Hello reader. How are you this week? Midnights is out, so I can’t complain. No emails last week since I was out of town, so today’s newsletter is a bit about what’s been on my mind over the last two weeks or so. Primarily, I’m sharing with you the questions that I’ve been asking myself, been mulling over, none of which I have an answer to but I will try articulating them nevertheless. Here’s where my mind has been…
Where do I want my writing to live?
Because freelancing allows me to work with different publications and editors, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I’d like to see my writing in the future. It’s been fun for me to work with independent magazines, many of which have more topical and artistic flexibility, as well as legacy brands with bigger budgets and social prestige. (Whatever that means.) (The latter is admittedly less important to me.) I’m trying to take in my experiences thus far and see where I can improve. (I’d love to move toward a more literary, analytic-style environment.) I don’t have any answers yet, but this process of thought has largely included writing lots of lists, fingers smearing wet ink, stubborn indecision, and making several short-and long-term goals. Is this interesting to you?
What do I want my days to look like?
I’ve written before about my need for some semblance of structure, and I don’t anticipate being rid of the subject matter any time soon. This is an easy “problem” to have but: now that my time is my own, I find that I’m regularly grappling with how much time to dedicate to my necessary activities each day. Most mornings, I’ve found myself immediately prioritizing coffee (otherwise I won’t wake up), exercise (otherwise I’ll be depressed), and being in a space of “work” (like a café, library, office, my workspace, etc.), but where do I go from there? I expressed this sentiment to my therapist (brag) and she, in so many words, told me to calm the fuck down. That as long as I’m caring for myself and that I feel like I’ve done enough that day, then all is well. I guess this is all a part of learning to “work for yourself”—figuring out what your measures of “success” or rather, “satisfaction” are (aside from making enough money to live, of course) when a corporation or boss isn’t there to impose values upon you. Again, this is an easy issue to have, to be sure. I’m not complaining.
Whose writing do I admire and what do I like about it?
One of the best parts of designing my own days is that I can allot far more space for reading and research than I have before, which I tend to feel makes me a much better writer. For me, this has largely meant that I’ve spent time trying to feel inspired by the work of others and devouring large swaths of information. I exhibit an almost devout worship of writers I’m fond of whenever their work becomes available to me. I’m always searching for more like “them,” or trying to find out what writers they recommend. I’ll toy with different styles in the privacy of my notebooks, finding my own voice somewhere in the middle of all of it. I will share: Sometimes my consumption of others’ work makes me feel trite and devoid of any talent, confident that my abilities will never rise to meet my actual taste. But regardless, I keep returning to “the page” out of catharsis. My anxiety needs an outlet. So I guess I will just keep trying to force all of the bad out of me until I shed it and get good.
Maybe you could write a book exposing the realities of growing up in Glen Ellyn…
Hi Maddie! It’s Jodi. Remember me? This is amazing! Your mom used to tell us when you were published as a student, but I never realized this is your full time gig. Great for you!! I just opened a substack a few months ago and am learning the ropes of freelance in my old age. I look forward to following you and learning something along the way!!