What It’s Like to Major in Opera and Poetry and Then Decide Not to Be an Opera Singer, Cry on a Balcony in Rome, Try a Bunch of Other Things, and Eventually Find Yourself: an Interview with Rose Truesdale

photo by @linacaro

BEST FRIENDS AND NEMESES ALIKE, WELCOME. Wait—you leave. (Sorry, that was my arch-nemesis Abraham, he’s not welcome here, I’ll tell you about him later.) The following is an interview with the ever-thoughtful Rose Truesdale, wellness writer extraordinaire. Rose and I went to the same university, and the first few years out of school were spent having a lot of “what do I want to do with this creative writing degree”-type talks. (Okay, talks and cries, let’s be honest.) Rose is a hustler who’s not afraid of a good side gig, which is a trait I prize extremely highly in people. 

I recently wrote an article for Vice about what it’s like to give up on an artistic dream or two, and Rose’s interview was so good that I wanted to post the whole thing here. (The cruel reality of most articles is that you have to cut down people’s interview answers SOOOOO MUCH that it’s hard to capture the entire complexity of any one human being in any one article and still make your word count limit without causing your editor to buy a plane ticket to Chicago, make a copy of your apartment key, and murder you in your sleep. This means that, after most of my articles go live, I feel this pit of anxious guilt in my stomach as I email my interviewees, hoping they won’t feel misrepresented and buy a plane ticket to Chicago, make a copy of—well, you get it.) 

Here’s Rose: 

Do you identify as a “failed artist”? 

Not particularly, although I did for a long time. In college, I double majored in opera performance and poetry (… Right?!), and today I operate in the food and wellness writing sphere. My life is still tremendously artful and imbued with creative expression – I have purple hair for God’s sake – but it fits me better than opera ever did.

For me, there’s a tremendous difference between the roles of “creative” (that’s creative as a noun) and “artist”: Simply, creatives are people that gotta create. They like to dabble, and regular creative expression sets them free. They have taste and vision, which makes them bomb entrepreneurs in the sense that many successful creators create their own lives and professions. Of course, it’s not all glamorous. Every creative has a soul-sucking 9-5 at some point in life, so they have to get creative in how they infuse their otherwise unstimulating day to day with creativity. And ideally that’s a wakeup call that sticks.

I would identify as a creative versus an artist. I’ve learned to work music into a life that serves me. I get paid to write and am building a business that represents my interests and aesthetic. And back to the dabbling piece: I write and sing (although I’ve diverged from poetry and opera and mostly write about my feelings on the internet/ concept weird new bands and rehearse three times before deciding I don’t have time to be in a weird new band.), yes, but I also draw, sculpt, develop plant-based recipes, take decent photos on my fancy camera – the trick is to use natural lighting and take ten thousand photos to get one good one – start podcasts that I never finish, interview badass ladies I admire, program arts events… and I started a zine with my boyfriend! But I don’t feel totally comfortable calling myself an artist.

Because artists are different. Artists commit to a craft. Opera, for instance, is a highly specific path that involves a lot of long, lonely hours in a practice room and as much technique as artistic expression. The path, itself, never felt creative to me at all: you audition for colleges with great music schools where you study for four years. You get accepted into music grad school and hopefully enough young artist programs to sustain you until you start getting hired for small stages around the country. And all of a sudden you’re in your mid-thirties and you’re not even a fully-fledged opera singer yet. Like, that is commitment. Plus, to be very honest, constantly worrying about the health of my voice (I couldn’t drink or eat tomato-based foods or speak too loudly in a bar for fear of losing my voice), was zero fun. Zero. Fun. The life of an opera singer made me anxious, insecure – the scrutiny… oh my God— and so, so broke. I hated it. So I chose to figure out a path that was better suited to the vision I had for myself…. which also wasn’t easy. For the bulk of my twenties, after making the decision to essentially start over, I was very lost. We’re talking daily existential crises and sobbing fits about “wasting my gift”. One time I stayed in an AirBnb next to a music school on a vacation to Rome, and I just sat on the balcony listening to budding opera divas sing their arpeggios and crying. But… I have a really good therapist. And today, I’m really proud of myself for ultimately designing a creative life that allows me to express myself better than opera did, and that I actually enjoy.

