There is so much to love about this interview with Elizabeth Gilbert in Slate, you’ve got to read the whole thing. Gilbert explains that she feels, in her life, she was saved by her work. Not once, but many times. She didn’t see that story in literature so she decided to write it.
I really did set out to try to write a 19th century novel with a more complete female experience. The only two endings that women ever got in those books—which are stupendous books with fantastic characters and extraordinary women—but at the end you either married Mr. Darcy or you were under the wheels of a train. I really wanted to write a book about a woman whose life is saved by her work, which I feel is not a story we see often, but as somebody whose life has been saved many, many times by my own work, it’s a really important story to me.
Do you relate? I sure do.
Gilbert talks about what happened to her when she wrote a man’s story and when she wrote a woman’s story.
It has not escaped my attention that when I wrote about a man’s emotional journey they gave me the National Book Award nomination, but when I wrote about a woman’s emotional journey, they shunted me into the “chick lit” dungeon.
And here’s some inspiring advice.
If we’ve somehow internalized this idea that it’s disgraceful or lacking in seriousness to discuss our feelings, our dreams, the ways in which we want to become better human beings—either that somehow those are trivial topics, and of course they are not at all; they’re the big topics, the only topics—if we’ve somehow decided that that’s going to subject us to ridicule or dismissal then that’s kind of our own fault, I think. Just refuse it! I don’t know any other way. Just refuse it, and push through, and eventually, everybody else will catch up…I think the only thing you can do is to battle with your acts. Your acts are your axe. You put your work forward and you don’t back down. I think that’s all you can do. You can get mad, but don’t live there, because that becomes its own paralysis. Just get to work!
Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book is called The Signature of All Things. And now, I’m getting off line to finish mine.