Every morning, I flick at my smartphone screen and read the news. I watch for some of my favorite writers in art, technology, and cultural criticism. I used to marvel at how quickly some of my favorite writers and journalists could produce content in such a prolific manner. But having done that made me spiral into some major neuroses about my writing as well as assuming the impostor syndrome. Sure, I make a fine editor because it’s always easy to critique anyone else’s writing but your own. It’s also easy to say to yourself that you’re never going to meet the same ranks as the writers you admire. So, when I asked myself, “what is a successful writer?” I went way back into my grammar school days.

I remember being in English class when I was growing up and thinking how amazing it was to learn about subjects, predicates, nouns, and conjugating verbs. I think that was in large part due to the fact that I grew up in a household where multiple languages were spoken. To some degree, it helped and would stick with me for a long time. But it was also relatively confusing. How would I communicate in the long run? How would I use language? Over the years, I forgot how passionate I was about learning language until I had to serve as an editor in chief in college and in hindsight, it was probably because I was easy to work with and could be told what to do (and very impressionable).

Overall, after all this time, I think what makes a writer successful is doing one thing – letting go.

You might ask, what do you mean by letting go and this just sounds like so many other self help books and a little too easy? That’s not real advice, you might be saying. But take it however you want. It’s not about resignation, that’s different. When you are resigned, you don’t try, you don’t fight, and you don’t care. Letting go isn’t about having an “IDGAF” attitude either. You must respect yourself as a writer to know what you are passionate about and commit. If you’re the only one on earth that wants to write about the creation of the microprocessor or fascinated by the proliferation of #whatarethose meme, well, write about it. Write to yourself. Write for yourself. As writers, I understand the need for an audience, I mean, let’s face it, readership is important as a writer. But your reader reads your work because they see that you care. Another question you might be asking yourself is, “Okay, let go of what exactly?”

It’s been challenging because I was born and raised in an immigrant family that did not exactly foster my passions in the arts and humanities. When my mother immigrated to San Francisco in 1978, she didn’t exactly know what she was stepping into, but rallied her resources as best as she could and sent me to private school for as long as financially possible. Right away, she saw my love for the arts and language as a little girl. Yet she wanted me to grow up skilled in something practical that would yield me the life that she didn’t have in the Philippines. That being said, your past and upbringing have a lot to do with the way you define success. What you do and how you make your mark have a lot to do with personal histories and experiences and, sometimes, letting go of what you have been told time and time again will result in precarious living, doesn’t hold true when you let go and start living the life you want. It’s challenging, it’s tough, as a writer, but for all of the writers I know and deeply admire, I notice the one thing they did along the way that has led to what I perceive and acknowledge as success is to let go.

Letting go of naysayers, unproductive criticism, feeling like an impostor, perfection, the need to be right, the fear of being wrong, rigid structures that prevent you from growth, toxic people/personalities, habits that prevent you from actually writing.

I’ve said “I wish I just had more time” as well. But don’t we all? You gotta let go of that too. So, what would you do with that extra time? Where is that extra time going? At the end of the day, being a successful writer actually doesn’t mean writing for the biggest news outlets or even writing the best essay, article, or book. Being a successful writer means that you’ve written something you believe in and it can help illuminate something for someone. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be award winning. But it has to be something you feel the world needs and couldn’t live without because if you don’t write it, it doesn’t exist and if it doesn’t exist, it probably never will. At least not from your perspective, your vision, and your experiences.

Don’t worry about someone misunderstanding or not getting it, that’s actually not a part of being successful. There will always be people that don’t get something because they genuinely don’t get it or because they intentionally don’t want to understand. Remember that it’s not your job to make people understand. It’s your job to think, read, write, and initiate the thoughts of others into thinking deeply about the world around them. You may be the only person writing what you write. Or, you might say that that’s been written before. Whatever the case, write gibberish, write crap, then look at what you write and start over. Writing is the place where you can command language and expand on it however you want. It’s really up to you to do what you want with it. But taking responsibility for the things you write is another aspect of writing that you need to take into account. You can always change your mind. In the long run, it’s also about a nice long conversation with culture itself and how it’s changed and where you want to see it go and how you’re making your mark as well. So, what are you waiting for?

