from 3.4.23 newsletter
"I give you permission..."
…to fuck up publicly. To change your deadlines on the fly. To be so unbelievably strange and weird that your loved ones question if they ever really knew you at all. To emerge and blossom and embrace the notion you are exactly who you should be, where you should be.
This newsletter is “late” by three days and it’s a long, rambling mess (filled with love). I am behind on a few old projects for the sake of putting my best foot forward on new projects. I am both joyful and tired and, to be honest, I have been dreading finding a time to write this newsletter for weeks. I’ve just been busy.
Why the hell am I telling you all this?
It would be terribly uncharacteristic for me to pass up the opportunity to bring up Spring symbolism and how this month marks one fabulous, exciting year of growing this newsletter. I love discussing the changing seasons and I love celebrating milestones, but sometimes that’s not the story that gets told when I sit down to write.
Instead, I want to tell you how I just submitted a ton of poems to various literary magazines and got form rejections (auto-responses) from every single one in record time - just two days. However, I did read an article about someone who was rejected in just five minutes. Yikes.
Regardless, I am still so excited.
I am excited not because I love the sting of rejection, but because I did the thing. Because I still have fifty or more places to submit to this year. Because collecting rejections means I am creating, growing, and moving forward. I know some writers who aim for 100 rejections per year or who proudly put in their bios not where they have been published, but where they have been rejected.
Was it shitty? Yes. Was it a blow to wonder if they even read those submissions at all? Of course. Does it have anything to do with my value as a creator or the quality of my work? Who’s to say?
I surely can’t stop making art though. And I definitely can’t stop sharing it and submitting it. It’s not about a million acceptances or rejections, but rather, the creation of art as a basic need. I can’t survive without it.
Also, my readers loved these pieces. They worked with me diligently to revise, revise, revise. Sharing that experience with them was a joy all on it’s own.
That’s what got me to the computer for this newsletter today.
Is this art? I don’t really care what you call it, but it feels important to be in the practice of creating and sharing regardless of what that looks like. I have to create. I just have to or I dunno… I’ll probably die or something.
I also think fucking up, being vulnerable, or being imperfect publicly is a practice that eases the tension for everyone around you. We are all so caught up constantly weighing our value and worth against every criteria we can possibly think of, but what if we could just be inherently valuable? Inherently worthy. And any criteria that we might weigh ourselves against is optional information we can take in or leave behind. Perhaps fucking it all up loses its bite just a bit.
I like to believe I am co-creating with the Universe. With my peers. With my loved ones. The Earth. The creatures that inhabit it. I co-create experience and meaning and community. For those creations to come from such a deep space of love, joy, and desire for connection feels something like purpose.
I can’t hit a deadline to save my life (though I am constantly improving), but I swear it’s because I let my art take as much time as it needs these days. My reputation with myself is built from knowing I am doing exactly what I need to do at any given time. The art comes when it does and is shared when it feels like something I can be proud of. That kind of relationship can’t be put on a calendar - oh, how I try.
I think deadlines and Spring are interconnected in my mind as well. As the weather breaks, we all jump into action again: schools are racing to the end of their year, taxes are due (sorry to remind you), and projects conceived over restful winter reflection are finally launching. Just the thought of it activates my fight of flight response. Only half-kidding.
My spring calendar reflects this surge in activity: I am the maid of honor in my friends wedding, I am coaching music at a local high school, doing music administration/assisting work with a local music nonprofit, submitting to grants, residencies, and literary mags, relaunching my own arts organization and magazine, returning to work on my Patreon in a more intentional way, and bringing my podcast back from hiatus (while launching a new one through my arts organization), and so on.
I think some people find a lot of pride in listing out their obligations and being “busier” than the rest because that’s how we value ourselves within late stage capitalism. I have no such claim to capitalistic worthiness - only two of those projects bring in any kind of revenue and everything else is a “labor of love”, so I am hardly ever so proud of my full calendar that it feels like any sort of flex. Rather, its a list of things I love with a schedule that I find beyond absurd, especially for there to be such little financial reward.
So why share it?
Because I refuse to let anyone believe I am perfect or cool or somehow better than the rest. To allow anyone to believe I am any more confident or talented than them. I am only driven by some manic force to Create Stuff given to me by the Muses, nothing else. We are all fucking it up. We are all having a complicated experience in these human bodies. We are all trudging through the muck to find the things that bring us joy. Screw personas, algorithmic success, and other people’s unsolicited opinions.
How is your reputation with yourself? Do you know how worthy you are? How okay it is that you are still figuring it out?
Do you know that we are all playing pretend, so it’s okay that you aren’t playing by anyone’s rules but your own?
It’s okay if you don’t. That’s the point.
Be messy. Be weird. Be imperfect. Do it loudly and visibly.
You already belong here and we need everything you bring to the table.
If you need me, I will be out here flubbing my deadlines and making art in whichever way the wind blows me.