It’s been three months since I last published this newsletter, give or take a few days. A lot has changed since then, I’ve been spending a lot of time training my new puppy—he’s spent a lot of time sleeping on desk chair beside me—I’ve continued to do freelance work at a fairly heavy pace (I wrote over 200 pieces last year), and I recently signed with a literary agent (more on that at a later date).
Last year was incredibly successful, frustrating, wonderful, and illuminating. And one thing that I’ve realized is that I need to get back to this newsletter. My writing practice can’t just be for others—though, editors, if you’re reading this, feel free to reach out—it has to have a community focus, it has to be for something, it has to be for an audience where I tangibly know who I’m speaking to.
And that’s why I’m relaunching this newsletter today. It will take all (Canadian) holidays off, it will be about productivity and disability, and it will become self-sustaining by the end of 2024–at least those are the goals. I’m also not going to do anything in the realm of soliciting funding (audience-based or otherwise) until March 1, 2024. I have a habit of monetizing my hobbies. And, while this is a work project, I need to give this thing space to expand to fit its niche, to find its people, to create its impact. It’s very easy to jump into a business model, I own a successful freelance business after all, but the consistent repetition of this newsletter (even when I’ll be writing posts in batches) has to be gift enough for now.
And so, here’s the first edition of this third run of CRPL.
I’ve returned to the well that is Ryan Holiday’s writing a lot over the course of this newsletter. Sometimes, the word disability shows up in places you really don’t expect. Over the holiday, I was listening to his 2016 book Ego is the Enemy as I put in a conscious effort to read more in the upcoming year. In one chapter he writes, as he talks about the ego of writers and military leaders alike, “...After enough time we forget where the line is that separates our fictions from reality. Ultimately, this disability will paralyze us or it will become a wall between us and the information we need to do our jobs.”
At first listen I thought this was another example of where disability becomes the easy fall back, the monster in the darkness, the villain in the movie. I had to rewind it, talk about looking at the tender parts, and contextualize what I thought he was talking about to me. Along this same line, there’s a book about writing poetry, Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen, where the author shares that poets should think about their titles like flying a kite above them. What do you see in the wind? What does it say?
Well, for me, Holiday’s sentence reminds me that, whether we’re disabled or not, ego dominates the public spheres we exist in. The blowhards on social media and the overestimating friend who always wants you to see their brilliance being just two examples. Ego, when not deployed correctly, blunts our ability to be discerning. It’s not a perfect disability metaphor, there are about five ways we could point out its ableism, but its root is a fair point: if you are allowing your ego to take over then you are losing the ability to do something else, often it’s your capacity to show grace that is impacted.
As a younger wheelchair basketball player I was told that, for the best athletes in the world, so not me, when people’s careers exploded into brilliance was when they realized that not only did do their movements on the court affect four teammates, they also affect the five opponents, as if they were all part of some choreographed competitive dance. Now, I’m not saying these athletes are without ego—in fact, I’m saying quite the opposite, I’d argue they know when to deploy it. They need to know, on some level, how important they are to the game, they have to trust that they’re going to make the next shot, but they certainly don’t have to act as if their actions are the only ones that matter.
Let’s shift to a less sport-focused example. It takes a fair amount of ego, a needed amount of ego, a required amount of ego, to self advocate for yourself at a doctor’s office or with your HR representative. We call that self assuredness, confidence, or some other synonym, but it is also ego. It is the belief that you know best. Writing this newsletter is ego-inducing as the subscriber numbers tick up. Knowing the difference between ego that will destroy you (or others) and the type of ego that will keep you safe is vitally important aspect of crip productivity.
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.