I had sublet often in this life, but this time was different. In previous sublets, I’d been around other people’s things, but here I was with my own, and I found I liked my things in this apartment in some way I hadn’t before. I hadn’t been much for possessions, never had spent more than a few dollars on any particular piece of furniture because what was the point of having things if you couldn’t write? You would only sell them in order to write, as I’d learned early on in New York, standing in line at the Strand to sell a few used books just to get lunch. The books on my shelf after all this time have withstood at least a thousand moments when I scanned them, deciding which ones I could or could not turn into money in order to eat if this or that check failed to come through. A library of survivors.
Jane says: I think I’d be darling at being “writer rich” and sitting in the dazzling light of a crystal chandelier:
I think writers are often terrifying to normal people, i.e. non writers in a capitalist system, for this reason: there is almost nothing they will not sell in order to have this time. Time is our mink, our Lexus, our mansion. In a room full of writers of various kinds, time is probably the only thing that can provoke widespread envy more than acclaim. Acclaim which of course means access to money, which then becomes time.
Every departure is a confession, an admission of longing, of desire, of unbridled want. It is also a testament to hope, an act of faith that there is something to be found in the coming place, that the next town will satisfy our thirst. That nourishment is the hope of every voyager who ever traversed a dark sea to make his or her way in a new world, of everyone who rode the Conestoga across hard lands for the promise of the West, of any of us who uproot our lives and arrive hat in hand in a new city saying, “Please.” Take me, accept me, let me, feed me. In short: Love me.
Jane says: The draw of the West, the spellbinding Pacific blue, the threat of wildfires and natural disasters and how even those dangers won’t keep us away—I feel it too.
White supremacy tries to reduce people of color to our traumas. Resisting white supremacy means insisting that we are more than our traumas. One quick perusal through the shelves of world literature in any bookstore confirms just what the literary world wants to see from writers of color and writers from developing nations: trauma.
Jane says: I could quote this article all day. ALL. DAY. Gratitude to Jenny Zhang for representing the struggle of writers of color so honestly, deftly, fearlessly and beautifully. Like the article preaches and practices, let’s stand together and rise above:
[Nat. Brut] decided to ask a handful of well known feminists [Roxane Gay, Jessica Valenti, and others] who inspire us to share other inclusive feminists who inspire them. Spend some time with these incredible women’s work, and feel free to share others who inspire you!
I’ve made sandwiches and cocktails and uncountable lattés, put price stickers on wine glasses, supervised the unloading of trucks at 7am on Montreal winter mornings, sold everything from clothing to furniture to vases in three cities, run errands for architects, scheduled meetings, designed and coded websites, written reports and managed offices; all the strangely varied occupations that a person accumulates when the primary objective is not to establish a career, per se, but just to pay the rent while they’re working on a novel.
Jane says: Preach, ESJM, preach. Writing while working full-time is an impediment. Such an impediment that I started a blog about it.
If you’re anything like me, you yearn to become a good writer, a better writer, an inspiring writer, even, by learning from the writers you admire. But you neither have the time nor the money for an MFA program or expensive retreats and workshops with famous names. So you read W.H. Auden’s essays and Paris Review interviews with your favorite authors (or at least PR’s Twitter feed); you obsessively trawl the archives of The New York Times’ “Writers on Writing” series, and you relish every Youtube clip, no matter how lo-fi or truncated, of your literary heroes, speaking from beyond the grave, or from behind a podium at the 92nd Street Y.
Jane says: I do, yes, yes, and duh. Yes, my calendar is stuffed and I lack cash for expensive retreats and workshops with drool-worthy marquee and banner names, so I research while working, cooking dinner, blowdrying my hair―has Josh Jones been spying on me? While I devoured this article, I felt like I was listening someone rapidly list things that I already knew I would love, that maybe I’ve heard of them in a daydream or hoped for them enough that the literary gods have finally delivered my wishes to me, and I can’t scribble notes fast enough.