The Internet is hungry for a home-cooked meal. In an online world of bite-sized snacks and Buzzfeed listicles, true storytelling and authenticity are becoming extinct. After originally drafting a list of 50 blogs, similar to what I did this past year, I decided to take a minute and focus on women who are writing their hearts out. I wanted to give it up to 22 women who still believe in writing that comes from the bottom of the heart and stories that sucker punch your soul. When you’re looking for inspiration, introspection and downright conviction in the year ahead, here are my go-to girls.
It’s no secret that Erica and I have been joined at the pen since we met in late 2013. Since then, we have both grown as writers and women in ways I don’t think we ever expected. Every time I think about Erica, I don’t know how she does it all, and does it all so well. A mother. A partner. A writer. An editor. And an incredible friend. Her gift is rare and her writing is raw. It leaves you shaking your hands and stomping your feet.
An Erica favorite: “I had to do it. Write it. Speak it. But there is inconspicuous bruising. I noticed sometimes spilling the authenticity of your reality leaves stains that take time to go away, if ever. You’ll always be remembered for this.” –I Remember You Was Conflicted: On Six Years of Blogging
Roconia, photo credit @jazzthenoise
There is a revolution brewing inside Roconia Price. On Jan. 1, 2015, I had no idea who she was. Today she is a woman whose voice, both written and verbal, is a source I turn to anytime I crave wisdom, wit, and an unsweetened dose of reality. From her blog posts to our Friday lunches, Roconia’s presence has changed my life and sparked my (r)evolution.
A Roconia favorite: “Tell your story, start a revolution. Someone will inevitably connect. Someone will have a ‘me too’ moment. Someone will, in turn, tell their story. And you know how it goes, peace after revolution.” –24 Karats: 24 Knowledge Nuggets I’ve Acquired By My 24th Birthday
Visiting All The Many Layers always feels like coming home. GG has a way with words for women. Her work affirms us and reminds us that we are absolutely not in this jungle of a world alone. After meeting GG at my first “See. Speak. Feel.” showcase, she became someone I never hesitated to spill and share with. I love her gentle yet unbaked take on what it means to live life on your own creative terms.
A GG favorite: “Don’t think about the writing. Write. This is also true for life. Don’t overthink it. Live. Learn as you go. Shape as you go. Create as you go. Do it naturally. Do it without fear.” –Remembering Who You Are And What You Want
Yetti, www.YettiSays.com | The Woman Without Apologies
Unapologetic. Bold. Making her way through the wilderness. Yetti’s blog is a one-stop shop for all things related to the many facets of growing up as a young woman. This year Yetti hosted the Back 2 Basics series focused on increasing mental health awareness and providing women with useful techniques to create and sustain positive energy in their lives. She closed the year with the 2015 Black Weblog Award win for Best Personal Blog. Both the series and the win, combined with Yetti’s indomitable strength, will all serve as engines for her success in 2016.
A Yetti favorite: “That piece of me, is mine. I own it. I’m so very selfish with it. And I’m sorry, well no, I’m not really, but that story is simply just not for sale.” –That Story Is Not For Sale
There’s something about Kiah that I want to get to know. Any woman who uses the phrase “Journal” instead of “Blog” as a tab on her website knows a thing or two about this world of writing. I can’t quite remember when I started reading Kiah’s work, but she got on my radar heavily this year after joining the xoNecole team as the managing director. From interviews with yogis to lyrical blog posts, her writing is versatile and resonant. I can’t wait to watch her journey unfold.
A Kiah favorite: “Flashing lights. Camera clicks. Puckered lips and poked out hips. That addiction to Insta-attention is real.” –Who Are You When You’re Off The Air?
Shefon has the kind of gentleness and mystery I venture to guess brings men to their knees. But, it also keeps women like me gravitating toward her work and her words. She is unafraid to evolve. She doesn’t shy away from the many dimensions of her life. I had the pleasure of meeting her earlier this year as one of my co-panelists at Blogger Week, and we later reunited in November at When Pens Collide. Her voice and her vulnerability will have you hooked, moth to a flame.
