Write as well as you can, with as much heart as you can, whenever you can.
If you've ever agonized over the question "what am I going to be when I grow up?", then this post is for you.
Instead of asking “what is my one true calling in life?”, ask “what are the many things I would like to experience before I die?”
The Columbia University School of Journalism asked Ira Glass to speak at their commencement and gave him an award for “singular journalistic performance.”
I read Ira Glass’s rather than listening to it, and found myself highlighting a lot so I thought I’d share my favorite bits here.
You just have to get in there and make stuff and try things and push yourself hard and that’s the only way to find your way.
Glass is talking here about what to do when you’re lost and can’t figure out what you want to be doing. Multipotentialites can get paralyzed by possibilities. Perfectionists sometimes think they have to fully learn to do a thing before they can actually do it. But Glass has words that multipotentialite perfectionists (have you figured out yet that I am one?) need to hear: you learn the thing by doing it, and to find out if the thing is in fact one of your things, you have to pick it and try it.
It can take a long time to be as good as you want to be. And be kind to yourself, during that period. And work hard.
I ran into this a lot in improv, but I think it happens everywhere: you see the work of experts and are frustrated that your novice work isn’t good enough. I would watch people who had been improvising for 10, 11, 12, more years, and they would do what looked like magic, and I would think, “Why can’t I do that?” I started thinking this way when I had only been doing it for a year and a half. (Ira Glass has a great quote that expands on this idea.)
…the more idealistic your mission, the more cunning you have to employ to get people to engage with what you have to say.
This resonated with me immensely.
Everything will be better if you’re out for your own pleasure. Noticing what you’re actually truly interested in … and curious about … and making your work about that.
One of my core beliefs is that people do their best work when they care. Work you don’t care about won’t be good, no matter how important or meaningful it might be more generally. Find what lights you up right now (because it might change over time) and use that to change the world. And when it stops lighting you up, move on to the next thing.
Don’t wait. Make the stuff you want to make now. No excuses. Don’t wait for the perfect job or whatever. Don’t wait. Don’t wait. Don’t wait… Don’t wait. You have everything you need. Don’t wait.
I’m on board with modern girl culture, at least as it’s manifesting in animation and comic books. I was talking to another parent recently who said she’d been afraid to let her daughter watch My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but was pleasantly surprised by how feminist it was.
I recommended she look into DC SuperHero Girls and see if she would feel okay sharing that with her daughter, because I think it has a similar vibe.
And I need to read the “new” Jem and the Holograms comic, I know.
I love that the stories I’m seeing about girls and young women in these media place the girls at the center and let them have their own adventures. Romance tends to be sidelined. The girls are dealing with identity development and relationship building. Each of these properties has characters who are so different from each other in their interests and personalities. We’re seeing that there’s no one right way to be a girl or a woman, and I love that. The other thing I love is how they take colors and art styles that are coded feminine and use them to communicate that you don’t have to choose between strength and femininity, and that there are many different ways to be strong.
I’m sure none of them is perfect and I know that they are vehicles for selling toys, but I’m still excited about them.
I would buy that She-Ra poster and hang it on my office wall.
(By the way, DC SuperHero Girls creator Shea Fontana is going to be at ALA Annual and you can bet I’ll be at her session. DC SuperHero Girls is an incredibly accessible way to get to know the DC universe and figure out which characters appeal to you. I say this as an inveterate Marvel loyalist.)
Before I get into this post, I want to thank everyone who has sent me feedback about my speech to NAMI. I never know how these things are going to go over, and I never know if what I had in my head…
And it inspired me. I’ve been chipping away at my comprehensive examination package, a giant literature review and a milestone in my doctoral progress, slowly but slowly for a very long time. I started while I was still technically doing coursework in the fall, and spent the whole spring semester on it as well. And I expect to be done in December, because I expect it to take me as long as they will allow. (#thanksparenthood #gradstudentmomlife) But I have really been struggling to feel like I made progress.
So starting tomorrow, I’ll take a page from Wil’s book and actively blog each day about the progress I’ve made. I’ll begin with a report about my progress since August, and then add a little bit each day. I’ll be dropping all that stuff in a category called “What Kimberly Wrote” (nothing there yet). It will be everything that counts as part of my writing process, not just getting words out.
This is a (perhaps the) foundational work on young adult library services. I disagree with Edwards in a few places, mostly due to her being a product of her time. Writing before the advent of true YA literature as she did, she tends to consider books for teens as a step on the way to more mature reading, rather than an end in itself. And she also suggests that librarians shouldn’t sponsor clubs that aren’t book clubs. (She doesn’t look too highly on book clubs themselves, either.) Whereas I think there is a wide range of activities that a teen librarian can sponsor and still be within the library mission. Still, Edwards has a lot of good to offer even those of us who already have a degree in and experience with YA librarianship. Some choice gems:
- You’ve got to read books if you’re going to recommend them to teens. And you can do this by squeezing in reading in all those little moments. For myself, I’m trying to read at all the times when, for the past several years (since I got a smart phone, basically) that I would check my phone. Bye, Facebook. Hello, Stuff for the Teenage and the things you recommend.
- There are some basic tools that it’s easy to forget about in our tech-saturated world, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable: having teens recommend books to each other, giving book talks, making book lists.
- Treat teens with respect.
- Remember that in a few years, teens will be voters.
- Meet readers where they are.
- Be friendly and helpful.
- Librarians are not police officers.
- Librarians need to get out of the library and connect with the community.
- Many librarians are in the business of customer service, not technical service.
- Treat your patrons as guests at a party.
- Focus on people rather than systems.
Because even (starving) artists need to eat, I ignored my creative instincts for a very long time in order to devote myself to building a career as a professional librarian and archivist...
Today I finished reading The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts, a foundational text on young adult librarianship written by Margaret A. Edwards, the fairy godmother of YA (more on that in another post), and she suggests that in addition to doing their regular work and making plenty of time to read, librarians must have another interest: gardening, amateur theatrics, something. And here these librarians are doing that very thing
It’s interesting to me that none of them are performers, and that none of them serve children. I suspect many youth services librarians are musicians, dancers, actors, or comedians. (I’m all of these!) I would love to talk to youth services librarians about their art and its relationship to their work
Can you recommend anybody?
The full cast is set for the stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, beginning in Boston June 27.
I cried a little watching this. I adore Moulin Rouge. It shaped my aesthetic more than anything had since Beetlejuice. I saw it with W. It came out when we had been together about three years and were in that phase of our relationship that clingy homebodies like me love: early deep familiarity. There are many other beautiful phases of a romance (in my experience, there’s nothing like watching your partner parent to make you fall in love all over again), but I have an extra soft spot for that one, and Moulin Rouge as a whole and “Come What May” in particular will always hold a wistful beauty for me. Cost means I’ll wait for this one to go on tour but I am so looking forward to a soundtrack full of Broadway stars singing these songs.