"Imparting advice is tricky — while I am always excited to and interested in speaking with women of color about how identity intersects with their own writing, I’m still very much in an incubation period. I am a slow writer, (it’s looking more and more like I read more than I write), I don’t take as many chances as I’d like to take, and sometimes I feel too susceptible to too many opinions or hashtag-type waves of precipitous discussions. What I will say and what I’ve always said is, it’s vital to meet other women writers — women of color writers especially — and to surround yourself by them. The year that followed college I was still living in that residual space where I seemed prone to writers named Jonathan (yikes!) and where I thought being smart (whatever that means) was the ultimate pursuit. I was not writing for myself. I have since learned to write for the three or four people (mostly women) who I admire most on this planet, who I know hear and love hearing my take on things. A litmus test of who those people are would be to check your inbox. Who do you write your best emails to?
After college, I was surrounded by too many white male writers and journalists. They were everywhere! I even wrote a dopey fan letter to, of all people, Jonathan Franzen, seeking advice. He wrote back, months later, and recommended I read Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge and added the following: “My first piece of advice, perhaps already unnecessary, is to seek out a reader or two whom you can trust to be maximally and lovingly hard on what you write.” The words “lovingly hard on what you write” were not, for me at least, the right advice, though I guess it was cool that he wrote back. Thing is, I was already hard on myself. As a woman of color, aren’t we all already so hard on ourselves? Either trying from a young age to fit in, or be the best, or be invisible? What I needed was to trust myself more, trust my voice, let it run a bit before it could walk, and believe that my own way of seeing things and making connections were valid. It’s funny to write now, but even a year ago, I felt like my words were illegitimate. Meeting other women writers of color, especially so in the last year, has given me so much momentum. The ways in which a simple, knowing nod can encourage me back to my computer are breathtaking. I now write not just as a reader but as someone who trusts that my lived experience can offer more to the conversation. Sometimes I just remind myself to feel valid and to know that I can only approach the macro through my own micro experience.”
A Need To Disappear by Catherine Lacey
"Recently, a friend at a dinner party mentioned that Agatha Christie went missing for an entire year only to return to her husband, refusing for the rest of her life to tell him where she’d been.
“No!” I said, “That’s my fantasy!” It was only then, hearing myself say it, that I realized it was true. I didn’t want to go missing in the way that necessitated a flyer or search party, but I’ve always loved the idea of just going. Why hadn’t I seen this before?
In truth, I later learned, Agatha Christie was only gone for 11 days before being discovered at a hotel registered under a false name, but the idea of being gone for a year, of having a year’s worth of unobserved time, all those solo days stretching long and soft, the meditative state of barely speaking, when everyone who sees you is a stranger, when you know you’ll be forgotten by most anyone you come across — well, for as much as I love my friends and family it almost doesn’t make sense that I long for that variety of aloneness as much as I do. How ephemeral everything becomes — it’s some kind of holy.”
The entire essay, HERE
There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realise that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else’s terms.Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (via larmoyante)
Fiona, July 2014
Virginia Woolf’s Idea of Privacy BY JOSHUA ROTHMAN
"Many people accept the idea that each of us has a certain resolute innerness—a kernel of selfhood that we can’t share with others. (Levin, at the end of “Anna Karenina,” calls it his “holy of holies,” and says that, no matter how close he grows to the people around him, there will always be “the same wall between my soul’s holy of holies and other people, even my wife.”) What interested Woolf was the way that we become aware of that innerness. We come to know it best, she thought, when we’re forced, at moments of exposure, to shield it against the outside world.
There can be something enjoyable, even revelatory about that feeling of self-protection, which is why we seek out circumstances in which we can feel more acutely the contrast between the outside world and our inner selves. Woolf was fascinated by city life—by the feeling of solitude-on-display that the sidewalk encourages, and by the way that “street haunting,” as she called it, allows you to lose and then find yourself in the rhythm of urban novelty and familiarity.”
Gertrude Stein Turn Up