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big magic

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

I love a list. It's both a map of where to go, an outline of the steps to take and a binding contract. Once an item is placed on a list, it can not be removed. At a push you can transfer it to the following day's list, but you tend to feel a little disappointed in yourself when you do.

I'm making a number of lists as I plan the journey into Peg's life. The first lists are about finding facts. I have already read her memoirs and a biography written by Julie Peakman. Both have left me with lots of further questions about 1780s Dublin. As well as general details. I want to know the specifics of how women experienced life. So I have a list of books to read on Dublin. and a list of books to read on women, and a smaller list of books to read on eighteenth-century sexual practices.

I also have a list of places to visit. Some are libraries and archives where I hope to read further lists and directories. Some are places that Peg has lived. To my delight, it turns out that I too have lived in some of these places.

Which leads me to why I I feel such an affinity with Peg. Admittedly I have not made a successful living as a celebrated sex worker, but from an early age I realised that I was attractive to the opposite sex. In return, I became mesmerised by men and I traded with this currency of mutual desire throughout my life.

I suspect many women have lived similarly. I find it interesting, that despite the achievements in female emancipation, sex is still one of our most powerful commodities. Peg was born a middle-class, country, Catholic girl. Her elder sisters married respectably and she was due to do the same. This is the acceptable face of trading on sexuality. Peg however, was forced off this prescribed path. And while her decisions may not be relevant to most of us, her fortitude and creativity may be. She made a magnificent best with the cards she was dealt. With this project, I hope to explore my use of my own sexuality. What did I gain? What did I lose?

Returning to my reading list, top of that pile is a book called Big Magic. Written by Elizabeth Gilbert it deals with creativity and fear. I started it yesterday.


Talk about making the best of your life.

This may be the most important book I have ever read.

So far I have learned that ideas have their own volition. Gilbert suggests that ideas wish to be born and swoop down to us as inspiration. If we do not gather and run with them, they will leave us and swoop to someone else. I have been thinking of this idea for two years so I may have used up my time. The inspiration may have left. I wonder if someone else has received the inspiration and is working on a Peg project. If so, please contact me. Perhaps we can collaborate.

I have further learned that creativity as a process is the goal: how the end result is received is none of my business. This is a liberating thought and I have heard it before from a number of sources. But never before have I really heard the permission to release from the pressure of trying to create something 'marvellous'. What ever it is about the way Elizabeth writes, I suddenly get it. I am going to enjoy the discovery. I've already made a couple of drawings around Peg's life. I was thinking I could share them over a period of time. (I made a list of the timeline when I would share them on social media). I'm thinking now that I will share them right now and there are better illustrations to come.

I've always loved magic. My belief in magic stemmed from C S Lewis. Narnia is possibly the biggest influence in my life. I will still be making my lists but I am open to veering off-list I'm going to show up for the magic.

I believe it will show up for me in return.

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