Have Questions?
close

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

00:00:13
I am a writer.
00:00:15
Writing books is my profession but it's more than that, of course.
00:00:18
It is also my great lifelong love and fascination.
00:00:22
And I don't expect that that's ever going to change.
00:00:25
But, that said, something kind of peculiar has happened recently
00:00:30
in my life and in my career,
00:00:32
which has caused me to have to recalibrate my whole relationship with this work.
00:00:37
And the peculiar thing is that I recently wrote this book,
00:00:41
this memoir called "Eat, Pray, Love"
00:00:43
which, decidedly unlike any of my previous books,
00:00:47
went out in the world for some reason, and became this big,
00:00:51
mega-sensation, international bestseller thing.
00:00:54
The result of which is that everywhere I go now,
00:00:57
people treat me like I'm doomed.
00:00:59
Seriously -- doomed, doomed!
00:01:03
Like they come up to me now all worried and they say,
00:01:05
"Aren't you afraid -- aren't you afraid you're never going to be able to top that?
00:01:09
Aren't you afraid you're going to keep writing for your whole life
00:01:12
and you're never again going to create a book
00:01:15
that anybody in the world cares about at all,
00:01:17
ever again?"
00:01:19
So that's reassuring, you know.
00:01:22
But it would be worse, except for that I happen to remember
00:01:25
that over 20 years ago, when I first started telling people -- when I was a teenager --
00:01:29
that I wanted to be a writer,
00:01:31
I was met with this same kind of, sort of fear-based reaction.
00:01:34
And people would say, "Aren't you afraid you're never going to have any success?
00:01:37
Aren't you afraid the humiliation of rejection will kill you?
00:01:40
Aren't you afraid that you're going to work your whole life at this craft
00:01:43
and nothing's ever going to come of it
00:01:45
and you're going to die on a scrap heap of broken dreams
00:01:47
with your mouth filled with bitter ash of failure?"
00:01:51
(Laughter)
00:01:52
Like that, you know.
00:01:55
The answer -- the short answer to all those questions is, "Yes."
00:01:59
Yes, I'm afraid of all those things.
00:02:02
And I always have been.
00:02:04
And I'm afraid of many many more things besides
00:02:06
that people can't even guess at.
00:02:08
Like seaweed, and other things that are scary.
00:02:11
But, when it comes to writing
00:02:13
the thing that I've been sort of thinking about lately, and wondering about lately, is why?
00:02:18
You know, is it rational?
00:02:20
Is it logical that anybody should be expected
00:02:22
to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do.
00:02:26
You know, and what is it specifically about creative ventures
00:02:31
that seems to make us really nervous about each other's mental health
00:02:34
in a way that other careers kind of don't do, you know?
00:02:38
Like my dad, for example, was a chemical engineer
00:02:41
and I don't recall once in his 40 years of chemical engineering
show more
add my translation
Working...
no translation