“This Is Your Life Now.”

I just returned home from what I like to call a “blog date”. Blog dates are get-togethers with other women, sometimes bloggers and other times non-bloggers, who just want to talk and hang out after having read my blog. I’ve had a few of these now and they are exciting and surreal experiences. I don’t know if I consider them networking or just dinner or a chance to meet a new friend. Perhaps they’re a combination of all three.

This blog date was with Vya, a woman I met earlier this month along with another colleague so we could chat with her about our day gigs. Toward the end of that lunch as I pointed Vya toward the bathroom, I dropped that I also have a blog. We chatted about it for all of two minutes, I gave her my biz card and we decided we should grab drinks to talk more.

(Hey, Vya. You’re probably reading this. So, hello!)

Vya is a journalist by trade and journalists are good at a host of things, two of those being researching and asking questions. She read a good bit of my blog and had a lot of questions, many of which I never considered before she asked them. We sat on the patio at a suburban-trying-hard-to-be-cosmopolitan restaurant for two hours, talking about things like community, blog evolution, web hosting, reader engagement and, of course, when I will write “The Book”.

The thing about these blog dates is I find myself in non-stop, colorful and intriguing conversation with people I have never met. And, while I am often times swallowed whole in the dynamic of a group setting, I absolutely love one-on-one conversation. Listen, if you ever want to make friends, you should start a blog immediately.

One of the things Vya and I talked about was how I have intentionally included fewer details about my personal life on the blog. She asked me if I was OK with that. I paused. And then I decided yes, I am. I now understand with the growing audience and more visible platform I have, I have to be much more deliberate about what I choose to share. I also now have an audience that is incredibly smart and acute so I can’t just pen some shit about a bad date and get away with it. We are entirely off that. I don’t want to do it anymore and people don’t want to read it. I am now headed into year three of Twenties Unscripted and something about that is both beautiful and scary as shit.

Today is the last day of the “Wine, Writing, Women and Wisdom” celebration which means I should be incredibly reflective and retrospective. But, you know what I am? I am tired. It has been an uplifting but long month and I do not know if I ever need a month-long celebration for my blog ever again. But, that is called trial and error. I plan to take August “off” meaning I just get to write essentially. I have not had a month where I just got to write in a long, long time. Of course, I have some things up my sleeve, but nothing will really drop until late August. For now, let me just write.

As I talked to Vya today, I revealed the highs and the lows about this path. I talked about how cool it is to get to have blog dates with women I’ve never met and how demanding it is that I checked my phone each time she went to the bathroom because I knew my post auto-published and I wanted to respond to readers. I talked about winning the Black Weblog Award last year and how I missed my best friend’s 24th birthday brunch to go to Houston for the ceremony. I talked about the incredible community I have seen rally around these words and I talked about being called horrendous and ugly names by trolls. I talked about the beautiful act of writing and the non-stop task of promoting. But, the thought that always propels me and trumps all of these thoughts is that to whom much is given, much is required. None of what I listed is considered a burden; those things are the sacrifices you make to build something beautiful and lasting.

I have been given so much. Call it blessed. Call it lucky. Call it well-deserved. Call it fortunate. Call it whatever the hell you want. I have been given a lot so understandably, much is expected of me. As my newly-found blogger friend Michael Jones once said, “This is your life now.” I can’t look back. I can’t look too far ahead. I can only know that I have to kick ass with the life I’ve now been given.

It is not a question that this blog has been and will continue to be the hallmark of my twenties. So, on this last day of Wine, Writing, Women and Wisdom, thanks to the experiences that have made me wise. Thanks to the writing that has anchored me time and time again. Thanks to the women who read, support, love, cherish, respect and uplift this blog every damn day. And, thanks to the Cabernet Sauvignon that keeps me bold and ballsy when I worry I have nothing left to give.

Here’s to all of the mayhem, chaos, love, f-bombs and evolution the next blog year will bring.

