That's my itinerary. I will have my laptop with me but will hopefully not be in the old "mode." I'm not sure if I will travel-blog or just travel-notebook. It's amazing to me when I travel how much I don't need to be stuck to a screen at all times. Regardless of how worried I am that my body can handle all of this travel, I am looking forward to just existing, to being in the moment, to even that strange liminal space of jet lag. I've been entirely too full of myself lately, wrung out by anxieties. I am still upset with myself that I allowed myself to wade into HTMLGiant the other day - and how I allowed those encounters to ruin a couple of days. I am still upset that I allowed one person to bait me enough that I exploded at him, and even suggested sardonically that he should read my upcoming book, a comment which I'm still wincing over. But I am also allowing myself to forgive myself. I have to rededicate myself to not going over to HTMLGiant, or any other spaces that would allow me to lose a day getting caught up, getting wrung out, becoming hypersensitive and anxious and depressed. I feel I'm even unclear what my stance is with the subject that was at hand, and feel a little worried/unclear why I've seemingly been cast, or cast myself, as some sort of pundit. I guess I realized that I was intrigued with the ideas around Marie Calloway, and her reception, the phenomenon maybe, perhaps approaching it in terms of culture, when many wanted to have an aesthetic conversation, and I'm not sure I'm ever someone that can successfully have a conversation about aesthetics while using institutional language - it's not really what I'm concerned about - perhaps to a fault. So I never really thought about - whether the pieces were good or bad, just whether I found them intriguing, which I did, and I guess I would extend that to all of my interests in literature, and I think I'm not terribly interested in notions of mastery or craft. Also, I was accused by a few that I was using Marie's texts and her persona as a means to an end, when really it was just that her writings fit into a constellation of ideas I've been interested in right now, and that is why I vomited forth too much, perhaps without even properly considering. I don't know what else to say. Also - like others I have been in a lot of communication with Marie - which made me feel perhaps - maternal? empathetic? solidarity? (this reminds me of that line in Ariana Reines' Coeur de Lion, which I recently reread, the new Fence edition:
I don't know what women want
But I know that the ones I like
Are not the hags
Who put one arm around you
(In this scenario you
Are the younger woman)
And say You get to a point in your life.
Fuck those bitches
Who try to poison desperate girls
With their resigned and shitty worldviews.
In this scenario am I casting myself as the hag? Who counseled desperate girls with my resigned worldview? I don't know. I'm not sure I can be anyone's counselor, or am fit to give anyone advice. I still feel like a desperate girl, often. It's like Louise Bourgeois who said I dont' want to be a mother I'm still a child. I know others have opted out of ever commenting on MC, fearing reprisal, or not wanting to actually say anything, because it's become too heated, perhaps I should take that tack as well. Although I have a desire not to disavow - not to disavow being supportive to younger writers, but also not disavowing myself, my abilities as a, yes, extremely emotional critic. I want to write an essay about these ideas - that is what I was doing at the time - but I need to be someone that just writes essays - as opposed to writing that they're writing essays. On my post which I took down I allowed myself to languish in self-doubt, as I allow myself, while being aware there's a degree of theatricality to it, a performance of self-doubt, wondering in the post whether I should write these series of essays I've promised to places, and then the editor of one of the publications I promised an essay to wrote to make sure I would still make the deadline, which I reassured him I would. But that made me realize - I need to be a bit more - self-protective and preserving. Perhaps my project of airing intimate details, or allowing myself to write feelings or worries I would otherwise censor - perhaps the Internet isn't the best place for that, for me, at this point in my life. I don't know. Also -perhaps I shouldn't engage with alt-lit at all - a concept I wasn't even aware of until recently - it's not my world or community, or certainly my scene. This is like when I realized I was not, and would never be apart of, the New York poetics coterie, like I tried to be helping out curating and editing for a couple admired institutions. I don't know. I think this all started when I agreed to let Thought Catalog publish my blog post - after saying no several times - for exactly these reasons - but I guess I didn't really know what TC was. Anyway. I need to move forward. I erased my last post - because I might be away for a while and I don't want to be the last thing I write, even though I loved my conversations with you all in the comments and wish I could have archived them.
Maybe a lot of this pressure is this sense of not feeling popular, or well-liked, or like I belong, or fit into any sort of writing clique or school or scene. I'm sure a lot of this anxiety stems from growing up, feeling like a misfit, often teased or ignored. Probably, if I was going to really analyze things, a lot of this impulse - to be heard, to not be ignored, to be part of a conversation- is why I became a writer. But it shouldn't be about being liked. Writing shouldn't be a popularity contest. And any interior pressure - comes from me. I need to learn to ignore things. I need to go back to where I thrive and where I feel safest - in the margins, on the outside. Maybe here. Maybe still here. Okay, I should end the bad-psychoanalytic confessional here.
Is worrying about this masturbatory? Perhaps it is masturbatory. What is wrong with being masturbatory?
I need to, obviously, figure out how to be not only a writer in this world but a functioning, fairly happy person. I have been in communication with the writer/critic Masha Tupitsyn lately (her Love Dog blog of cinematic reveries is amazing, and will be collected in a book in the spring), partially because we might be doing a couple readings together in various places, and also because I really like her and regard her as a peer, in that we're both doing sort of personal vernacular criticism, and I guess also because we were published on the same press, and I think we're approx the same age. I think it's important to find writers, who are peers as well as older, idols, who you want to model yourself on, whose careers you admire, but more than careers, perspectives in terms of being a writer, and not getting swallowed up in a scene and toxicity. But anyway, Masha wrote me this email, which all I can do is paraphrase, about how being a writer it's important to learn how to live most importantly, and not always have to furiously throw oneself in projects, and realizing we will have a lot of time in our lives to write, but how to heal and regrow is so important. I really need to work on that. I think being mostly unemployed has made it difficult for me to relax into a routine where a book project isn't a central role, and also I think it's easier to enjoy an "unproductive" day for me, when I'm wandering in a city, which I will be, soon.
I'm not sure I really understand what the "new sincerity" is. I guess the project for me - the personal project- is to work as much on being as authentic as possible.
Yet sometimes I feel I am going through life as a cautionary tale.