Friday, February 27, 2015

Write On

Last week, a friend of mine, who happens to also be one of the Editors-in-Chief of Torontoist, emailed me asked if I wanted to write a review of Fabricland. Not a concert or a stage play, not a restaurant or a book. A fabric store. And not a hip, happening new place, the kind of see-and-be-seen joint that sometimes inspires hipsters to take up handicrafts - looking at you, City of Craft! - but Fabricland. That slightly dumpy, unflatteringly lit, cotton-poly blend of a retail experience. Fabricland.

When I wrote the article, I realized that I was treating the whole experience like a puzzle: how would I situate this story? Should I write about the gender politics of craft? The condo boom that will ultimately close this location in less than two years? The way pop-up stores have influenced retailers? What was my thesis? What pieces of the puzzle could I leave in the box, and which would I need to tell this story?

God, I loved writing it.

When I first started writing this blog, I didn't really have any hopes for it. I had graduated from all-about-meeeee Livejournaling, and I just wanted a place to experiment. I want to write about stuff, not just myself and my own hang-ups and feelings. I had big opinions about everything: cycling, Leah McLaren, Lost (can you tell I started in 2009?). I didn't have a beat. I just wrote about whatever I wanted to.

After a while, I realized I could use this blog to my advantage. I sent out links to Spacing and was offered an internship. I bounced over to a sex 'n' love blog. I slowly built up my portfolio, and my writing skills. Even though I dropped down to one post each week, I usually look forward to writing it. There's always this little engine part of my brain that's thrumming: maybe I could write about it, write about it, write about it. And having other outlets, like Torontoist or XOXOAmore (RIP), just meant that part of my brain revved more.

Some people process their lives through music. They are, like my husband, the Rob Gordons of the world: not creators, exactly, but those whose biographies are akin to soundtracks. They can put a pin in "my first concert" or "the first time I saw that band live" or "when we went to that city and saw that show." Traveling with M has always included a live music component: beautiful punk shows in Oakland, weirdo Brooklyn Halloween shows, Icelandic hometown heroes playing a free concert under the midnight sun. Remember that time we saw this live? And we can.

I like music, but it's not how I process my shit. I need to write it out. A friend of mine said the words "reflective writing" the other day, and it reminded me of being forced to keep a journal for certain high school classes. (Obviously, I was one of those kids who always faked it in a mad scramble at the deadline, which is a shame.) I'm a person who learns by writing it out. I often don't know how I feel about something until the fast tikky-takky of the keys is almost hypnotic. I've written letters I've never sent: to former lovers, to siblings, to people I no longer want to know. Writing it down is, as our guidance counselors always said, a way of getting it out. (I also chat vivaciously with myself in the shower and plan conversations that way. People are weird, man.)

Every few months, I come back to this realization: I like writing. I'm good at it. (I mean, I'm not, like, Joan Didion or anything, but that woman had her own hangups.) When I do it, I feel better. It's magical and mundane. I am blessed with this knowledge, and also cursed, because the time I allot in my current life for writing that feeds my inner she-beast is pretty damned small. And that she-beast can't always be ignored.

Perhaps in the coming weeks and months, I'll be more aggressive with my time, and devote more energy to things that make me feel better. The days are getting longer; the tide is beginning to turn. Putting pen to paper is the best way I know to stretch out and enjoy it.

Image by Kevin Dowd via WeTheUrban