women. writers.

Editor's Notes: June 2016

I recently finished reading Amy Poehler's bad-ass book, Yes Please. Besides being hilarious and honest, Amy's book also provided me with a number of highlighter moments in which I scrambled to save her wisdom for future reference, knowing it would come in handy someday. Turns out, someday is right now.

Amy believes you should treat your career like it's your boyfriend, your really unreliable, sort-of replaceable, forgettable boyfriend. On the subject of success, she says this:

"Career is the stringing together of opportunities and jobs. Mix in public opinion and past regrets. Add a dash of future panic and a whole lot of financial uncertainty. Career is something that fools you into thinking you are in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren’t. Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later."

I had to put my Kindle down at this point, I was laughing that hard.

Amy goes on to define the distinction between career and creativity, a distinction I think is crucial when it comes to any kind of success, particularly that of a writer. I have fallen victim to the message that my career defines me more times than I can count. If my career is not lining up with what I think it should be, well, I'm a failure. Of course, this is an absolute falsity. It's actually kind of insane. I don't really have control over how successful I am in terms of book sales, reviews, or monetary gain. You know how I know this? Because I've lived it. I've worked and written and tweeted and posted my little heart out. I've edited and bled all over the page and stayed up late and made marketing plans. I've done all the things. I've met every expectation. But I simply haven't achieved the commercial success that I'd like because I am not sovereign over every person's wallet or keyboard. I can't make someone do what they don't want to do. In the end, success is a strange combination of hard work, consistency, and being in the right place at the right time. The good news is that I still have years ahead of me, God willing, and lots of things to say. And so do you.

Creativity is not the same thing as a career. Creativity is the thing that drives you, the part of yourself that cannot, and should not, be contained. Career is meeting deadlines, paying bills, and checking off lists. Forget for a moment about what the reader might think and write for yourself. Writing is a process of considering your audience one minute and telling them to shut the hell up the next. You can't do it all ALL THE TIME. It has to be done in pieces, in moments, so that your story can become what it needs to be: a cohesive work of art with something to share. Career is trying to control the outcome, but creativity is simply telling the story.

Earlier in the chapter, Amy tells us that we're really lucky if our career and our creativity merge into one. And she reminds us that "your creativity is not a bad boyfriend. It is a really warm older Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug. If you are even a little bit nice to her she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food."

So be nice to yourself. Be nice to your process. And trust that even if your career feels like a terrible boyfriend right now, your creativity has only good things in store for you.

All thrive,

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