Return of the Blog: Anxiety as Self-Censorship, Zines, and Art-Making as Self-Care

This is my first blog back after a bit of a hiatus. In fact, it’s my first blog of the new year! I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection the past few weeks and, in particular, thinking about the agreement “share your learning on your blog” – the ways in which I’ve done that successfully, the places my self-doubt is holding me back from sharing, and deschooling the expectation that all the writing I share with the world must be perfect. Today I’d like to start with a (brief) explanation and reflection on my recent digital silence, and then get into some of the work/play/art-making I’ve been doing in the meat-space in the last month. Finally, I’ve got a recommendation for anyone else who’s also thinking about this.

Last time in blog-land: Star Wars recap/general feels outpouring. Since then we saw The Last Jedi (you can check out Doug’s reaction vid here) and I had SO many feelings about it I felt like I needed to process fully before I could write anything. That block took up a huge part of my brain-space, both over break and since. I felt guilt about not modeling consistency in my blogging on top of feeling lowkey anxious about not completing my Star Wars series (I definitely get anxious when I leave things unfinished, though that doesn’t always result in me finishing them…). Part of my writer’s block was my scholar-brain wanting more information (a.k.a. wanting to re-watch the movie) before I talked about my opinions, but part of it was definitely the schooling/deschooling I’m doing around my writing: I feel like I can’t share a writing until it is “finished,” even though I know that no one is judging what I write here and, either way, most writing is never really finished.

Despite all that, I’m not going to write about Star Wars today. Ha!

Recently, I’ve gotten really excited about the idea of zine-making. For those who have never heard of zines (a.k.a. most people) they are, simply, DIY magazines about whatever you want! The content can include original drawing, collages, photographs, poetry, letters, instruction manuals, or unstructured ramblings; they might be produced by one person or by many in collaboration. Zines are a broad and inclusive medium for verbal and visual art-making, defined only by their do-it-yourself aesthetic and cheap production value. And they are SO COOL.

Yesterday, a group of teens and I went to the Barnard Zine Library, where we browsed through a wide variety of awesome zines to get inspiration for our own work. I’m really feeling inspired, which is why I’m definitely not stressing about my “missing” Star Wars blog post; I plan to make a “Feminist’s Guide to Star Wars” zine and produce it before the end of the school year!

(Writing that goal makes me want to immediately erase the sentence/blog post/this entire blog. I am leaving it, and this reflection, up in the hopes that making my thinking public will hold me accountable.)

I’ve also been working on a Deschooling Zine. Some pics!

[pictures will get added when I take them]

I’m not sure which zine I want to work on publishing first, and I’m not worrying about it. Part of my intention with choosing a medium that is by nature super broad is to break the pattern of “this isn’t perfect therefore I must agonize over it instead of sharing it.” Stay tuned.

On a final note, I want to recommend an incredible podcast about deschooling and art-making as self-care from Anthony Galloway (@tonyg) at Heartwood ALC. I always enjoy his appearances on Fare of the Free Child, but this week in particular he talked about not making time for himself to make art because it doesn’t feel “productive” and I wanted to shout with epiphany on the subway – it felt like he finally articulated the thing I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around for weeks! It’s a particularly awesome episode of an awesome podcast and I highly recommend it to all artists (a.k.a. all humans) who are deschooling that part of themselves.

Bonus track: Be an Artist Right Now!

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Mel

Mel Compo is an interdisciplinary artist, playworker, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city adventuring, and open conversation about language, bodies, gender, networks, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth. Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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