I spend a lot of time every week reading articles and essays. I read them on the train, I read them in the office when things get slow or there are too many interruptions to get any kind of work done, I read them while I’m waiting for something to finish cooking at night. I read a lot of really excellent work, and then I ruminate on it, and I incorporate it into my life.
If I’m going to write a lot more, I think it would be a fun weekly feature to share what I’ve read this week that got me thinking, and maybe comment on it or whatever, and get a whole blog post out of stuff other people did, which is kind of cheating, but I don’t actually give a fuck.
Without further ado, here’s my first edition.
1. Chuck Wendig doesn’t give a fuck about your pre-rejection excuses for not writing:
Pre-rejection is bullshit.
It’s a control thing, a power trip, a grotesquely pessimistic fantasy. I know, you’re saying, uhh, it’s not a fantasy, weirdo — except, au contraire, panda bear, it is a fantasy. It’s much easier to reject ourselves than it is to weather the crotch-kicks delivered by someone else. You could far easier slide a knife across your open palm than let someone else do it — it’s so much better when we control the pain that’s sure to come. It’s comforting, easy, lazy even to just get that rejection out of the way now rather than later.
Okay, first of all, I have never heard the phrase “au contraire, panda bear” but I am stealing it forever. This essay was worth it for that alone.
Second of all, I am compulsively guilty of this thing, “pre-rejecting”, which sounds kind of like literary bulimia except without the life-threatening (usually. See: tortured writers). I can’t even tell you how many unfinished pieces are in my drafts folder because I deemed them not funny enough…or my anxiety was on overdrive in all directions that day…or who the hell am I to talk about how to be a good parent because I only have one incredibly easy kid half of the time? I think about that last topic especially, as I watch her and her high school friends struggle to have their own identities against the will of parents who think they can still control who their kids become this late in the game. But anyway, what this guy’s essay really gets to is how terrifying it is to be vulnerable sometimes. The silly, ego-based posts are easy because entertainment is my public form of safety; when everyone’s laughing, nobody’s criticizing. But what makes good writing good is vulnerability (well, and planning, but you can still make a wonderful plan that falls flat because the writer takes no risks). So maybe when I find myself stuck I should be asking myself where I’m avoiding vulnerability.
That’s certainly the real cause of the last few months’ silence.
2. I didn’t even watch the Grammys and I have zero skin in the Beyonce’ vs. Beck game (beyond my revulsion at the truly stunning displays of covert sexism and racism that ensued), but this made my whole last week:
I would SO pay to see them perform this live.