The #BigPayback, an annual day of giving to Middle Tennessee nonprofits, is coming up MAY 3. In a time when local funding of the arts is more crucial than ever, we hope to see lots of #Nashville love through donations of just $10 or more. Please consider giving what you can on May 3! Also, mark your calendar to JOIN US on the big day, May 3, for a Porch People Potluck, from 5 to 7 pm at the Refinery Nashville. A Big Payback donation to the Porch on that day of $10 or more gets you into the party. We'll have free beer, snacks, a raffle, giveaways, and more. Full details coming soon!
We all know that it's PEOPLE who make The Porch great—so, to get amped for the Big Payback, we’re celebrating some of our #PorchPeople. Today, we're featuring Sara Estes, a writer and editor in Nashville, whose writing has been featured in The Bitter Southerner, Hyperallergic, Oxford American, BookPage, Burnaway, Number, Chapter 16, Empty Mirror, Waxing and Waning, The Tennessean, Nashville Scene, and others.
In six words, describe your writing, or you as a writer:
For each success, a thousand failures.
My favorite thing about the Porch is...
that in workshops, I never feel pressured. I can be as introverted or extroverted as I please and it’s fine. In other words, it’s a safe and encouraging environment in which to work, learn, and develop ideas.
Also, it’s always funny how, in the longer workshops, we students can initially be very shy about sharing our work, yet by the last class, there’s this sense of freedom and we’re spilling our guts out to each other on the page. A certain kind of trust is built over the course of the workshops, between the students. It’s a rare and important thing for many writers, I think.
Faulkner or Hemingway?
Where can we read some of your writing online? My recent essay Good Luck, Morons: Lazarus Lake and His Impossible Race in The Bitter Southerner.
Best/worst thing that's ever happened to you on a porch:
Well, I have a terrible fear of june bugs, so late-night, lit-up summer porches are always nightmarish scenes for me. Also, I once caught a burglar crawling out the front window of my house while standing on the porch!
A favorite quote about writing/books:
There’s a quote from Ira Glass—it’s been meme-ified and instagrammed a thousand times over—but I turn to it again and again when I’m struggling or feeling defeated/unsatisfied with my work:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Why should The Porch get lots of love during the Big Payback?
It’s the only place in town that truly helps writers develop a platform and work on their craft without the pressure of a program.
The Porch has done more to foster the writing community in Nashville than any other organization. It helps people become better versions of themselves. How? Because writing has so much to do with introspection, compassion, and self-knowledge: to teach these things, to nurture them in other people, is to build a better, more compassionate, more reflective community. Whether you are a seasoned writer or an absolute novice, learning how to tap into and express one’s inner world, learning how to access your deeper self, is an act of love and a gesture towards our shared humanity. Plus, the workshops are actually affordable!
What are you going to bring to the Porch Potluck on May 3?
A box of wine?