Aug 05, 2020
3 mins read
Back in March, when I was living on the hard in Port Townsend, one of my friends sent out a group email asking for participation in a "90 Day Goals" group. As I was no longer in class (lockdown), or employed for that matter, I said, "Sure!" Over the next few weeks, my friend explained that he would pair people up, and we'd exchange telephone numbers. Then we'd call each other every day to ask each other questions. The questions had to be "yes or no" type questions, or they could be a question that one answers with a number. In short, the questions had to be quick and to-the-point.
One of my goals at the time was to finish two television pilots -- both for a fellowship application. It turned out that another person in the group wanted to set up a Zoom writing group. Being in Port Townsend, I was unable to attend Anacortes Community Theatre's writers meetings. Since I figured these Zoom meetings could be a decent substitute, I said, "I'm game!"
What's weird is that whole time in those weekly Zoom sessions, we never talked about our personal history, our family, or where we used to live, but by the end of the first thirty days of the 90 Day Goals group, I had written a TV pilot which, when I finally showed it to my writing partner, had a number of things in it that parallelled his life.
I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill "three kids and a dog" type things. He had been in a heterosexual marriage, and had just divorced his wife with whom he is still very good friends, and was in a serious relationship with a new love - a man. There were a number of other similarities that were just weirdly coincidental. When I told my other writing partner about what happened, she goes, "Oh! You should read Big Magic. That's what happened between you and Josh."
So I read the book she recommended. If anyone else is interested, its full title is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. However, I'll summarize it here. The book basically says ideas are like living beings, and their whole goal in "life" is to become physically manifest -- whether that be as an invention, a book, a movie, a song, a painting, or any other creative endeavor. It also talks about how a muse or idea will sit with someone for a while, but if that person has decided they do not want to manifest that idea, the idea will float along to the next possible person who might make it manifest. On Josh's web log, he discusses how he wants to focus his writing on other aspects of his life besides his highly publicized straight marriage, despite his being gay. Did an idea float around him, and when he made that declaration, decide to go elsewhere? I don't know if I am committed to the idea that ideas float around of their own device and find actuators for themselves. However, it is kind of a neat thought.
And that's where the name for Big Magic came from.
Big Magic belonged to someone who passed away recently. When I put out a Craigslist ad for a project boat, his widow answered that call. We made an appointment for me to come look at the boat and see if it was a project I wanted to take on.
When I stepped onto the boat, the first thing I saw was a tree. Yes, it was a small tree, but it was a tree in the cockpit. That's how much dirt had accumulated inside. According to his widow, the previous owner had let it sit in his front yard since 2014 (that's six years ago, people). I could tell it wasn't completely neglected though, since inside the cockpit were a bunch of Craftsman tools. Unfortunately they were also sitting in puddles of water, which meant they had corroded to the point that they no longer worked as they should.
Big Magic was an idea. However it was an idea abandoned first in a boatyard in La Conner, and then moved to a man's front yard to continue the abandonment for another six years. Finally, the idea said, "Fuck this shit." So when it saw my Craigslist ad, it inspired the man's widow to email me and ask if I was willing to make it manifest.
And I said, "Sure!"