About 40 donors of UCSB Arts & Lectures were invited to a splendid private reception at the stunning Fernald Point home of Loren Booth to visit with renowned writers Elizabeth Gilbert and Pico Iyer.
After a cloudy, blustery start to the day last Saturday, the sun came out and the wind fell silent just in time for the reception on Booth’s luxurious poolside deck at the edge of the ocean. The intimate gathering allowed all of the guests to speak one-on-one with the writers and socialize among themselves before adjourning to the adjacent guesthouse for a seated, informal Q&A session.
Since the format for the talk at The Granada Theatre later that evening was for Iyer to interview Gilbert, the Q&A was for the guests to ask their own questions. Gilbert’s laid-back and candid style, along with her signature wit and charm, made the insights she shared all the more meaningful and delightful.
Gilbert started the Q&A by sharing the warm sentiment that captured the moment: “It’s beautiful to be here and it’s so civilized. I just feel like I’m in the right place with the right people and it’s a wonderful feeling.”
The first question was if the concept behind her latest book, Big Magic: that ideas have a spirit of their own and want to be made manifest and look for human collaborators, came to her long ago. She responded that she has always felt that way, that she knows the difference between things that come from her and things that come to her.
When asked whether all the meditation she has been through has taught her to quiet her mind and made her more creative, she responded that that would have been nice, but no. She confessed that she finds meditation tremendously boring and would rather do most anything else. She shared that “writing is my meditation practice and everything that they promised that would come to me through meditation has come to me through writing.” Gilbert has found that through writing she is able to sit in stillness, have that single-pointed focus, lose track of the clock and lose track of herself in time and space. On a lighter note, she also finds that after writing, she’s kinder. Iyer commented that he has never meditated for a second in his life and completely agrees with Gilbert — writing is also his meditation.
Elizabeth Gilbert captivated the world in 2006 with her transformative memoir, Eat, Pray, Love and later with Committed: A Love Story. Her novel, The Signature of All Things, was praised by the Washington Post as a “rare literary achievement” and by O, The Oprah Magazine as “the novel of a lifetime.” In her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Gilbert shares her perspective about creativity.
Pico Iyer is a highly acclaimed essayist and novelist based in California and Japan. Among his many books are Video Night in Kathmandu and The Lady and the Monk. His essays, reviews, and other writings have appeared in Time, Conde Nast Traveler, Harper’s, the New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and Salon.com.
The event was sponsored by Lauren Booth, Christine and William Fletcher, and Gretchen Lieff.
For more info about Arts & Lectures, go to artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
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By Gail Arnold