Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame was the speaker at Voices on Wednesday. WOW! is the word that comes to mind. I loved her voice, her ability to tell a story and her thoughts on just where ideas really come from.
She spoke about the creative process through numerous stories. The first one told was a story her Brazilian husband told her about a corporation who wanted to build a highway through the Amazon. They started the work and then the rainy season required a halt. When they returned to work again, everything they had done had been completely absorbed by the jungle. There was no sign that anything had ever been there. She thought this had the makings of a book and so developed the story line and characters, applied for funding with her publisher and it was accepted. Then life got in the way and the book was put on hold. When she returned to it, the story was gone. She could not bring it back. Some time later she met Ann Patchett, whom she had always admired. They became good friends, sharing their friendship through letter writing. They had another visit with Ann telling Liz about a book she was working on about the Amazon. Liz conveyed that she had started a similar story but the idea had moved on. Ann asked her to tell her story. In the end, Ann's story was almost identical in theme and character to the idea that Liz had originally. Ann's book has been published and is State of Wonder.
From this, Liz suggests that ideas are not really ours. Rather, they are in the universe looking for a vessel, someone who will act on them. If you do not act on them when they present themselves, then they will move on and look for someone who will. I am sure that I am not doing justice to her ideas but listen to this Ted Talk by Elizabeth. It is good.
She closed with the idea that people often tell you to follow your passion however, many people don't know their passion. She suggests that we follow our curiosities.
What a lovely way to spend and evening.