let's be honest: this is procrastination, pure and simple.
hi, i’m in the throes of editing my book, a collection of interrelated short stories about suicide that i’ve been working on for nine freaking years, and i’m procrastinating (of course), so here’s a list of shit i’ve learned over these long nine years.
one. writing takes time, and it always takes more time than you think it will, and there’s no point trying to run a race against time because that is a battle you will never win. be patient, and give yourself time because your writing will be that much better for it.
two. that doesn’t mean you shouldn't set deadlines for yourself, though. set deadlines, and try your damnedest to meet them, but don’t beat yourself up if you reach that deadline and look at your work and think, well, shit, this needs more work.
three. trust yourself. trust yourself as a reader, and trust yourself as a writer, and trust yourself as a reader of your work. none of that trust comes easily, and you’ll only build it as you read more of everything and learn to trust your taste and your standards. and, while we’re talking standards, it’s okay to have high standards for yourself, so long as you learn to balance that with kindness to yourself, for yourself. you’re not perfect; i’m not perfect; and it’s the endeavor that counts, which leads to …
four. the writing has to be reward enough. the act of the work itself has to be reward enough. the fact that you are able to do the work at all has to be reward enough. god knows if and when any other “rewards” will come, and, if you’re chasing those arbitrary things, if you’re chasing fame and glory and success, how ever it is you define any of those, you’ll just rot in envy.
five. if you can’t be happy for the successes of other people, no matter how big or small those successes, you will never be happy for or content with your own. envy is toxic, and envy is poison, and it’s never too soon to work to inoculate yourself against it. you’ll never be truly, 100% free from envy; we’re all human after all; but you can dismantle it and prevent it from destroying you (and your relationships) (don’t trick yourself into thinking that envy doesn’t have a cost).
six. a huge part of writing is being part of the literary community, so read, be as active as you can and want to be, and advocate for your peers’ work. truth be told, we’re all in this mess together, and we’re the best supporters we’ve got.
seven. people don’t have to understand or even necessarily believe in your work or your abilities to support you. support comes in all forms, and, sometimes, support comes in doubt. learn to fight your way through that and test your own faith in yourself — if you need to depend on the unwavering support of other people to do the work, you won’t last. find that in your core and hold onto it and protect it.
eight. that said, find people who believe in you and your work, not because they’re your friends or they like you or whatever but because they believe in you and your work, and lean on them for support. i would not have made it nine years working on this book, going through so many rewrites and so many disappointments and so many crazy stupid reckless idiotic decisions were it not for every single person who has believed in and continues to believe in me and my ability to write and tell my stories. that support is priceless, and i don’t take any of it for granted.
nine. do the work. lie fallow when you must. rest. know your limits. take care of yourself because writing isn’t a sprint, and it’s not even a marathon, it’s just constant non-stop running for god knows how long. you don’t know how long a project will take you, so settle in for the long haul, and do the work. writing hurts like hell, and there’s so much crap to deal with along the way, but none of it will ever mean anything if you don’t do the work. so show up, sit down, and do the work.
and, for funsies, while i procrastinate, here are nine random things about me:
one. i love eggs. eggs are great. you can do so much with eggs! you can soft scramble them and fry them and make them crispy and poach them and steam them and boil them, and any dish is elevated automatically by adding an egg (or two)!
two. i totally bought these baby cocottes because i wanted to make oeufs en cocotte, and so i made oeufs en cocotte, which are delicious and so easy to make, but now i’m like, … what else do i make with these?!? i might make mini curried chicken pot pies next. (i also love curry.)
three. i have a weird sense of brand loyalty. the first dutch oven i bought was from staub, which means that all other future cast iron enamel cookware will now always be from staub. most of this is visual consistency; i like things to look nice; and part of things looking nice is being consistent.
four. i wash my tights with face wash — yup, that means i wash my tights with glossier’s milky jelly cleanser. i also only wear opaque tights. i don’t like stockings or nylons or pantyhose or whatever else they’re called; the sheerness is weird to me and seems pointless.
five. if i were ten years younger, i’d go to culinary school in a heartbeat. it’s one of my few regrets — not going to culinary school. another is that my family moved out to california when i was young, so i didn’t grow up in the east coast, where i was born. a third is quitting piano. two of these were in my control, but the regret comes from a combination of fear and ego, i suppose, because i have a tendency to talk myself out of things i’m afraid of finding out i’m not brilliant at. does that make sense?
six. because that’s maybe the strongest manifestation of my ego — i want to be brilliant. i don’t necessarily know where that comes from; maybe it’s an effect of having grown up in the distant shadow of my brilliant cousins (seriously, they’re brilliant); but i’ve always carried this with me, this desire not to be average and this fear of realizing that i am. it’s something i’ve been teaching myself out of, and i’d say i’ve definitely gotten better and am much more at ease with myself, with who i am, and with what i can do, but it hasn’t been easy.
seven. i also love [cow] milk. i like it whole, but i also like it 2%, and skim (or non-fat) milk is not milk. it’s milk-flavored water, and i’m sorry, but it’s gross. also, nut milk is not milk. it’s nut juice, let’s be real. it just doesn’t sound as appetizing when you call it that.
eight. i’m finding it really hard to think of nine things … to be honest, i don’t find myself that interesting a human. as it turns out, i am pretty average, and you know what? that's okay!
nine. my favorite band in the world is still nell.