Author Elizabeth Gilbert inspires local audience


March 30, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated March 29, 2011 at 10:30 p.m.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the popular novel "Eat, Pray, Love," talks to a full house at Victoria College Fine Arts on Thursday during the Lyceum Lecture series.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the popular novel "Eat, Pray, Love," talks to a full house at Victoria College Fine Arts on Thursday during the Lyceum Lecture series.

Elizabeth Gilbert is as candid, whimsical and moving in person as she is in print.

Wednesday at Victoria College she unraveled the themes behind her most recent books, "Eat, Pray Love," the premise for a film starring Julia Roberts, and "Committed," which details her second attempt at marriage.

The first, a travel memoir, follows her trek around the globe in search of healing after a bitter divorce. She never set out to pen a memoir that would resonate with millions of women in broken relationships or searching for life meaning, but the memoir about change, hope and love surely did.

"We love life-changing stories in America," she said. "We love this sort of instantaneous flip story...real change, substantive change is difficult and painful and time-consuming and arduous and expensive... and there's a reason that we don't do it all the time... you're leaving everything. You have to trade it in for a question mark. We don't change our life for fun... I changed my life because for three years I was waking up at 3 o'clock in the morning sobbing and the thought of staying in that was worse than any risk that would be taken to change."

Writing was the only thing she could ever do right, she told the 1,000-member mostly-female audience. The audience giggled as she explained how her relationship with writing began as a 16-year-old when she "married" writing by candlelight and swore a lifelong commitment to the craft.

"Even after years and years with something in a love story with something, it can still surprise you and take you by wonder and come out of nowhere," she said, explaining the writing process for her second book. "That feeling of being given that inspirational notion - it's still the most exciting thing I ever felt in my life."

Afterward, fans and Gilbert-newbies mingled in the book-signing.

Terry Torres a Victoria College freshman, emerged in tears.

"I got to find my spiritual beliefs," she said, explaining that Gilbert's speech inspired her to leave her second marriage. "I got to find my happiness. I have to find me, so that's what inspired me. I feel like I'm in her place right now."

Here's what a few others had to say:

What was the most inspiring takeaway from Elizabeth Gilbert's books or speech?

"I'm inspired by her humility and her approachability and yet she has charisma, and she really is a special person going through life. She would have a story to tell. It makes sense that she ended up with a story that would become a national best seller."

  • Greer Tedford, Victoria, VC academic coach

"'It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be done and that's true with a lot of life. You just really have to get through it. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just get it done, and a lot of times it is good, so long as you've done it."

-Valerie Sims, Houston, retired school teacher

"Something that inspired me about her was her strength, her courage. Not everyone has the courage to just pick up and start over the way she did."

  • Jonathan Solas, VC sophomore

"I enjoyed the part where she mentioned if you aren't certain of your future you find what you're good at, and I'm not (certain). I'm here in college right now because I'm not too sure what I want to be, but I'm following what I'm good at. That's good, positive inspiration."

Bianca Rojas, VC freshman



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