Eat This World
Another quick letter today, as I am on the road, still a little jet-lagged, but happy to be out here in the world, surrounded by book people. I had a wonderful event yesterday at the St. Petri church in Lubeck — my first ever in Germany. Everyone was happy to be there in this beautiful location, thinking and talking and exchanging ideas. It was a fine day, and a great introduction to the way people feel about books in Germany.
With my wonderful presenters, Rebecca Indermaur and Jan Ehlert. I really refuse to crop the chair out of this photo because I need you to see my shoes.
I remember once getting career advice from Meg Wolitzer during breakfast at an international literary festival. She said that it was good to learn how to work on the road, in hotel rooms, on airplanes, and the like. To always be touching your work, keeping it in motion. Meg is truly a career role model for me, so I paid rapt attention.
And I still heed her advice as much as I can. I am always trying to think a little bit about my current project, no matter where I am. It is the continuity that is important more than anything else, to keep the momentum going on your work, but additionally I recognize it as a stabilizing force. If I have thought about my work that day, then I am still me.
On the other hand, I know that I cannot do it all, be overly productive on my work-in-progress and still be present in the moment of my journey, and how I need to represent myself at events, or in professional exchanges. And also: I want to have fun! At least a little bit of fun. If I can.
I made you a postcard
During my layover in London, I ended up writing myself a little letter about all the things I promised to accomplish in the future, so that I just could live in the moment now. I have a lot to do in the next few months (preparing for #1000wordsofsummer, for example, which is quite a bit of work) and also so much in the long haul, writing a new book, a new talk, things like that. I thought: here is what is necessary to complete all my goals for this year.
I liked that the list could exist. I liked that it was possible to put it all in a compartment. And then I put that compartment away, so that I could travel unfettered, at least for a while.
Because part of our job as creative people is not just to make the art but to live in this world and experience it, consume it so that we can feel inspired. Our brains cannot chew only on air. We cannot fashion our work out of dullness or boredom. We need full and complete lives. We need to feed our brains. We need to eat this world.
I hope you are having a good spring. Ticking things off your list, but enjoying the sunshine, too.
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 try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to the newspaper Vechernyaya Odesa.