The 2,000-Word Essays Will Have to Wait

Close-up photo of a leafy plant in front of a window with a tiny light-coloured flower blossoming from its stem. Green filter over image.

There are days when I can write a 2,000-word essay in one sitting, no problem, and then there are days when I struggle to get a single coherent sentence out.

Welcome to being a writer. This shit’s hard.

I can’t compare the good days to the bad ones. Expecting myself to write a 2,000-word essay before I’ve put down a single sentence will prevent me from being able to write anything at all.

Take this morning, for example. I’m tired. I just moved to a new city and am having some significant challenges with my living situation. I’m stressed about money, getting a job, and finding a roommate. Because I’m unemployed, I expected this to be a prolific writing period for me, but the stress of figuring out my situation has been interfering with that. I’m managing to get these sentences out, but the masterful and profound 2,000-word essays will have to wait.

And that’s fine. I can only do what I can do.

This is also the first time that I’ve sat down to write in over a week because of how life got in the way. I normally write at least three times a week. Coming back to the page after a dry spell is tough. I no longer have a routine. The words don’t flow as easily. They’re buried deeper inside. It’s more work to reach in and pull them out, and when I do, there’s more gunk on them to clean off, but hey, at least I’m writing.

My expectations for myself as a writer often don’t align with reality, so I make do with what I have. I always give it my best. Sometimes, my best is 2,000 words, and sometimes, it’s just two.

A Good Life

Photo of a street shot at night with snow coming down that is lit up by the streetlights on either side. There are some cars parked along the road. There are many lit-up storefronts. Yellow filter over image. White text in the centre reads, "A Good Life".

A good life involves at least a little wandering. A good life involves at least a lot of questioning. A good life involves not always knowing where to go or who to be. A good life involves motion and stillness in unequal parts. A good life involves a mix of hard reality and playful fantasy.

A good life involves a healthy dose of rejection from yourself and others. Rejecting what you’ve been taught. Rejecting the idea that there’s only one way to live. Being rejected and moving past it. Learning to be rejected and loved at the same time.

A good life also involves embrace. Embracing yourself and others. Allowing yourself to be embraced. Embracing the unknown. Embracing ambivalence. Embracing rejection.

A good life involves figuring out what makes you fall in love and doing it over and over again. A good life involves falling in love with people, art, activities, communities, or ideas again and again. A good life involves the pursuit of love in all its forms.

Of course, what a good life involves varies from person to person. There are universal aspects to the making of a good life, but we all add our own tweaks. And while I may be living a good life only some of the time, importantly, I am learning what a good life means to me.

Your Art Does Not Define You

Photo of a ceiling with a hanging lamp on it and the top half of Sage's face shot from below in the bottom left corner. Blue filter over image. White text in the centre reads, "Your art does not define you." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

Your art does not define you.

I have created pieces that no longer resonate with me.

I have made arguments in essays that I no longer agree with.

I have forgotten the meaning behind some of my poems.

I have created something one moment and felt perplexed by it the next.

This used to frighten me. I used to feel like I had to erase, undo, and delete my old creations. I would see something I made that no longer reflected who I was, feel disturbed by its existence, and want to tear it up in response.

I think this is because I felt like my art had to represent me as a person, but it doesn’t.

Our creations exist in their own right. They are not extensions of us. They do not tell the world about who we are today. They do not capture all of our complexity. They stand by themselves—the product of the past, the product of a moment, the product of a part of who we were then.

I have learned to respect my old creations, these misrepresentations of my present-day self. They still make me uneasy, but I no longer rush to unmake them. I believe they have the right to exist, but that they do not define me. My past work cannot define me, only the parts and pieces of who I once was.

If someone decides that an essay or poem of mine from years ago represents who I am today, that’s more about how they’re choosing to see me rather than the truth of who I am. I do not have to conform to these old versions of me, my old ways of being. I do not have to be the person who created that art then. I can only be who I am now.

