You're worth it
When it comes to art, you can't afford not to.
Welcome to So Relatable, a bi-weekly newsletter featuring conversations about the creative process, suggestions for nourishing yourself, and inspiring links. Hit reply and say hi! I love hearing from you.
I don’t like spending money. As far as I’m concerned, “shopping for fun” is an oxymoron, sticking to the list is a way of life, and impulse purchases are for the weak. (I once wrote a whole article for Money about being the cheapest person you know, and I still stand by it!)
Gretchin Rubin, reigning pop psychology queen, would categorize me as an under-buyer. Sometimes this is a strength, like when I pay off our credit card in full every month. Other times, the shoes I bought at Old Navy for six dollars fall apart after two wears, and I realize extreme frugality has its downsides.
“Under-buyers feel stressed because we don’t have the things we need,” Gretchen writes. “We make a lot of late-night runs to the drugstore. We’re surrounded with things that are shabby, don’t really work, or aren’t exactly suitable.” Did someone say so relatable?
My asceticism isn’t limited to my bank account. I’m an avid budgeter*, yet I often underestimate what we’ll spend each month, assuming we can get by on less. I’m equally bad at budgeting my time, convinced I will accomplish more in an hour, a day, or a week than is probably humanly possible.
For example, I swore I would send a draft of my finished novel-in-progress to my first readers by the end of August. I circled the date on my calendar, warned them it was coming, and diligently sat down every morning to work. Yet August came and went, and the book remained undone. I moved my self-imposed due date to September, then missed that one, too. October told the same story. Now I’m hoping I’ll be done by the end of the year, but I’m not holding my breath. Better yet: I’m letting it go.
As it turns out, missing all those arbitrary due dates taught me something important. When it comes to budgeting, money is finite. You have a number. Blow past it and your card is declined, your credit score takes a hit, your voicemail teems with increasingly demanding debt collectors.
Creativity, on the other hand, is infinite. There’s no limit to what you can spend, no reason to cut corners or rush the process. The more time you take to make or build or imagine, to invest in your ideas and abilities, the more valuable they become.
Recently, I joined Trunk Club*, a Nordstrom subscription service that sends you a curated box of clothing as often as you’d like. My latest trunk included a pair of brown boots, which I specifically requested. I desperately needed a pair of real shoes, an investment piece that would last seasons.
The shoes arrived, and because I’m me, I looked at the price tag first: $210. “Hell, no,” I thought. There’s no way I’m spending that much money a single pair of boots!
Then I put them on. They were beautiful, comfortable, exactly what I wanted, exactly what I needed. They cost $210, I realized, because that’s what they’re worth. I bought them and I regret nothing.
And so, the next time I find myself growing impatient, questioning whether I’m spending too much time on a single project, worrying I can’t afford to make mistakes, I’ll remember that when it comes to writing, there’s no better way to spend my time.
Your art is worth it, and so are you.
* Those are referral links, because even though I’m trying to be less of an under-buyer, I still love free money.
Snack of the Week
This past week my husband and I celebrated our nine-year wedding anniversary and nineteen-year dating anniversary (we got married on our ten-year anniversary!). A love that long deserves a fancy dinner, which we enjoyed at The Green House, a local, brand new, all vegan, fine dining restaurant.
For my entree, I splurged on the artichoke flower—grilled split artichoke, on a bed of creamy Carolina gold rice, topped with walnut, parsley, and mint gremolata and finished with a drizzle of lemon-garlic glaze—and ate every delicious bite. A worthy celebration.
What’s your Creative Type? Last week everyone on my team at work took this fun quiz to learn our creative personalities. According to my results, I’m The Innovator: “You feel the most yourself when you’re using your intellectual and creative powers to solve problems and dream up new and improved ways of doing things. Your attention is largely focused on the world around you, and you’re constantly probing its structures and systems to find ways to push things forward.” Take the quiz and let me know your type! 🎨
‘In This House’ Yard Signs, and Their Curious Power, New York Times. “Listing all the social-justice slogans together nods to a careful effort at inclusivity, but it also diffuses the sign owner’s perceived responsibility to engage in any particular movement. The kicker, ‘Kindness Is Everything,’ assures the owner that the real key to change lies within.” ✌️
A North Carolina City Begins to Reckon with the Massacre in its White Supremacist Past, NPR. I live in Wilmington, the city at the center of this story, and over the last ten years I’ve witnessed the legacy of 1898 come out of the darkness and into the light. A worthy, if painful, endeavor. 💛
How About Never? The Atlantic. “What if, instead of urging women and girls to lean in, or subscribing to the idea that we can (or should) have it all, we practiced the idea of ‘Enough already’ or ‘Nah, I’m good’ or ‘Thanks, but no thanks?’” 🚫
Bonus link: this issue of Agents and Books, which is full of good tips:
* NYT gift link—no subscription needed, and clicking won’t count toward your free articles!
Thank you to longtime supporter Sarah K. for yet another cup of coffee! Thanks also to Stephanie T. and the fine folks at Longleaf Review, who sent some support after using my writing exercise at a recent event. I truly have the best readers!
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