Entire Universes Within Us
I’m going to do another Mini 1000, this time January 7-12, 2023. You’ll get really quick reminder letters every day from me, and also the comments will be open there for check-ins, or you can hashtag it on whatever form of social media you use. You can sign up here.
After working my way through edits these past few weeks, I can see that I’ll probably need to generate another five or six thousand words for one of my books to fill a few holes. I’ve written so much for both of these books already, what’s another five thousand, right? (She said with a groan.) But I know that this is what needs to be done to make the work not just good but great.
I also decided I needed that locked down period of time to work because it’s a good way to kick off the year, to commune with my projects. The fall is actually a complicated time for some people to write, especially near the end of the season, with all these seasonal distractions and responsibilities and also just this sense of calculating how much work we’ve already done this year and wondering when it is we can actually stop already, even if it’s just for a little bit.
I know you’ve been working hard. I can see it all the way from here. You deserve a little break. We all do.
But these books will not finish themselves. And it somehow makes it easier to get through these final pages if I set up a specific time frame to do it. And what makes it even easier is knowing that some of you will be writing alongside with me. So please join me if you’ve got something you need to accomplish, or you just feel like putting your thoughts down for a week.
My favorite local jam shop, Jamboree Jams (where I worked as a cashier this summer!) let me curate a shelf of some of my recent faves. I recommend all of these books as holiday gifts this year or something to grab for your travels. I also recommend this delightful fruit season calendar they make, or any of their jams. (Spicy satsuma is my favorite.) I think I need a copy of Cooking for Artists, right?
In other news, I sent off my novel draft to my first two readers last week, in desperate need of someone to read it and say, “Yes, this is a book.” We spend so much of our time writing in a vacuum, especially for these longer form projects, and sometimes we just need to be seen. I started this book a year and a half ago, and I’ve read from it in public only twice, and I’ve shared chapters in bits and pieces, but nothing on a grand scale. So while I think I’ve written a book, I can’t be totally sure until a few other people confirm it for me.
The whole time we write our books we build and hold entire universes within us. We lug it around with us for a while when it is small and unusual and vague, and then over time, we add heft to it, and turn it around inside of us at all different angles to see how it best catches the light. Finally, finally, it is an enormous collection of familiar emotions and sentiments and actions with a defined and specific shape and trajectory, and it is an absolute marvel that we made it that far! Like can you believe this whole fucking time we have been carrying this thing inside of us, at times ready to collapse with the burden of it, but other times being lifted up by it, feeling light and buoyant and alive, and just when it feels like you might burst with it all, everything settles and coalesces. And that, my friends, is when you are done.
Here is to being done someday.
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 Printed Matter.