The Woman Who Builds The World With Her Own Two Hands

the woman who builds

Author’s Note: Today is my last post until Wednesday, Sept. 9. After an amazing and intense summer of publishing and promoting my first book, I’m taking a breather to regroup for autumn and move into a new place that will be complete with a HOME OFFICE. Yassss. Plus, you know when I go away, I always come back with surprises and announcements. Get ready for another amazing season together. Until then, xoxo and enjoy the last unofficial days of your summer. 

I write for the woman whose heart is inked by lovers past and whose lips are stained from red wine. The woman who feels every emotion in some deep burgundy. Or blinding sapphire. Or neon pink. I write for the woman who does not ever teeter in the middle, but gallops across the bridge with gusto and gall.

I write for the woman who ran out of fucks to give because she traded them in for one shot at the chance to let her true self blast from that bubble at the bottom of her soul.

I write for the woman who knows he still has one fragment of her heart, that jagged and distorted fragment of her heart. I write for the woman who sometimes stares into a pit of nostalgia and wonders what happened or what’s next. I write for the woman whose longing for love swallows her whole, but whose hope keeps her alive. I write for the woman who is not easy to love because she is a burst of fractured and blinding light. I write for the woman whose embers burn the kind of men only accustomed to fighting someone’s fire and saving someone’s day.

I write for the woman who is a web of complexities and a pile of contradictions.

I write for the woman who lives out loud, but works in silence. The woman whose dreams have the power to shake the ground, move mountains and split the Earth at its seams. I write for the woman who revolts, rebels and rages against the machine.

I write for the woman who chooses a Barnes and Noble gift card over a Mac one. The woman whose feet have gone without a pedicure all summer. The woman with a pile of clothes that still need to go to the dry cleaner. I write for the woman who gets lost in the stationery aisle and spends too much money on notebooks and pens. I write for the woman who is madly, deeply and drunkenly in love with creativity.

I write for the woman who owns her shit. I write for the woman who faces her demons head on and peels back the scabs so she can see the true scars. I write for the woman who came undone and knew she would never walk away unscathed. I write for the woman who cried at 1:45 a.m. in the middle of the floor and shouted to a God she didn’t know she could believe in. I write for the woman who built a shrine from her broken bits and made that place her home.

I write for the woman whose greatest currency is her mind. Her spirit. That fractured light. I write for the woman who doesn’t care if her eyebrows are on fleek or her face is beat. I write for the woman who doesn’t want to be seen, but begs to be heard.

I write for the woman who is a force to be reckoned with. I write for the woman who has let the story inside of her escape so that it can set the world ablaze. I write for the woman who sometimes dreams so immensely and intensely that it scares her. The woman who draws people in with that certain je ne sais quoi. I write for the woman whose energy sends rays through a room without her ever saying a word.

I write for the woman strapped with words and armed with metaphors. I write for the woman who knows anything she says could build people up or blow them away.

See, I don’t care if the woman is a single mother in south Bronx or a starving artist in South Carolina. I don’t care if her mother is white and her daddy is black. So, when you ask me who my target audience is, I will tell you I write for the woman who challenges convention and builds the world with her own two hands. The woman who loved, lost and tried again. The woman who is a warrior on behalf of her dreams. The woman who laughs that loud laugh and cries that ugly cry. The woman who craves authenticity in a world that eats facades. The woman who is finishing this read with a heart inked by lovers past and lips stained from red wine.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

Reader Question: Authenticity, Audience And Other Things

Question: I want to know how you gained your following. How did you promote your blog? I understand it is important to promote on your own blog, but what sort methods did you use to draw in people? How did you make sure you were reaching out to your target audience? How did you deal with not so constructive criticism? In starting, did you find that it was difficult to publish posts on a consistent basis? How did you make your posts visually appealing without worrying about legal issues? What I mean by that last question is how did you find visual aids via Internet or wherever without worrying about getting in trouble for using those images on your site. –Sadi

(Very long) Answer: More and more when I’m asked about the early roots of my blog, I think about the quote from Madame C.J. Walker: “I got my start by giving myself a start.” I find that sometimes people expect a lofty and purpose-driven answer when asking about how I started my blog, but in the interest of full disclosure, my start is something I did not think about until it was in retrospect. I did not set out hoping to set the Internet world on fire. But, now, you can bet your ass I’m trying to set the Internet world on fire.

