About Creative Genius
A delightful discovery, recommended by friend Sabine: the TED site and its speaker series…and the talk on “A different way to think about creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert, the wildly successful author of, among others, Eat, Pray, Love, three verbs whose order I regularly forget.
TED is a conference that aims to present “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” I never heard of it before today and I now feel I’ve hit pure cyberchocolate.
Gilbert’s talk is about the burden of fear and responsibility that a lot of artists and writers carry because the culture no longer believes in muses and daemons, but puts the whole weight of performance on the poor struggling individual. She considers this situation “odious…and dangerous” and is very funny on the subject.
She compares her situation of writing another book at forty with her greatest success likely behind her to the difficulty of starting out as a writer, when the people you run into all say: aren’t you terrified…?
She describes herself as a writer “as a mule,” she just keeps on pulling.
The idea is: instead of having to be a genius, just do your job of writing, painting, or whatever; and welcome whatever inexplicable assistance shows up in the form of the genius that can occasionally visit any of us.
Go listen to her on the site. She makes this very relieving idea charmingly hilarious and companionable.