Why is the idea of a “failed artist” so taboo? Do you think it’s more taboo than the idea of, say, a failed doctor or a failed businessman?

Because artists are rebels! To become any kind of artist, you sort of have to go out on a limb… it’s a very rare case where an artist’s parents are like, “Sure! We’ll pay for you to go to art school and we’re comfortable with the idea that you might never be able to pay us back!” Pursuing any kind of creative life is brave as fuck. So to try to make it as a painter, for example – knowing that it’s not a practical choice, knowing that there’s nothing more personal than spewing your guts on paper – and to fail, by which I mean… to not be able to pay your rent enough times that you have to admit to yourself that it’s a problem. To get sick of the hustle and balancing four side jobs to fund your existence while also making enough time to paint, or to realize that said hustle is depriving you of human contact and you’re not okay. An artist’s life is her art, and if and when it’s ever over (or on pause! That’s a thing, too), it’s devastating. Failing as a doctor or finance person (I don’t even know what an actual title in finance would be) might still be devastating, but at least they can come back to their families and say: “Look, I made a very sensible choice, but it didn’t work out.”

You have a dual degree in opera and poetry. Was there a moment when you were like, “I’m NOT going to be an opera singer” or “I’m NOT going to be a poet”? Or was it a gradual thing? If you could go back, would you change anything about your path? If you could snap your fingers and be a working opera singer, would you do it?  

The decision to quit the opera life was definitely gradual. It was like a bad relationship – I knew it wasn’t working, but I had already put so many eggs into that basket, and like I said before, I didn’t want that all to go to waste. Finally, I admitted to myself that my life sort of sucked: I lived in a one room apartment, my boyfriend at the time dumped me because I was zero fun (that’s a whole ‘nother story. He can suck it, but he had a point.), I had an eating disorder and chronic anxiety that manifested as illness, largely attributed to the pursuit of perfection. Like, clearly, opera didn’t suit me. So it was just a matter of admitting that and then… accepting it. I use what I learned in poetry in most of my writing today, and I never set out to be a poet, really. Studying poetry was probably me attempting to be more well-rounded, so I never felt like I abandoned poetry.

To answer your last question, no way in hell. The arduous process of becoming an opera singer was more than enough to make me realize that I’m not at all cut out to be an opera singer. Because if you ever do become successful, the pressure’s 2000% greater! What if you’re starring in the Met’s opening night of La Bohème and your personal life is in shambles and you didn’t get enough sleep and you get a horrible review that ruins your career? That happens! Going down the opera path taught me that being required to perform on command doesn’t work for me (and was pretty psychologically damaging, tbh), prioritizing opera above everything and everyone else makes for a solitary life, the demand to be in perfect vocal shape at all times shook my confidence in an unhealthy way, and singing a bunch of dead white dudes’ music isn’t even how I best express myself! Traditional opera just didn’t fit me. Side note: I was in a feminist burlesque opera, and that experience ruled. I made $200 total for those four months, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

We live in a world where creativity is often accompanied by positivity (the “make art everyday!” mindset, the 100 Days project, etc.). There’s a lot of emphasis on imperfection in art-making, too, and the sort of implication there is that you can’t fail. These attitudes can be really great and liberating. But let’s get really cynical for a moment. Is there a dark side to all of this? Art-making as obligation, perhaps? Sometimes it seems like art-making is almost imbued with this moral quality (like, if you’re not making art everyday…are you being a bad person?). 

Man, perhaps because of my relationship with perfectionism in art, I think this sort of practice is mostly positive. Have you read about Jens Lekman’s Postcards project, where he wrote one song every week for a year? I heard him speak in the fall, and he readily admitted that some of the songs were bad, or at least not up to his standards. But getting into the habit of creating for the sake of creating was ultimately very freeing. When the year was up, he had some really great material to pull from, and some material to forget about.

