I’m Writing A Book. Or, Something Like That.

Two of many side projects.
My fake book on the right that is just a compilation of my blog posts.

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 30: “Your remaining goals for 2013”

In January I got the bright idea to write a book. Or, the terrible idea. I really can’t decide.

I almost feel like a sell-out for even writing a blog post about writing a book. I should just go and finish the damn book. Don’t talk about it; be about it–to borrow from the most trite expression known to  African-American mankind. But, I am supposed to document my remaining goals for the rest of this year and finishing a draft of the book is far and away the most important goal.

Every writer dreams of writing at least one book. Don’t you dare let any of them tell you any different. We’re all these self-indulgent individuals whose eyes light up at the prospect of one day holding some form of our gritty thoughts glued together in a textblock.

I’ve been shoveling shit when it comes to my manuscript. I had a surge of creative energy back in April and I drafted a few chapters. I then shuffled my feet back and forth in May as I started a new romance. My dedicated 10 p.m. book writing hour transformed into phone conversation hour with my new romantic prospect. I decided attending BookExpo America in NYC in June would be just the boost I needed to get this baby started. I went to BookExpo America, came back, ended it with the guy and shoveled more shit. In July I wrote here and there. And, then in August I took up the writing challenge which has worn me out.

I need a book come-to-Jesus moment because that graph above is just a pathetic list of excuses.

Here’s the thing about books. EVERYONE WRITES THEM NOW. Melissa Gorga “wrote” one about her hot and happy marriage which is a testament to the fact that even an idiot can pen a book if it’s marketable. Semi-celebrities writing books is a pretty egregious insult to people who actually, well, write. And write well.

Nonetheless, my main goal for the remainder of the year is to finish the draft of the book and not drink excessive amounts of Chardonnay while doing it (but moderate amounts are fine.) I do not know what will happen when the draft is complete. I’m not some fancy pants with a book deal, although I’d probably fall out on the floor in a Holy Ghost shake if I did get one. Of course, I’m afraid it will never get published. I’m afraid I’ll go flat broke trying to self-publish. I’m afraid people won’t read it. Hell, I’m afraid people will read it. And, it’s sort of like Twenties Unscripted on steroids. It’s much easier to let my words roam wildly when the end result is not immediately clicking “publish.” Sarcasm and indecency run amuck in my current drafts with sentences like “Law school was my Plan B. But, this is my life, not a busted condom.” My parents think the f-bombs on my blog are bad. So, Mom and Dad, I apologize in advance for this not-yet-published book. I owe you some of the profit?

Every blogger thinks they have a book in them. Some do. Many don’t. I’m not aiming to replicate my blog which is what a lot of bloggers mistakenly do. You can read that for free; that’s why I have archives. Instead, I’m aiming to give you the stories behind my daily 500-word cryptic posts and provide people with the backdrop of the “hims” and “yous” whom I never truly identify. Bigger. Badder. Badass.

If I ever sit down and write the damn thing.



P.S. I also hope to spend the remainder of the year staying happy, working on my spoken word, ensuring my cat doesn’t gain gross amounts of weight from all the fried chicken bits I feed her, keeping my day job, not getting too tripped up on guys, or at least getting tripped up enough to get some good blog posts out of them.





Quit Waiting For Happiness To Fall Into Your Lap.

Tyece Wilkins 2
See? Happy.

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 28: “A time when you were happy”

Last night, I hit a palpable dating slump. These dips happen on occasion, unexpectedly, as I’m going about my life just fine when I realize that there’s still something missing. And, not only do I realize it, but I also harp on it. Zero in on it. Scrutinize and question the gap. I don’t know what incited yesterday’s pit; it wasn’t anything memorable. But, it happened.

I screamed to the ceiling three consecutive times. I poured a glass of wine, texted my best friend that “I hate dating and I quit” and went on a bit of a Twitter rant about how I don’t have the stamina to date (which is part truth.) I felt like a piece of shit–a single piece of shit, that is.

I decided to sift through my small CD collection until I found Joss Stone’s 2007 album “Introducing Joss Stone.” I listened to it uninterrupted for the next hour, the music serving as both an intoxicant and mild confidence boost.

And, then, I was happy.

I read a quote yesterday that said, “It was like she could only enjoy things in anticipation or as memories.” I find myself guilty of this life modus operandi many times. It’s as though happiness always eludes us because we’re either anticipating it or reflecting on it. But, we rarely let ourselves sink into the pillow of a good moment. Then, it’s gone and we are bliss fiends waiting for the next best thing.

We mistaken happiness for these monumental life moments. We’re always waiting for the right person. The better job. Our big birthday. We’re always leaving our own happiness up to external circumstances, a dependence that is the shortest route to disappointment. Because, there are people who found the right person. There are people who got the better job. There are people who celebrated that big birthday. And, you know what? Some of those people are still unhappy souls with their own set of issues.

All of these small yet beautiful moments are sweeping right past our anticipatory eyes. Waiting for happiness doesn’t make us any happier. It actually makes us quite miserable.

I unplugged and put on Joss Stone last night because I was tired of feeling shitty after all of ten minutes so I was determined to crawl my way to a better mental space. To a certain extent, I can’t control my dating life or meeting the right person, so why expel my end-of-the-day energy into getting all worked up about it?

Happiness isn’t something that is bestowed upon you. It isn’t this sparkly dust that falls on your pretty little head. Happiness isn’t something that happens by default or as a result of specific experiences. Happiness is something you have to fight for every single damn day. Some days you’ll win that battle and some days you won’t, but you still have to fight it. Happiness is something you have to trick yourself into. It’s a feeling that you have to take complete ownership of, lest you spend your life as some debilitated damsel in distress waiting to be loved.




