More Is More: Towards a Positive-Sum Creative Community


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about success, and access, and how we talk about them.

In creative fields, we like to believe that merit is the main path to success. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that even with merit, success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

I work hard, and I’m very good at what I do. In some ways I’m pretty self-made. But I have also been lucky enough to have more successful and experienced friends and mentors who shared their resources and platforms with me; and who taught me to do the same.

Those hands up and open doors have made a universe of difference. And the most important lesson I’ve gotten from them is that creative economy is–or should be–positive sum. The more people we make room for, the more room we make, and the stronger we become.

As an industry and community, we benefit tremendously from welcoming new generations and talents into our circles; from sharing our resources; from collaborating and allying with our peers; from supporting and mentoring youth and newcomers.

Did you work long and hard to get where you are? Be a cartographer, not a gatekeeper.What you have the power to do is a huge gift, and a critical responsibility.


I See Your Value Now: Asperger’s and the Art of Allegory

(This essay was originally published March 25, 2014. The version below includes several minor corrections and updates.)

I’m in my therapist’s office, talking about friendship. I’ve been struggling with emotional intimacy and honesty—my whole life, actually, but it’s caused some more acute problems recently, which is why I’m back here now. In more practical terms, I’m here because my therapist is willing to schedule appointments via e-mail.

Last week we talked about how hard it is for me to articulate emotions, and how much I obsess over precision of language, and how closely that’s linked to how scared I am of miscommunication, of lying by the sheer act of trying to name something so personal and subjective and dependent on factors more complicated than any sentence or word or idiom can ever convey.

I’m a professional writer.

The irony is not lost on me.

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Twelve Letters to James Van Der Beek as Portrayed by James Van Der Beek on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23

(This short story originally appeared in Strumming My Lady Harp: A Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 Zine.)


Dear James,

(May I call you James?)

Somewhere, there is a real man named James Van Der Beek. You have his face, but I will never understand him the way I understand you, nor would I want to.


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A Beginner’s Guide to Corporeal Cartography


17th century anatomical illustration by Adriaan van de Spiegel and Giulio Casseri

“Want to hear something super weird?” I asked my husband, over the phone. “I have no idea where my nipples are.”

My chest is cocooned in bandages tight and thick enough to conceal topography even from touch. Drains snake out either side. Below, the surface is a mystery, an alien landscape unsurveyed.

I’m three thousand miles from home, sleeping in a recliner in my parents’ living room while I recover from what’s popularly known as top surgery–female-to-male chest reconstruction. That I’m staying at my parents’ house extends my sense of limbo beyond the boundaries of my own body. Like me, the house has been cut and respliced from the shape I know best, my childhood bedroom long since lost to a cracked foundation.

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