“Last week on a walk, a thought came to me. It may have been prompted in part by the short poem I wrote that was inspired by a local poet’s baguette baking, about the similarities between bread and poetry. I had the thought that maybe I am a baker kind of writer. A baker doesn’t leave behind her bread. Hopefully people ate the bread. Hopefully the bread brought nourishment and perhaps pleasure. Maybe it accompanied a meal that brought people together.
But there is no big opus of bread the baker leaves after she’d gone from this world. In this same way, I don’t know if I will “leave” any significant single work or body of work; the shelves might never be lined with books I’ve written.
In a world with far more than its share of big names, fame has never been a driver for me. And the longer I’m here, the longer I keep writing and sharing with no expectation of some magical day when something different happens, the more at peace I am with leaving behind mostly writing that was consumed in the moment, then forgotten. Or maybe occasionally remembered in the way one might recall a satisfying meal. That would be more than ok with me.
A new coaching client who has been writing with me online for years asked me the other day about my brand. I wonder how my face looked on Zoom in that moment. Brand? Huh. Not so much. I told her with a laugh that at one point when Aviva was in middle school, she told me what my brand was. “Mama,” she said earnestly, “your brand is coffee, and real life, and being short.” I laughed and laughed. Is that how that worked?
If you want to write:
F*** all the nonsense about best-sellers and brands and sales funnels and platforms and all the things you should do on social media. The world does not need more brands. The world needs more of YOU.
Write like you’re baking or making a meal for someone you love.
Write like you’re making your favorite tried-and-true recipes or write like you’re experimenting and have no idea how the thing is going to turn out.
Write like everyone is so hungry and you are making an offering, like bringing a dish to a fabulous potluck filled with ordinary people who all have extraordinary stories to share, plates filled with every kind of cuisine there is.
Write like it’s simple — flour, yeast, water, maybe a pinch of sugar or salt or honey.
Don’t worry about what it will amount to or where it’s all going or how you’ll know when you get there. You won’t, because, in the famous words of Gertrude Stein, there’s no there, there. There is always only here, and now, and this.”
by Jena Schwartz