A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Liz Gilbert speak at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco. It was a conversation guided by Lisa Congdon, a fine print and graphic artist. As I post more quotes and selections from her talk, I'll be tagging them all under Elizabeth Gilbert for easy finding.
Passion is very much unpredictable.
And it's very much at the whims of the Gods. It will come and go. And when you've got it, ride it. And when you don't, back down and rely on curiosity.
Curiosity is a much more mild, gentle, impulse.
Passion is something like: burn your house down, get divorced, move to another country, and get a face tattoo. Curiosity is more like, pottery's interesting! And you don't have to sacrifice anything - passion demands the full sacrifice. Curiosity just asks you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that's got your interest.
When I'm in a place where I don't have any ideas, and I don't feel any passion, and my head's not on fire - which is most Tuesdays - what I pay attention to is 'what's got me interested? What's like a little blip the radar?'
Awhile ago, I'd just bought a house and I thought, I'd like to put in a garden. I was just messing around with it.
It was as simple as 'this is nice. I want to do this.'
Over the course of the summer of creating this garden, I wanted to know the history of the plants. I found out that a lot of the plant people were women, and that botany was the only science women were allowed to participate in during the 19th century.
And then I'm like, I'd like to read about that. Wait - I might even like to write about that! All of a sudden it's growing and growing, and the next thing you know I'm writing a 500 page novel about it.
I didn't wake up one day and say, "I want to write this book." This was a year and a half after my garden was planted. These things take awhile. To me, curiosity is a series of clues on a great scavenger hunt. I've had things in my life that I've created out of passion, but mostly, of the stuff that I've done, it came from curiosity. If I waited for passion to strike, I would've written maybe one book.