Hi there devoted No Chill subscribers,
First, my last Times story for a little while is this one on small businesses. It’s about how small business owners are leading the battle to recall Gavin Newsom.
The Zoom class (myself included of course) can sit comfortably at home tweeting #stayhomesavelives, but the brick-and-mortar small business owners are largely screwed, and there ought to be a little more compassion — or even some basic curiosity — about what’s going on for them. In the obsession with keeping everything on five-alarm virus fire, there’s been a need to downplay the collateral damage. There is also a need to make it seem as though the Zoom class is suffering the most of all (woe be us of the Instacart). It’s just not true. And so here’s a little effort to right that:
Now why is this my last for a while? I’m going on book leave for a few months! Yes, me. You won’t believe it but I have big ambitions to be a famous big time writer. Tom Wolfe or BUST. Didion or it didn’t happen.
I’m going to write a book of essays, personal and reported, about our world today. I’ve already started, and I’m loving it. It’s hard and requires more discipline than I can typically muster, but it’s a good challenge. And it’s a good time for challenges.
I’ve been a newspaper reporter since I was 22, and I’m 32 now (old as hell! slathered in retinol but still cracking!). I love the form — I’ve also been pushing against that form in many ways. I think I know the sort of writer I can grow into, and I want to see about doing that.
There are also all the usual culture war reasons for taking joy in having a few months to myself. The New York City media exorcisms going on over the last six months? They’re distracting, and they make writers respond by being boring. They’re navel-gazing, and they make us look like fools (which we all probably are). But fundamentally I refuse to bend my copy to please a political movement. Sorry I’m not sorry, is what I say to that.
And so, book leave. Sweet book leave and the delightful opportunity to punt on everything else. A few gentle months to myself before the marching priests of Bushwick exorcise the contrarian from me.
All is well otherwise. I’m still doing my conversion blog over at Chosen By Choice. Bar’s happy and thriving on her own Substack. We’re a multi Substack family, except hers makes real money and mine don’t make any money at all (I explain to her that I’m an artist, and she’s my banker husband, but she seems resistant still). LA continues to be beautiful. The dogs are getting a haircut on Friday. I’m excited about the vaxes, all of them but Johnson & Johnson in particular.
Stick around on this email list to get updates when the book’s ready and, of course, updates along the way.
Faithfully yours, the woman who is obviously the artist, Nellie