Last night my friend Alyssa and I made the trek to someplace called Red Bank, NJ, (I swear I had no idea where I was) to see the amazing Elizabeth Gilbert. She is the author of Eat Pray Love, Big Magic, The Signature of All Things, and numerous other books. She is my favorite living writer (competing with Sylvia Plath and F. Scott Fitzgerald, although I don’t think I’ll be seeing them in person any time soon) and this is the third time I have seen her in person. Several years ago I saw her in Connecticut with my sister-in-law Jan when she spoke at a local college. Last year I went to a weekend workshop at the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts that she gave with her partner, Rayya Elias. And then there was last night. I think if I see her again I may be considered a groupie, but that’s okay. No one deserves groupies more than uber-talented creative souls.
Reading Liz’s work, listening to her podcast, hearing her books in the car, watching her Ted talks, and most of all seeing her in person goes beyond inspiring. Yes, she inspires me to be my best creative self, but she also awakens this desire within me to do better, be better, think better, to just…I don’t know…better myself. I don’t mean I want to go forth and change my life. I am talking about allowing all that is authentically me come out.
Case in point: last night Liz had a brief Q and A after her talk. People got up to ask her about her writing process, how she is doing since Rayya’s death, and for relationship advice (her answer involved saying “why would you want advice from a twice divorced, newly minted lesbian widow?”). My favorite answer was one she gave to a fellow writer. I don’t even remember the specific question, but it had something to do with advice for when writing is difficult or unrewarding. Her advice was simple: do it anyway.
Do it even if no one is reading it. Do it even if your critics pan it. Do it if you put it online and internet trolls attempt to defame you. I so needed to hear this. Since I began this blog I have wondered where my readers are. Are they there at all? Is anyone out there? I get some comments, I can check my stats to see how many views I’ve had, and I receive comments from people who have read my posts. But I keep thinking I want to spread this thing around. I would like more readers simply because I want to be known, at least in some small way, as a writer. But last night I realized it doesn’t matter. I’m doing this thing—this blog—because I love to write. Because I had creativity crashing against the sides of my body longing to escape. Because I know in my soul that writing was the thing I was born to do. I don’t need fans, or long lines waiting for a photo with me, or an audience of 400 people. I just need this iPad and my words, pouring forth each day.
And so I will continue to do it anyway. Ever onward to a creative life that is uncertain, scary, unrecognized, but uniquely me.