Year End: On the interviews that helped me keep moving
As someone with their own rather private creative practice (writing poems), the experience of working at The Creative Independent has been both illuminating and occasionally surreal. My job here is primarily to interview creators—writers, artists, dancers, curators, musicians, and, occasionally, fellow poets, and try to glean from them what will be the most interesting and helpful things for other creative folks to hear. Listening to people discuss strategies for overcoming creative blocks and methodologies for how to balance the demands of a day job with a rigorous creative practice often presented a kind of ironic problem for me: How can I be creative when I’m so busy with making a website about how to best be creative? The answer to that conundrum was often right in front of me, lurking in the interviews that I’ve spent the past year editing and thinking about. Though I like to think that basically every interview we’ve run up to this point has given me something (often something I didn’t even know I needed), here are a few of my extra-extra favorites. These are the interviews that reminded me to keep it moving at the times when I most needed the extra nudge.
Some people are really self-confident about what they do. I lampoon confidence. It seems ridiculous to me.
Our job is to empathize with other people, to understand their story, but also to reveal ourselves
I need the space to make the things I want to without being worried and preoccupied about whether they are going to sell or not. I give classes and that gives me the money I need in order to live, but it’s also a good thing because my income isn’t totally tied up in my creativity. I want to make the things I feel like I need to make without worry about them being sellable
When I try to write a poem, I have this fantasy that the poems I write are for anyone, that anybody would like them in the right situation. Not that everybody will like them, but that anyone could like them.
If I could bring Keats back to life, I’d love to spend a day with him talking shit, but I don’t think I’d ever care to ask him when or how or why he writes, or what time of day; whether he uses an ink pen or a quill.
If you don’t read obsessively in the genre you are actually trying to write, I don’t think you can do this. You don’t have to read everything, just choose some books that are compelling for you and find out why they’re compelling. Read like a writer
Get off the internet when you can. Go outside. Embrace your own personality. Make what you want. Ignore everything. Do shit with your friends. Have fun.
It’s also amazing to discover that, after years of doing things a certain way, you can still learn something new. Your process can still change.
Creative work is still work and I understand that, but it shouldn’t feel like torture. It shouldn’t be like the job that you fucking hated when you were a teenager. Yes, it’s work but if I wanted to feel like I was in prison, I’d just go fucking work at a prison. Know what I mean?
I consider myself a dilettante, not in a negative way, but because I have interests in a lot of different things and I want to try and do them. I’m not necessarily a master of anything.
I used to really believe in the creative value of agony and I don’t really know if I can subscribe to that anymore. That old idea that if it wasn’t painful then it wasn’t meaningful.
The reality is that you do have to put yourself out there. If you’re really passionate about your work and you want people to see it, it’s sort of like that is the job you do when you’re done creating: Who can I approach with this work? Where do I want this to go?
If magic is a synonym for hope, what can you generate by using it? Maybe this is a good thing to consider for any kind of art or entertainment. What good can come of it?
It’s always been amazing to me that there are people out there who want you to be stuck, people who can’t stand it if you do what you want. You can’t fucking listen to that.
Sometimes I will pour countless hours into things that are horrible, but I don’t regret it. I believe that whatever we do there’s a kind of logic and reason to it, and something’s gained along the way. I also just like the work of making things, so that’s okay. It’s still a good time.
I need to take full responsibility for being the janitor, for taking care of myself, so that I’m in good shape, and for constantly making sure that it’s all clear. No excuses ever, for anything, and no procrastination, ever. That is being present.
I never needed a creative practice. I don’t believe in creativity. I just do things. I grew up on a farm where we made things, grew things. They just grow and you plant the seeds and then they grow. I just keep making things, doing things. Has nothing to do with creativity. I don’t need creativity.
Without our history, we are lost. It’s about knowing that there’s a precedent for your existence and your survival. How else would you know that you exist? I think that we are so much stronger in the world if we understand where we’re coming from and the legacies we’re a part of.
You had to start at the bottom, but you realized very swiftly that all the gear in the world, all the TVs in the world, all the cars in the world, all the property in the world, all the stuff in the world…it didn’t matter. As long as you have good ideas, you don’t fucking need anything.
I think visibility is important… To say I’m queer or to let people know, “Hey, by the way I’m a fucking faggot, so don’t talk like that,” is really powerful and necessary.
T. COLE RACHEL is a writer, teacher and ceramic cat collector who lives in Brooklyn. He creates poems, essays, and all manner of culture-related journalism. His work has appeared in Interview, The FADER, Pitchfork, V Magazine, Interview, and The New York Times Magazine among others. He teaches a recurring poetry workshop, Poetry & Photography, via the Camera Club of NYC. His books include Surviving the Moment of Impact and Bend Don’t Shatter. He is currently Senior Editor at The Creative Independent.