Creativity & False Heavens: The 5 Quotes From The Awesome Interview That Stuck With Me

Full and early disclosure: it wasn’t my interview.

And I’m totally showing my nerdy-newsman side here, but I love the ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler.

This interview, with author of global megahit Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert, was from that show.

It was an interview I was listening to in the car at a time when I clearly couldn’t jot down notes, but Gilbert was a captivating interview subject with some brilliant – yet, down-to-Earth – lines of dialogue that stayed with me for a month.

I kept intending to come back to the podcast so I could get them down and stick them to the wall of my study.

Well, humble writing corner. And there’s three walls.

Because in a 3×1 duplex, with one room a nursery and the other being converted to a toddler’s bedroom so said toddler can move out of said nursery when the arrival of Baby 2.0 happens in a few months, there’s simply no room for a grand study designed to capture creativity.

But, I suppose, that’s why this conversation stuck with me.

Because one of the standout quotes was about False Heavens: an ideal that we cling to, but which we are guaranteed will never arrive.

And the topic of the interview was mostly “creativity”.

With that, I thought I’d jot down for you here my favourite quotes from the interview. The bold parts are the pull-quotes I like, but I left the rest in for context.

If you like them, don’t forget to listen to the full interview here.


Fear is part of the cocktail of the human landscape.
Fear is often a sign that you have skin in the game and that you’re taking risks and trying something new.
Fear and creativity are like conjoined twins; they’re always going to be side-by-side.
Creativity will constantly be asking you to go into landscapes you’ve never been before and fear will always say, “I wouldn’t do that”.
It’s not about getting rid of the fear, it’s about explaining to the fear what I’m doing; talking to it with friendly curiosity and compassion.
It’s about saying to your fear, “I know all you’re trying to do is protect me, but I’m just trying to write here; no-one’s going to die”. 

Fear wears a lot of masks.
Sometimes fear looks like itself, panic and terror, but sometimes fear looks like perfectionism.
Perfectionism is fear in a mink coat: fear trying to be fancy.
Anything that stops you moving forward is fear in a mask, but perfectionism is sinister.
Perfectionism is fear dressed as a virtue, because people claim they’re perfectionists because they have higher standards than the rest of us.
But they often don’t make stuff; they criticise stuff and they judge stuff that others make, but they often aren’t in the arena.
Perfectionists often have a hard time finishing anything, but they also often have a hard time beginning things, because they find it impossible to ever achieve such high standards of the ideal and rather than not meet those standards, they’d rather not start.

We all in our life have to battle the False Heaven.
Perfectionism is a False Heaven and, for artists, there’s the law – as (Herman) Melville once wrote in a letter – “I just long for those long summer, green-grass growing, quiet days in which a man ought to compose”.
Hey, you know what? So do I. You know who else does? Everyone.
You know who gets that ever? Nobody.
I wrote my first two books when I had three day jobs: I was a bartender, I was a diner waitress, I had roommates who were loud.
You go sit in the stairwell and you find 15 minutes.
There is no interruption; life is in session.
We keep waiting for life to pause so we can do our art.
No! You do art while life is happening, because that False Heaven is never coming.

You cannot live a creative life without embodying a sense of entitlement.
The entitlement I’m talking about is what the great British poet David White calls the “arrogance of belonging”, which is a type of entitlement that frees you, rather than imprisons you.
Narcissistic entitlement imprisons you and everyone around you, but the arrogance of belonging is like barefoot entitlement.
You take off your shoes, you stand in your own being and you say, “I’m not the greatest, but I’m here”.
You’re also not the worst.
And there’s a huge space between the greatest and the worst and you’re probably somewhere in between there.
As that person, you are able to participate in the amazing story of creativity in any way you want.


There’s two big thresholds.
The first big threshold is, “Do I dare to make something?”, and the second big threshold is, “Do I dare to show anybody?”.
A lot of people can cross the first big threshold, but not the second.
You don’t come this far to make the thing and not present it. Come on.



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