“I was the baby of the family, but I was never babied, and that allowed me to take whatever artistic temperament I had and apply learned discipline. I was taught how to work. I think that’s everything. Creativity and imagination alone are not going to get you there.”
With two best-selling memoirs — Eat, Pray, Love and Committed — Elizabeth Gilbert decided to play in a bigger, more ambitious arena and write a sprawling 19th century style novel called, The Signature of All Things. As a NY Times story by Steven Almond describes it, “Gilbert spent three and a half years on research alone. She hopscotched the globe, enlisted the aid of a dozen experts, then granted herself the right to run wild with the plot. The result is a rousing homage to the literary heroes she grew up reading. ‘I just wanted to play with the people I love the most — Dickens, the Brontës, Eliot, James,’ Gilbert says. ‘I wanted to jump around in their world. It was fun as hell to set the bar that high.’”
“Fun” — what a wonderful way to describe writing – and how rare it is! One of the things I enjoy most about Elizabeth Gilbert is the joy she takes in her work and the way she revels in the pleasure that researching and putting words on paper give her. She’s definitely not a member of the “angsty” school of writing — something she talks about with refreshing candor and wit in a TED talk that’s well worth checking out on line.
“Gilbert herself has no patience for those who subscribe to the myth that misery and madness enhance creativity,” notes Steven Almond. “She feels no nostalgia for the upheaval that generated her memoirs and views her new novel as evidence that she works best when her life is in balance. Writers have a duty to confront the darkness within themselves at the keyboard. But they have an equal duty, she argues, not to romanticize their sorrow or inflict it on those around them.”
How wonderful to find a successful writer who loves life, loves writing, loves readers, loves “scavenging” for her next project. Bravo, Elizabeth! Write on!