On the perennial question of how to make stuff in a world that doesn't want us to
Hi friends. I’ve been taking a break from Friday posts to prevent burnout and I always feel very bad about this sort of thing. I love this newsletter and the community here, but this publishing format seems to beg a hyper-speed productivity that is unsustainable for one human. I oscillate between wanting to push myself into a regular practice, pushing out essays despite whatever mood I’m in, as a way to experiment and think aloud as a writer, and wanting to just take some time off for other forms of writing, or non-writing. I’m not always sure how much of this demand for productivity I project on the newsletter because I am in a financially tenuous state and want to make my paid subscribers happy they are here! Either way, the pressure to produce produce produce is not particular to this genre or medium. It’s in the water.
Meanwhile, everyone in my house has been sick for weeks, the kids have had several school holidays, and I went to AWP (for the uninitiated, it’s just a big writer’s conference). All that after doing a couple of readings, including one out of town. It’s been busy. This week, I’m holding lots of culminating one-on-one meetings with writers who participated in my always inspiring “Writing And/As The Mother” generative lab for Corporeal Writing, and we’ve been talking a lot about creative practice— how to make time for it, how to structure it, how to support it.
Even if you’re not a writer or artist, most people living in the current hellscape that is America can relate to the desire to make more time for what they love, as well as to the difficulty of finding time for that thing. I have a friend who loves to garden; another who does needlepoint. Most of what we long for, I think, is creative practice, even if that looks like binging favorite TV or talking with friends. We want more time to tap into a part of ourselves that is oriented not towards the productive, but toward something novel. This is, fundamentally, the definition of creativity.
I write a lot in this newsletter about the bad parts of things right now. About the barriers— unevenly distributed along the lines of gender, race and class—to us doing what we want, what feels good, generative, communal, expressive, caring, or artistic. I don’t see this work as in any way oppositional to finding or talking about pleasure or joy. I reject the binary that folks sometimes try to throw up between criticality and creativity. One can be cynical and hopeful at the same time. One can unpack what hurts in the world and revel in what feels good at the same time!
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