Ryn Silverstein

Ryn Silverstein

We had the pleasure of speaking with Ryn on our podcast, Salon Sophia.  We explored a variety of topics, such as the Jewish calendar and spiral time, embracing Jewish priestesshood, imposter syndrome, sanctuary as something both internal and external and something you carry around with you which is akin to the Tabernacle in Judaism.

You can listen to that episode here.

Guest Post from Ryn

Up until this past weekend, I hadn’t written anything in the last couple of years that has really satisfied me.

While there’s certainly something to be said for Martha Graham’s quote on the “queer, divine dissatisfaction” that propels art-making, what I’m talking about has felt more insidious. Instead of the generative, if uncomfortable, ache that accompanies the dissatisfaction Graham invokes, this took the shape of a fundamental disconnect between what I wanted my writing to say and what actually ended up on the page. This disconnect only seemed to widen the more I wrote. 

I’m well acquainted with the undulating waves of imposter syndrome. Oftentimes moving through those waves requires just showing up at the page, again and again. Perhaps I’d simply gotten to a point in my writing apprenticeship where my craft had not quite caught up with my sensibility. 

The words of others brought some comfort and solace; Ann Cvetkovich writes in Depression: a Public Feeling about impasse “…as a state of both stuckness and potential…slowing down or not moving forward might not be a sign of failure and might instead be worth exploring.” Similarly, a teacher reminded me that every blockage is also an opportunity for a breakthrough. Nevertheless, I continued to feel like I was shoveling earth into a bottomless pit. 

It’s better, sometimes, to just walk away and try something else for a while. 

This past weekend, I read a book. I actually don’t read that much these days. A childhood spent devouring novels faded into an adult life where there just isn’t time, and what time there has been is habitually siphoned into the endless flurry of social media. Reading long-form text has, on the whole, become much more difficult—something about the brain growing accustomed to short, digestible word-bursts and rebelling when approached with anything weightier.

I found, however, that my brain settled somewhat after ten to fifteen minutes of reading, during which time it abandoned its attempts to bounce out of my skull and began, instead, the gentle absorption of, and engagement with, the book I had offered it. The time I spent reading suspended me in a state that was somehow both attentive yet deeply relaxed. 

As I read, I was struck by a feeling that sometimes comes upon me—I found myself longing to write with the ease that this particular writer’s prose promised. While I’m fully aware of the ways in which skillful prose can disguise a more difficult writing process, something about this writing struck me on that day. I felt moved to pick up my pen in response. 

In that moment, in the holding of the pen and the easing of my hand onto the page, a thought floated down around me in perfect clarity—what I needed was to write with a softer gaze. 

When I wrote then, it was with a somatic settling, a kind of forward-motion articulated through the realization that I already had what I needed, that there was no need for strain.

Visit Ryn’s website to read more of their writing.

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