I do think that if you are a creative person with perfectionistic tendencies, you get attached to the idea of making something every day. You MUST make every day. When I was blogging almost daily and I skipped a day, I know I felt like I’d failed myself. But that’s not the point. The point is to get down and dirty with the process of making and allow yourself to present some truly mediocre work in the hopes that you learned something about yourself or your art form while making it.

Do you have any thoughts on the artist/non artist dichotomy? Like…why does it make people so uncomfortable? Why are people so embarrassed to NOT be an artist? (Maybe this question is a reflection of my own limited circles, because most of the people I know are in creative careers, but…)

Lollll I run in similar circles. Personally and professionally (because those lines get blurry with creatives), I hang with creative entrepreneurial types – freelancers, people that run their own show. Not to get all elitist about that: I have a ton of respect for doctors and engineers, etc., and a lot of my pals, too, have been working in a more corporate setting for years so that they can eventually pursue their dreams of filmmaking or movie scoring or what have you. I think you can be a person in a non-artistic field but have a creative spirit, and I think a lot of people discover that they’re creative later in life. I guess my point here is that everyone’s creative in some capacity, and I think people who do get embarrassed or defensive about not being artistic may actually have some deep-seated, unexplored desire to make art.

How do you see your past artistic studies + projects as helping or hindering your life today? Do you regret any of the artistic paths you’ve taken?

I think I answered this above, but I’ll clarify a bit. I’m not one of those “No regrets!” people. I think those people are full of shit. As noted, the pursuit of opera made me miserable… even though I love wailing onstage in my booming mezzo soprano voice. I love wearing wigs and crazy costumes. I love being the special snowflake, and performing fed that for me. But the lifestyle didn’t feed me at all (literally, you remember how poor I was), and in pursuing opera, I learned what doesn’t work for me. I learned to think for myself and decide what I want out of life. I know that sounds dramatic, but breaking free of a very set artistic path and carving out my own thing – that finely attuned self-awareneness – led me to be able to fully express myself.  So in this one instance, no regrets.

Thank you, Rose! Read more of Rose’s writing right this way and follow her on Instagram here

Plots I Never Finished

CURB ALERT: I’m setting out a bunch of unfinished story plots on the side of the road. First come first serve! If this post is still up, it means plots are still available. Thanks!!!!! Please no phone calls!!!!

The one about a girl trying to lure a boy first into a motel, and then into the woods, for nefarious-lite reasons (e.g., not murder, but lots of shadowy psychological manipulation). I finished several versions of this for workshop and then it just didn’t feel right so I wrote something else.

The one about a brother and sister who move to New Orleans after some unclear tragedy happens in their past. The sister starts hallucinating another self; this Other Self begins to achieve agency. This story has been through so many iterations I don’t even know what to do with it. Free to a good home.

The one where the title was filched directly from a Bolaño novel. It was a good title!!! I just couldn’t bring myself to, you know, steal it. And adding in some sort of attribution (after Bolaño or whatever) makes the page look so messy. Ironically, months later I stole the ending from this story and grafted it onto another story, which was published here. The weird thing is that I don’t really remember doing this. It’s as though I went into a Dr. Frankenstein-like trance, committed the surgery, and then woke with no memory of my horrific kleptomaniacal deed!!!

The one where my former best friend became a cannibal and ate her brother, because it was the apocalypse and everyone was starving. THIS ONE WAS REALLY WEIRD. No wonder a bunch of lit mags rejected it.

The one about Anne Boleyn’s beheading. Who hasn’t tried to write this story?? #Tudoriffic

The terrible one about a guy who ran a store in Highland Park, Los Angeles, where he sold old film cameras and sheaves of developed film. I wrote this one this past summer in a feverish desire to rack up page counts. I was flushed with victory, having just finished a 35-page story in a week, and felt that I could do anything, even write stories about men with MFAs in Performance Art who own old film stores (insert vaguely meaningful social commentary about art here). Alas, the manuscript limps along for a while and then just falls to the ground, exhausted, like a small deer who’s been chased by cheetahs for hours. Note: this simile has not been fact-checked.

