New Year, New Who?
Bathtubs, ice cream, collages!
Welcome to your first SARATONIN of 2023! All subscribers will get four of these issues this month, but only paid subscribers will receive two additional essays. If you like what you read here, I hope you’ll become a paid subscriber, share the newsletter with a friend, post about it in some favorable manner, and/or simply feel a little lighter and happier today.
Table of Contents, Dahling
Thank you to everyone who supports my writing habit. I appreciate you very much. As you’ll see in the Writing Tips section below, I share the difficulty some of you have with balancing paycheck work with creative work. I am experimenting with some new methods, and I hope you’ll share your own ideas in the comments.
These are things I’ve enjoyed or hope to enjoy. They aren’t sponsored, unless I say so (where is my Big Skincare Money?!? How about Big Ice Cream Bucks?!?) Anyway, if there’s something you think I should check out, email email@example.com.
Brooklyn Tintype - I had an incredible time sitting for these portraits (the one up top, the one above this recommendation and the one below it!) I only had to hold each position and expression for three seconds, while keeping my eyes open as a flashbulb went off at the last second. I had intended this to be a sobriety birthday/Christmas present to myself, but had to delay the appointment after Il Coco (that’sItalian COVID, I made it up) moved in with me for a month.
Check Rowan’s work out on Instagram.
Cetaphil - You were all correct about this body lotion. And it’s affordable, too!
Amala Beauty - This is pricey. I bought it because FKA Twigs told me to, on the Internet. FKA Twigs was right. I have used two products and they were wonderful.
Malai Ice Cream - It’s so upsettingly good! I bought some for my neighbors last year. They’ve got vegan options and will deliver to you, probably! “Malai, figuratively meaning cream of the crop, draws inspiration from South Asian ingredients, aromatic spices, and our founder's upbringing. Our ice cream is all eggless, handcrafted, and churned with very little air, resulting in purer, more robust flavors, as well as the creamiest textures you can find.”
Black Women Writers at Work, ed. Claudia Tate, foreword Tillie Olsen: The late Professor Tate’s first book was published in 1984 but has been out of print for awhile. Haymarket Books has released a new edition. It includes interviews with Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alexis De Veaux, Nikki Giovanni, Kristin Hunter, Gayl Jones, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, and Sherley Anne Williams to discuss “the practices and critical linkages between the work and lived experiences of Black women writers whose work laid the foundation for many who have come after.”- Austin is one of my two favorite writers on the subject of one’s own kidney stones. The other? Michel de Montaigne. Solid company, right? Anyway, enjoy these terrifying yet riveting illustrations and buy one of Austin’s books (as seen above). I hope you are feeling so much better, Austin.
Epsom salts - I will never get over these fine minerals. I love you, tiny dissolving rocks! Get in my bathtub and soothe me!- I've been holding off on buying Spare until I could find a pal to savor it with me. Thanks to I have a ton of friends I just haven't met yet who will all be weighing in on a thread. I have always thought the phrase "an heir and a spare" is hilarious, so I approve of the title, congrats to the Titian Titan whose carrot-topped royal sadness is the subject of said mem-wah. I cannot wait for Meghan's post-divorce autobiografie in 7 years! This will all be peak tub reading for me. Thank you Meech!
Emma Thompson’s Third Act - Have I read this yet? No. Do I expect to love it as I consume my reheated grilled chicken and hummus? Yes. I thinkrecommended it in Speaking of which, go subscribe to her newsletter!
On Writing: Paycheck Work/Creative Work
I’m a writer of books, scripts, essays, articles, marketing copy, and scribbled journals. I hold an M.A. in the Teaching of English from Teachers College at Columbia University. I have taught middle school, high school, university and adult classes and workshops. I am a member of the Writers Guild of America East. None of this means I am an expert in writing. It just means I’ve done a lot of it, thought about it often, and spoken about it with many others.
In that spirit I offer ideas as suggestions. If you have specific queries you’d like me to address here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I once wrote a book called Real Artists Have Day Jobs, based on a 2014 essay called “Real Artists Have Day Jobs.” We love a name that works! Anyway, it espouses my general belief that the merit of one’s art is not determined by one’s job title (or lack thereof).
I did not have a full-time job when I wrote the essay or the book. I had previously held a variety of gigs, but for several years lived on paychecks from comedy, books, scripts, and speeches, as well as loans, gifts, and credit card debt. In late 2016, I applied for over one hundred full-time jobs. Eventually, I was fortunate to get the one I have now.
My work was and is remote. This meant that adjusting to the newly national work-from-home movement in 2020 was relatively easy for many of my colleagues and I, at least for those of us who didn’t have children.
Things are always tougher with children, I think. I try to acknowledge that, especially when waxing philosophical about writing, and especially when opining on how one might structure one’s day. Keeping humans (and other creatures) alive and thriving should always come first.
If you’re on the usual 9-5 type of workday schedule for a main gig, and it involves the use of a computer, and you’re a writer with your own projects to tackle, here are a few ideas I’m considering…
Do your creative writing on something that is not your regular work computer. If you handwrite a manuscript (wild!) on a yellow legal pad or in a mottled Mead notebook, you’ll eventually probably type it into a program on your regular work computer. But at least your initial creative output can happen with fresh paper and a fresh pen.
Burn a particular candle near your computer only when you work on your creative writing. After temporarily losing my sense of smell and taste during and after COVID infection, I have realized yet again just how closely tied the nose is to the memory and the mood. You may be able to train yourself to associate the scent with creativity. I mean, fuck, I still catch the occasional whiff of Polo Ralph Lauren or, God forbid, DRAKKAR NOIR and think of high school in New Jersey.
Move your laptop when you’re doing your creative writing. Today, I have tried to do my creative writing (like this) while sitting at my desk. My writing for work (nonprofit digital marketing) has happened at my standing desk, AKA my kitchen counter.
Let me know how it goes. We’re all muddling along as best we can, together.
I’ll leave you with a quote shared today by my friend A.J. over at, a publication I highly recommend if you find yourself exploring the broadly defined world of recovery. I will resist the urge to alter the passive construction in the first sentence of this paragraph.
“While we wait for life, life passes.” — Seneca
May you breathe as easy as possible, and tune into the small, sweet moments as they arise. If they don’t feel very sweet this week, I hope they at least feel peaceful.
Thanks for being here.