When creativity = magic (plus a giveaway!)

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“Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment—not entirely human in its origins.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

(Want to win a copy of this book? Details at the bottom of the post!)

Welcome back to the Everyday Artistry blog! After a long hiatus spent getting this new website up and running, I’m happy to be back! My writing muscles are feeling a bit tight and need to be stretched and worked again, so bear with me!

Magic. What do you think of when you hear the word? Men in tuxedos waving silk scarves? A boy with a zigzag scar on his forehead? A card game played in the corners of comic book shops?

To me magic is what creativity feels like when it’s working properly. It feels like a tiny tear in the shiny gloss of everyday life where something not of this world can sneak in. And it’s something I have spent my whole life seeking.

I first learned about magic from books as a kid, when I would be able to see through time and space to a different reality:

“She found the poems had the power to make random, vivid pictures in her mind, like sparks struck from flint. Images of childhood and old age, of nature ever changing, of birth and death, joy and pain; and binding them all like beads upon a string, a thread of magic that ran throughout. There was about them, above all, an overwhelming air of mystery, of the day to day made suddenly strange.” — Michael Bedard, Painted Devil

I became more aware of it when I started paying attention to art, and found that certain pieces gave me a twinge of electricity and opened up entire worlds of possibility.

“Time has no meaning, space and place have no meaning, on this journey. All times can be inhabited, all places visited. In a single day the mind can make a millpond of the oceans. Some people who have never crossed the land they were born on have travelled all over the world. The journey is not linear, it is always back and forth, denying the calender, the wrinkles and lines of the body. The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door, which disappears at once.” — Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry

I started to crave interaction with the magic - I didn’t just want to observe it, I wanted to participate.

I wanted to craft my own worlds.

“I know this feeling welling up in me, even though it is an emotion that is as hard to place as the exact colour of this morning’s sky. It is the feeling that, all my life, has made me want to write a poem. It’s the same feeling Robert Frost described when he wrote that a poem “begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” But what is this particular tickle in the human brain? Why is it strong enough, urgent enough, that for thousands of years of recorded history—and likely for at least a hundred thousand years before that—human beings have been impelled to find ways of expressing it?” — Alice Major, Intersecting Sets: A poet looks at Science

In the years since, I have been doing everything I can to make magic part of my daily reality. I’ve been learning to feed it, nurture it, and let it grow. I’ve worked on calming the parts of myself that fear the magic and want to snuff it out.

“If I’m not writing, I’m not well. If I’m not writing the world around me is slowly leached of its color. My senses are dulled. I am crabby with my husband, short-tempered with my kid and more inclined to see small things wrong with my house (the crack in the ceiling, the smudge prints along the staircase wall) than look out the window at the blazing maple tree, the family of geese making its way across our driveway. If I’m not writing, my heart hardens, rather than lifts.” —
Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

And I’ve spent my days chasing the ethereal beings called ideas, hoping to work with them to make something beautiful.

“I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us—albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Now my second biggest desire (besides bringing these ideas to life) is to help you discover where magic is hiding in your life and to develop your own relationship with it.

If you’re not sure what magic feels like, here are some of the ways it might be showing up:

That fluttery feeling you get when you start to make something new.

When your heart starts pounding and you feel like the air is full of electricity. When every little thing seems to carry a weight of meaning and ordinary things feel extraordinary.

When you start working on a project and suddenly everything you encounter seems to be part of it and you can pull thread after thread after thread into it.

When you forget about time and get lost in examining and photographing a seed pod or chasing a woodpecker through the woods.

When a new idea shows up in your brain fully formed and you can’t wait to get started.

When a skill that you’ve been struggling with suddenly clicks and you feel like you’ve been doing it your whole life.

When you collaborate on a project, throwing ideas back and forth, and watching them become bigger and better than they ever would have been had you been working alone.

When you do something that terrifies you and feel a rush of joy when the fear subsides and you feel connected to your true purpose.

The warm glow when you hold up something you made and know that, no matter what anyone else says or thinks, it’s beautiful and perfect.

When you fall down a rabbit hole of research, learning the most random facts and cherishing every single nugget.

When those facts start to magnetize in your brain to other random facts and you suddenly have made a connection that has never been made before.

When you feel like you can touch the edges of the universe.

How can we find magic? By soothing our fear, ignoring our inner critic, taking leaps, being mindfully present, and trying new things. We don’t give up. We keep trying, no matter how dark things get, no matter how ugly our work is, no matter how pointless it all seems.

Magic won’t happen on its own. We need to seek it out, every day.

Driving to work we can notice the colour of the sky and how different it is from yesterday. On the bus we can listen to overheard conversations and feel the different rhythms of speech and enjoy the stories being told. In the grocery store we can appreciate the way the colours blend on a mango or an apple.

We can make time for reading novels and poetry, visiting art galleries, going to concerts and plays. We can read about anything and everything that catches our attention, and start making the unlikely connections that lead to magic.

We can make time for stillness, for meditation and contemplation and for feeling our feels. We can wonder about the mysteries of the universe, or about the hidden worlds inside the people we meet.

But most importantly, we can do the things we feel called to do. Paint that apple, write a story about the couple on the bus, photograph that woodpecker and knit one that looks just like it.

Magic comes from curiosity and wonder. It comes from movement and action. And most of all, it comes from love.

To celebrate my new website and our constant quest to find creative magic, I’m giving away a copy of one of my all-time favourite books on the subject: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to those who entered!