San Francisco, California

Impress Yourself

She once texted me from a train. "I am enjoying my own company, giggling to myself," she said.

O was not a good person, but she was dazzling. Because in those rare moments in which she loved herself it was impossible not to agree with her. And I saw that happen many times; strangers buckling at the knees because of all that explosive energy. The way she'd move, the way she'd hop from one subject or language to the next. The way she'd know the cross streets of a random city or the political party of some Eastern European country, or somehow have memorized a 14th century French poem, or the way she could utterly destroy someone's ideas and yet leave them charmed and smiling as they left her.

I often play this game with my brother, Crick, when we're bored: what are all the important things that school never taught us? Mostly we end up listing social things like how to reply to an email, how to shake someone's hand, how to look them in the eye and nod. But sometimes they're parlor game stuff: I'd like to be able to remember every joke in the world, etc. And O was like the culmination of everything my brother and I dreamed of becoming. Socially electric, like George Clooney on handsome steroids, with all those social ticks and awkward pauses ironed out. A neutron bomb of confidence.

I guess my real point here is that when O loved herself, she loved the world around her with every minute detail. A handshake. A giggle. A book. A shadow on a beach.

That type of energy is certainly much rarer for me. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that, I don't hide much. In order to lug myself into that place where I adore myself though requires a mountain of effort, and it only lasts so long. Half a day at the most. Then it all comes crashing down around me.

With Adventures I wanted only to bottle the moments where I'm an endless fount of love for myself. But I'm starting to think it's a requirement for good writing, and not just for making a newsletter about fonts, or, you know, being happy in life. Or whatever.

The words and jokes and sentences only click when I'm sitting right, when all the planets are aligned in my garden, when I truly love myself.

There are exceptions, sure.

But I'm starting to think that the goal of any writer should be to charm themselves silly. Don't impress your friends and certainly don't try to impress me. Impress yourself.

You will never hear me say this in any other context, but we must all aspire to be like O on that train, hurtling through a valley in the middle of absolute nowhere, but in complete childish love with ourselves, open arms in adoration and the deepest sense of repose, of confidence.

You can tell when writers are really enjoying themselves. When they're hiding that wry smile, the one you can only sense at the very edge of the page. It's the hero about to be murdered, the twist about to be turned.

And they're having a hell of a time.

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