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Announcing Next Week's Course Launch
hello, i have a new thing for you
I’m putting out the next edition of my course, Hate Writing Less, on Wednesday July 6th. It’s a self-paced video course focused on helping you have a better time at the keyboard. At roughly 12 PST on that day, I will make 100 slots available. When they’re gone they’re gone. This edition is 90% re-filmed, better, sleeker, more empathetic, at times sillier, at times more serious.
It’s also getting released to the newsletter first, and will only be posted to Twitter if it doesn’t sell out here within 24 hours, because I like you guys better than Twitter, honestly.
The price is $175, which includes lifetime access to this and all future editions of the course.
The plan is, in fall, I’m going to release the third edition, which will probably be roughly twice as long, and twice as good, and twice as expensive—not for you, for the people who sign up then. Then I’ll keep adding material from there, depending on user feedback.
It’s already quite nice, I think. Recently someone said, on Twitter, that a single one of the videos was worth the price of admission:
I don’t know that this is true, but I do feel like there are a number of salutary things said in these videos that are not often said elsewhere, or never in the same way.
One cool thing about doing a course about creative misery is: it’s a deep and wide subject, and I don’t see myself exhausting the educational possibilities here anytime soon. There are a lot of places I can go with the course in the future. The other cool thing is: that I am doing something I never thought I’d be able to do—harnessing my years of creative dysfunction.
I basically wasted a lot of my early twenties. This is true even though it’s not straightforwardly obvious to me that ‘wasted time’ is a real thing. Nobody has definitively answered the question of what a well-used life is. Thinking of it as a question of ‘use,’ itself, is a way of flattening matters. Our lives are cheapened when we see everything we do instrumentally, and also cheapened if we go the opposite way and attempt to ‘live in the moment’ unceasingly, only to find that vividness becomes a chore if pursued to the exclusion of all else. There just will be lulls in life, ambiguity, confusion, hours of room-temperature emotion among stiletto-sharp pangs of lust and fear.
But if I forget that high-minded perspective, and just go with my gut instinct, there are a few thousand hours of my life, mostly in those aforementioned early twenties, where I’m like, ‘yeah, didn’t totally need that.’ The time that arouses this judgment most strongly is the years I spent thinking about making art without making art—dithering, basically. From the outside I looked lazy, but from the inside it just looked like suffering. I was utterly alone and didn’t produce anything that now survives. I mostly just breathed heavily, resting my hands on the keys, while imagining the ridiculing voices of hostile readers. During my nights of walking the streets, afraid with cigarettes, my fear of being seen only rivaled my fear of being unseen.
I’d like to say that I learned a lot about writing craft during this era. I did, in jags. There were points when I worked quite vigorously. I got halfway into a novel, excerpts of which impressed friends I showed it to. (I deleted it in a fit of pique, eventually.) But mostly what I learned about was my capacity for cowardice and indecision. The worst of it came after I saw a brilliant play called The Shipment, by Young Jean Lee, a weird avant-garde collage of short vignettes about American racial issues. It was so bold, iconoclastic, and original—everything I thought my work wasn’t—that I immediately wondered whether I should give up on making art forever. Following the show, I mentioned this to a cast member, who didn’t, evidently, realize how unstable I was, and he said, “yeah, I get that, maybe you should.” So I decided: no more being an artist, time to just be a regular person.
However, I’d spent so long working at the act of not-writing—which is much harder than the act of writing—that without it, my life felt incoherent. What sort of identity would I construct from scratch? I was fresh out of ideas. Should I be, like, a fucking botanist or something? Just do a plant guy life? During this season, I was house-sitting for a regular at the coffee shop where I worked. She had a giant Victorian home with something like eight cats. It was big, pretty, and cold, and I sat alone in the dark in the huge parlor fretting about when I’d kill myself.
Things got better. When I released my first writing in public, at 25, and it was good, some people were surprised because I’d always said I was a writer but it just seemed like I was a mess. The idea of me finally doing anything was completely implausible.
It would’ve been fine if that period of my life simply lay horizontal in my past, occasionally sending troublesome memories like grumpy crows to the present to remind me to be thankful for my current contentment. I am fortunate to have emerged intact from that cortisol-soaked time. But there is a sweetness to the fact that I can now bundle up some lessons I learned there and sell them in the form of agreeable, plucky video content. This is to say nothing of the possibility that my products will alleviate the misery of others, and save them from similar slumps, which is deeply exciting to me.
It would be fun if I could do this with all of my experience somehow, if I could alchemize everything, all of the triviality and awkwardness, until it ‘all made sense,’ in a way. If I were a perfect craftsman, of text, or songs, or videos, or whatever else, all of my small tragedies could become a neat mosaic, to be wheeled around and enjoyed by children and adults. With this course, I make a tiny step toward that unreachable, unreasonable goal.
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