The one about the dream I had where I was a journalist who follows Amy Winehouse into a surreal underground funhouse. Note to self: dreams rarely translate well into stories.

The one that began, “Astrid was always very wounded. I never quite knew what she wanted.” If I had a dime for every time I tried to name a character Astrid…

The one that began, “I read history books; I learn from the best.” Note to self: good opening line.

The one about parents who set their house on fire and kids who run away and vanish into the woods. Thematically similar to a lot of my early stories, wherein a Bad Thing happens inside the house, because the house itself is sort of a demonic figure, and salvation is found in nature, or, escape is found in nature, or salvation is escape, or escape is salvation, or something. Weirdly, there is a fish pond in this story and one of the kids accidentally steps on a fish and kills it. Like…that would never happen in real life, right? Fish are far too fast!

The one about the girl who goes fishing with her grandpa for the ghost of her dead sister but then it turns out her grandpa is already dead and her grandma is some sort of witch. A super traumatizing tale that doesn’t make a lot of sense (sample line: “I was scratching at his back, feeling the old fabric of his shirt shred under my fingernails and feeling his dry dead skin come off in strips.” EESH) but what can I say? I was working a 9-5 at the time; my brains were addled by capitalism!

Writing As: An Introduction

A young Tori fresh out of college, considering a career as an oil painter.

A young Tori, fresh out of college and considering a career as an oil painter.

I’ve tried to update this blog—this PORTFOLIO, sorry, this portfolio—a million times this summer and fall, but I’ve been wracked with that weird form of writer’s block that comes from having too much to say and too much money to be bothered to write it down and too many conflicting celebrity birthday party invitations to attend them all which has resulted in a lot of very hurt, very famous feelings, as you can imagine.

The past twelve months have been full of so many changes. For example, I lost some skin cells and grew new ones. I also started washing my hair with yarrow root and researched video games. Exciting statistic: I’ve officially been a full-time freelance writer for a year! Yeah, it was right around the start of football season that I quit my hilariously lucrative, moonshine-soaked waitressing job so that I could write full-time, and by “write full-time” I mean “write fashion news blurbs for almost no money full-time.” But the journey of a thousand miles starts with one underpaid gig, compatriots.

So it’s been a year of thinking about writing in a much more tangible, practical way than I ever thought about writing before. It’s not so much, “Ooh I like writing OOH HERE’S A GOOD TITLE FOR A POEM: EARL GREY RAINWATER,” it’s much more, “What do I want to write? What am I good at writing? What role do I want writing to play in my life? How do I want to write? Is there a void in the world that only my writing can fill?” (Yes there is, and it’s called TARANTINO’S GHOSTWRITER.)

In short, it’s been a year of thinking about my calling, which is sensitive term that I used once in an awkward meeting with an Indiana University administrator. I told him I didn’t want to be a teacher because being a teacher wasn’t “my calling.” He actually laughed at me.

“You believe in callings?” he asked. I didn’t say anything, but what I should have told that sad, incredulous man is, “How can you not?”

So I’ve decided to write down my thoughts on the subject of writing like a bored housewife keeping a diary on the back of her grocery receipts during the awful summer heat of Arizona, 1964. I’ll make it a series: writing as all sorts of different things. I’m sure you’ll disagree with some of them, but this is what writing means to me at this moment in time as I sit in my air-conditioned mansion and count my millions and, well, I could write about it all day.

Everything

I don’t even know where to begin. Here’s how I’ve been feeling lately: ecstatic, dopamine-fueled, like everything is happening at once, and full of that subtle but deep underlying sadness that I don’t think any thinking woman will ever be able to shake. Example: today, I saw Picasso’s “Guernica” in person. I started crying. I stood close to it for ten minutes. I stopped myself from even thinking about taking a picture. My vision was blurry. I’d had so much coffee, and so little food. I felt: so moved to be in the presence of legend, so moved to be in the presence of great art, so envious of every artist and ex-pat who’s ever lived in Europe among this deep deep artistic history that we will never be able to approximate in the US, so sad about the bombing of Guernica, so intimidated by how perfectly Picasso channeled real human suffering into art, so restless about the fact that I don’t live in a city with Guernica in it, so dreamy at the thought that I was standing in an art museum by myself in Madrid, so confused.

I walked back, buzzing with caffeine and Guernica and work, listening to something just as blood-pumping and confusing as anything: a song that my brother recommended to me for a road trip with my sister but that has come to represent, for me, my first solo trip to Europe. Buzzing is the best word for what I’ve been feeling lately. Sometimes it’s literal (wayyyyy too many gin and tonics in Portugal), sometimes it’s because I’m listening to a great song and walking extra fast, sometimes it’s because I’m angry (I recently got an EMAIL criticizing one of my articles for having a TYPO), sometimes it’s because I’m thrilled, sometimes it’s because I’m making eyes at everyone on the street and I can’t stop. I’m too obsessed with burning imagery, stigmata, flash fiction. I just stopped writing and reached for the screen. See—the big gesture of my life right now is me holding my hands out in front of me and shaking, fingers poised in a gesture that’s half-claws, half-reaching. With joy? With fear? Even I, the trembling mind inside my only body, couldn’t tell you.

Unconventional Soulmates

This is a transcript of a real-life chat conversation between friends. Names have not been changed. Liberties have not been taken. Well, the scotch is a bit fictional. But isn’t it always?

meriandz

ZALMAN: Meri, I have literally zero experience in romantic love, but, can I describe my current fantasy for a life partner?

MERIWETHER: Yes.

ZALMAN: We meet and fall in love. In a few years we get married. A few years after we get divorced. No one gets hurt. We just decide we need to move on

MERIWETHER: How do you not at all get hurt in a divorce?

ZALMAN: STOP I’M NOT DONE.

MERIWETHER: Okay, sorry.

Meriwether returns to cutting out paper doll figurines for her Burn Book as Zalman types rapidly.

ZALMAN: I mean no one gets their heart broken. It’s mildly painful, but we move on. We stay good friends, if not best friends. We go have our own lives. Our romances. We do separate things but stay friends. Then, around age 65, we realize that all along the other person was really the one we cared about the most, and we live happily ever after.

A poignant pause.

ZALMAN: Is that weird?

MERIWETHER: No, I like it. But then what happens when one of you dies first?

ZALMAN: Happens to most couples. Anyway, possible models: 1. Siegfried and Roy. 2. Cathy Barbarian and Luciano Berio.

MERIWETHER: Do you want to hear mine?

ZALMAN: Okay, go.

MERIWETHER: So I continue my life as it is, constantly being hit on by disgusting men, rejecting them all. Only having occasional and mild interest in peers and colleagues, all of whom end up being too insecure in their own personhood and masculinity to fully deserve me. As a result of the continued anger, frustration, sense of doom, etc. I feel toward almost all bachelors who come my way, coupled with my very real desire to have a child of my own and raise it and love it, I decide to become a single mother and either hit up one of my friends (YOU) for a sperm donation, or go to a sperm bank.

Zalman chuckles, swirling a glass of Scotch on one finger. 

MERIWETHER: Several years later, I am a thriving single parent. Whatever I’m doing to make money is going well. Writing couldn’t be better. My child is blossoming into a beautiful little person I love taking care of. And then SUDDENLY an older and distinguished gentleman comes into my life—details TBD. With his maturity of intellect and emotion he is able to grasp both my inherent positive traits and the struggle I have overcome as a single parent. We fall in love and get married. I am probably 40-45, he is no older than mid 50s. We live happily ever after. The end. Also, travel a lot. And hopefully he’s rich.

ZALMAN: We have the best unconventional fantasies ever!

To the Unnamed Literary Magazine [Video]

This is currently my favorite thing I’ve ever made. Backstory: there is one literary mag (which I will NEVER name) that I really really really want to be published in and I worry that this particular love story will never happen. The submission process can be fairly heartbreaking, so I tried to exorcise my demons the best way I know how: THROUGH THE MAGIC OF FILM. And through never, ever washing my hair.

