I interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert, the New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, about her latest book Big Magic ahead of her talk in Atlanta later this month. Elizabeth was incredibly generous in her interview and is a quote a minute. Not everything could make it into my 875-word article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so I included some of my favorite moments from our conversation below.
“I see people behave toward their creativity in ways that I recognize as being self-destructive or counterproductive to them. I see a culture where certain things are ingrained in us, like the Romanov of the tormented artist, and I rejected it long before I had success. I was not going to be an art martyr. I had an ethic around creativity.”
“Ideas are a divine invitation and the work itself is a reward. It’s a reward because of the way it changes you, not necessarily because of the way it changes the world. At the end of a creative encounter you will be different than you were before, and that in itself makes it worth doing.”
She also shared a story about a 95-year-old former New York City show girl who she interviewed as a part of her research for an upcoming novel. Elizabeth says that she originally thought that getting older women to talk about sex would be difficult, and now she can’t get them to stop. The woman has never been married and does not have any children. She had many lovers in her lifetime, including the actor John Wayne. One night at a bar she picked up a man and spent the night with him. The next morning she saw that he left money for her and she was appalled. She left the money and went across the street to Bergdorf Goodman to purchase the man a nice tie. She left it on his dresser with a note saying that she had a nice time.