Who Do You Love?
Photos, recs and a writing exercise
Hello, beautiful people. I hope your day goes well. Just a couple months in, we are cruising onwards to 700 subscribers, and I am delighted to see how things are growing slowly but steadily. Like a warm bath on a cold winter day, it’s a damn treat!
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Table of Contents
II. On Writing
Cafe Bustelo - It is perfect. Thank you, Gregorio Bustelo, you Cuban king. May you rest among the New York City angels.
Live theatre, if it please ye - I did the lead role in a live reading of Whitney Matheson’s new play, BED REST, at The Tank here in New York City. It’s a great little nonprofit space - I say “little” now, but it’s so much bigger than it was in its original home back in 2007 and 2008. I’m so glad it survives. The play was produced by Dean Haspiel, the cast was lovely, the crowd was delightful, and I was grateful to be a part of it. I hope you’ll support spaces like this near you - or start one yourself!
Also, it was fun playing a music journalist who is eight months pregnant and on bed rest. Later, a few of us went to a comedy show and gathering at writer Ann Nocenti’s house, and I was reminded yet again of how vital and joyful it is to get together with other people and experience art that isn’t your own. I don’t know if I took it for granted before, but as I commented to my pal Von Pea (aka Devon) of Tanya Morgan, I value it now more than ever.
Tanya Morgan - Donwill and Von Pea got a beautiful shout out from Questlove on the Grammys. I admire when big artists with a platform talk about all the people who’ve influenced them or a particular movement, culture, epoch, revolution, evolution. Music isn’t a meritocracy. The ones who become your favorites may never get the promotional backing, plays or streams of the most famous ones. There is gold everywhere. Sometimes it’s put in your face, other times you have to dig a little for it or listen to those who praise their own favorites.- I love my friend Amanda, I love her newsletter, and I love the rituals and workshops that paid subscribers get. I just became a paid subscriber, and I hope you'll consider doing the same.
Candles by Spirit Diaries - My friend said this photo was “scary” but these candles feel very friendly to me. They are handmade from beeswax in Knoxville, TN and contain such herbs and plants as hyssop, jasmine, lavender, rose, and more.
Perhaps the below photo, unedited, is actually “scary.” Or maybe you enjoy a casual sprinkling of disarray now and again. Maybe it’s relatable.
On Writing: Who Do You Love?
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’ve taught lots of classes and workshops. 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 these ideas as suggestions. If you have specific queries you’d like me to address here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org,
Set a timer for two minutes. Make a list of people you love. This list probably won’t be comprehensive, which is part of the point.
The goal is not to write down or say as many names as possible. If accessing or generating language is difficult for you and you are only able to select one name, that’s perfectly fine.
It doesn't have to be a living person. For example, it can be a now-deceased author or baseball player or rock guitarist you never met, or perhaps an ancestor you wish you could know. They do need to have existed on this plane at some point - fictional characters are off the table, alas.
I suggest writing it by hand, but if that’s not available to you or if you simply don’t prefer it, you can type it or speak it into a recording app.
You can number the list, use bullet points, or just freewrite it. The only parameter is the time limit of 120 seconds.
Are you ready?
When time is up, return here.
Aaand we’re back.
Look at the list. Who is on it? Have you ever met them? How do you know them? What are your favorite qualities about these people? Answer some or all of these questions about each individual. Perhaps this will inspire a character in a story you write one day, or in a song or script. Perhaps you’ll be moved to send this person a kind note. If they’re dead, you can write it and then put the note by a photograph of them, or just keep it somewhere special to you. You can also recycle it, of course.
The final part of this exercise is to go to your original list.
Review it one more time.
Add your name to the list.
You don’t have to actually love yourself, but this is a start. A declaration of intent, if you will. It does help a writer to not be completely mired in self-loathing, after all.
Now go do something other than writing.
I hope you enjoyed this brief little pause away from the rest of your life. Thank you for sharing it with me.
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