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What I’m Reading: 9/3-9/9
If you’re counting down with me, I get married in nine days.
NINE. DAYS. AHHHHHHHHHH.
At risk of being “that girl that talks about her wedding too much,” I’ll just say—I’m really excited. Marriage is this institution that’s always existed all around me, and I’m conscious of all the ways it stems from patriarchy, but now that it’s almost my turn I’m just so excited to fully surround myself with love and joy all weekend.
I’m sharing with you more things I’ve read this week as almost all of my attention has been directed towards next weekend.
I started to feel some anxiety about putting this together for another week. Am I neglecting this project? Am I taking the easy way out? Is my practice suffering from lack of challenge?
But then I read the pieces I included below from Jami Attenberg and Caroline Cala Donofrio and I remembered that engaging with language, thinking deeply craft, and learning from writers more experienced with me are all serving me as I work to deepen my writing practice. The simple act of putting out *something* in the midst of a hectic moment of my life is proof of how I’ve grown as a writer.
I think I’m doing okay.
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Listening to Taylor Swift in Prison by Joe Garcia
Joe Garcia writes for the Prison Journalism Project, a nonprofit that trains incarcerated writers. This essay on how he came to love Taylor Swift during his incarceration is beautiful and hopeful. He magically captures the transformative possibilities of music, and he uses a perfect opener. I’m excited to learn more about the Prison Journalism Project and support their mission.
This article is from 2019, but I was surprised I had never heard of this incident. I graduated from the University of Iowa, one of those “omg these LIBERAL KID” schools, and I’ve always thought this idea of outraged students crawling all over college campuses as disingenuous. These tiny incidents are almost always overblown and taken from a small group to represent the entire campus (another piece that fits into my new favorite subject of “how is the media screwing everything up). Most kids are there to make friends, attempt to find some semblance of a path for their lives, and abuse alcohol for a period of time before it becomes uncouth.
I have a really hard time seeing myself as a capital W *Writer* because I don’t do the freelance hustle, I don’t often have a ton of projects going at once, and I haven’t found the confidence to pitch publications. I also often worry that what I’m doing is more “blogging” than “real” writing, which is a completely self-inflicted fear rooted in a lot of bad ideas about the act of writing (and also, probably misogyny). Reading pieces like this reminds me that my personal writing practice is just as valid and important as any other — as long as I make it a practice. I’m confident I’ll find my rhythm soon.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve recently learned a lot about former Iowa Governor Robert Ray. My Iowa Writers Collaborative colleague Kurtis Meyer provided me with more insight this week into the former Governor and what he stood for, and it’s quite lovely.
Jami Attenberg wrote a note to her friend who writes for TV and felt disheartened by the recent strikes. She encourages the friend to think about when the writing was something they did for themselves, and that they “must find a way to extricate your true passion for writing from the work you have been doing for the last decade or so.” As I struggle with my identity as a writer and feeling like my work is “real,” this made me consider the reason I started writing in the first place — to take the contorted knot of thought and feeling making a home in my brain and rearranging it into something cleaner, freeing space for joy and heart.
If you haven’t been able to tell, I’ve developed a growing fascination at how badly mainstream media contributes to the incredible media illiteracy in our world. Here’s a story on media that’s doing the opposite, pursuing news without an agenda and lifting up the communities of whose stories they are telling.
Isaac Fitzgerald writes so tenderly about his friends that it always leaves me smiling and falling in love with the person he’s writing about. He knows how to treat a subject, and I love reading what he uncovers during his walks. I was also really excited about how he began this piece, with a small moment to describe the larger essence of his friend, and recognized how this is a way I often open essays myself.
The Midwest Creative is a proud member of the Iowa Writers Collaborative. Please consider a subscription to my colleagues’ work to support storytelling across the state of Iowa. All of these authors provide content for free, with paid subscription options. Pick one or more, and help sustain this movement.