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Why do I still look at email?

Video 050

Hi! How are you? I recorded this video just this minute because I’m at my desk working and the book I’m working on is something I believe in so deeply but also I’m overwhelmed thinking about how much I still need to do to get it right, and when I’m flopping around on the shores of the river of inspiration, it’s you I think about, all of you, those of you who are with me on this journey of writing books and trying to make them good while, like, people unbox smoothies on TikTok.

Sometimes I feel like no one has ever had trouble writing a book before. People finish novels all the time! Everyone finishing a novel: you’re amazing. But I remember too that people don’t finish novels. Honestly, people are great at not even starting novels. So I’ll keep going. I want to be a finisher.

But what I’m thinking about these days is whether I do a lot of work where I look like I’m writing, but really I’m barely dipping my toe in. I feel like I could take a breath and tip backwards into the book, plunge in, get my head underwater, swim around. But instead I get my toes wet and wonder why the characters aren’t speaking to me.

Here are some of the things I talk about in this video:

  • I posted two things to Instagram (and these won’t be links to the Instagram posts, since I don’t want you to get sucked in):
    1. My next picture book, Help Wanted: One Rooster, got a great review from Publishers Weekly, which starts, “The Office meets Chicken Run in this workplace comedy, in which an “extremely cool and helpful sheep” reveals how a barnyard solves its productivity problem.” (I’m realizing now that this video is me talking to you about trying to solve my own productivity problem).
    2. My friend Dorson Plourde sent me a deluxe preorder pack of his debut picture book, Garbage Gulls. I first read the manuscript of this five years ago (I was Dorson’s PBChat mentor) and it has enthralled me from day one. You should pre-order it now.

  • I talk about using Freedom to turn off the internet. I recommend it.

  • The new Cal Newport book is Slow Productivity.

  • The other book I’m reading is Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. There is an amazing scene early on when Tess ends up walking around an estate with this horrible cad named Alec (he is not nice, smarmy, he thinks he’s amazing) and he tries to feed her fresh strawberries and she’s like, “oh, no thanks, I can feed myself” and he’s all, “ah, no, I’ll feed them to you” and she’s horrified and it’s awkward but she stands there while he shoves strawberries in her mouth (foreshadowing!). My other favorite scene so far is when Tess is eating a casual meal at the dairy farm where she’s working, and she sort of casually says, “You know when you’re lying on your back in the grass looking up at the stars and your soul flies out of your body and goes a hundred feet in the air?” and everyone is like, “uh, WHUT?”

  • If you want to turn off emails from Substack newsletters, you can find instructions for that here.

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If you like videos, maybe you’ll like this class. It’s only $15. The comments people are leaving on each video are lovely and encouraging, and just as much of a pep talk as the videos.

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Do the Work
Pep talks about writing and creativity, mostly while I'm walking the dog.
Julie Falatko