And fear is a hilariously vainglorious thing. I can assure you, until you get good, no one gives a shit enough to look. If you’re already good, stay good by making risky new good. Get it out there. Good ideas are not finite. Practice. Evolve. Incur judgment, who cares? Stop festishizing output. It’s stupid.
Mary H.K. Choi
I’m the newborn who just found out about Mary H.K. Choi. Let me tell u bout reading her mom essay and biting down on my fist, feeling ecstatic and grateful and thrilled. Or this essay about having to chill with her Korean family at a cemetery.
There is nothing wrong with reading a set of Cheever’s exquisite stories and his white-haired men on their commuter trains. Or letting Didion tell you about the sound of bougainvillea leaves on the driveway. But it also feels so, so fucking divine to get to read about the Korean mother who smeared raw garlic bits on pieces of sandwich bread.
On the first day of my [writing] workshop with Angela Carter, in my sophomore year, Carter was charged with reducing the number of would-be participants in her class to fourteen. Maybe thirty people were in the room, and she simply stood before us and tried to take questions. Some young guy in the back, rather too full of himself, raised his hand and, with a sort of withering skepticism, asked, ‘Well, what’s your work like?’
You have to have heard Carter speak to know how funny the next moment was. She had a reedy and somewhat thin British voice, toward the upper end of the scale, and she paused a lot when she spoke. There were a lot of ums and ahs. Before she replied, she cocked her head and said ‘um’ once or twice. Then she said, ‘My work cuts like a steel blade at the base of a man’s penis.’