But in preparation for her upcoming book, Big Magic, which encourages readers to face their fears, Gilbert decided to practice what she preaches. Which is how she ended up singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on a New York City karaoke stage.
After sharing her experience on Facebook, readers demanded video evidence. Without any to offer, Gilbert decided to confront her karaoke fears again – but for a price.
The author challenged readers to raise $10,000 for the charity BlinkNow, and Gilbert promised to match the donations and offer up a video of her belting out the Bonnie Tyler hit. As of performance time, a total of over $110,000 had been raised for charity, and Gilbert delivered the goods.
See below for her performance on N.Y.C.’s Queen of the Night stage, and click here to learn more about BlinkNow and donate to the cause.
It’s not every day that we get to go behind the curtain with the person responsible for a global phenomenon on the level of the best-selling-memoir-turned-Julia-Roberts-blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s upcoming book Big Magic, debuting this September from Riverhead Books, this self-taught author shares her strategies for bringing joy and delight into artistic pursuits.
Elizabeth knows firsthand that creative work can be fraught with obstacles and anxiety, even when you’ve achieved some success. In Big Magic, she offers insights into the magical nature of creativity; the path to uncovering the “strange jewels” the universe buries within each of us; the courage to tackle what we most love (and fear); and the attitudes, approaches, and habits that will sustain a creative life. Elizabeth believes creative living is available to everyone — artists and non-artists alike.
They may get under our skin, but best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert says there are some things that only family can teach us.
“I had a great teacher in India who said to me, ‘If you think you’re spiritual and evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas and see how it goes,'” Gilbert says in the above video.
Addressing a live audience during Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour, Gilbert goes on to explain why the people you love the most are also the ones who challenge you the most.
“In AA they always say to you, ‘How come your family knows how to push your buttons? Because they installed them,'” she says. “They know where they are because they put them in you.”
Though they can be the biggest cause of stress and anxiety, Gilbert says we can learn a great deal from family. “These are the greatest spiritual teachers of your life,” she says. “And when you go into these situations where you feel your back going up and you’re bristling — watch it. Because this is an opportunity to have a real spiritual lesson where it counts, where the rubber meets the road.”
The moment you start to feel that stress and anxiety building up, Gilbert says to stop and think. “This is a teachable moment. What am I being asked to learn here? Patience? Dignity? Boundaries? Generosity? Compassion?”
Or maybe, it’s getting up and leaving the situation. “That same monk said to me, ‘We have an obligation to love everybody in the world,'” Gilbert says. “‘But some people we must love from a safe distance.'”
Viking will publish Gilbert’s sixth book, a novel titled “The Signature of All Things.” It is her first work of fiction in 13 years and unlike anything she has ever written. The book’s heroine is Alma Whittaker, the brilliant, restless daughter of an imperious botanical explorer. Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns — the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry — are essentially modern.
The sights of sleepy Frenchtown, New Jersey, include several horse farms, three steepled churches, and, in front of one yellow Victorian house, a large supine Buddha. The deity reclines on the lawn of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who greeted a visitor recently wearing an apron on which was scrawled, “In her presence flowers blossomed, bees buzzed, and the sun shined brighter than before.” Gilbert was about to attempt a recipe for Celery au Gratin from the cookbook “At Home on the Range; or, How to Make Friends with Your Stove,” which was published in 1947, by her great-grandmother Margaret Yardley Potter.
The barefoot author bore little physical resemblance to her predecessor, who died before she was born (“Well, you must be the one who cooks,” someone said of Potter, upon meeting her and her sister). But both Potter, a marmish débutante-turned-housewife with a drinking problem, and Gilbert, an ashram-hopping exemplar of self-discovery, have something of the guru about them. Both writers dispense aphorisms with a wink—the elder on learning to love dandelion greens and cockscombs with wine in the heyday of Jell-O, the younger on learning to love oneself, post-marital meltdown
What book is on your night stand now?
“Rome,” by Robert Hughes. Though I’m finding it challenging to read about Rome without immediately wanting to run away to Rome.
When and where do you like to read?
When I am awake, and wherever I happen to be. If I could read while I was driving, showering, socializing or sleeping, I would do it.
What was the last truly great book you read?
Nothing in the last few years has dazzled me more than Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” which blew the top of my head straight off. I’ve read it three times, and I’m still trying to figure out how she put that magnificent thing together. Now I’m on to its sequel, “Bring Up the Bodies,” which is nicely satisfying my need for more Thomas Cromwell.
Are you a fiction or a nonfiction person? What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I enjoy both, although I unfairly hold fiction to a far higher standard. With nonfiction, I figure I can glean something educational or interesting out of the book even if the writing is weak. But if the first chapter of a novel doesn’t feel perfect and accurate to me, I simply can’t read on; it’s too painful. Meanwhile, my (very) guilty pleasure is tabloid journalism. I hate to say it, but I know the names of all the celebrities’ babies.
Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Creative Process.
The author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some large topics. Her next fascination is genius and how we ruin it. In this TEDTalk, Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius.
Elizabeth Gilbert faced a pre-midlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of — running away for a year. Her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia resulted in the mega-bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about the process of finding herself by leaving home. The book was on The New York Times bestseller list for 187 weeks.
FRENCHTOWN, N.J. — Elizabeth Gilbert is standing at her stove, stirring flour into melted butter, attempting a simple white sauce for the base of an oyster bisque. As she slowly adds the milk, just as directed in the recipe, the sauce clumps.
“I don’t know about this, I’ve never made a white sauce before,” she says, stirring furiously to smooth out the lumps.
The best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love is the first to admit her greatest talent is not in the kitchen. But she has tied on an apron to promote the work of another writer in the family: her great-grandmother from Philadelphia, Margaret Yardley Potter, who, by all accounts, was a marvelous cook.