Day 12 of #1000wordsofsummer 2019

Hi friends,

Today you will write 1000 words. You can do it today, and tomorrow, and the next day too, and every day for the rest of your life. Get up a little early every morning, pull out the notebook, and scratch on it until you’re done. Or stay up a late, when the house is real quiet, and then write till your fingers bleed. No one will ever stop you from doing any of this. No one else can get in your way but you. Push all the voices in your head aside. For this is the thing you love and need to do.

Some days are easier than others for me. There are times the words flow so effortlessly I feel like I’m passing 1000 words as if it were a car stuck in traffic and I’m cruising in the HOV lane, waving goodbye as I speed by it. Other days are so difficult it’s as if my tank is on empty and I’m holding my breath and praying to get to the next exit. But let me tell you something: even if my car stopped, I’d just get out and walk until I had gotten to my destination. And I think you would, too.

Today’s guest contributor is Esme Wang, one of my favorite new writer friends. Her essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias, came out in February 2019 from Graywolf Press and was an instant New York Times bestseller. A Whiting Award recipient, she wrote the much-praised novel, The Border of Paradise, and was selected by Granta for their Best of Young American Novelists list of 21 authors under 40. Also, she has a beautiful dog named Daphne.

“When I was still writing my first book—not the first book I'd ever written, but the first book that I would go on to publish—I asked a friend of mine who was further down the road, who had already published a book, how she had done it. 

'Well,' she told me, ‘I just pretended I'd never finish.’

This made a kind of sense to me. While immersed in the writing, I could enjoy the writing. I didn't have to worry about who would eventually read it, whether or not I'd be able to find an agent, or whether or not that agent would be able to sell it. Under the pretense given to me by my friend, the process of writing was potentially, pleasurably endless. It reminded me of when I used to run around the track in gym class; to make the run less miserable, I'd close my eyes, because with my eyes closed, I'd be lost in the running, instead of forever being conscious of how far I was from the finish line (too far).

Today, we will write 1000 words. That's all that needs to be done. No matter where you are in your project, those 1000 words are enough.”

You heard her.

Jami