Seeking Creative Community

Today I took myself out to breakfast at an awesome local cafe. I’m still there as I write this. Billie Freaking Holliday is playing. How awesome is that? There’s a guy with a French accent at the next table, and the space is dotted with antique Mason jars (we’re in Brooklyn, after all), shabby-chic furniture, mirrors… I just ate the most delicious bowl of oatmeal with cranberries, and now I’m sipping my goji berry green tea, and I feel like a million bucks.

An hour ago, I was slopping through the rain under a big poncho, pushing my daughter’s stroller through puddles and careening up over gaps and drops in the sidewalk. As I pushed the stroller with one hand, I held my umbrella with the other, and tried to chat with her as she modulated between happy sounds — delighted sounds, as if this rain on this morning was the most wonderful thing she’d ever seen — and sounds of discomfort and dismay. I couldn’t tell if she was just trying those sounds on for size, or if she was really feeling moments of frustration mixed in with the wonder.

By the time I got to daycare, I was a sweaty mess, with low blood sugar to boot. 

I’m still sweaty, but my belly is full and my sanity restored. (Lucky me.) Now the music has shifted to something that sounds like Django Rhinehardt, and the background hum of other people’s conversations is comforting. I need to get out more. I spend far too much time in our apartment. I work there all day, and then my big outing is to go pick up Alison at daycare (this morning was unusual – Jordan usually does morning drop-off). Then it’s back home, where I put Alison to bed, eat dinner and settle in, usually, for a productive evening — making Mother’s Day gifts, this week, for my mother and mother-in-law, or blogging, or answering personal email, or reviewing a friend’s manuscript. Maybe I’ll pump a little breast milk if I’m feeling crazy.

I’m feeling crazy.

This is no way to live. I gotta get out. I’m surrounded by a splendiforous city full of cafes like this one, nooks and crannies where creative people like me are pouring their hearts and souls into laptops… like me. Where there is conversation nearby, like a comforting balm, reminding you of human connection. Jesus I sound lonely.

I guess I am.


This week I met a friend of a friend, an awesome, warm, animated guy who’s funny and smart and a writer like me. (He’s about to become a dad!) He was offering all these suggestions for how I should be promoting my book and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. First of all, he got it. He got how you need to find ways to get people interested in your work so you can make more of it, and how this takes almost as much energy (or more, maybe?) as creating the work itself. Second, he seemed to genuinely want to help. It is so tiring, promoting your own shit. “Please, sir, won’t you buy my book?” For someone else to step in and say, “Ok, here are three marketable qualities I see in you that you may not see in yourself, now go kick some ass” — it was energizing. And it made me realize that I do a lot of that kind of cheerleading and proactive helping for other people in my life, but I don’t feel like I get a lot in return, unless I ask. 

Amanda Fucking Palmer thinks there’s beauty in an artist asking for help . There can be. But what about the pain of asking, and not receiving? 

So I’m asking a lot these days, and it’s tiring. My new friend thinks I should get a literary agent — someone to ask for me. That sounds good. I’d like to take a load off. 

Creative community, that’s what I miss, and that’s what I got a taste of this week — first with my new friend, and then later when I reconnected with an old friend, and we fell into an energetic brainstorming session about each other’s various projects and possibilities.

And that’s what this cafe represents — community — even if I’m among strangers. There’s a feeling of “we’re all in this together” — “this” being life… 

My moods are up and down, just like Ali’s. Or hers are up and down, just like mine. Bliss and wonder at the beauty of a moment, right on the heels of stress and despair — then back to bliss. Riding the storm.

It’s better not to ride alone.


A few postscripts to what feels like a pretty downer post:

  • I do actually leave the house sometimes :). It’s just been a particularly “inside” kind of week. 
  • I’m wondering about joining a coworking space. I’d love to be surrounded by other people who are balancing paid work with various creative projects. It shouldn’t be that hard in Brooklyn. Any personal experiences, tips or recommendations?



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