TEDxNewYork is held at GreyNY, 200 Fifth Avenue. We meet every week (mostly) on Fridays now and (mostly) from 1-2pm. We are open to the public. If you want to attend, send a note to admin@tedxnewyork.com (that's Don McKinney & Chel O'Reilly) with your vitals. Our biggest limitation is space so give us plenty of notice and we'll do our best to accommodate. Hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Session 5: Understand- Elizabeth Gilbert

She doesn't just write because she's a writer. She writes because she's passionate about it.

_Eat, Pray, Love_ has changed her relationship with the world and writing. "People treat me like I'm doomed." How do you follow that great book with any sort of success? But then, that was the sort of reaction she was greeted with when she was young and said she wanted to be a writer: "what if you fail? isn't that the most likely thing?"

Now, many other professions aren't treated that way, but of course many great writers came undone by their gifts and works. We don't even blink when we hear about that.

She doesn't want to perpetuate the idea that authors are doomed. How do we change that perception? To shift the paradigm in thinking, she started looking at other societies and how other managed their gifts of creativity.

In ancient Greece and Rome, creativity wasn't from within, they were divine entities that visited people. It gave a distance to protect you from your work, a genius wasn't a person it was something outside you. Credit didn't fall on the shoulders of the creator so ego wasn't a big problem either. Then in the Renaissance we put people in the middle of the picture. We genius was now the person.

The pressure of that is what has damaged the artists for the last 500 years.

Now science isn't going to support the idea of your magic faerie is what gives you your creation, but it is psychically relieving.

Okay so I missed the name of the poet whose story she just told but it gave me goosebumps. Other bloggers, HELP! The idea of a poem chasing you down, running you over or passing through on its way to another poet.

From interviewing Tom Waits, she learned that he stopped being the tortured artist when he was driving down the road and he heard a piece of a song he couldn't write down. The anxiety of perhaps losing it started to overwhelm changed when he looked to the sky and said this: "Excuse me, can you not see that I'm driving? If you want to exist, come back to me when I can work with you." He let the art be outside of him, and that is what can save us.

Now when an artist hits a sweet amazing place that s/he has channeled the divine it is wonderful, but what happens when the dream is over?

Just show up for work. You do your part. Dance. Write. Be there for the divine spirit to show up or not.

Cheers to you anyway. This is what we must teach.

So that's what Ms. Gilbert said.

And everyone jumped to their feet. Even the hostess was tearful.

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