An “exposed investment in someone else’s truth.” What an insightful, generous, weighty way to think about the responsibility of the anthropologist. These are Sienna Craig’s words from her essay On Unreliable Narrators. So much of what she wrote resonated for me. Thinking about how people try to reliably narrate an unreliable world. About the vulnerability of unreliability. Or the contagion properties of the unreliable, of how the category or label can move through a group, set in motion truths of a fiercely certain sort. And, of course, of the anthropologist as narrator, reliable or not?
Here we are at the end of Week 4. Almost half-way through and moving, it seems, at warp speed. Is your writing keeping up? Are you energized at the moment or in a rut? Those in need of inspiration, flash back to Kirin Narayan’s interview, to perhaps the suggestion to listen to and honor your own creativity. Re-read Gina Athena Ulysse’s essay, and grant yourself the permission to be OK with getting stuck:
Decades ago, I realized that I am not a linear writer, but more of a quilt maker. I am content when I produce chunks. I have also learned to not berate myself if I can’t come up with anything. There are works by certain poets and art books near my desk (or in the moveable studio bag), which I need and reach for when words are not whirling out of my head as I face the screen. As long as I am present in the space and in conversation with artists or even in silence, I now consider myself writing.
Productivity is not just putting words on the page. That is important. That is huge. But it is only part of the writing process. How did your writing go this week?