Let go.

Originally posted to Freewrite‘s blog. You can view it here.

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Some days I feel like this. I am trying my best to survive these last two months of grad school! It’s been quite the eye opening experience. For those of you who are wondering, I pulled this from #whatshouldwecallgradschool (such a great site). GIFs and memes have been helping me with all the stress. Over the weekend An Xiao Mina (co-founder of The Civic Beat) reminded me that I have to “clean the palette” of my mind. She recommended a good game of Tetris. She was right. Surprisingly, I don’t get addicted to games. It’s just enough to take me out of my rut quite frankly. Working out has actually helped too. More posts in the upcoming weeks. Some exciting stuff has happened and more interesting developments on the horizon. Will write more soon…in the mean time, please feel free to share how you de-stress or what you do when you’re in your head a little too much. I need all the help I can get.

zero1

Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of being in conversation with writer, culture critic, curator, and artist, Ben Valentine at ZERO1 for the Bring It! Summer programming. Admittedly, it was a small and intimate group that joined us for the talk. When I got home, I read and wrote because I walked away from the evening with many big ideas. One of the things that kept coming up (even well into this week as I mull over the discussion), was a question by ZERO1 curator Jaime Austen. It had to do with responsibility.

What do you feel is your responsibility in terms of my writing, research, and scholarship?

There are so many ways to answer the question. Being a blogger since 2007, I’ve experienced different ways of looking at my writing practice, research, and what this means not only for me but the community I am trying to build around writing, critical theory, arts and technology. It definitely starts somewhere and a writer/theorist life can be rather lonely because it’s not as prolific and doesn’t promise benefits from efforts made to produce content (whether its for media outlets, a personal blog, and/or for print). So, how did I answer the question…well, I’d like to think that the work I’m putting into the community is helping answer that question.

Do you have a story around your commitment to the arts? What do you feel is your responsibility? How do you feel the virtual landscape facilities and allows or hinders and distracts your objectives? I would love to read your stories.

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This summer has been extremely eventful. Amongst research, reading, writing, and just generally trying to get and keep my act together, I’m delighted that I’m the Blogger-in-Residence with art21!! Wow. I’m absolutely honored and thrilled about this opportunity. Please check it out and comment on the writing. I’m completely open to the dialogue and welcome it. While I don’t particularly care for disparaging remarks, if you disagree with anything I write, please comment. I invite you to offer up something you feel I overlook or ask a question. While the residency takes on a bit of an experimental platform writing-wise, I would love to yield recommendations of artists to look at as well as diverse views on artists, new media arts, and exploring the concept of networks (the theme for both July and August!). Happy Reading and, most importantly, thank YOU for your support. 🙂

fulmar

From the time I woke up to reaching the tail end of my work day and crossing things off my to-do list, I felt compelled to write a post about the frequency I post to my blog. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “Why the hell should I care how often you post? It’s YOUR blog.” True. But as a budding writer and theorist, writing becomes your life. It’s almost a religious experience. If I miss a day or a week of it, I feel incredibly guilty and in need of some major penance for committing the cardinal sin of not writing  (I was born and raised Catholic so pardon the reference). This past weekend, I was talking to one of my brilliant mentors, crystal am nelson, and she reminded me of my “real” work. From our conversation, I gleaned much of the writing where I crave engagement is the writing I’m doing for grad school and the organizations I work closely with. It’s also the research I’m working on to make certain that I’m sharing authentic information and well thought out writing with the public. This past year, I’ve taken a hit for not blogging consistently. It’s a HARD a$$ job to produce quality content. I’m telling you…it’s challenging. Try it.

