Time to Play
We’ve had a late, wet spring here in New Orleans. The summer is inevitable, of course, that hot, hot heat is coming and there’s no escaping it, and so it feels wild and cheerful out there on the streets now, so many people enjoying that cooler weather while we’ve got it. This weather, people murmur to each other, by way of greeting. Unbelievable, we say back.
And, of course, it’s not just the weather. We’re coming out of something big. The city is opening up in all the ways other cities are opening up. And all this time these musicians have been waiting to play again. To finally do their job. I went to two different shows this week. People were dancing; they were dressed cute, and were happy to be cutting the rug. And now I’m starting to see people ride by on their bicycles with various instruments strapped to their back, headed to a gig somewhere, maybe at a venue, maybe on the streets of the French Quarter. All year long, all winter long, people just wanted to play for an audience, and earn their keep. Now they ride toward their destination, ready to work. It seems like everyone is ready for whatever comes next.
What are you ready for? Are you ready to speak clearly on the page? Are you ready to sing from your heart? Are you ready to transform the contents of your brain into something bigger than just a loose collection of thoughts? Are you ready to start something new, or maybe finally finish something you’ve been working on forever after all this time? Are you ready to write?
We have week till #1000wordsofsummer starts. It runs from Monday May 31-June 13. You will write 1000 words a day. It will be hard some days, and easier other days, but mostly it will be hard, and it will all be worth it.
I sat down this morning and reflected on what my main goals were for this project, what I want people to take away from it. It’s a lot more than just these three things, but I think when I started this four years ago, this is what I learned from it, and every year, the same lessons come back to me.
The first is the importance of developing a regular practice. Choosing to be disciplined and focused about you work, really showing up for it, and committing your time. There are no shortcuts to finishing a project. It’s about sitting down every day (or every other day) and doing the work. It’s about carving out time in your schedule — whatever that looks like for you — to make it happen.
The second is the joy of having a good time with your words, exploring your playful side, writing your way into something new. This project isn’t about writing and finishing something all in one fell swoop — although that’s great if you can. It’s about what can come out of fourteen thousand words, two weeks’ worth of work, all sitting there in a big, imperfect pile. Some days you might only get a good sentence or two, but those sentences are all yours, and they’re fucking perfect.
And finally, this project is about accessing a community. Some people write alone, and it’s just a very personal and private experience. I understand that completely. I share only a fraction of what I write with the world. But I have found a community of writers to be helpful in the long haul of this life. So it’s about recognizing that if you choose, if you desire, you don’t have to be alone in all of this.
I’ll write you one more letter next weekend, and then we’ll start on Monday morning. You can access the slack here. I have noticed that some people are breaking off into groups for zoom writing sessions and also into their own slacks/discords by city. I highly support this! But also the slack is there for you, and so is social media — use that #1000wordsofsummer hashtag.
Go buy yourself a new notebook,
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 support New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.