Recently, when I was approaching the end of the first draft of my novel. I was feeling a little trepidatious about finishing it for different reasons.
Regardless, I knew I must continue because I believe in this novel, and in these characters and I want to tell their story as accurately and authentically as I can. These womens’ stories are phenomenal, and are about courage and sacrifice. They need to be told. And the truth is, I am compelled to write it, it is all I want to write and has been for the past year. Even though last year I had to pause my writing due to work and study. This novella has required a lot of research and has been intense but extremely rewarding.
This post is a tribute to Big Magic, and how at just the right time Elizabeth Gilbert’s words and exhortation through her book spoke to me and helped me to gallop to the finishing line of the first draft.
Gilbert tells the story of an artist invited to a fancy-dress masquerade ball in France and it was his big chance to make an impression and meet influential people for his art career. He was so excited, and pulls together a spectacular dress up outfit, he loves it. It’s a lobster costume, bright red and orange. When he turns up to the ball, he comes to the door, expectant and excited and looks into the enormous hallway and sees the people are all dressed in period ball gowns and tuxedos. He looks ridiculous. At this point he could either run away in shame or he could go in and hope he didn’t get ridiculed.
He decided to go in and when he got inside everything stopped and went silent, and when asked what he is, he answers; “I am the court lobster” and everyone laughs with him and loves him. He is welcomed and has a beautiful evening. Gilbert writes (p. 262),
“That costume was what he had made after all so that was what he was bringing to the party. It was the best he had. It was all he had. So, he decided to trust in himself, to trust in his costume and to trust in his circumstances.”
I liked this quote, because as Gilbert stated it “was the best he had and it was all he had.” this is how I felt with my novel. She went onto say that she has felt this in some way for every project she has ever written. This was encouraging. She continued (p.263-264) about making sure you continue with your creativity and release it to the world:
“But you must stubbornly walk into that room, regardless and you must hold your head high. You made it you get to put it out there. Never apologise for it, never explain it away, never be ashamed of it. You did the best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time you were given. You were invited and you showed up, and you simply cannot do more than that.”
The part that hit me was where she wrote, “You did the best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time you were given.” It was perfect for me, amazing, and so uplifting as if someone had given me a cold drink after a desert walk. I am so grateful for it.
So, I wanted to write this as a tribute to Elizabeth Gilbert, I am so grateful for this book, it actually refreshed me so much, that I got back on the horse and wrote the last three chapters! I am very happy with the first draft and I am excited to continue to develop this novel.
I am encouraged and heartened by the fact that, as Big Magic talks about, you simply have to produce the best piece of writing you can. This has always been my goal – but sometimes you forget this. It was an excellent reminder. I always tell my students this, simply do your best. I am excited about where it is all going. Thanks Liz! You are amazing, because you are a writer you understand exactly how I feel. Thanks so much!
I will finish on a quote from Liz:
“What you absolutely must not do is turn around and walk out. Otherwise you will miss the party, and that would be a pity, because–please believe me—we did not come all this great distance, and make all this great effort, only to miss the party at the last minute.” (p. 264).
Here, here, Liz! Definitely! I am happy with where I am at the moment and excited to keep going until it is finished. 🙂
For anyone creating, keep going and do not give up!