I first came across Jerard Fagerberg’s writing thanks to a piece for Consequence of Sound’s (sadly defunct) aux.out section that wound up focusing on an important aspect of my own personal musical development: the soundtracks to skate videos. Ever since then, I’ve been keeping an eye on what he’s been writing and following his work at Minneapolis’ City Pages, which has included gems like this article dissecting the differences between Mike Krol and Mikal Cronin in a quest to find out whether or not they’re actually the same person. Here, he offers up a piece that touches on other writers (including Nina Corcoran and Sasha Geffen, two prior A Year’s Worth of Memories contributors) and the crippling self-doubt (and queasy self-loathing) that tends to mark any author worth their salt. Read it below and remember to keep chipping away at the things you want to achieve because that struggle won’t go unnoticed by the people who will ultimately get you there.
I’m sitting across from Nina at Charlie’s Kitchen when she orders a chocolate frappe. Not a milkshake, not a malt, but a frappe — a charming expression from a place where I no longer belong.
I had to use Google Maps to find my way to Charlie’s from the Red Line, and when that word — frappe — leaves Nina’s lips, I realize how many of Boston’s colloquialisms I’ve forgotten. I’ve only lived in Minneapolis for a year, but if find myself gradually losing reciprocity with my home state.
Nina and I talk about my dog and Allston Pudding. We talk about how Steven asked me to write this piece. I keep rewinding the word “frappe” in my mind, and then I tell her something I’d promised myself not to tell her.
I tell her I admire her. I tell her that I used to resent her because I admire her. And I tell her that she is really only one of many writers I’ve felt this way about.
2014 was my first year as a professional writer. It felt like competition that whole year. I focused on my Twitter brand too much. I obsessed over what to wear when I went out to meet media people. I agonized over not getting bylines at sites I’d never even pitched to. I regretted being 25 and never once being considered prodigal. I had a very unsexy day job that I knew I’d probably never quit. I felt like a fraud every minute I lived in Boston.
The jealousy was ugly, but that didn’t make it any less real.
2015 was tonic. In moving to Minnesota, I removed myself from a lot of the anxiety of trying to make it as a writer. At first, I wondered whether it would’ve been more writerly to move to Brooklyn. Or if sundering what few roots I had meant I’d disappear. These concerns dissolved. Catching on at City Pages was the easiest gig I ever scored. Working with Reed, Pete, Hannah, Jessica, and now Jay has been nurturing in a way Boston never felt. I’m nostalgic enough for the East Coast that I no longer see other people’s successes as a threat.
I still have my day job, and I still, in social settings, try to project the illusion that I work full-time as a writer, but I’m becoming habituated to the idea that I’ll always be halfway there. I’ll never be like Jeremy — the first editor to ever take a pitch from me and a writer whose nonchalant talent is frankly intimidating — who caught on at VICE full time after an unceremonious canning at Radio.com. Or Phil, who turned himself into one of the best working photographers in music and shared the beautiful, sordid details of how he’d gotten there. Or Sasha, who’s been a smarter, better writer than me for 26 straight years and has done it without a sliver of my ego. Or Nina, who is three years younger than me and became the Dig’s music editor this year.
A year ago, all this would’ve fucked with my equilibrium. I would’ve seethed. I would’ve sulked for these things not happening to me. I would’ve schemed to politely outdo them. But sitting in that dive bar and hearing Nina order a drink and perplexing over it, that jealousy felt as foreign as Beantown parlance.