Things Change. People Change. Nothing Is Ever Precisely How You Left It.

The kids who took me in when I returned to the East Coast. They're alright, I guess.
The kids who took me in when I returned to the East Coast. They’re alright, I guess.

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 26: “How you have changed in the past year”

I usually reserve reminiscing and reflecting for birthdays or New Year’s Eve. But, in light of today’s topic, it’s time to think about the past year.

On Saturday night, I stood in a group of friends drinking a mini bottle of Chardonnay and preparing to bid farewell to our friend who is headed to grad school tomorrow. I sent that grad school friend an email earlier that day and one of the things I told him was that “It’s hard to believe that at the beginning of this year, I didn’t even know you.”

A year ago, I was finishing up a work stint in Texas and getting ready to head back to the East Coast. In Texas, I spent a hell of a lot of time alone. I learned how to quiet my mind and enjoy my own company, something I needed after a somewhat tumultuous launch into adulthood. But, I was ready to get closer (geographically and emotionally) to the friends and family I left in the DMV sixteen months before right after I graduated.

Things were not exactly the same when I returned, because, simply put, people change. Things change. Places change. Nothing is ever precisely how you left it. I miscalculated that I could jump right back into my former routine and inner circle of friends, blind to the fact that sixteen months shifts a lot of shit. And, that stretch of time does not only change the things you left. It also changes you in ways that you don’t always realize.

I had an undulant start back on the East Coast. There was a new circle of friends. I lived in Virginia which wasn’t exactly right down the street from the rest of my people. I had to reset my expectations, rebuild some of my friendships, and stay true to the person I had become during my sixteen months away. I had to still be OK opting out of a night out in favor of curling up on my couch and watching Fashion Police. What can I say? Once a grandma, always a grandma.

But, somehow, I adjusted. That is why on Saturday night I could look at someone who, as of January, I hardly knew and call him a friend. Because, that new circle of friends took me in. That new circle of friends is the same circle that sat in the front row of Busboys and Poets on Thursday night rooting me on. Yes, people change. Things change. Places change. Nothing is ever precisely how you left it. But, maybe life is much better that way.

Perhaps the most significant thing I’ve learned over the past year is the importance of investment–both in yourself and the people around you. As of a year ago, this blog was a budding idea. Now, it has become one of my life’s precious stones. It is a space I make an investment in, and every day I see the pay off. It’s sort of like chipping away at a brick wall with a chisel. But, eventually, you’ll tear shit up.

I’ve learned you also have to invest in the people around you. Invest in their stories. Invest in their journeys. Remember the details. Don’t just listen, but actually hear them. To borrow a cliché, it was Oprah who said, “People just want to be heard.” But, that’s really all each of us asks for.



Stop Selling Yourself Short.

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 24: “A problem you have…”

“You sell yourself too short.” My friend said this a few days ago as we were leaving Panera and I remarked how the guy in front of us in the line was “too attractive for me.”

I tried to laugh off her comment, but its familiarity struck me. It is a sentence I’ve heard many times in my life, regarding everything from once announcing in the beginning of a work presentation that I was “not a guru” to being hesitant to apply for a spotlight feature at my favorite spoken word spot. Professional and personal confidence, especially post-college, are things I have had to learn to gradually attain. They no longer come to me quite as naturally as they did when I was a naïve and inflated college kid.

And, with good reason. Life has an uncanny way of humbling us, adversity serving as a memorable reality check of who we are and how we are not exempt from the vicissitudes of existence. Every now and again, we are reminded that we are only human and we sometimes royally mess things up.

These ups and downs make the line between arrogance and humility delicate. We live in a world where Kanye West has found a way to rhyme his name to that of the Messiah. On Thursday night, I sat back and listened to a poet brag of his sexual prowess (never great material for a poem, ladies and gentlemen.) Arrogance has become art. Explicit self-inflation seems to make for great lyrics or lines, so it is hard to know how much of it is authentic, how much of it is insecurity, and how much of it is just what sells and rhymes.

Perhaps as I have tried to teeter that line between arrogance and humility, I have sometimes leaned too far on one side, incorrectly identifying humility as talking myself a bit too far down the scale. Perhaps humility is not always coming up with a rebuttal for compliments, but instead graciously accepting them while not letting them get too ingrained in my head.

I agree that I need to stop selling myself short in all aspects of my life. I agree that by selling myself short, I have probably missed out on some opportunities. Because, selling yourself short simply means you don’t think you deserve more. And, on my better days, I fully know what I deserve and desire.



Spoken Word: “Autobiography”

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 23: “Poetry is…”

So, today I cheated. But, with good reason. When I saw, “Poetry is…” listed as a topic in our writing challenge, I knew I would never be able to write my feelings about it. Instead, I would have to simply perform.

Performing spoken word is transcendental. There’s really no other word to describe it. For all the nonsense I put on my blog day after day, poetry gives me a whole new set of cojones I never knew I had. It also brings out my streak of perfectionism. I usually spend weeks working on my pieces, massaging the language, trashing whole sentences in favor of new ones. You learn that what works on a page doesn’t always work on stage. And, vise versa.

So, I can’t tell you anymore of what poetry is. I can only show you by introducing my latest piece performed August 22, 2013 at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, MD. Here’s the link to “Autobiography.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjoXSPnfumk