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I Can't Be a Writer If I Don't Write Every Day

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:21 am    Post subject: I Can't Be a Writer If I Don't Write Every Day Reply with quote

I Can’t Be a Writer If I Don’t Write Every Day

By Jasmine Guillory

July 20, 2020

It’s not that I think you can’t be a writer if you don’t write every day. It’s that I know I can’t be a writer if I don’t make myself write every day. There are apparently people out there who can write a few days a week, or even a few days a month, and have that result in a book. I envy those people, and if you’re one of them, I wish I could be you.

My newest book, Party of Two, came out last month. With this book, just like the four I wrote before it, once I started writing a draft, I worked on it — at least a little bit — every day until I was done. I’ve tried a variety of rituals and schedules and word-count goals: When I did NaNoWriMo, it was 1,667 words a day. Sometimes it’s 1,000 words a day. Once, on a tight deadline I aimed for 2,000 words a day. Sometimes, when I’m having a particularly hard time (like, for instance, now), I handwrite and don’t track my word count.

But the number of words doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve spent that time with my work. The most important thing, for me, is to keep at it, day by day.

When I was working on The Wedding Date, my first published novel, I had so much fun writing it — I couldn’t wait to get back to it every day. I would bring my laptop to work with me and sneak across the street to Starbucks to write at lunchtime, and then would write even more after work. That feeling you get as a reader, when you can’t wait to get back to reading your book? That’s how I felt, except I was writing the book.

Writing that book was a magical experience, but it was also when writing was for fun — it was before I had deadlines or responsibilities or anything riding on this. Now writing is a job, and while it’s a great job, knowing that makes the actual work both harder and scarier at the same time. Skipping a day of writing means opening myself up for nagging worries about whatever project I’m working on: What if my work isn’t actually good? Will this book ever see the light of day? Could a stray typo ruin my career forever? And on and on. The only way to shut up the person in my head asking those rude-as-hell questions is to just write, every single day.

When I was writing the first draft of The Proposal, my second book, I wrote a scene early on where I knew, the entire time, it wasn’t working. I knew I needed to get something on the page, but the scene was all wrong — wrong for the characters, wrong for the book, and worst of all, I didn’t know what would be right. It’s so easy after a day like that to want to give up, to decide that the book I’m writing is bad, that I’m not good at this, that I’ll never be able to fix it. But for the whole next day, my mind wrestled with that scene, and when I made myself come back to the computer screen the next night, I tried it all over again and wrote one of my favorite scenes in the whole book.

When I write every day, the fictional world that I’m creating is always there, alive in my brain. My subconscious holds onto it and constantly works to solve plot holes, or add new twists, or figure out who the characters really are. I need to open my book, jump inside it, touch it with my fingertips and my mind every day so it’s running in the background of my life. Even just a few minutes, or a few paragraphs, keeps the world I’m creating, and the characters, there with me, day in and day out.

I’ve had so many great ideas when I’m driving around, or doing yoga, or trying to fall asleep — all times when I’m not actively thinking about the book at all, but it’s still fresh for me from working on it earlier that day. This often happens to me after those bad writing days, where I know something is wrong with what I’m writing, and I often know why it’s wrong, but I have no idea how to fix it — 12 hours later, I’ll be thinking about something completely different, and suddenly the answer to my problem will drop down, gift-wrapped, into my hands. My third book, The Wedding Party, was (so far, at least) my hardest book to write, and throughout the very slow drafting of it, I was dissatisfied with my plan for the ending. And then, one night, I sat bolt upright in the bathtub and laughed out loud. There it was, an ending that I loved and couldn’t wait to write. The triumph of that moment made those months of struggle worth it.

I do usually give myself time off in between books, and during other really busy times; I was in a time-off period when the shelter-in-place orders all came down in March. Now I — like many other novelists I know — am having a very hard time working on a book. It’s hard to pull myself away from the fire hose of bad news on my phone. Why would anything I write matter when so many people are dying every day?

The only way I broke this cycle of anxious thoughts and creative paralysis was to remind myself that writing is a practice, just like so many other things in life. I didn’t want my writing muscle to atrophy. Since the beginning of April, I have written at least something every day, just to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other. And to snatch an hour or so of escape, of fun, maybe even triumph for myself while living with a pandemic and a government who tells me over and over again that my life doesn’t matter. I’m searching for that joy and discovery and wonder in creation, as I try to envision a different, better future. It’s not easy, but I think — I hope — it’ll be worth it.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Fashion Designer Who Understands the Power of Words Meet Willie Norris.

By Devine Blacksher

Willie Norris is a Brooklyn-based fashion designer with a thing for words. Norris, who is the Willie in WILLIENORRISWORKSHOP, has created T-shirts with text like “Promote Homosexuality” and “the Words Are Right in Front of You,” and his team distributed “Black Trans Lives Matter” shirts for free during the Brooklyn Liberation march at Brooklyn Museum in June. “I’m a queer person interested in decentering static and stable conceptions of business structures, particularly how queer principles can exist at the core of a business operating within the apparel industry,” he says. In addition to being the design director for Outlier, a Brooklyn-based menswear brand, Norris has collaborated with Helmut Lang to design graphic tees and jeans for the brand’s HelmutLanguage collection. The Cut spoke with him about flossing, the joy of wearing more color, and the advice he’ll always remember from his third-grade teacher.

What does cool mean to you?
Right place, right time, right people, right vibe.

What three fictional characters do you relate to most?
Bugs Bunny, Jean des Esseintes from Joris-Karl Huysmans’s Against Nature, and Dr. Addison Montgomery from Grey’s Anatomy.

What kind of animal would you be and why?
Giant squid, because they are massive and elusive.

What superpower would you have and why?
I would really love the superpower of my clothes never getting dirty or smelly. Doing laundry has never brought me a single ounce of joy in my life, and I spill stuff on myself all the time.

If you could master any skill (that isn’t related to your current job), what would it be and why?
The ability to dance like Yanis Marshall in heels, so I could dance like Yanis Marshall in heels.

What does your Saturday night look like during the pandemic?
Some combination of a roast chicken, Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant for 20 minutes, and a YouTube K-hole about MLMs or beauty-world drama.

Has how you dressed changed during quarantine? If so, what are you wearing now?
I’m wearing a lot more color. I’m thinking less about personal dressing as a conceptual pursuit and more of a joyful, instinctive one. I am, on my grave, wearing what I was photographed in, dyed Dickies by @Eddie.3dm and a shirt by @__joolz. I love nothing more than wearing clothes that my friends have had their hands on.

Are there any causes or organizations you are supporting right now?
I love Activation Residency and everything they do. It’s is a Black trans–led artist residency and cooperative fund, and they’ve recently started fundraising for their Farming Futurity initiative. @Forthegworls does amazing work raising money to assist with Black trans folks with rent and affirmative surgery. Also, we are all forever indebted to Tourmaline’s endless contributions to our lives, our trans and queer culture, our magic, our ability to dream, and I would love nothing more to see her in a pink Benz for her birthday.

What Black-owned local (or not) businesses are you supporting?
Locally, I love getting to-go cocktails from Dick and Jane, coffee from Sincerely Tommy, and takeout from Cafe Rue Dix. I’m never without the hair vitamins from Briogeo or the Break-Out stick from Rosen Skincare.

What goals are you working toward at the moment?
Personally, I am really trying to examine (and cut back significantly) my alcohol consumption.

What do you do for self-care?
Floss twice a day.

What piece of advice has had the biggest impact on you and why?
My third-grade teacher always used to say, “Do it now.” I have a tendency to procrastinate and think that somehow things will be better if I do them “later,” and I find myself being my most honest when I remember Ms. Foye saying, “Do it now.”

What is one item that has made your life better?
My Kindle.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy 10th Birthday to This Incredibly Polarizing Shoe

By Marie Lodi

When it comes to ugly shoes, we often think of the unholy trinity of Uggs, Crocs, and Tevas. But there’s one controversial footwear choice that is very specific to the 2010s: the Jeffrey Campbell Lita. When the Lita entered our consciousness exactly ten years ago, it became a trend that people either loved or hated, and, according to the response I’ve gotten from tweeting about its anniversary, it seems like that duality hasn’t changed.

The Lita is an obscenely chunky lace-up ankle boot with a two-inch platform and a five-inch heel. It’s instantly recognizable even on a tiny screen, and it happened to emerge at a moment when showing off one’s personal style online was becoming the norm. The summer of 2010 was the golden age of fashion blogging, and street-style photography and fashion social networks like Chictopia and were also huge, allowing the shoe’s visibility to be even more widespread. As more and more people added the $160 shoe to their wardrobe (and Polyvore sets), it became a key component of the formula for the stereotypical style blogger. If someone were to crack open a fashion time capsule from that time, a Lita would certainly come tumbling out.

Sharon Blackburn, a former employee at Jeffrey Campbell who had the job of naming products back then, dubbed the shoe the Lita after the Runaways’ Lita Ford. She says it took a few months for the shoe to gain traction among consumers, but once bloggers like Rumi Neely and Wendy Lam began pairing them with leggings, moto jackets, miniskirts, and thigh-high tights, it took off. “Lita came along when bloggers were coming on the fashion scene as well as online retailers, such as Solestruck and Nasty Gal,” she says. “That combination propelled JC Shoes and the Lita into the spotlight!” Soon, college kids and celebs alike were seduced by Lita’s charms. Demi Lovato, Ashley Tisdale, Jessica Alba, Camila Cabello, and Ashley Benson were all photographed in them. Lindsay Lohan wore them to Coachella one year. Even David Hasselhoff was seen in a pair at one point.

