76. 🍕 every day is pizza day 🍕
thinking about little ida
🥳 Hello, and happy Monday in the year 2022! 🥳 I hope that all your years are off to a good start.
I decided to take two weeks off in order to recalibrate for the year. Let me tell you, it was very much needed. I did absolutely NOTHING except wake up after 9AM, binge watch all three seasons of Succession, and just generally enjoy the company of my partner, Higgins, and Girlie. It was a quiet holiday season, which was just what I needed. ❄️
Because this is the first issue of the newsletter back since 2021, I’m going to ease back into this writing practice by being gentle with myself and taking a stretching break or two. One of my 2022 goals is to learn how to lead climb, so I’m really trying to be intentional about increasing my mobility, which includes flexibility! Here’s to baby steps!
Do you have any goals—writing/reading related or not—that you’re particularly excited about? Let me know by leaving a comment (public) or by responding directly to this email (private). Happy to be the person to which you speak your dreams aloud! 💞
✏️ Still processing.
I’m going to be honest with you: last week, I had some trouble getting back into the swing of things with writing.
During my last writing session of 2021, I ended by doing little things that I thought would ease the resistance I may feel coming back after the holidays. I wrote a little reflection about the piece I’m working on, where I’m at in it, and what I want to do next. I wrote a little to-do list of low energy, “busy-work” tasks that would help me hit the ground running and feeling like I accomplished something. I cleaned up my workspace so it would look enticing to me. But, alas, I am only human—the impulse to continue being a blanket burrito hit me HARD this year.
I ended up using my process journal to figure out why I was coming up against so much resistance to get back to work. Yes, it definitely has to do with the state of the world, the new variant, etc. But I also knew that there were some underlying, personal aspects of my resistance that I needed to explore a bit more. I began free-writing about it, and ended up writing the following as a potential solution to my feelings:
I need to have fun each day. I want it to be like our lunch menus as kids. Friday is pizza day! Everyday is a different kind of pizza day. Gives me both variety and routine. For things that are fun to do and I look forward to doing. Assign a different thing I get to do to each day.
It’s a bit convoluted, so allow me to explain. What I ended up finding out was that my inner child (I call her “Little Ida”) was the one who was resisting writing. Over the break, I had given my inner child so much space to enjoy life. Little Ida had so much fun over the break! She walked by a lake! She played Pokemon! She ate Domino’s cheesy bread! She took an online tarot class! Now that it was back to “normal life,” Little Ida didn’t want to give up all those things that she had enjoyed so much from the past 2 weeks.
The above excerpt is actually Little Ida talking. I’m not really sure where in the free-write I ended up transitioning to her voice, but needless to say, she was trying to give me a solution to the issue at hand. Yes, it’s true that I can no longer fill my entire day with activities that are just plain fun, but that doesn’t mean I can’t incorporate a little of that magical joy into my everyday life. I can still do at least one thing that Little Ida thoroughly looks forward to—what I’m calling the “pizza” of my day. Just like I would look forward to the weekly “pizza day” at school when I was a kid, I realized that I needed to incorporate a “pizza day” moment into each day as something that my inner child could look forward to. I also decided that I wanted each “pizza” to be once a week. That way, I could get excited about something new each day, but also feel like I have some sense of routine embedded. Now, most week nights from 7PM onward, this is what I set aside time to do:
Mondays: building my tarot practice
Tuesdays: drawing and collaging
Wednesdays: one person dance party
Thursdays: reading poetry aloud to myself
Fridays: Yin yoga
As soon as I wrote this list and decided to commit to this practice, I felt a whole lot lighter. It reminded me that my inner selves all need to be tended to in my everyday life. Yes, it is necessary to do my work, but so much of what was missing in the fall was caring for these other parts of myself.
Perhaps if you find yourself struggling to get your feet on the ground re: work, making a similar list of things your inner child loves to do will help you feel more whole and more ready to take on those more “serious” tasks that come with being a part of the working world. Make every day a different kind of pizza day. 🥰 🍕
📚 Still reading.
