Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk
I was in the middle of writing Eat, Pray, Love, and I fell into one of those sort of pits of despair … [and] I started to think I should just dump this project. But then I remembered Tom [Waits] talking to the open air [when inspiration for a song hit him while he was driving on the freeway and had no way to record it] and I tried it. So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room. And I said aloud, “Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this. If you want it to be better, you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal. But if you don’t do that, you know what, the hell with it. I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”
We spoke in last week’s post of the Material Plane and the Plane of Potentiality. What Elizabeth Gilbert did in line 7 above was to reach out (“cry out” might be closer) from the first level to the second.
If it’s true that
Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance …
then what Ms. Gilbert did (and what every writer and artist does every day in their work) is to strive to ascend from the former to the latter.
The “unlived life” was her unwritten book.
The unlived self was the person she was struggling to become, the person who could write that book and get it out there into the real world.
Elizabeth Gilbert was entering the Plane of Potentiality, where Eat, Pray, Love resided in as yet unrealized form … and bringing it forth onto the Material Plane, where you and I could buy it and read it.
That’s the writer’s life.
That’s the war of art.