Erica Hellerstein

:: LOCATION

Washington, DC, USA

:: MEDIUM

Journalism; Print/Online Writing

:: IDENTIFIES AS

Female writer and journalist from the Bay Area. Straight, White, Jewish

Why do you think it’s important that womxn create?

I think that it took a long time for me to understand that most of the stories we learn and hear about come from a male perspective and even in terms of writing style I remember I had a workshop in one of my long form journalism classes and one woman in the class mentioned that she didn’t like this person’s writing style because she wrote like a woman – she said she could tell it was a woman writing it. And that was like a woman who said that and I remember being really disturbed by it and thinking it was really an upsetting comment but what I think she meant was that the process of reviewing literature and writing is still and how we understand it, is still very gender because from a young age we are taught to do things that men write so we learn a particular style and then anything that deviates from that is considered you know, queer writing or feminist writing or chicana writing, and I think it’s important obviously for women to continue to create and not only from a writing perspective but from all art forms so that from an early age other children and people are exposed to more diverse set of experiences and range of art. And I would be really interested in looking at communities where there are more women artists and whether or not communities have more feminist policies and the way that they treat women because I think that there tends to be a connection between the liberation of women and their place in public and intellectual life. That’s a really long way of saying, I think women need to create because we have our own experiences we need to share.

How do you define love?

It’s not confined to romantic relationships, but friendship and a partner and a family member – through your connection with them. You’re inspired to be your better self but also that you have moments where you are inspired to be selfless, not because you think you should be but because you genuinely want to give to that person.

I think we all have the capacity to love in many different ways – friendships, family members, romantic partners, but in each of those ways I think the deepest form of love is mutual understanding but inspiration to be a better person and give part of yourself to that person and I think if you don’t have that – those are the metrics I look at when I consider whether or not I love a person. Or those are the things that drive love in the pit of my belly.

And I know I love someone when I just want to do something for them for the sake of doing it not because I think I should.

When do you feel the most creative?

It happens a lot in the middle of the night or when I’m active. I have a lot of creative flashes when I’m going on runs. It’s usually when I’ve just gotten off the high of a really engaging experience or set of activities. i never feel my most creative when I’ve been isolated for a long period of time even though I know that’s how artists are supposed to create. I feel the most creative when I’ve been stimulated by long periods of time with other people or I’ve had a really weird experience and I feel the need to process it. Once the high of whatever long stimulating experience wears off, that’s kind of when I feel like, omg, that’s when I need to recreate that experience through art or writing or whatever. My creativity and my commitment to producing, writing, or whatever I do really relies on being a social animal.

What keeps you inspired?

I think what keeps me inspired is knowing that I have a story wrong. As a journalist it is easy to assume before you report a story or really get into something that you fully understand it and that you have your own narrative in your mind about how you think the story is going to turn out and the major forces in play. Although it’s really frustrating to realize that something you thought about it was incorrect or that you weren’t understanding it fully – I actually think that’s kind of my favorite part because it reminds me that it’s the reason I do this work — to be in a constant state of learning and re-evaluating my world view. I think the worst thing for me inspiration wise would be to assume that I knew all the answers.

Erica, your thoughtfulness and open mind inspire us to broaden our horizons and learn to love being wrong. Thank you for your sharing your words with us.