Perhaps this is overly vulnerable, but I have not received a new subscriber to this newsletter in two weeks. That’s okay, it’s not going to stop me from writing and I get messages every day telling me the content is valuable, so I know it’s just a case of hammering away until this project finds its audience. However, it has me looking back at the first content I created in my teens, the first creative work I truly put out into the world.
It was poetry.
Meta has done many terrible things, but I will give them credit for the fact that they’ve destroyed their interface so badly that I can no longer find the pieces I publicly posted circa 2009 (when I was 16). Sadly, one of the first lines is burned into my memory.
“When I write, I let my pen take flight”
Every time I’m feeling overwhelmed, I always end up retreating to poetry. There are two books, Good Poems for Hard Times, edited by Garrison Keillor; and We Will Be Shelter Poems for Survival, edited by Andrea Gibson, that I recommend to those going over difficult seas. I lean on slam poetry—I watched Slam Nation and Def Poetry Jam when I was a teen and it left a deep impression, okay—when I’m going through my own tribulations.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s really good to cringe at your own work and, occasionally, at the earnestness of a lot of poetry. There’s a reason that events where people read things they wrote as kids are taking off as community events. It’s that perfect dose of self admonishment, nostalgia, and humour. Getting to laugh at yourself is a wonderful gift, but finding poetry that hits you right in the feels can have its benefits, too.
Which brings us back to this newsletter. I could beg each reader to share and, while I wouldn’t be opposed to you sharing this project with your friends, it’s not my go-to. I could yell at myself for not having done a better job of promoting this project, or having so many delays, or failing to have a consistent upload time, etc. Or, and this is what I’m trying to do, I can accept that this newsletter will continue to find its audience and provide value.
I think, when it comes to cripping productivity, we often pin our hopes on the idea that the thing we are concentrating all our spoons on now—or the thing we are slogging towards and is just out reach—will be the thing that gets us through the void. “When it’s sunny out, I’ll get that project done,” “I just found this amazing night routine and it’s going to revolutionize my approach to my body, “I’ve found a hyperfixation meal and I’M NEVERI GOING TO STOP EATING IT.” Whatever it happens to be for you, productivity purists, as I’ve taken to calling them, rarely give us space to laugh at ourselves. It can be sad when that perfect system falls apart, but it’s also okay to find joy and humour in your earnestness. It’s okay to have pinned your hopes on that solution you thought was magical.
This leads me to the conclusion that I’m hopeful that a year from now I’ll be cringing at what I wrote in these early editions of the reboot. I hope I’ve built on, and disagreed with, some of these posts. And I hope that, like those high school-era poems of mine, I have the guts to fail in public.
I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.