“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
― Zora Neale Hurston
Happy New Year, all!
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance. -James Baldwin
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” ~ Marcus Garvey
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
— William Butler Yeats, 1920
“The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed.”
There are days when the creative tap only drips. Here’s a tip: put aside the Big Project for a few hours, grab a notepad and pen and head outside. Be a reporter. Don’t write fancy sentences or big ideas or pretty metaphors. Just describe what you see and hear in straightforward reportage. Transcribe an overheard conversation on the streetcar. Describe the clothes someone is wearing at the bus stop. List the items the guy ahead of you has in his shopping cart. Just… write. It’s amazing how the physical act of translating the seen and heard into words can open things up and get you back to the Big Project with the taps wide open.
Andrew Pyper is an award-winning and bestselling author of several novels, including The Demonologist. He has also taught creative writing at Trent University, the University of Toronto and Colorado College.
“The most important thing if you want to be a writer is to find something to get you going. What usually works for me is a deadline. Sign up for a writers’ class, join a writers’ group, volunteer for a local paper — do whatever you have to do so that someone somewhere is expecting you to hand them something. Make it as good as you can make it, and then show it to someone and listen to what they have to say and then go at it again.
If that sounds like fun to you, then maybe you are a writer. If it sounds like lunacy, if it sounds like torture — you’re probably right too.”
Interview with Carmen Maria Machado, where she addresses the subject of writing as activism:-
As for the question of “activism,” I think that if you’re a woman, a queer person, a person of color, a non-cisgender person, a non-able-bodied person, etc., writing is inherently a form of activism because you’re staking a claim in a world that is not meant for you. When you try and put your work into the world, you’re saying “I think that what I have to say, in the way I say it, is so important that I am willing to try and get it to other people, no matter what it takes.” And that requires ego, in the best way possible. It requires that you take yourself and your craft and your voice seriously. When you’re not white, not male, not cisgender or straight or able-bodied, that ego is a radical act. So yes, the fact that I take myself seriously as an artist and do what I can to put my work out into the world is a form of activism.
Useful note via Margarita Lau: it is white Western women that usually can get away with this, because the ability to violate social norms is a form of privilege. You can see it at conferences, where woc/non-Western women are dressed more professionally than white women, and white men are the sloppiest of all. Steve Jobs got away with wearing the same thing every day not because he was so above such nonsense as clothes but because he was a powerful man.
Also, the whole railing against traditional femininity thing is such a second – wave phenomenon. Like, fighting the patriarchy by adopting masculine modes of dress, speech, etc is really missing the point, and it has a quaint side-effect of casting feminine women as the enemy, instead of the whole machine of gendered oppression. Very common in academia, especially sciences, where traditionally feminine pursuits are scoffed at as superficial, and a woman loses 10 points of perceived IQ for every inch of heel. Put it together with the previous point, and you get a fun situation where the least privileged get shit from the mainstream for being “non-professional” if they step outside of the acceptable, and they also get shit from white feminists if they don’t! — via Ekaterina Sedia
(…I think Steve Jobs and others in Apple who dressed the same as he did were into differentiating Apple in branding, rather than the power aspect, although he still has a point with him, IMHO…)
I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’
– Toni Morrison