Today you will write 1000 words. On this Wednesday in June, 2020, you will sit down wherever you write and you will knock it out of the goddamn park.
Second to last day! Let’s go!
Today’s guest contributor is Melissa Febos, who is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart, and the essay collection, Abandon Me. Her second essay collection, Girlhood — which is freaking amazing — is available for pre-order.
“Today, I woke up at 5:50 a.m. to go for a long run and then to write. Let me be clear: I am not a morning person, have never been a morning person. I am a person who likes to putter and fuss and think and list and read deep into the night. However, since NYC has been sheltering in place and my partner and I have been stuck inside our two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, the early morning is the safest time to go for a long run outside—before there are people swarming the park and sidewalks in various degrees of maskedness or unmaskedness. So, I have forced myself to get up much earlier than my body prefers and to my surprise, I have fallen madly in love with the early morning. It is so quiet. It is the most still that I feel in a day. I have never seen the streets of my city as empty as they are these days at 6 a.m. Lately, they have been strewn with the hand-drawn signs of those who spent their evening demanding justice for Black lives.
For the first few weeks of homeboundedness, I was too overcome by despair and a sense of nihilism to write. Now, I have returned to the work and it is waking something in me, as it has done so many times before. At this point in my life, I cannot separate my writing practice from my psychic survival. It is as necessary to me as any of the other things I do to avoid destroying myself or being consumed by the extreme fuckery of human life on this planet, among them therapy, running, twelve-step meetings, truly intimate connections with humans and other animals, and actions to manifest the world I want to live in. Writing ranks at the top of that list. It is simultaneously a place that I go for respite, and a place that I go to find myself and what I think and feel about the world. So, I always find a way to come back to it.
When I was struggling to return to the page, I was dogged by the question Who cares? It is always a relevant question, but in this case it was an expression of my own failure to imagine a near future where anyone gave a shit about any of the ideas that I’d had before things got to their present intensity. It was helpful for me to ask myself: what do you care about right now? Or, what are you curious about right now? Because under my feelings of anxiety, dread, anger, and helplessness, curiosity always remains—sometimes I just have to grope around a bit to find it. While I no longer felt curious about most of my own pre-pandemic ideas, there was one that still sparked my interest, that scared me a little in that way that demands scrutiny. I held a paper to that spark and watched it flame.
The point is, I found my own curiosity. It helped me back to the page and it helped me crack the carapace of fear that had grown around my heart in effort to protect it. So, today, I wonder, what are you curious about? What has the power to open you, to wake you even just a little bit? Maybe tomorrow morning, we can write into the silence together.”
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