Thanks to tiny driver reader Devin Kate P., I got a chance to read this amazing set of essays over the holidays on the craft of writing creative nonfiction by Hippocampus, a magazine and press that specializes in this literary form. The book is a set of essays written by authors that have been affiliated with the organization—namely those who have presented some kick-ass essays at the org’s annual writer’s conference. Each essay focuses on a different aspect of the craft—whether it be tackling impostor syndrome or writing & memory or how to write a visual essay. It was so illuminating for me to see all the ways that one can write about the world and our place within it.
While there are essays that speak to the specifics of writing in this particular genre (food writing, writing dialogue, writing about family), there were a lot of components in this book that I think would be helpful to folks writing in any genre, even academic ones. Here’s a list of essays that I think are particularly versatile and that I hope will have you try to get your hands on this book. 😊
“Impostor Syndrome: How to Mute, Muffle, or Muzzle it for Good” by Athena Dixon - Impostor syndrome is something that many people including myself deal with on a regular basis. This essay gives an accessible look at the different types of impostor syndrome that can manifest within someone—who knew there were different types?!—as well as questions to ask yourself when spiraling down the impostor hole. My favorite takeaway from this essay: “Impostor Syndrome, or any manifestation of it, should only be a shout in the distance that sometimes reminds you that outside perspective is needed. What is more important is your voice, the one that brought you exactly to the place you currently doubt or fear. Your voice should be the one of reason, even if it is trembling,” (emphasis by me).
“Why You Should Write About What You Don’t Remember” by Wendy Fontaine - Memory is a concept that has always been interesting to me, but I’ve never thought about it in conjunction with writing and how memory deeply affects what and how we write. After going a bit into the science of memory, what Fontaine really shows is that we shouldn’t worry about whether or not something is “true,” by why we understand it to be the truth or what we can glean from our memory of an event. Although I’m sure that this insight is particularly helpful for memoir writers, I feel like this essay reminded me to be more introspective about how it is that I process ideas and feelings through my writing, and why I even write on the subjects I do at all.
“Active Research: Dances and Whirlpools” by Sam Chiarelli - Despite the title, this essay doesn’t get into the process of research itself. And let’s be real—those of you who are academics probably have a very deep sense of how you like to set up your research process and go about interrogating your subject matter. For academics, I think this essay instead reminds us that we are not just researchers but writers. As Chiarelli quoting Barry Lopez puts it: “the hardest thing in nonfiction is to discover a structure that will hold the material in an almost weightless way, so that the reader is able to move through a story replete with information, but does not feel burdened.” This essay is a good reminder that so much of the process of communication is the way things are said, not just what is said.
“The Warning Signs of Throat-Clearing” by Sue Baldwin-Way - Baldwin-Way defines “throat-clearing” in writing as all the text at the beginning of a draft that is unnecessary, everything that gets in the way of readers finding out what the “point” of your writing is. While I think that a critical part of the writing process is clearing out the faucet, there is definitely something to be said for going back and making sure that none of the gunk is still present. This essay contains some tips on figuring out how to find that gunk in your writing.
“Describe, Don’t Prescribe: How to Give (and Get) More Helpful Writing Feedback” by Joanne M. Lozar Glenn - This was probably my favorite essay to read, as I am a big proponent of writing in community. The central idea that Lozar Glenn puts forward is that true feedback is information where the person giving feedback is honest and curious about the writing and the author’s process. The essay then enumerates varying models of feedback based on the writer’s experience and stage in the writing process. This essay is super easy to incorporate in your feedback practice, and has also given me some ideas for when I am teaching! (This essay also dovetails wonderfully with portions of Matthew Salesses’s Craft in the Real World, which I highly recommend.)
🌀 Still consuming.
Literally one of the most helpful instagram posts I’ve ever seen (above).
An amazing talk about mental health and art making with Beth Pickens and Marcia Chatelain. They have been friends since college and you can definitely tell in all the best ways! 🤗
📖 Book club corner.
Friends! It is time for the next book club pick! Cast your vote below by Saturday, January 15 and I’ll announce the pick in next week’s newsletter.
Which book do you want to read for January book club?
Here’s the event info:
Date & Time: Tuesday, January 25 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Suggested Donation (for those able to donate): $3-10 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)
🐶 A pup-date.
Now I KNOW y’all missed the dog content over the break! 🐾 ❣️ Here is Higgins thoroughly enjoying the beginning of his 2022 by doing what he does best: being perfect and cuddly.
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!