Day 13 of #1000wordsofsummer 2022
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The first day’s letter is here. Here is an explainer of the whole shebang. Yes, you can begin late and catch up. You can write forever and whenever, truly.
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Today you will write 1000 words. Because this time has been for you and no one else. Time for you to take ownership of your work. Time for you to face your fears about your writing and your creative life that no one else can face but you. Courageously, aggressively, boldly: write. Not just today but always.
Were you afraid or intimidated at the start of this project? What did those fears even mean? What did they look like two weeks ago and what do they look like now? It’s something we have to tussle with as artists forever. We are scared and then we are confident and then we are scared all over again. But every day you face your fears is a day of success. Every day you sit down and try to do the work and believe that you can do it is a day of a triumph. Every day we take a deep breath and begin again. Every day we work through the fear.
Bryan Washington is today’s contributing author. He has an emotional clarity to his work that inspires me. He is the author of two brilliant books of fiction: Lot and Memorial, both of which have received critical acclaim and numerous award nominations. Also he writes memorably about food, culture and more for numerous publications, and was most recently named a new “Eat” columnist for The New York Times Magazine. Bryan has asked that his donation go to Trans Lifeline.
Bryan writes to us today about trusting ourselves:
“A recurring question in my writing centers around ‘value’. It's pretty annoying. Wondering ‘why’ my words and interests could possibly ‘matter’ to a reader takes up a lot of real estate in my process. But it's a question and not a problem because, like a lot of writing advice, it's ephemeral; you can change the answer if you want to (consequently, most writing advice is literal bullshit; I'm allergic to giving it and I generally don't).
It's a canonical ‘who cares’. The concern simply changes forms, accelerating exponentially in the last week/month/year alone. But, lately, I've wondered if this isn't a good thing: maybe, as we change, along with our loves and distresses and hopes and humors, our framework for what we prioritize on the page changes, too. Our language(s) grow alongside us. Our vernaculars expand to encompass our entire selves, however varied or paradoxical or scary that may feel. Maybe this dynamism is simply the business of being a person; putting it on the page is another way of taking up space.
In this way, the question of voice actually becomes one of agency. It can be difficult to trust yourself! Doesn't matter whether you're writing your first 1000 words, or editing the final thousand in your contracted hexalogy. It can be tough to sit in the knowledge that the work which most sustains us - the strange, wonky, deeply unmarketable thing - could actually be the work for us. If you aren't a straight, wealthy, white cis-dude, the bulk of Western culture is architected to convince you otherwise. All the same, the hardest person to convince can be yourself.
So, I'm going to break my rule and offer some advice: trust yourself. Give yourself grace. Trust yourself to know that there's value in your interests. Trust yourself to know that your being interested in x gives it value. When we put love in our work, it becomes palpable. A tangible thing. One word follows the next, until you're gifted with a page that's as much for you as it is of you. And then you'll keep going. The rest of us are excited to meet you.”
Today is a good day to trust yourself.
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 got teary at the end of today’s letter! Such intimacy and support. Thank you! Finally hit that Subscribe button. Don’t know what took me so long…
Lovely. Thank you.