Old House | New Life Blog
Last month, I visited my good friend, writer Melissa Wyse, in New York City. Our visit coincided with Santa-Con, of all things. On every street, college-aged young people were decked out like Santa Claus doing the pub crawl. It was 10:30 in the morning. Eager to talk to each other about our current writing projects, Melissa and I escaped the inebriated Santa hat wearers by ducking into a posh boutique in the Village.
DECADENCE SURROUNDED US
Amidst the glitter and splendor, I was pulled toward a table covered in crowns as if they were magnets. Some of the crowns were miniature and some were larger, the size a person could wear. All were bedazzled. Rhinestones and crystals adorned the rusted metal giving off a Byzantine vibe. These weren’t precious antiques but objects of whimsy. Delighted, I applied one jauntily on my head and said to Melissa, “We should wear one of these when we write.” In the moment, I had been joking and returned it to the display. But two days later, at home in the pre-dawn hours of mid-December, frantically making a list of presents I still had yet to buy for my children and husband, I internet-traveled to the affordable decadence portal Etsy and bought myself a crown.
Actually, I bought a few crowns. I was overcome by their majesty and simplicity, and unlike the British Crown jewels, their extreme affordability. I was overtaken by a desire to scatter crowns around my house. They would serve as little, metal reminders that the creative endeavor of writing is an elevated one. Even if I am wearing fuzzy slipper socks and scattering dark chocolate crumbs while I do it.
Some months ago, after having a private, internal war with competition, I had an epiphany. I decided to forgo applying to writing residencies and submitting to writing contests. I chose to hop off the paved patriarchal path in favor of an unpaved feminine one. This does not mean it is not disciplined.
I AM THE DISCIPLINE
This means writing what I love instead of wringing myself inside out trying to write what I imagine might sell. Most importantly, I stopped subscribing to the delusion that there is just one winner in creative pursuits. I exchanged defining my writing life by capitalist success for personal joy.
INSTEAD OF WAITING TO BE ANOINTED, I ANOINTED MYSELF
The crowns arrived in the mail. The small ones were the size of a thimble, bedazzled and delightful. The larger ones were plain. At my local craft store I purchased rhinestones and metal glue. Listening to Amanda Yates Garcia, the Oracle of Los Angeles, being interviewed on The Witch Wave podcast, I bedazzled my crown. If I wore it, I wouldn’t be able to see it. So, the crown sits on my desk, among a little side-altar of favored objects. They remind me how much stronger my work is when I honor what I write, that for me, the wooded, winding path of discovery with no planned destination is where I must live. My queendom is a place where I do not give my power away. The oxygen is clearer, the sunlight stronger- my work more honest.
My queendom consists of a desk, a sofa, Gigi, my English Springer spaniel, and several towers of books. It’s a small queendom, but it suits me. There is chocolate. There are books. There are rhinestones.
The irony of my newfound approach is that, by focusing ONLY on writing what brings joy to my heart, I had a piece accepted. It was published on Longreads just after Christmas. I am still floating on the experience like a magic carpet.
MY JEWELS MIGHT BE PASTE, BUT I AM SPARKLING