Day 8 of #1000wordsofsummer 2022
If you are just joining us:
The first day’s letter is here. Here is an explainer of the whole shebang. Yes, you can begin late and catch up.
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Today you will write 1000 words. Because you want to be good to your brain. Because you value it and treasure it, and you know if you do this thing for it, take it seriously, write these thousand words, you will be tending to it, too. You will be acknowledging your brain, using it in new and interesting ways, putting it through its paces, giving it the kind of workout it needs to stay strong. It is a two-way street between you and your brain. If you love it, it will love you back. Writing these words is part of that.
Jacques and I decided the t-shirts will be limited edition. The last day they are available will be the last day of #1000wordsofsummer. So if you want one, get your orders in by June 17.
We are closing in on 20,000 subscribers. That is so many people! I appreciate you all looking out for each other so much. Thank you for your continued generosity and support to this community on social media.
I am happy to announce #1000wordsofsummer will be sponsoring five scholarships for New Orleans students aged 11-16 to attend the summer intensive theater program at The NOLA project. All because of your subscriptions. More to come!
Today’s guest author is Mira Jacob, the best person to run into at a party. She is funny and conspiratorial and supportive and wise. She is also the critically acclaimed author of both a novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, and a graphic memoir, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, which, amongst other accolades, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Mira’s charity of choice today is the Sri Lankan Crisis Relief.
Mira is talking to us about perceived expiration dates on our career today:
“Can we talk for a moment about expiration dates? The little invisible stamp we all carry in the lining of our foreheads that tells us that our time is running out, or just ran out, or ran out so long ago that there is nothing we can possibly write to make up for the literary life that might have been? Because I have a feeling about expiration dates for dreams in general (they're bullshit) and writing dreams in particular (THEY'RE BULLSHIT).
I say this as someone who managed to publish fuck all in her twenties and thirties, despite writing a few excellent stories and many okay ones. As someone who by age 36 worked from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a short break around dinnertime to feed a baby and stare at
the abyss Facebook, where one endless 5 Under 35 list stared back at me. As someone who wrote a novel from 11 pm to 1 am for 12 years, which started to feel like a willful self-delusion by year seven because why on earth was I going on with my silly sentences when the world had clearly passed me by?
I think about this all the time now. How easy it would have been to stop. How much social media had primed me to believe that a debut author could not possibly be a brown woman in her 40s. How I might have never seen any of my books reach the readers that were looking for them if I had let what I'd thought was my expiration date take me off the damn shelf. Because here's the thing about expiration dates: They aren't real. They're made of whispers and insecurities and Instagram ads and someone else's idea of what is possible for you. But they're not made of you. (Your writing is made of you.)
Here is what I wish someone could have whispered to me back then: There is no expiration date on creation. There is no cut-off point for applying and re-applying yourself to the work you love. There is no list that will feel better than showing up for yourself and your pages, and every time you do it, you get closer to the readers who are looking for you. So keep going today. You're right on time.”
Halfway mark! You’re almost on the other side. Good luck.
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.
Mira’s message today really hits home to me as a 61-year-old debut author. I love my “literary” friends, but the best part has been connecting with those readers my story was meant to find.
Hi. It me. Crying in front of the computer. 49th birthday in two weeks. Thank you, Mira. The work, the work, the work, is the thing. Thank you.