The Work of Writing: Week One Update

photo-4

In case you missed it, I’m embarking on a month-long project of trying a different writing work style every week. If you’re a non-writer who’s wondering why I’m doing this, STOP READING MY BLOG AND GO BACK TO YOUR FINANCE JOB. Just kidding, I ADORE you. I’m doing this not-so-glamorous experiment because nobody really talks about the pros and cons of different writing styles–people just talk about how Hemingway drank daiquiris. Oh, really? Writers tend toward alcoholism? LOOK IN THE MIRROR, SOCIETY. IT’S YOU. 

Ugh times ten thousand. This week was not only sickeningly hot, it was a study in everything that is frustrating about writing. If you recall, I was planning to write only new content for an hour a day at the same time each day. Some lowlights:

1. I couldn’t write at the same time every day because my schedule is different every day. Where’s the genius who thought up that parameter?

2. I didn’t write at all on Thursday because I was so sleep-deprived that I had to choose a nap over writing during the sliver of free time I had between jobs. I don’t regret it because I was near death, but I feel guilty about skipping a day.

3. On Friday, I began to get frustrated with the sloppiness of the story. The trajectory seemed off–as though I’d taken a wrong turn circa page 15 and was now careening down a terrible highway. As you may recall, I set a goal for myself to only produce new content–and I did, 20 pages of it, girrrrrl–but once things started feeling off-balance, I just wanted to go back and edit. Or drink myself to death.

4. Yesterday’s “writing” was just awful. I’d-rather-be-anything-but-a-writer-level awful. I was at Intelligentsia, it was packed with loud tourists, I have never felt less inspired. I left in a rage and stalked down Michigan Avenue with my best I’m-a-serial-killer-get-out-of-my-way-you-plebeian-scum face on and bought some expensive honey at Whole Foods.

Some highlights:

1. Despite the fact that I am now on the Chicago serial killer registry for kickstarting the Great Fruit Fly Massacre of 2013, I have 20 pages of a brand-new story that simply did not exist a week ago! I want to fling the pages around an Egyptian temple and make my acolytes strew herbs on them. WRITING A NEW STORY IS THE GREATEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. I KNOW YOU FEEL ME! Earlier in the week when I was young and the world was mine, I was feeling pretty high on the whole concept of creation. Coming up with something new can make you feel like you’re that elusive autopoietic machine or whatever it’s called. FREAKING COOL, RIGHT?!

2. I remembered that stories need to have an “inciting incident.” OH, RIGHT. As I wrote, I started asking myself questions as though I was in a bad relationship: where is this thing going? What’s the point? What am I doing here? Why is that man talking LOUDLY ON HIS CELL PHONE CAN’T HE SEE I’M TRYING TO WRITE?

The takeaway:

If you decide that writing every day is your thing, it’s probably going to feel like what it is: a grind. You won’t always feel like an autopoietic genius. There are a thousand things waiting to burst through the seams of your structured day and just overwhelm you. It’s hard to get enough sleep and make enough money for rent. It’s even harder to carve out time in the day to work on your own stuff when you’re constantly getting new emails, tweets, and texts, and the dishes are piling up, and you remember guiltily that you haven’t eaten a vegetable in days, and also you now have cholera and are skidding towards the grave.

Don’t let the frustration of general existence tear you away from putting in a little time to write. Some of what I wrote this week was awesome, since I am a MacArthur fellow. Some of it was stupid, since my brain is 40% 15-year-old boy. It wasn’t the greatest week of my life, but I put in a little time and I got results: a Frankensteinian baby of a story that needs drastic plastic surgery. Nobody ever said fiction was going to look beautiful without a few stitches.