I will say this, it’s been a joy reading through critical theory (at the moment, my desk has texts from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Michel Foucault, Deleuze & Guattari, Vito Campanelli and Brian Massumi) for my lit review this summer and learning so much for new and old friends. I’m trying to find ways to make these texts accessible to the public. Trust me, I’m working on that part, in particular. I feel compelled to document EVERY single thing I learn and start to think, “I don’t need to share…not just yet.” I want you to read quality writing (or about my feelings and emotions around my studies and writings which may or may not be equally compelling BUT I’m trying to foster a relationship with you, dear reader).

So yeah…

The compulsion to share ourselves runs rampant in our digital culture but not so much in real life (IRL). Imagine if everyone shared and liked the way we do online but in real life. Oh boy! That would be pretty wild. The world has changed and there was a point, back in 2011, I blogged everyday so I could become more visible to the public and a create a potential audience. I wanted to experiment with the notion of content creation. In retrospect, it was a great exercise which reminded me that the new is never going to be new enough. Quality writing and thoughtful content actually takes time. But we are led to believe we don’t have enough of it. Similar to the prey of the fulmar chick, the orange sticky oil actually hit my feathers at some point. I was drowning in information. Even through all my current research, I’m realizing how much I don’t know BUT that it’s okay. So after all this rambling, how did I clean my feathers and get some fulmar chick vomit-resistant steel?

  1. I started to realize and remind myself, I only have one brain, two arms, two legs, one heart, and one life.
  2. Accepting I’m not going to understand everything I read and that’s OK.
  3. Sharing my struggles will reach the people they are supposed to reach. I will make the proper connections and create fruitful work with the “right” people.
  4. It’s OK to write pages of crap to work through theory and my own biases…there’s bound to be a gem in there somewhere.

For anyone interested in what I learned specifically from my grad school experience, you can view my virtual notebook here.

Okay, okay…so you want some real news, eh? Fine. This also explains why I don’t blog on a regular basis.

  • The Style Issue for Asterisk SF has gone to press! I had the pleasure of writing about styling firm Retrofit Republic and Bay Area artist Mia Christopher
  • As a part of the Free Form Film Festival team and new site launch, which is JUST around the corner, I’m excited to announce I will be working on the FFFF Extended channel, which will include writing, essays, and critical discussion on new media artworks and experimental film making (forthcoming!!)
  • Recently joined the contributor team over at The Civic Beat founded by phenomenal artist, designer, writer, and culture critic, An Xiao (she JUST spoke at TedGlobal 2013 – So exciting!!) and working on a piece about academic memes and fair wages for academics (forthcoming!!)
  • I will be co-presenting with Hyperallergic writer, Ben Valentine, and net artist Ian Aleksander Adams, at ZERO1 in August!!! The working title for our panel discussion, “The Art and Culture Critic: Examining the Expanding Role of the Writer in Arts and Technology” We are INCREDIBLY excited about this opportunity.

There are other things going on but not anything I can post and make public (yet). So please stay tuned and engage. Ask questions, make comments, and feel free to collaborate if you feel moved. I would love to hear from you. I know what you’re thinking now…”Do you sleep?” The answer: Yes. I’m just better at dodging bullets, putting out fires, and I write EVERYTHING down. 😉 Til next time. Be well.

All the best,

Dorothy

32 ways to stay creative

There are probably way more than 33 ways but this list offers up some great ideas. This summer will be extra busy as I prep for a writing lab/intensive to make certain my prospectus (essentially a breakdown of my master’s thesis) will be in decent shape by the time I start my second year (this fall). Essentially, I’m conducting lit review for the next few months! This process entails reading, research, and a sh*tload of writing (crappy writing for the most part but this is what editing is all about!). I’m going into some really interesting directions, for sure. If you can believe it, I have yet another virtual space dedicated to my observations and experiences about school. But I have yet to update that space since the Fall 2012 semester. I’ll definitely share some academic stuff (i.e., favorite readings from my first year and the top 10 things I’ve learned).

For now, enjoy the list and get creative!!