Are You Drinking Enough Water
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Last night I gave the keynote address at the Inkubator Conference, an event organized by Literary Cleveland. I was really impressed by everything they’re accomplishing, not the least of which is that they manage to provide so much for free to their community. It’s just nice to be able to show up and do an event and ask the question: “Who is this for?” And have the answer be: “Everyone.”
Whenever I daydream about having a giant meet-up for 1000 Words it always includes the idea that it would be free for everyone. That’s the only way it would work, in my mind. That’s the only way it would need to exist. I only want to be making things that I genuinely feel need to exist. I don’t want to waste my time — or yours.
Love you, Cleveland Public Library
I’m writing this to you from ATL, waiting for my flight home to New Orleans. I’ll be in a lot of airports this fall. Airports are a good place to get emotional, feel a little unsteady. Here we are all together, feeling fucking strange. The bars are full all the time. Everyone smiles at the emotional support animals. Choose your weapon. I choose snacks.
Bu also when I write those words and acknowledge the possibility of feeling that way, it helps to steady me.
That’s how writing works for me. That’s one reason why I always encourage people to write.
Everything gets so much easier when you know why you’re working on something. Why do I write these letters to you? Because I want you to write, too.
Anyway, I’ve been musing all morning on (un)steadiness, and also thinking about the fall. I’ve been working on a theory about fall being a less productive time than we actually think it is. All of a sudden we’re supposed to speed up and accomplish more as if we were somehow resting all summer, which most of us weren’t. Not everyone gets a vacation, not everyone gets summer Fridays. Some of us might always be in a state of catching up.Thinking about this made me want to check in with everyone to see how they’re doing.
Have you looked recently at the schedule you’ve set for your writing projects? Do those goals still seem reasonable? Do you need to somehow reconfigure or reorganize your life to make it possible to accomplish whatever writing deadlines you’ve set for yourself? Or do those deadlines need to be shifted a little bit?
Do you feel comfortable with the boundaries you’ve set up around your work? If you’re writing something personal, check in on the whys of your work, perhaps. Spend a little time considering how you feel about what you’re revealing about yourself — or someone else. If you’re writing fiction, think about the terrain, the subject matter, the currency of your language, or maybe your contemplation or representation of identities other than your own. Establishing these boundaries may help you solve problems down the line. They also might make you feel safer as you write.
And how about what’s going on out in the world? Are you connecting with your community? Are you helping support other writers? Are you asking for help if you need it? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Or is there a way of being of service to your creative community you’ve been considering but haven’t had time for yet? It might be a good way to replenish your spirit. Even just showing up to support someone else’s event might be nourishing for you or for the person who is reading or speaking.
How does your beating writing heart feel right now? Check your pulse. Do you feel inspired? Do you need inspiration? Are you drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, eating right, reading enough books, securing enough quiet time just to think and breathe for one goddamn minute or two, so you can feel secure and connected with yourself, your work, the world.
Are you being generous with yourself? When you ask yourself important questions about your work never judge yourself for the answer. I really believe most of us are working as hard as we can, even if the work is not necessarily reflected in our word count.
I’ll end this with something about myself I’ve said before here: I can never lie when I’m handwriting.
Do what you need to do to make sure you’re able to be honest and clear-hearted when you sit down to work.
I’m leaving the comments open today if you want to tell us all how you’re doing.
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to Literary Cleveland.