I do not have to fear the past selves, pieces of whom can be found in my past art. I can learn to live with them. I can learn to let them live in the world. They do not define me, and I do not have to define them out of existence.

Life Isn’t That Serious, Revisited

Photo of the body of a stuffed long-neck dinosaur toy sitting on a ledge in front of a window. A fence with some vines on it can be seen behind the dinosaur outside of the window. Purple filter over image. White text in the centre reads, "Life Isn't That Serious / Revisited".

Content note: this piece makes mention of domestic violence and death.

I want to revisit the concept of life not being that serious.

I wrote this piece shortly after something serious happened in my life that brought up a lot of trauma and pain. I spent several long nights alone in the dark with this serious thing. The pain I felt was paired—new and fresh while also dredging up old childhood hurt.

It was serious and sad and dark, and at the same time, life went on. My friend’s dog continued to do ridiculous things for attention. I found laughter in unexpected places, like at work or with my French teacher. People kept sending me silly memes.

I thought about other difficult times in my life when, out of nowhere, something silly happened. Or something strange. Or something absurd. Right there, in the darkest of places, when a splash of light appeared. A gift from the gods, the universe, whatever your preferred term. A reminder that not everything is so deadly serious, a sign that maybe I would get through it.

I remember lying brokenhearted on the bathroom floor crying my eyes out while simultaneously aware of how silly I looked, like a toddler having a temper tantrum in the checkout line of a grocery store. We never really grow up, do we? I was so sad I could barely stand but was also having an out-of-body experience where I could see myself from an outsider’s perspective, and I looked totally ridiculous.

I remember being at my grandmother’s side facing the rawness and relentlessness of her death, the loss happening slowly before my eyes. It was ruthless, and yet I said goodbye to her surrounded by friends and family, our shared memories, and moments of lightness and laughter. Remember when Nanny and Poppa used to …?

I remember using a hat and a change of clothes to hide from his rampage in the lobby of a hotel. Perched on one of the couches, I watched him scream and throw his keycard at an employee. I tried to use the hat to cover my face while I sat there shaking with fear, feeling like a detective in a cheesy mystery movie, my “disguise” working because of his lack of awareness more than anything.

These moments with touches of humour, silliness, or absurdity are what I’m talking about when I say that life isn’t that serious: because even when it’s incredibly fucking serious, there are these little reminders that it also isn’t somehow. These moments have helped me survive the seriousness. Allowing the light to touch these dark places has helped to guide me out.

Also, when I get too serious about myself and my life, I swear that the gods start laughing at me. I believe they throw up roadblocks, ridiculous situations, and funny moments to mess with me and remind me that life can be serious, yes, but not that serious, that life is often also absurd.

The Wild (Mis)Adventures of a Queer Kinkster

Today, I am releasing a brand new zine! Details are below.

Photo of Sage's back and butt. They are wearing a long sleeve shirt, lacey black thong, garter belt, and holding a crop over their left cheek. Pink filter over image. White text aligned left along the bottom half of the image reads, "The Wild (Mis)Adventures of a Queer Kinkster". Below this and aligned right, white text reads, "Volume One".

The Wild (Mis)Adventures of a Queer Kinkster is a zine about kink. Volume One is my not-so-subtle way of coming out. I’ve been writing about kink, largely privately, for years. For the most part, I’ve kept this writing to myself for fear of public reprisal. Not anymore. In this zine, I talk about the shame and stigma we kinksters face and how our kinky sides are often relegated to the shadows. I explore what turns me on. I discuss past mistakes and what I’ve learned from them. I talk about the shit I deal with in the community as a queer and non-binary person. I also tackle the subject of cancel/disposability culture and its impacts on the kink scene. Through a blend of prose and poetry, this zine grapples with non-normative sexuality, queerness, desire, pleasure, community, consent practices, mistakes, safety, and education, and is probably my most controversial to date. Enjoy.

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