Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert

   I dig the title Big Magic, but in keeping with Liz Gilbert's blockbuster book that became a mega-hit movie, this book should be called "Feast, Meditate, Adore." Loved it!
   Gilbert serves up a buffet of practical but inspired advice on living your most creative life, no matter what mode of mojo that stirs your creative juices. Served up in small delicious helpings so you can graze instead of feeling stuffed with information, she takes you through all the courses needed to satisfy your creative appetite and keep you coming back for more: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, and divinity.
   I devoured Big Magic in three days but spent a lot of time in ceiling-staring contemplation while the big ideas took their time sinking in. Gilbert seems to have had her act together even as a teenager in wanting to be a writer and committing to it no matter what, believing in herself and believing that if she courts inspiration, inspiration will find her again and again. Me? Not so much. Many of the lessons she imparts I've had to learn the hard way, through beating my head against the table where I write until there finally comes an "aha" moment from observing my patterns and seeing the big picture. So many things Gilbert teaches I still didn't know, and Big Magic will be my bible going forth to keep me on the creative path and save me from many head-beating headaches.
   I adore Gilbert's writing style, simple and succinct, but zesty with real-life anecdotes and delectable quotes. Some of my fave parts are "The Shit Sandwich," "Fierce Trust" -- the outcome cannot matter (I've already pinned this quote on my life tips cork board!) -- and the Liz Gilbert/Ann Patchett Amazonian mind-meld connection. There wasn't total adoration though. Gilbert challenged me, even shamed me on letting my ego get in the way and expecting rewards from something (creativity/inspiration) given to me freely. But these were lessons I needed to learn. She also pissed me off in dissing my dream of winning the lottery. She calls it "self-infantilizing." I call it "the hope of retirement," Sweetie. But I forgive her, and I'll keep buying those lottery tickets so someday I might be able to quit my day job and devote myself to becoming a writer half as good as Liz Gilbert. Until then, I will look in the mirror and say "I am a writer," I will sit down and put words on paper every day in the snippets of time I can find, and I will let myself PLAY with writing and whatever other creative inclinations that inspiration sends my way. I will remember:

"You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don't understand the outcome."

   Thanks, Liz!   

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation" by Melissa Rivers

   OMJ, I just finished The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers and it is this Joan Ranger's dream come true! "What the heck is a Joan Ranger?" you may be asking. According to, a Joan Ranger is "fans and followers of Joan Rivers while she is hosting Fashion Police on the E! Network." As an actual Joan Ranger, I would take the definition way beyond fans and followers, I would go all the way to devotees, fanatics, even junkies. It is hard for me to believe, even harder to admit, that until a couple of years ago I didn't know what a Joan Ranger was, didn't even really care for Joan Rivers. I thought she was obnoxious. That all changed the first time I watched Fashion Police -- I WAS HOOKED, just like a coke addict after snorting their first line! Joan was hilarious, cracking me up and often slaying her cohosts "G" (Giuliana Rancic), Kel-Kel (Kelly Osbourne), and Georgie-Porgie (George Kotsiopoulos) with her raucous quips to the point that sometimes they couldn't even speak when it was their turn to comment. They were in shock and guffaw, while I was in fashion and funny heaven, literally dragging my ass through the work week just to get to my Friday night Fashion Police fix. Ask my boyfriend, when Fashion Police was on, he no longer existed.
   Since Ms. Joan passed in September 2014, I have been subsisting on the Fashion Police: Remembering Joan Rivers 90-minute special (unfortunately the only FP I saved on the DVR, which has been viewed and savored many times!), watching Giuliana and Kelly host red carpet events, and the short-lived revival of Fashion Police with Kathy Griffin at the helm. Believe me, the lack of Joan in my life has been depressing, like hearing about Lindsay Lohan in the news but without Joan's follow-up ba-rum-bum rehab or vagina jokes: what could have been funny was just sad. BUT, my life just got a lot better with The Book of Joan! Melissa Rivers is hilarious, too, with a caustic wit a lot like her mother's but with a sliver of sweetness to it, plus her own daughter-of-a-diva view of the world. Reading the book, which I did in two and a half days (and one of those days I had to work!), was like getting a behind-the-scenes pass to hang out with Joan and Melissa in real life. And what a cray-cray life they had together! There are way too many uproarious scenes to recount here, but one in particular -- "The Purse" chapter, page 155 -- about bacon bits and fake blood had me laughing so hard I was crying right in the middle of getting a pedicure and the Asian nail technician started fanning me because she must have thought I was being overcome by shellac remover fumes! 
   If you are a Fashion Police lover, a fashionista, a Joan Rivers' fan, or just someone who likes to laugh, read the book. You'll love it, it's a gem! Melissa Rivers is not only funny but an excellent writer as well. And it gets even better: she will be co-hosting Fashion Police when it returns in August. Melissa was the producer before and often sat in as guest co-host when one of the regulars was away, so I always thought she would be the perfect person to resurrect the show. Now after reading her book, I know it's meant to be. She is truly funny in her own right and the only one capable of filling Joan's chair.
   Melissa Rivers, this Joan Ranger salutes you and can't wait to hear your first pick for fash-hole of the week!