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Body of Work
Why is it so much easier to care for others before yourself?
I usually make a couple of resolutions at the end of the year. Some are serious emotional things I want to work on in the coming 12 months, and some are fun or frivolous so that it won’t matter if I achieve them or not (i.e. 2019’s “bring more sparkly things into my home”). This next year, one of the things I want to work on is taking better care of my mental and physical health, or at least caring for them as much as I care for my creative well-being.
How to explain. The inspiration, the work, always comes first. A typical day might find me hunched over my computer on the couch for hours without a break, or forgetting to eat breakfast until 11am on a weekend because I was writing. I wouldn’t exactly say this has worked for me in the past, but it was a messy routine that I understood, and it was one that I saw replicated around me.
But I’ve always been quick to encourage others to take breaks, to not work straight through dinner, to seat healthy and ensure their needs are taken care of first. The health and wellbeing of my loved ones is very important to me. And I think I want to spend some of 2021 trying to turn that energy back around on myself.
I think of this in relation to writing and running a journal, too. I started a journal because I wanted to find and support the work & writers I was most excited about, who cared about the things I also cared about. It has been an exercise in realizing how much I have to give to others, and also in humility in realizing I can’t do everything alone. I know that with the coming year, with a new job and a new book coming out into the world, that I will need more help, and so I’m looking for several new assistant editors. (If you yourself are interested, or if you know someone who might be, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be sharing on social media after the holidays. but please feel free to share with your networks however you like.)
So, I know this has been just another end of the year newsletter. But I’m a sucker for reflection if it leads to growth. I hope we all can take better care of ourselves in the new year.
What I’m Reading
I only learned about Namwali Serpell’s Stranger Faces a few weeks ago, but it was published by Transit Books in May. It’s both a collection of essays and at the same time a book-length essay about the resonance and symbolism of the face in literature. Serpell is probably my favorite working critic—her first book, Seven Modes of Uncertainty, showed me the kind of criticism I was most interested in doing, without sacrificing anything in the prose or making it overly jargon-filled. With Stranger Faces, I’m noticing her commitment to trimming the fat from an argument and leaving behind a structure that showcases her argument to the fullest effect.
(I just saw that Stranger Faces is currently sold out at Transit, probably thanks to Lauren Michele Jackson’s excellent review of it for the NYer. If this disappoints you, I strongly urge you to pick up Seven Modes! And if you do, come talk to me about it later.)
What I Wish I Was Reading
What’s a book you love now that you didn’t like upon first reading? Or one step further, what is your favorite book or work of criticism about the life of a single book over a century or two, how the reading public’s taste for it waxed or waned? Let me know!
smoke and mold is looking for assistant editors. Apply by February 1, 2021.
Entropy is always open for book reviews, essays, poetry, fiction, and more.
DIAGRAM is currently open for submissions of text, images, and new media.
Bodega Magazine is open for submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and are also accepting applications for readers to join their team for stints of 6-months.
OUT THERE: Into the Queer New Yonder is an anthology of futuristic queer YA short stories accepting submissions now until March 1. Payment is $900.
TriQuarterly is accepting applications for readers until December 28.
My book A Natural History of Transition, is available to preorder through Metonymy Press.
First time here? Subscribe below. You can find more of my writing at calangus.com.