Xoxo,

Tyece

 

Married To The Writing: Past The Honeymoon Phase

July 30, 2014

I’ve always vehemently boycotted social media management tools, the kind of things that send a phantom Internet robot to automate your status updates and tweets. Up until now, I’ve been known for my signature “NEW POST, FOOL” tweet every night, Monday through Thursday, followed by a stream of tweets from that night’s blog post. That signature promotion has always been manual–me finding some sort of device, whether it was a laptop or iPhone, to litter Twitter with bits of that day’s post. There is something I love about the immediacy of hopping fresh off the adrenaline rush of a newly-published post, promoting it and interacting with people right then and there.

But, yesterday, I opted to change that routine and it scared the holy shit out of me.

I wrote most of my BlogHer14 recap post at the airport on Sunday morning and, still riding the high of the conference, opted to publish it first thing Monday morning. My wheels started turning and I did an informal poll asking people if they prefer to read blogs in the morning or evening; morning won by a landslide. It occurred to me that I had not been giving my blog posts enough of a lifespan by posting them somewhere around 7 p.m., promoting them right after and only promoting them once more the following morning. I wasn’t giving pieces that I’ve poured my heart and soul into enough visibility. But, because I am still a slave to corporate America and cannot afford to risk my day job promoting blog posts at 11a.m., I needed a solution. I had to give in to the demon of social media management tools.

My friend Yetti advocated for one called “CoSchedule” in our group chat, saying it has made her life and the maintenance of her blog a lot easier. I typically trust Yetti, so I downloaded it.

Signature promotion tweet; fool is a term of endearment

Signature promotion tweet; fool is a term of endearment

I played around with CoSchedule and instantly deemed it the best thing since sliced bread. And then I freaked the fuck out. I worried that my Internet phantom would not publish the posts at the right time or at all. I worried that people would not read the posts if I changed when and how I promoted them. I worried that I was selling out, preparing myself to lose the intimacy and conversation I covet with my Twenties Unscripted kin.

It took awhile for me to quell the anxiety (it’s still slightly brewing), and realize that I no longer need to spam people’s timelines with 7-10 quotes from a post in order to believe in the power of my voice. I have an amazing community of readers. I have people who come to this blog on their own without being prompted. I do not need to rely on the intoxicating yet ephemeral high of a bunch of people retweeting a lot of shit I wrote. What I considered a signature style was just a way of begging people to read work that now speaks for itself. I am currently in a phase that is less about building and more about expanding.

As I relayed my anxiety to a coworker this morning, he reassured me that starting to use a social media management tool was not at all selling out; instead, it was freeing me up to think more about the writing as the brain trust of this operation. Earlier this year, I wrote “Married To The Writing“. This is the sequel because now I realize the honeymoon phase is completely over. The love is still there more than ever and the union is still unbreakable. But, now I am in the phase of thinking about finances, budgeting, outsourcing, maintenance, branding and a lot of other shit that writers really avoid thinking about. I am in the phase of ferociously protecting my space from trolls who try their hardest to piss all over it and invalidate my truth. These things are not romantic. They are not pretty or fun. But, they are important as hell for the trajectory of this blog.

And, as I considered all of this today, as I thought about my new CoSchedule baby and peak publishing times and a mobile compatible site and getting people to subscribe to my upcoming newsletter, a little dose of nostalgia crept in. Suddenly I longed for the days I had two years ago, when only 20 people consistently read my work and I knew all of them by name. I worried that maybe I did not cherish those days as much as I should have or could have. But, all I know is now they are gone and I can embrace them in retrospect because they got me here. All I know is I now built something that I must take care of and guard with my motherfucking life. All I know is that I am still so in love with the writing, with the art, with the opportunity to share my voice and my stories with the world, and that is what carries me through. All I know is that I have to keep the Epicurus quote close to my heart: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Xoxo,

Tyece