A Shefon favorite: “I am not a woman interested in living one life. I want to live many rich and fulfilling lives.” –Life as a Hummingbird: Creativity, Curiosity, and Callings
Ashley is a woman on a mission. It never ceases to amaze me how much she juggles and the many ways in which she continues to expand WriteLaughDream. From her Dear Love brunches to The Writer’s Muse workshops, there is something for everyone in the spaces, both on and offline, that Ashley creates. Beyond that, she is a beautiful spirit dedicated to connecting women and helping them reach their next level.
An Ashley favorite: “Believe me. I am simply working to eventually have a life that’s not dictated by the needs of my boss.” –You Deserve It
Alida Nugent has always been high on my list of writer crushes. Just a few years ago, she seemed like this far away Internet entity whose work made me laugh and cry, all in one sitting. Now her number is saved in my phone, all while I still admire her journey from afar. With the release of her second book, “You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out and Finding Feminism“, Alida once again reminded me why a girl who likes her whiskey, words and wit is a woman after my own heart.
An Alida favorite: “Things will go wrong. Things will not turn out the way I want them to. I will fail. I will have to rewrite. I will run out of resources. I will run out of spirit. Sometimes, people will just not love you, or believe in you, or like you, or need you. Sometimes they will and you won’t. It feels like a wave and I cannot swim well.” –The Harder Things I’ve Learned
There are bloggers you respect and bloggers you look up to. Hannah Brencher is definitely both for me. Rooted in faith, love, and the never-ending lessons that accompany growing up and letting go, Hannah’s work is that chicken soup for the soul. She reminds us that it is more than possible to develop a career through sharing your authentic self with the world.
A Hannah favorite: “A blog will show you who you are and who you are not. Who you hope to be and who you hope to bury in the next 5 years.” –When A Blog Turns 5
Tassika, more affectionately known as Tass, is a woman unflinchingly honest about her journey. When you visit tassika.com, you immediately get this sense of where Tass has been, where she is, and where she is going. As the mastermind behind When Pens Collide, a first-of-its kind event that connected writers in an intimate and unplugged setting, I know Tass has so much more to offer the world in the year ahead.
A Tassika favorite: “You don’t predict an evolution, you witness it.” www.Tassika.com homepage
Jamé, photo credit: @jazzthenoise
What can’t Jamé Jackson do? That’s the million dollar question. She is a writer, artist, photographer, actress, and the list goes on. But, on The Blonde Misfit, Jamé captures what it means to sometimes be an outlier in a world that too often rewards conformity. I look forward to watching this blossoming HU grad continue to hone her craft and share her voice.
A Jamé favorite: “College will not teach you how to get over your first big-girl heartbreak. No honey, nothing but time and wine do that.” That Love That Got Away
Simone understands the number one rule of writing: the best writing is like really good foreplay. Reading posts on Tea With Sally gives you just enough to get you going, pique your interest and leave you wanting more. I was first introduced to the blog earlier this year when I reached out to a few ladies in my blogging tribe and asked for recommendations for this year-end list. I haven’t stopped reading since.
A Simone favorite:
i wrote you letters that spelled out the DNA of each tear i shed for love, unrequited.
the way you held my waist at 2:53am
how you turned over and placed your nose behind my ear
i felt your body fall at ease. deeper every time.
but you stand there,
& tell me you don’t love me. –The Point of It All
In the same way a tapestry displays two sets of interlaced threads, Tamika’s blog is an intersection of her many dimensions. The Californian surviving life in NYC. The proud Afro-Latina. The woman sure of her journey, and yet still finding her way. Tamika is hands down one of the most loyal members of my NYC tribe—I can’t think of one NY event I’ve ever attended or hosted where she hasn’t been present. Can’t wait to see more of her and her work in 2016.
A Tamika favorite: “I just have to get the words out of my head and if people are drawn to them, can relate to them, or learn something from them, it’s a bonus.” –Standing On My Own
Writer. Photographer. Visual artist. Stacy not only takes on these identities, but she is a prodigy when it comes to each of them. When you visit her eponymous portfolio site featuring written and visual work, be prepared to get lost in the magic for hours. Fresh off the heels of her Beige, Brown, Black, Blacker art showcase, I know that Stacy will continue to wow the world in the year ahead.
