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I have always written. Sometimes I have readers, sometimes I don't. No matter; I'm a writer, and I write. I don't worry about regularity or discipline, because I want to write often enough that I feel no need for a schedule. I've heard dreams are our brain's attempt to make order out of life. My dreams seem too chaotic for this to be true. For clarity, for finding order in chaos, I write.

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Thank you for this interesting response to the post! Like you, I have always written, even when there has been little hope of publication. I always feel a bit lost when I don't have a writing project underway. I agree on the clarity it brings too.

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Writing is visceral to me. I tried to hide it away for so many years. I decided to go all in.

Your text resonates with me. Thanks

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I know what you mean, it can take a big push to share something so close to you. Good for you for taking the leap! Thank you for reading and commenting :)

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Love this, Kate. I think about this all the time, and it's a recurring topic of discussion with my daughter who is in the middle of writing college application essays. In her case, we discuss her artwork—does art become art only when there is an audience? And in my own personal ponderings, I ask myself why do I write to an audience? I think we have both started to articulate for ourselves that any art piece, whether writing, a drawing, music, etc. can start off as a therapeutic form of self-expression certainly, but art becomes art when it connects to an audience. Suddenly, it becomes more than about you. When I thought about coming back to writing, I really needed to think about why I wanted to publish on a platform like this again. Why not just journal if I just needed an outlet to process some complicated things? I admit that sometimes it seems self indulgent and at worst, narcissistic and I question it all. But then you get the comments, the emails, the spontaneous conversations sparked by friends who refer to something that you wrote. It validates that we don't write into a void—usually :) At the end of the day, what we crave are these connections.

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Thank you for this thoughtful exploration of the themes, Jenna. This is why I love this platform and the conversations arounf our writing. I think it's great that you have those conversations with your daughter around art and writing - it can sometimes feel like we are alone in our thoughts around these topics and it's good to have someone who "gets it". My daughter is also a writer and we have these same sorts of chats :)

As for your own writing and narcissistic thoughts: I for one love reading about your experiences, and connect with a lot of them. As you say, we are all craving connection, I think, which makes it all worthwhile :)

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I have been writing for years, in the certain knowledge that no one would ever read those words. It's a compulsion, a vital form of self-expression. Sometimes I read back over those pages and pages of words and can't believe that some of them came from me. (Some of them feel all-too-familiar.) But, just as I feel the osmotic power of all the as yet unread books on my shelves, so those words I've written privately form a whispering chorus in support of whatever I write now.

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Thank you for this thoughtful response. I get what you mean about not always believing they came from yourself; I get this sometimes, too. I think a private writing practise is essential, for me, to get everything out of my head, even if I never intend to share it with anyone.

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Wow, that video at the end. The Boston accent, the reality of the situation he was in that the poem just spoke to...powerful.

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I know! It really makes the words resonate, doesn't it?

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I really appreciate you diving deeper into the subject of your Sunday newsletter, Kate. My only knowledge of GB is actually Maud Martha, which I think is beautiful. So it was a real treat to be inspired to dive off into her poetry. The video of the young guy from Boston discussing the significance of We real cool is very moving, and I then was led on to a paper-cut animation of the poem over GB's recitation. Thank you, a happy tea break rabbit-hole!

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Thanks, Claire, I love to think of you discovering more over your tea break! I agree, the video is really moving and shows how powerful poetry such as this can be. Thank you for reading and commenting :)

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I see my writing as a conversation. I don’t write for myself. I’m always writing with someone else in mind--to communicate what I’m feeling, thinking, or imagining. It’s a way to express myself in relationship to others. That’s why I struggle so with journaling. I feel like I should journal more, but no one’s reading it, so it feels inauthentic to me.

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I love this idea of writing as a comversation! I think that would probably relate to a lot of us. I think I once read that Elizabeth Gilbert writes each of her books with just one specific person in mind, like a conversation with a friend.

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That’s interesting. I don’t have one person in mind but I do imagine readers. It helps me engage in a way that writing for myself doesn’t.

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At 61 I finally quit my teaching job and went all in with the one thing I do that brings real, deep joy--writing. I’m floundering financially and may need to return to the classroom at some point, but love the year-long-now writing regimen I’ve established--the daily routine of wrestling with words. It is a real need for many of us especially as the world seems to fray and come undone in so many ways; writers work to put the world back together.

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I love to hear this, Arnie! Good for you for taking the reins and doing what brings you joy :) So many people don't. I hear you with the financial floundering though.

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Finally had a chance to read. Really enjoying this series! I think we discover so much in research that doesn't fit into the 'article' we are creating. Love these marginalia and personal reflections.

Fascinating that she was getting advice from Langston Hughes. Wow! But it also shows - in your comment - that you have to decide what advice to take. There's so much out there and you also have the power within to create your own.

So so many amazing creators evolve or were 'discovered' (or started creating) after 40, after 50, after 60...it's really good to keep this perspective in our work. And even more important, as you discuss, that your work can keep evolving. None of us are stuck in a style (though a trad publisher might want to keep you that way!). The beauty of Substack and independent publishing is that writers can evolve without the acceptance of the market. I mean, this has always been the case and why Joyce was so poor :) But there's more opportunity now for the new Joyces of the world to share their work.

Thanks for this great read and so pleased for your recent feature by Substack! This just shows again why it's so well deserved.

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Thank you so much, Kate! What a thoughtful comment :)

I'm glad you're enjoying the new feature; I'm having a lot of fun writing it, as it allows me to go back and really think about some of the ideas in the piece and use the experience and knowledge of the readers' comments (including yours - thank you!) (As an aside, I almost called it Marginalia, as I love that word, but think there may be a publication called it).

Agree re who we take advice from and feeling able to create our own ways of creating. I love Langston Hughes and got to study him as an undergrad! But it reminds me also that throughout literary history, the great writers (and artists) have influenced and encouraged others, just as we are all doing here on this platform!

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Great article--

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Thank you so much! :)

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I enjoyed this thank you! I listened to the voiceover. Love that substack has this feature.

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Thank you for letting me know, Gareth! I'm not totally confident with the voice overs, so it's good to know you enjoyed it :) I enjoy listening to posts too.

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