I just finished “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. I felt, as I always do when reading something stupendous and heartbreaking, both exhilarated and insanely jealous. I would finish a sentence, stop and let it wash over me, and then feel small and inadequate and embarrassed about everything I’ve ever written.
I remember the first time I read something by her, an essay a mutual friend had posted it on Facebook, feeling empty but also changed. “You will never write like she does,” said an 8th grade mean-girl voice in my head. “Why bother, when there are people like her who can write things like this?”
But writing, or making art, or music, or any pursuit that begins inside you and then is proudly or quietly offered to the world, is more craft than divine inspiration. It is slogging through vast periods of mediocrity and frustration and slowly improving. It’s doing it whether you feel like it or not.
It is also — and this is the hard part, at least for me — not putting yourself up against anyone else. Instead of feeling sad that you can’t make the things someone else can make, spend that emotional energy writing more.
“It’s important to be cultivated. In my opinion, reading and considering great literature is the best way to do this, but there are many ways to deepen your understandings and your capacity to feel and notice. If you are cultivating yourself, the chances are greater that the work you end up doing will be worth doing as far as others are concerned. It’s best not to ask how your work will be received by the world or how it might boost your reputation. Just stay close to your own guidance and see what comes. Be authentic and natural – it sounds easy enough but it actually takes some discipline and courage. If you are able to quiet yourself and be honest with yourself, then it will be easier for you to embark on a project that truly excites you and rewards you.”—Mark Steinmetz, on how to start a project - interviewed on fototazo. Tom Griggs is quietly putting out some of the best content on the web. (via huffphoto)
“I stress because I give a fuck. Whether it’s in my work or my relationships, I’m very passionate. When I care about someone, I tend to care and empathize with them very deeply.”—Jessica Walsh, 40 Days of Dating, Day 11