offering its entire programme free of charge and with over 2000 spots available per event, believe it or not you do still have to reserve your place online.
And as for me, I'm running weekly Speedwrite Live events free of charge every Friday. Then there are free In Conversation chats with wordsmiths such as Anne Rainbow of Red Pen Editing and even, coming soon, a chat with Anthony Anaxagorou about poetry. My workshops, normally only available locally are now part of my online offering and much cheaper than they would have been live, and I'm running a Book Mentoring Circle and two weekly Writers' Circles too.
So, you see, not only has the pandemic brought events and workshops I would not otherwise have been able to attend to my door, I am now able to take mine to a wider audience.
What's more, I'm rather enjoying and embracing these new ways of learning and teaching and I think they are here to stay.
Check out all the links in this blog post to find out more about all the workshops and events mentioned above.
Jo Parfitt's Monthly Inspirer