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Ylla, and the realization of death

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Today I’m talking about a book I got at the library book sale by Ylla, a photographer who lived from 1911-1955, who I had never heard of.

As I researched her more, I kept feeling like, “should I have heard of her?” or “have I heard of her?” I mean, she did photos for a book written by Margaret Wise Brown! She wrote children’s books! She’s clearly a legend!

It’s certainly possible that all of you will feel compelled to comment and tell me that you’ve known about Ylla for decades.

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It’s such an internet-age thing, right, this feeling that we should know everything? I mean, it’s all right there, on the internet for us to find. That’s so exhausting.

Instead I’ll accept that the things I’m meant to know about will come to me when they’re supposed to, and I won’t feel bad for not knowing about something.

Needless to say, I am now an Ylla fan. You can read about her life here and here, and see some of her photos at the Holden Luntz Gallery (or by googling).

I’m inspired by all of the art she put into the world, during the short time she was making art. I want to write, I want to create stories and essays and make people laugh and cry. I want to do other things too, sure, but I will tell you all here, since you’re my friends, that I am really driven to leave books behind. I have so many books to write! Something I know is that the way to write them is to write them (and not to stare at a social media feed). And while I’ll give myself space to give books and ideas the time they need, it’s also really important to me to actually write them, and to finish them. I do still get in my way. I distract myself. But reading about Ylla has lit a fire. Who knows how long we’ll all be here? I want to make good art in the time I have on the planet.


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