A Stacy favorite: I hate that I can’t remember. That I’m a novice. Inexperienced, to say the least. I’ve been patient–I have no choice–but sooner rather than later, I want to truly experience that four letter word and all the stuff that comes with it. –It Took 25 Days to Discover a #QuarterPieceofMe
I knew I liked Tea the minute she stood up at the She Who Believes vision board party back in September and fired off a comment about some guy who catcalled at her before the event. On Tea & Whiskey, she chronicles her coming-of-age story. From overcoming stage fright to letting go of toxic friendships, Tea has just scratched the surface of what her voice will mean to the Internet at large.
A Tea favorite: But the important message here is that I did it. I took the first step, got on stage, and did it. It can’t get better if you never try. –Overcoming My Stage Fright
Wise beyond her years and powerful beyond measure. Those are the first two phrases that come to mind when I think of Sheryl. We have had a creative bond for awhile now, and my love of Sheryl’s writing received a new jolt after she penned her Dreamer essay for the Dimensions of Black Womanhood series. Sheryl’s writing, both on her blog and in her spoken word performances, convicts you in a beautiful and lasting way.
A Sheryl favorite: I have been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, the only things that will actually matter to you. And all I’m really coming up with is God, love, and words. –Letter to My 80 Year Old Self
You have to meet her. To understand the full extent of the magic and madness that is Noëlle, you have to spend an afternoon with her, talking about men while sipping way too much wine. That’s what I did a few weeks ago, and it’s why I fell back in love with Twenty Something N Counting. In her writing, Noëlle fuses fact with fiction and sarcasm with storytelling, all while remaining in command of her wit and sensuality.
A Noëlle favorite: Along with my reality check, where my student loan debt served as the gratuity that nobody ordered, came a doggy bag filled with post grad style depression. –New Career, Who Dis?
Long before I ever thought about blogging or even knew what a personal blog was, a woman named Robyn was leaving her unique stamp of wry wit and burgeoning womanhood on the Internet. Not many people can write about men or dating in a way that truly resonates with me, but Robyn is absolutely the exception to that. There is a natural bravado and sense of self that underscores her work, while never overpowering her vulnerability.
A Robyn favorite: “I am not driven to men by a desire for companionship. I am driven by a desire for interesting experiences, which can manifest in sexual relationships, friendships or on the rare occasion–partnerships.” –The Virgin Chronicles
Show, don’t tell. It’s one of the 10 Commandments of Writing, and La has mastered it. The second you start reading one of her posts, you are right there in the room. Smack dab in the center of the sheets. Wherever she is, you’re there too. I’ve been in love with Liquor, Loans and Love for quite some time, and I reunited with it this year after coming up for air from some projects. Long story short, girl can write.
A La favorite: “His mouth feels like fire and his hands feel like home.” –Hunger
Confession: at first, I couldn’t make sense of Sheriden. Instead, I clutched my invisible pearls and shut the Macbook. But, I returned to her work a few months later because the more you write, the more you realize that good writing is topic-agnostic. Sheriden writes the kind of things I’m afraid to even scribe in my journal. But, beyond that, there is a softness and vulnerability to her work. I can’t wait to read more from this dynamo.
A Sheriden favorite: “I’m free. I’m naked. I’m open. I am as close to ready as I’ll ever be.” –All These Things That I’ve Done
Her last name changed this year, but her writing remained as gut-punching as ever. Liz wrote me a two-page handwritten letter back in the spring, and she has held a special place in my heart ever since. From Ravishly to Elite Daily, and everywhere in between, Liz’s voice has become a table stake in the online world of gritty and unvarnished millennial writing. She never hesitates to take on any topic and write about it eloquently.
A Liz favorite: “I’ve learned my limits, with drinking and sex, and I know too well that showing off your body will bring out the worst in some men.” –Was It Rape?
Cleveland. A new cat. A boyfriend with super cool specs. And stories for days. Kate spins the details of her life so that anything from a break up with a POPSUGAR Must Have Box to a selfie with the secret service becomes hilarious and heartwarming. Sometimes personal bloggers can suffer from an overdose of self-importance and share too much. But Kate’s blog is so well-written that she reminds us any experience is fodder for a good story.
A Kate favorite: “As it turns out, I am not a personal-humiliation-for-clickbait kind of person – & if I had to be a little bit unprofessional this one time in order to figure it out, I’m probably OK with that.” –A Lesson In Figuring Out Which Stories I’m Not Comfortable Sharing With The Internet
What other bloggers should be on my radar for 2016? Leave your love in the comments.