Feeling the Magic

big magic

It’s been radio silence for a while here at Hazel Hughes Romance. Crickets. But I’m back, thanks to this book – Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Er, what does that have to do with erotic romance? Nothing. And everything.

See, when I first started writing, I was all about squeaky clean chick lit. Think Emily Giffin or Jennifer Wiener. That was who I thought I was and definitely who society wanted me – a teacher, wife and mother – to be.

But my characters thought otherwise. They kept trying to get it on. And not just lights out, whispers and moans and euphemisms. They wanted to do it with the lights on with people who weren’t necessarily their husbands. They wanted to talk dirty and act naughty, sometimes in public.

So I went with it. The mainstream success of E.L. James not long after I had finished my own story of sexual-domination-leading-to-love gave me some confidence. Enough, in fact that I decided to self-publish Please and start a blog where I would promote my erotic romance and explore some of the issues around sex and love that interested me.

Then I freaked out.

To be fair, at the time I was in a country where many of the experiences my characters were having – infidelity, homosexual encounters – were not only frowned upon by polite society but punishable, possibly by death. Each time I published a blog post or posted a story, I wondered, was my blog being monitored? Would I be arrested? Deported?

But it wasn’t just that. I was an educated woman. An English teacher. None of my friends read the kinds of things I was writing. Talking about my work made me feel like justifying my love of Doritos to a bunch of Paleo-diet health freaks. So I stopped.

I stopped blogging. I stopped promoting Please. But what was worse, I stopped writing.

I tried to go back to chick lit. Messed around with political suspense. Even started a memoire. But nothing stuck. I just wasn’t that into it.

When a friend recommended Big Magic, I didn’t jump on it immediately. Sure, I had read Eat, Pray, Love, like everyone else. And I liked the way Gilbert wrote, conversational and down to earth, like a wise friend or big sister. But Creativity Beyond Fear? That sounded a little too self-helpy for me.

Well, sisters, sometimes even the best of us need a little help.

My takeaway from Big Magic?

  • Creativity is not reserved for the chosen few. We all have it, and we should all use it. Writers, painters, scrap-bookers, trapeze-swingers, get your creativity on! Why? Because it makes you happy.
  • Creative works don’t need to have any redeeming qualities. They don’t need to promote a cause or be educational. “Because I like it” is reason enough.
  • There will be haters. Naysayers. People who just don’t get why you do what you do. Are you going to let those party-poopers kill your joy? Hells, no!

Is there some creative path you’ve wanted to explore but haven’t? Why not take just one little step down that path today? It could lead to something magical.