– 6: Creative Curiosity: Discovering Wisdom in the Details of our Lives with Elizabeth Gilbert

This episode’s guest is Elizabeth Gilbert. Liz is the beloved author of 2006’s runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Eat, Pray, Love is Gilbert’s memoir of soul-searching and international exploration in the wake of her devastating divorce.

Committed, the follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love, tells the story of Gilbert’s unexpected plunge into second marriage—this time to Felipe, the man with whom she falls in love at the end of Eat, Pray, Love. Her Ted talk on creativity has over 5 million views, and she recently finished a novel, The Signature of All Things, to be published in October, 2013.

In this episode, Elizabeth Gilbert and I speak about:

The Signature of All Things
Connection: how she uses it in her writing and how it plays in her life
The wisdom of details and how they can help us see a bigger picture
How perfectionism holds women back from living their truth.
Curiosity and the Creative Process
How passion can hold us back

Tune in to listen to my conversation “Creative Curiosity” with Elizabeth Gilbert.
Subscribe to the Emerging Women podcast on iTunes.

Chantal Pierrat: Welcome Liz! I feel kind of funny calling you “Liz,” but I guess everybody around you calls you Liz. Is that OK?

Elizabeth Gilbert: If you call me “Elizabeth,” I’ll think that you’re my mother and you’re mad at me, so it’s probably best if you call me “Liz.” [Laughs] Everybody else does.

CP: OK! Well, I’m honored to be calling you “Liz,” and I’m honored to have you here on the Grace and Fire show, so welcome!

EG: Thank you so much, I’m delighted to be here! 

CP: Great. Well, there’s a lot of places that we’ll probably end up going today, but I wanted to start with your book since it’s sitting here right in my hands. You were so kind to send me an unproofed copy. I’ve had a chance to dig in a little bit, and I have to say, it’s kind of a page-turner.

EG: Oh, I’m so glad it’s making you turn the pages. That’s what I want. I want you to sprain your wrist turning pages with this book. [Laughs]

CP: Yes! I didn’t realize it. Since I knew we were having this call, I thought, “I want to get into this a little bit,” and it’s one of those books that’s starting to take over, and I have to be careful because, you know, Emerging Women’s already taking over, so I’m like, “OK, hang on here!”

EG: You’re going to fall down the rabbit hole!

CP: Yes, I’m definitely falling down the rabbit hole. But it’s interesting—I’ve not read your fiction. I’ve read, obviously, Eat, Pray, Love, which completely had such a big effect on me. And so I’m curious to hear a little bit more about how this process was for you, not really writing about yourself. In the last two books, you’ve been writing memoir style. How did this feel?

EG: Well, it felt like a homecoming. That would be the word that I would use, that popped into my mind. It’s true, you’re not the only person who hasn’t read my fiction! [Laughs] I started out as a writer of fiction many years ago, and the only thing I ever wanted to be my whole life, my only dream as a writer, was to write short stories and novels.

So my first book was a collection of short stories and my second book was a novel. I was well on that path, and then my life fell apart, as anybody who’s got $10 to buy a paperback of Eat, Pray, Love knows. And I ended up veering very sharply into this world of confessional memoirs that, of course, I do not regret having done at all. It’s been an extraordinary encounter with myself and with readers. It’s just been an amazing phenomenon.

And then after that came Committed, the follow-up, but 12 years had passed and I hadn’t written a word of fiction. And I just had that feeling that we get sometimes in our lives where I felt like, “If I drift any further away from this essential part of myself, I will never uncover it again. It’s time.”

And also,