Day 13 of #1000wordsofsummer 2019
|Jami Attenberg||Nov 25, 2019|
Today you will write 1000 words. It’s the home stretch and you can’t stop now. You're tired, I know it. But you will write these goddamn 1000 words.
How will you use these last two days? Will you push yourself even further into new and inventive territory? Will you arrive at a big emotional moment you’ve been writing toward this entire time? Perhaps you will just coolly cruise to the finish line because you know there is more to come and you are just getting started. Maybe you will start to consider how to maintain being productive beyond this project. Can you look toward the next stage of your writing?
Today you will write 1000 words because you are writing your future.
At the end of this project, do you know what I have? A title and an outline and probably about nine or ten thousand words I can actually use (but still need a lot of work), and another five thousand that were nice knowing for a while but will be on their way to the delete pile. I’ve got a plan though, which is exciting and important. And probably another year’s worth of work ahead of me - at a minimum. But this is my job and I embrace it. Because I have something to say.
Today’s guest contributor is prominent queer Floridian novelist Kristen Arnett. She is the author of my favorite debut of the year, the outrageously well-reviewed New York Times bestseller, Mostly Dead Things. She is also an essayist, and has contributed work to myriad publications including The Rumpus, Salon, Ploughshares and Lit Hub, where she wrote regularly about being a librarian. She likes her local 7-11 and dogs.
I asked her to talk a bit about starting a new project from scratch.
“Getting into a new project! The vast unknown, a great dark lake. Sometimes I think about it like the way I might choose to enter a body of water. Will I do it slowly, dip my toe in, test the temperature? Stand there thinking about all the things that could be lurking unseen, directly below the surface? Or am I gonna just close my eyes and cannonball?
Lemme tell you, I wanna jump. Just trust my gut and throw myself into the work. I don’t want to stall out and second guess myself, dipping that toe in and out forever. That first leap I take, the big one with my eyes squeezed shut and my mouth wide open, yelling, always feels scariest, but it also feels the best. I take the plunge and live in the moment of that decision. No turning back.
And then I swim wildly into that choice. Powering forward. Keep making choices. Just making something. I don’t need to know exactly what any of it means, not right away. There’s plenty of time for that later; to roll my eyes at myself, groan, time to poke and prod at ugly sentences, to swear at my computer screen as I attempt to wrangle the words into something manageable.
But that initial deep dive is important. I need the giant splash of it, reminding me how good it feels when I trust myself. When I allow myself to make bold decisions, even if I don’t yet know what those decisions will bring. Maybe nothing, but maybe something. And it’s the maybe of it that keeps me afloat."
Love you all,