Keep Breathing

Hi friends.

This will be brief. I’m re-charging this week. I’ve shipped off a new draft which will hopefully be close to ready for the next phase: copy-editing. So now I’m in a place of evaluating what I’ve accomplished these past twelve months. I am finally able to glance in that rear-view mirror.

I worked on this book the entire time. It’s what carried me through this terrible year. I believe when I look back on this book in the future, I won’t think of it as my memoir so much as my pandemic book. Right now, sitting here this morning with my coffee, it all feels like a swollen moment in time.

And then I was trying to think about what I wanted to do next. You finish one book, you have to/get to start another. (This is the curse and the blessing of this existence.) I have some ideas — I always have some ideas sitting around — so I’m not worried about what the next project will be. I will play with them all until I land on the right thing.

But I suppose I was thinking more about this year — again that swollen feeling, nearly a bulkiness of experiences of emotions and ideas and experiences and changes in my life — your lives too, I’m guessing. What to do with all of that. It’s not going anywhere, not just yet.

I wrote this morning in my journal:

Can you spend the next year of your life building on what you learned? Even if it was the hardest of lessons. It’s not even about the specificity of the lessons. Keep them, yes. Don’t toss away what you’ve earned, handled, massaged. But right now, you’re tired of processing it all, managing the repetitions of this existence. Now it is time to climb to the top of that heap of ideas, even if they feel like rubble. Now you will begin to construct something that feels fresh.

Don’t throw anything away. But build something brand new.

It’s truly all I know how to do; all I think any of us can do as artists. Keep creating, constructing, inventing. Keep breathing. On the page, in our lives.

Be well. See you next week.


You are reading Craft Talk, 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). Last week I donated to Ashé Cultural Arts Center.