I've recently become a creative non-fiction & fiction reader for Exposition Review, a journal based out of LA. We had our first reading meeting for the upcoming issue, Flux, last week - and I loved it. We sat quietly on Zoom and read through the slush pile together. And then we talked about our favourite books. I feel lucky to be a part of this team.
There was a time (not too long ago) when seeing other people's creative work made me feel fearful and anxious. But nowadays, it mostly fills me with joy. I suspect that this change has something to do with me realising, deep down inside, what kind of art I want to make, and why. Knowing who I am - and feeling secure in the shape of the work that will, naturally, result from my own life experiences and personality - means that I don't have to feel threatened by other people's expressiveness anymore. Nowadays, I feel energised when I can witness the things that other people are writing, drawing, building, and making. And for the first time in my life, I've also started seeking out friends & groups who can give me this feeling - of power and connection. I'm trying to work around my pride, and ask people who I admire out for coffee. I ask, What are you making? and genuinely want to know the answer. I try to find out if there are things that I can learn from their journeys, and their relationships with creativity. I've also (and this is far harder for me, for personal reasons) started saying no when I can sense that the dynamic of a relationship is twisted in some way, and actively inhibits my access to the thing I want most - i.e. to receive what I need and want for my own life and practice, not only provide implicit psychological service to others.
It took me a lot to get here! And it feels good to be in this space - as both a writer and, more generally, as a human being who feels empowered enough to choose their own community.
Beyond all that - if you write at all, then I encourage you: consider submitting to Exposition Review! I applied to be a reader for them because I read this essay ('How to Survive a Genocide', by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman) from one of their previous issues, and felt an immediate pull. The work that comes into this journal gets treated with so much respect and care - and I feel that it shows. I'm excited to be helping to put the new issue together.