Creativity + The End of Rookie

5 Jan

Image via Rookie, of course


Rookie closed down last year.

Rookie as in Tavi Gevinson’s creative project. Rookie as in “look, art can exist on the internet!”

It’s a sad time for the internet.

For me.

I read Tavi’s final letter in its entirety the morning she published it. All six pages. I’ve always loved her words, her insight, her honesty. How is she 22?

Rob asked me if she was a genius and I stopped for a second.

Yeah, I said. I guess she is.

Man Repeller analyzed the ending of Rookie in its typical cerebral way.

I appreciate it and I also wonder who talks like that.

I’m surrounded by intelligent, thoughtful people!

This is another level.

My takeaway from the analysis was that Leandra (the founder of Man Repeller) derives pleasure from the internet game.

She gets that it’s a game, and yet, at her core she wants to make the game meaningful.

She doesn’t give it all up and just sell products to her followers. She wants to create community. To take what could be clickbait and make it human.

She says:

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if there was no Man Repeller, and in many ways it would be much easier, and in the short term probably more financially lucrative because I’d have more time to earn those influencer dollarz.

But what enables me to get out of bed every morning and say bye to my kids is this deep-rooted recognition that as our lives become more digitized and further isolating, and as my heart breaks over and over again watching things that I don’t care about anymore — like fluctuating traffic or a diminishing interest in “time on site,” I actually have the power to fix it by pushing our work forward. Truly connecting people. Inspiring them. Making them feel good and hopeful in a world that is largely driven by fear — fear of being irrelevant, uncool, alone.

It’s an admirable cause and I salute her.

And yet.

I am Tavi.

At the end of it all, Tavi saw Rookie as her art project. She didn’t want to play the game, and the internet requires you play the game.

I don’t want to play the game.

I get stressed out sometimes thinking I should want to play the game! Wondering if I should worry about followers or boosting or clicks. How to convert it all into something.

But I hate the game.

I’ve tried to play it and I’m terrible at it.

The game is all stress and pressure to me.

The game is no fun.

There’s a part in Big Magic where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about a woman who takes up ice skating in her middle age, not because she’s ever going to be a professional ice skater, but because it brings her joy.

There’s this strange thing that happens when you’ve pursued a creative path for your career.

That suddenly the only “success,” the only thing that counts is if you become a professional.

This becomes your full-time job.

The success of skating in your middle age just because is lost.

That’s been my big takeaway from the Great Therapy Writing Challenge.

I’ve been writing every day just because. Not to try to propel a goal, but writing as some people go to the gym. For my brain.

And as I’ve done so, my whole life has been filled with creativity.

I am making homemade cards for Christmas. Cards with individualized drawings and vintage stamps.

I did Gilmore Girls Week on Mormons in Media, a true delight.

I am spinning and buzzing and excited and it’s all because creativity, that’s what counts to me.

This is all my arts and crafts project.

I LIVE for an arts and crafts project.

I want my life to be one big, messy, delicious one.

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert recently. In the program for her talk, there’s a little message from the author.

I think it about sums it all up.

Or something close to all of it.

She says:

Sometimes I wonder why I care so much. What does it matter to me if people are making art or not? Who cares whether anyone out there is writing novels, or learning new languages, or dancing or singing or growing or transforming?

Well, in the end, I think it comes down to this: we appear to be living in a universe that is constantly creating and recreating itself. The evidence for this is literally everywhere. Nature is always changing from one form to another. All you need to do is look in a telescope and you can see galaxies being born. Look in a microscope and you’ll see bacteria evolving and adapting right before your eyes.

The whole thing reeks of a giant cosmic arts-and-crafts project — an infinite, ever-unfolding experient in constant creative response. It appears to me that energy only wants one thing: to create. And you, of course, are made of energy. So start creating! Because once you start creating, you will step into alignment with the direction that the entire universe is heading. You will be in the flow of life itself. And that will make you happy. That will make you healthy. That will make you beong.

That’s why creativity matters so much to me–because i want a healthy belonging for myself, and I want it for you too.

I was talking to a friend recently about all of this.

About Tavi and Leandra and Elizabeth.

About creativity and the internet.

She asked me where this left me. This knowledge that I’m a Tavi. That I don’t want to play the game. The internet game. 

I said:

I think that leaves me here.

PS: Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness taking up figure skating for the pure joy and drama of it is so very, very Big Magic

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