The Work of Writing


TORILISA

Due to a series of terrifying life events that none of you would understand, I’m embarking on a month-long project. Fine, if you insist: my sisterwife/fellow sugar daddy-hunter/coffee shop aficionado/curator of divorces/practitioner of extremist fascism/PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE Meriwether “Poet w/ Eye of Dictator” Clarke is out of the country for one month. Where is she, you ask? Oh just my homeland, SOUTH AMERICA. She’s probably digging up Neruda’s bones to see if he was actually murdered as we speak. Now that Ms. Clarke doesn’t have text messaging access 24/7, I have a lot of free time. You say codependence, I say potato. Anyway, I have decided to conduct several experiments. One: Can a Young Woman Really Survive on Nachos and Iced Coffee for an Entire Summer? Two: Staying On Top of Emails. Three: Surviving.

And Four: Which Writing Production Method Works Best for a Frequently Crazed Biddy with Two Jobs and Several Pairs of Converse but No Reliable Form of Transportation Ever Since Evil Hoodlums Wrecked Her Bike’s Innocent Front Tire? Short title: Writing Stuff.

I have never quite hit my writing stride when it comes to the day-to-day grind. I typically write when I have a good idea, because I don’t think inspiration can be harnessed, and also because I’m just so, so, so, so, so cool (see above portrait of me and Lisa Hiton). But as my days get busier and my nights get shorter and I find myself evolving into the female version of a Norwegian summer, I want to give this structured thing a try. Should I do a lot of hemlock, like Socrates drugs, like Hunter S. Thompson? Write prostrate, like Truman Capote? Summon a broken novel out of madness and jealousy, like Zelda Fitzgerald? I’ll start with something a little more straight-edge:

WEEK ONE: PAVLOV’S WRITER.

THE STRUCTURE: Write for one hour a day at the exact same time every day. Only produce new content. Yesterday I wrote 1500 words, or five double-spaced pages, in an hour, so I’m feeling good. No wait: genius. THE HYPOTHESIS: I’m hoping that writing at the exact same time every day–preferably with a fresh cup of coffee in hand–will turn into a sort of Pavlovian thing, where I look forward to the ritual and my brain gears up to be creative at the assigned hour.

WEEK TWO: THE  HUSTLER.

THE STRUCTURE: Down with the Muses. This week is all about making a strict to-do list and accomplishing every single thing on it, from intangible things like revision to tangible things like submitting to literary journals. THE HYPOTHESIS: I don’t think this is a very viable long-term way of writing. However, it might be a useful means of cranking out dreaded revisions and sending pieces off into the ether of Literary Bros Who Start Journals Just to Publish Their Friends.

WEEK THREE: THE LONE (W)RANGER.

THE STRUCTURE: This week is all about inspiration, flirting with the Muses, and wandering lonely as a cloud through places that inspire me (which, unfortunately, are dark alleys and train yards at night. Perhaps I should finally invest in some pepper spray?). No to-do lists, no daily word counts, just activities that a) are proven to help the creative mind (like ignoring the brain’s filter) and b) inspire me personally (like watching Woody Allen films). If I feel like writing, I’ll write. If I get an idea, I’ll jot it down. No pressure. THE HYPOTHESIS: Obviously, I can’t wait for this week. I doubt I’ll produce a lot of concrete work, because, well, it’s easier not to, but I think I’ll come up with a lot of ideas. And if I do nothing but read Neruda in the sand, it will have been a good week. (How’s that for a verb tense?)

WEEK FOUR: TBD.

WHAT SHOULD I TRY THIS WEEK? Writing only by hand? Writing after midnight? Writing in unfamiliar genres? Writing only about love? Only about hate? Outside? Imitating different authors’ styles? Help! I want it to be somewhat useful, and nothing too shtick-y…like sipping on hemlock.

Psst, let me know if you want to join in! I’ll update here, promise. And you can, too.

A Few Brief Thoughts on Being Legit [Video]

Addicted to iMovie and I’m not ashamed.

After re-watching this movie enough times to realize that it’s totally embarrassing genius bipolar, I have come to several conclusions.

Things I need to work on:

1. Talking loud enough to be heard over the rollicking soundtrack that I totally don’t have the rights to.

2. Narrative arc.

Things I don’t need to work on:

1. My hilarious fake-crying. #noregrets