As regular readers know, we at What Women Write are blessed enough to live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, which gives us great access to author signings and readings. Monday night, as a part of Highland Park United Methodist Church Authors' LIVE event, Joan, Pamela, Elizabeth and I slogged through Dallas rain and traffic to spend the evening with Elizabeth Gilbert.
Joan and I splurged on the reception and signing before the event, and had a few moments to talk with the author. We told her we were writers (which I suspect she hears from lots of her readers). Joan told her how much she adored the audio version The Signature of All Things, read by Juliet Stevenson, and I marveled at her graciousness and enthusiasm for the long line of devoted fans.
|Joan Mora, Elizabeth Gilbert and Susan Ishmael-Poulos|
The reading began fifteen minutes late due to weather and traffic concerns and the room continued to fill well into her talk. She read a delightful passage from Signature, and opened the floor to questions.
Gilbert is most well known for the ten million copies of her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, and less known for her long list of awards and bylines. In 2002 she received a National Book Award nomination for her non-fiction book The Last American Man. As she talked about the success of Eat, Pray, Love, she explained the difficulty writing after her stunning success, stating that moving forward, she had to draw on the memory of writing when nobody cared, and noted that writing post-failure and post-success were remarkably similar.
"The motive in writing," she said, "must be love of writing. If it is anything else, you will not find your happiness from it, because you can't control how your work will be received."
Following Eat, Pray, Love, she wrote her second memoir, Committed, the story of her marriage and life after the success of the first memoir. Now, with The Signature of All Things, she transitions gracefully back to fiction. In The New York Times Book Review, Barbara Kingsolver says “Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to uncommonly patient minds.”
She also openly discussed her battle with the depression that plagued her early marriage, and her journey toward happiness. "The opposite of depression isn't happiness," she stated. "It's vitality." And vitality is the perfect word to describe the presence of Gilbert, who seemed as comfortable talking to fans while signing books as she was behind a lectern, talking about her own struggles, her writing process, and her books.
Gilbert's U.S. tour for Signature continues through November. You can learn more about her and other upcoming events at http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/events/. For any reader, lover of words, writer or fan, Elizabeth Gilbert is one to see if you have the opportunity. She shines!