My Favorite Word to Say is No

Instead of recapping beauty news right now I want to just share nice things with you. I am sure you will understand. I’ve been thinking more about other forms of beauty: poetry and performance and dance. I’ve been interviewing dancers for an upcoming piece so it’s not really a surprise, but you’ll see the result of those conversations soon enough. In the mean time, here is a poem I keep revisiting: Elegy With My Mother’s Lipstick. I have also

I also did an interview with Junior High LA that was very fun! Rhiannon is one of my first readers and it is always a pleasure to speak to someone who knows your work intimately. Sabine Ostinvil took really fun photos as well. An excerpt is below, with some bonus content.

RM: You might reach across the country and strangle me for asking, but how can you tell when a piece of writing is done? 

AS: I don't know, I'll let you know when I find out! [Laughs] When it comes to finishing something, one of the reasons I really like writing books is just that you have more time. It lets you get closer to finishing things, or at least see how it could further evolve. So that’s something that matters to me, to know that there’s a sense of growth. It’s not just a deadline, it’s something that requires you to actually give a fuck, but you end up growing when you actually spend time returning to something over and over again. I think people that find ways to make time or refuse timelines, that stuff is really important. It’s as important as showing people your work or getting it out there. It’s being able to sit with something difficult and letting it transform you. 

RM: I love and appreciate that so much. Is it Prince who has hundreds of unreleased songs? 

AS: Yeah, I mean I'm sure he has more than hundreds. I think his estate is releasing a lot of them now. Prince, Beyoncé; they have huge archives. And I’m so grateful that Beyoncé releases her documentaries. She's pretty transparent about having a village work with her on these ideas, and having these song camps, and you can find her demos pretty easily online. Whenever I've done writing retreats with my friends, there’s always some moment where all we do is listen to demos and finished songs and compare them. And workshop why choices were made, and analyze the biography of the song. Because that’s also analyzing structure and writing, just doing that with music.

RM: That is such a good prompt. 

AS: It makes such a good exercise, and if you haven’t done it you totally should. You go in with the same writing, the same lyrics, but you may be coming from a different place emotionally, and then you see the halfway point when a new producer comes in and pushes one thing forward, one thing back. Revisions! And then at the end, you hear the finished thing, and you’re like, “Oh that’s what editing is. She grew up.”

Here’s a demo and a finished song for you to compare and chew on:

Compare that with the finished track, below:

If you want more reading on music and revision, I’ve been really enjoying Hanif’s A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. I love all of his writing, he teaches me so much about being a writer but also a person in a community.

I’ve also been enjoying revisiting these particular essays:

And listening to Ocean on Talk Easy:

OK! Sorry there’s no new beauty breakdowns for you this week - but it feels important to me to share honestly and not pressure myself too much. I’m working on a few things for you all at the moment, they’re just not ready yet. For now, I have questions for you!

  1. What was the first beauty product you ever bought? (Or stole. You can just email me that answer LOL) I’m curious what you did with it. For me, I bought BareMinerals foundation. It looked terrible. I feel like so many people’s first products was actually BareMinerals? Why was that?

  2. What is one thing you’re really excited to do post-vaccination, and have you done it already?

  3. Do you have a favorite demo version of a song?

Talk soon,

Arabelle