New Year, New . . . Rapture?
On bell hooks and the privilege and joy (maybe) of writing
bell hooks (1952–2021)
If you’ve been following this newsletter for any length of time, you know that I tend to wallow in the more frustrating aspects of the creative process: the blocks and dry spells, the bouts of self-doubt and procrastination, the masochism and obsession and pervasive uncertainty. Personally, I find these stories comforting—it’s such a relief to know I’m not the only one flailing around with my work, with only the dimmest sense of forward progress.
But I want to kick off 2022 by acknowledging the other side of the coin: that making stuff can also be a joy, not to mention a tremendous privilege. These are facts I was reminded of recently through the late writer bell hooks’s 1999 book Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work, which I first picked up while researching Daily Rituals and revisited after the sad news of hooks’s death last month at age 69.
Unlike so many writer-at-work books, this one does not indulge in poor-me shenanigans. Instead, hooks professes to love writing and savor the time she spends at her desk. In fact, the “rapture” of the title is . . . writing itself (!). Here’s a representative passage, from the preface: