I like Shapely Prose. A lot. The three people who were writing there when I first started reading (Kate, Sweet Machine and Fillyjonk) had a big influence in my "your problem with me is *your* problem" version of self-esteem. The essays they wrote said what they meant, they drew out connections between past and present, society and self, and they said, so clearly that it may as well have been on the banner at the top of the page, "there is nothing wrong with you." I hear a lot of societal messages about the necessity of fixing what's wrong with you, making yourself better, and the terrible vanity of being happy as you are. Vain, and don't forget selfish! Don't you know people can see you? And you look like that? When you take these messages as truth, they're motivations to keep playing the game, looking for approval that you're never going to find.
It reminds me of Sarah Vowell's take on Puritans in The Wordy Shipmates, that their sincere belief that you could never tell if you were on God's good side kept them all looking over their shoulders, never able to relax, miserable in the knowledge that they were probably damned. There's no rest for people in search of external approval, especially from the incorporeal.
I've wandered a bit from where I started out meaning to go in this post, which is this: Shapely Prose has added and lost writers over the past few years, and right now Kate is the only one writing there (in addition to writing here and here), and I've developed a bad habit. I check for new articles all the time. Even though I'm pretty sure essays like this take time and revision, even though it's apparently taken me two months to write this bit of fanmail. So not only am I an inconsistent blogger, I'm a hypocrite too! Enjoy the irony here: what makes sense to me as a response is self-improvement on two fronts. I'll try to write something here when I'm mentally complaining that there isn't something new over there.