Friend, if you are paying attention even with just one eye open, it’s a hard hard world. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the horrible acts of war unfolding day after day in Ukraine.
For the first time ever, scientists have named a heat wave -- Zoe has devastated Spain and caused many deaths. It used to feel like climate change was the future, but now it's all too real.
The US and China are at loggerheads again, this time over Taiwan.
When we wake up to this kind of thing, it’s tempting sometimes to just pull the covers over our heads and stay in bed.
And it doesn't end... there's always something happening on either a global scale, or locally, or (sometimes more devastating still) within our own families and circles of loved ones.
Bear with me here: I’m not saying that you personally are saving the world through poetry. It might be true that your short stories, and mine, won’t resolve climate change or stop the next terrorist act. And of course it's not the only thing the world needs right now.
I had a new friend and neighbour over for an impromptu dinner this week [waves at Leah]. She works with visual artists and I was moved at one point to feeling great gratitude for all artists. Not just the great ones, but all who create, all who try.
One of my greatest worries used to be whether or not my work was mediocre. I stopped obsessing over this a long time ago and here’s why: the world needs more people creating, because creation is a radical act of care and connection. It’s the antidote to the mixed-up, crazy, hard daily world we’re all living in right now. This has always been true, but feels especially true to me right now.
The world needs you to be creating. It absolutely does not matter if the gatekeepers and powers-that-be think your work is any “good” or not.
F*ck the Canon: what matters most is the care, compassion and connection embedded in the act of writing.
If you let yourself really think about how the very act of writing changes you, you know this. And if you think of all those times you read something that opened up the world for you, made you laugh or cry or care, you know this.
So if you are someone moved to write, or to other acts of making and creation, for the sake of us all – every last damn one of us, from New Zealand to Iran to New York and Moose Jaw and back again – we need you to keep creating.
You have an antidote. For yourself, for the rest of us. And the story you’ve been telling yourself about how your work isn’t any good, or isn’t as good as [insert your personal famous writer benchmark here] isn’t helping because it’s completely beside the point.
Just for today, I want you to consider: what if you have an antidote?