Updated: Jan 16
Epilogue: Big Magic
“It’s not fair, everyone else is out at the beach enjoying the summer but I have to stay in and practice,” I whined. “It’s so stupid, I make things appear then vanish then appear again. It’s so boring.” I was in the middle of a session with Matthew, my life-coach.
Probably fed up with me moaning, Matthew asked innocently, “Romany, if you weren’t practicing magic, what would you rather be doing?”
And this is what I said: “I’d rather be writing. I’d like to get up in the morning and write. I’d like to write all day.”
This was odd because I’d never thought of that before.
“So what’s stopping you?” he asked.
“No one wants to read my writing. No one’s going to pay me for writing.”
“How do you know?”
I’ve said it before: careful what you wish for; the angels are always listening.
As the words left my lips, magic swirled into action, forming a perfect golden spiral. Those golden cogs of momentum began to grind and whir, just like they always do.
After our session, I biked to the market for some veg. Cycling past a book shop, I saw a brightly coloured book with the words BIG MAGIC on the front.
I screeched to a stop. It called to me as if it had a Buy Me label on it. I didn’t even bother flicking through. I paid for it, dropped it in my panniers, bought some fruit and went home. I made coffee, opened the book and didn’t stop reading until I had gulped down the last page at a silly hour in the morning.
After a good chunk of sleep, I got up, made some coffee, got comfortable in my mother’s favourite antique Queen Anne chair, and started writing.
And now here we are, you and me.
To the detriment of my magic practice and the firmness of my perky posterior, I wrote all summer. I got up at 5 a.m. and wrote until late. I sat in the corner of the garden under the shade of the ivy and wrote, and then when the summer cooled, I went inside and carried on, looking out at the garden as the roses faded and dropped. Apart from my ever more numbing bum, I was happy. I wasn’t bothered about getting shows in the diary; I wanted to write more than anything else. So I did.
I started in August. By November, I’d written eighty-two thousand words. Only a first draft, but still.
Then, because it was Christmas, which is a busy time for magicians, I laid the book gently down and returned to my day job of making birdcages appear and silk scarves vanish. And that was the end of that.
My book sat patiently untouched and unloved for the next six months while I went back on the ships. In June, my friend Pemma left me a WhatsApp.
“Do you want to come to a workshop with me?” she asked. Pemma is my friend with whizzy corkscrew shoulder-length blonde curls. I have serious hair envy—everyone does. “It’s with Elizabeth Gilbert and I know how you love her.”
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Big Magic, that book that gave me the courage to start writing. It’s true that I admire her; I’d been listening to her TED talks and watching her on Oprah and been encouraged by her podcast called, ironically, Magic Lessons. When the nasty stick-thin perfectionist in my head whispered, You’re wasting your time, no one wants to read your story, what makes you think you’re any good at writing? I took refuge in Liz’s encouragement and got back on.
I clicked on the link to the workshop that Pemma had given me. It was in London, in September, three months away. A little voice whispered, Go! Then the same little voice said, Since you’re going, you could give her your book.
And then my imagination jumped up and imagined giving Liz Gilbert a thick stack of paper wrapped up in beautiful swirls of gold organza and curling ribbons.
Oh, and gold helium balloons! Squeaked my five-year-old inner child. I bet she’d love balloons! Please, please, balloons! Balloons!
How am I going to get on the tube with a huge bunch of balloons? asked my older practical self. But getting excited about making a beautiful gift to Liz that her book and podcasts had inspired was enough to silence my inner critic. It wasn’t about me anymore; it was about honouring Liz’s inspiring work and spirit with a book in return.
Suddenly I was writing again. I felt an extreme cosmic sense of urgency to get it finished.
And while I was putting in every hour to get it ready, not for me but for Liz, I listened to Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions on YouTube. Her speakers are amazing: Marianne Williamson, Glennon Doyle Melton, Brené Brown, Pastor John Gray. Powerful warriors of truth and light. I’d like to be like them. But I haven’t got anything to say. But what if my show could speak? What if the story of my life might help? Someone, anyone?
I remembered my childhood hymn:
All that I am, all that I do, all that I ever have, I offer to you.
In the garden, sitting with my laptop, I put my head down and prayed. Take my hands, take my feet, take my wishing and my ego. Take my shame and my failing. Take my incompetence and my small victories. Take my crap and my glory. I surrender.
And in the way that magic happens—I swear to you this is true—literally five seconds after I typed the final re-write of the final chapter and sat back in my chair to breathe a sigh of relief, my email pinged.
“We are sorry to inform you that due to a family illness, the workshop with Elizabeth Gilbert is postponed until May.”
A wave of disappointment swept over me. But then I thought the timing was actually perfect. Now I had seven months to re-write, make a cover, do all the many practical things to make this book real.
And then, as if my compassionate, powerful angel was leading me on, saying, Come, come, this way, this way to your happiness, circumstance after circumstance unravelled.
Working in my studio, I had YouTube on auto-play. My attention was caught by a video of Louise L. Hay’s work with young men who had HIV in the 80s.
Louise Hay is the author of You Can Heal Your Life, and the founder of Hay House, which is now a huge international publishing house. She recently passed away aged ninety-two, after a lifetime of inspirational teaching. I couldn’t help but watch the documentary to the end. So many beautiful young men diagnosed with HIV were told by doctors that there was no hope. Louise was one of the first and few people to offer them a positive alternative solution. As I watched the documentary, I was so moved by her love and compassion that, in tears, I went out into the garden. Shutting my eyes, I asked Louise for help with my book, with this book in your hands. And then I got back on with some magic practice.
Two days later—two!—I got an email from my singer-songwriter friend Nicky, with a link to Hay House’s online writing course. By now, I’ve learnt not to ignore flashing neon signs from the angels. I bought the course immediately and—bam!—suddenly hours and hours of on-point information about publishing and marketing a book came streaming through the internet into my magic studio. Astonishing. There is always another step and there is always help. As the golden decal on my studio wall says,
“Always believe that something WONDERFUL is just about to happen.”
And here we are. Marvellous adventures are yet to unfold. Step by step.
If you’ve got this book in your hands, then magic is real and you should go out right now and do some yourself.
Because nothing serious is happening here.
And the ‘there’ you dream of will always become ‘here,’ and another ‘there’ will pop up and all exist in the same moment anyway.
Find your joy, pay close attention to the cosmic signs and remember, be careful what you tell the angels, because I swear they’re always listening.
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