The Lita wasn’t necessarily a groundbreaking design — platform boots aren’t anything new, of course, and many have pointed to Natacha Marro’s “Dungeon” boots (which were seen on Charles Anastase’s fall 2009 runway) as the original inspiration. Still, it was versatile enough to attract a horde of fans, regardless of their sartorial preferences. A Lita boot could work with everything from skinny jeans to skater dresses, and came in every type of color, print, and fabric. At the time of this 2013 Daily Beast article, Litas had been produced in 164 different colors and 65 different versions, including a sandal and a knee-high boot. “Every season, new materials or heel treatments were added,” says Blackburn. “We had versions in lace, glitter, leopard, snake, clear vinyl, paint splattered, neon, glow-in-the-dark, fur, plaid, patchwork, laser-cut daisies, and punched-out stars.”

There was a Lita for every subculture, vibe, and occasion: The spiked and skull-adorned Litas for the goths, a unicorn print for the twee, a cosmic pattern for the Tumblr girls, an American flag–inspired design for patriots, and a vintage cat or dog tapestry–style for pet lovers. In 2013, the brand released a wedding line of Litas called “Cold Feet” made from lace, brocade, and blue velvet (for a bride’s “something blue”). There were Litas — plenty of them — for all 12 signs of the zodiac.

Aside from its deep well of pattern and color options, the Lita was also surprisingly comfortable. Helena Levin, 31, got her first pair of Litas in 2012 after being given a gift certificate for Nordstrom. She had always liked the shoes, but figured they didn’t go with her Über-femme style. “What happened was, they were so comfortable that I started planning outfits around them because I would never wear flats,” she explains. They ended up becoming her “Disneyland shoes” because she could walk in them all day. Levin, who works as a buyer for Dolls Kill in San Francisco, says she would also base her business-travel outfits around them. “If I’m going to L.A. for a market trip, I would pack my Litas because I knew I’d be on my feet all day,” she says.

Celine Hakakha, 39, a former shoe designer and fashion blogger, joined the Lita bandwagon after thinking they were “ugly” at first. Like Levin, she liked them for their versatility and how comfortable they were. “They were funky and chunky and pretty aggressive,” she says. “I always knew (and said) they were technically ugly shoes … but sometimes the ugly shoes are the cutest?” (Hakakha also tracked down the original inspiration, Marro’s Dungeon boot, for her shoe collection.) Both Hakakha and Levin still own a few pairs, and Levin proudly wears her Litas to this day, even if they originally got some hate from her mom, who had called them “witch shoes” (a compliment if I ever heard one.)

The hatred for the Lita wasn’t just limited to moms worrying about their daughters casting spells or breaking their ankles. In a 2011 blog post, Susie Lau of Style Bubble asked Litas to “please just go and drop off a cliff,” while the Daily Beast gave them the title of “world’s ugliest shoe,” describing them as an “elephant on your foot.” And one “very famous personal style blogger” anonymously expressed regret about wearing them in a 2013 BuzzFeed interview: “I hate that I’m so associated with [Jeffrey Campbell] because of my temporary lapse of judgement in 2010 with those crazy Litas.” (Hello, Rumi Neely, who did not respond to a request for comment, was that you?) In 2010, I was one of those bloggers who were in the anti-Lita camp, even though I love a platform shoe, and owned (and still own) many Lita-adjacent styles. Looking back, I think it was its ubiquitousness, especially in the blogosphere, that turned me off the most.

In 2011, Holly Stair, who was a Parsons graduate and a fashion intern at the time, was inspired to start a satirical Tumblr blog called “Who Stole My Litas?” Each post featured Photoshopped pictures of celebrities like Oprah, Kate Middleton, and Jonah Hill wearing the shoes. “Many of my peers were bloggers, and it felt like the community at large was in on the joke, whether they owned a pair or not,” Stair, now 31 and working in advertising, says. While the shoes were never her style, she can understand why they were so popular back then. “The Lita was a gateway into street style and a way of experimenting with personal style for so many who found inspiration online. For a lot of people, the Lita is a relic of the start of a personal style journey,” she explains.

Now that it’s been an entire decade since the shoe’s debut, some Lita lovers are game for its return. Hakakha says she’s inspired to dig them out of her closet, and the nostalgia factor has prompted some people to look them up on eBay and other resale sites (though you can still find them brand-new on the Jeffrey Campbell website), with at least two people admitting to me that they ended up purchasing some Litas secondhand. As for me, the old fashion blogger who once mocked the Lita’s omnipresence by saying, “If you spill water on a Lita, it will multiply like Gremlins,” I, too, am looking for the ones that feel most like “me” on Poshmark.

Yet the shoe still remains polarizing. There are plenty of haters in my mentions — comments have ranged from calling the Lita “its own pandemic” to calling them “great dane ass shoes” — but even they cannot deny its power. “So disgusting … so iconic,” reads another tweet. If Tevas and Crocs can make a comeback, perhaps it’s time for the Lita renaissance to begin.
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