Day 14 of #1000wordsofsummer 2022
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.
Today you will write 1000 words. Because you have to finish the thing you started. One thousand more words and you’re done, baby!
I hope you’ll carry on, though, with at least some kind of regular writing practice. I hope you’ve achieved some momentum with your writing. And I hope you realize these letters I’ve sent to you are just letters, little pokes in your inbox, and that’s it. I am happy to send them, but you don’t need them. It’s because of you alone all this happened. All the writing you’ve accomplished these past two weeks. You’ve been doing all the work.
And I’m proud of you.
I’m also proud of the fact that we have crossed the 20,000-subscriber threshold of an insanely supportive community, and also have raised more than $20,000 for charitable organizations. These were both personal goals for me this year, and I am absolutely thrilled.
Every contributing author selected a charity, which received $1,000 each. We also funded a statewide youth poetry competition organized by FFLIC and also five scholarships for children aged 11-16 to study with New Orleans theater company The Nola Project. I am also directing funds to a few more New Orleans organizations: the Backstreet Cultural Museum (who you can read more about here), The Lens, House of Tulip, Made in New Orleans Foundation (who you can learn more about here) and Son of a Saint.
Your sense of community is tremendous. Thank you for sharing this space with me.
I know some of you will be starting #1000wordsofsummer over (or are just joining in) and want to do two more weeks. The slack will close July 1, so you can have that time to chat with each other until then. I hope that some of you have been able to find some accountability groups/partners so you can carry on supporting each other. Otherwise, we will all see each other next year.
This is the last day to get the t-shirts! (The mugs will be available forever, though.)
I’ll be posting on this newsletter sporadically this summer. I have a novel due at the end of the year and I need to focus my energy on that for the next few months. I tend to post more frequently on instagram. I hope to be back in full force this fall.
If you would like to support me personally, please buy my 8th and most recent book. It is a memoir about writing and creativity and travel and life and if you like this newsletter, you will probably enjoy it, too. You can get signed copies here or if you would like me to personalize it, order it here.
We close out this year’s #1000wordsofsummer with a letter from Megan Giddings, who is a tremendous writer and a gentle soul. Beginning in the fall, Megan will be an assistant professor at University of Minnesota's MFA program. Her fantastic, exhilarating, and extremely witchy second novel, The Women Could Fly, will be published on August 9th, and I could not recommend it more. Megan has asked for a charitable donation to be made to my local abortion fund.
Here’s Megan on the topic of love:
“So, I am not much of a quotes person. I am firmly against epigrams in a very superstitious way. I'm not willing yet to give someone more famous and smarter than me the first chance to speak in my novels! But I've been thinking a lot about a quote that I've seen attributed to many different people, most recently Viola Davis, ‘How you love defines your life.’ I know it might sound a little TJ Maxx wall art to some of you, my more cynical friends in literature, but stay with me.
When I teach characterization, I tend to go back to Alice LaPlante's methods for building characters, for knowing if they're working on their page: speak, feel, act, react, think. I spend most of my time on react because it's the one easiest to forget, especially when we're writing and being solitary and the only part of us moving while writing tends to be our hands. Your characters' bodies, their processing, the things they suddenly do because their world has changed keep the story (the essay, the poem, the script) moving. To me, reactions tend to be when I know my characters. It's when the work comes to life.
But maybe today is the day we bring in a new element to our work. Today, especially if you're stuck in your writing, I want you to ask yourself, ‘How does this character love?’ How do they let themselves understand and receive other people's love? In many ways these past years, some of the predominant emotional stress to me has been these negotiations between how I give love and how people would prefer to receive it. And if love is too woo for you, go to one of the hardest elements of love, of being alive: what is your character's relationship to vulnerability? How do they express it? How do they react to it? How has it changed them? How has it changed you?
I'll be writing with you all today. See you on the other side of a thousand words.”
Thank you all for being here.
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.
What a perfect letter for the last day! I am a huge fan of Megan Gidding's Lakewood, and I feel like i can see this characterization advice playing itself out all over that book. I'm going to be applying this to my main character. Thank you so much!
Dear Jami, just tested positive for you know what, & I don't know if I'll get to the last thousand words today, but I just wanted to say thank you. When #1000words started this summer, I had just finished the 2nd draft of the novel I started last summer. But it felt a little too quiet, a little too buttoned up. Your inspiration & those of your guest writers pushed me to go back to some of the characters & make more, interesting, & ohnoshedidnt things happen. It's going to be a better book. So grateful for this! Love you! & Sid!