You’ve asked quite a few questions and I am going to do my best to answer them all in a cohesive and honest way. I’ve divided out my answers based on the top three things you asked about–audience/promotion, branding and consistency.

Audience and Promotion

The short answer to how I gained an audience and following was by being completely and utterly myself. People can smell bullshit on the Internet from 100 miles away. If you are a fraud or a try-hard, those flaws will reveal themselves early and often. I don’t bullshit my readers because my readers are my people; if I am not real with them, there is zero point in doing what I do. There is nothing gimmicky about drawing people in. If the content is well-written and resonates with them, they will read it. And, it has to be both of those things–well-written and affecting. Say something that has not been said or say something that has been said in a completely different way. And, after you say it, go proofread to make sure you said it flawlessly. I say that I am a writer first and a blogger second because the words matter. Of course, I make mistakes, but there is nothing that destroys a blogger’s credibility more than egregious and avoidable errors.

The long answer to how I promoted and gained an audience was Twitter. (I know, that’s such a long answer, right?) When it comes to social media promotion, Twitter is where I devote at least 85% of my time because it is immediate, dynamic and easy. Twitter makes it simple to share people’s work and I am grateful to my Twitter tribe for doing such a wonderful job of sharing mine. For my type of blog (heavy on the writing) and my audience (twenty-somethings), Instagram is too visual and Facebook is a bit too obsolete.

There is not any foolproof way to know you are reaching your target audience. Perhaps I would say when it comes to a target audience, measure success based on quality and not quantity. Of course I am not blind to my numbers, but I am more focused on the women I am lucky enough to engage with every day. I am constantly wowed and humbled by how intelligent, driven, engaged, well-rounded and authentic my readers are. No one does it quite like the Twenties Unscripted tribe.

Branding

I’m going to skip around your question a bit and respond to the piece about images. My blog is not a visual blog. It is not supposed to be a visual blog. I side step all of the legalities surrounding image usage by making sure my blog is about the words first and the visuals second. Many of my posts do not include visuals and when they do, they are usually shots I’ve taken on my iPhone or quotes I’ve highlighted using a free app.

I do not care how wide open the Internet is. If you use images that you do not explicitly own, you run the risk of getting sued and I am way too broke for that shit. If visuals are important to you, invest in a paid stock photo account. Otherwise, shoot your own stuff.

Plus, I just don’t buy the absurdity that people don’t read anymore. I do not buy this whole “an-article-must-be-a-Buzzfeed-listicle-for-people-to-read-it” nonsense. I write entire paragraphs because I still believe that people read entire fucking paragraphs. My blog is not for people who do not want to read in long-form. The end.

Consistency 

I preach about consistency a lot when it comes to blogging. I wrote a whole blog post about it here. When I started, I did not have a hard time publishing on a consistent basis because no one really cared. People weren’t tripping over themselves to read my blog. But, once it picked up a bit and I more or less started writing four times a week, I stuck to that schedule. Decide what consistency means for you and stick to it. Take advantage of the time early on when you have the space and freedom to figure things out, experiment and change your posting schedule. I find people are often anxious to have the whole world watching them; they forget how beautiful it is to have absolutely no one paying attention. That is the time when you will most find your voice and establish your brand.

(And a final note about the hate that you so eloquently referred to as “not so constructive criticism”)

I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing support system, both in my readers and also in my friends and fellow bloggers. Through these people, I have received a lot of constructive criticism–write less about dating/relationships, get a mobile-compatible version of your site, quit writing with a tone of gross self-deprecation. I call each of those examples constructive criticism because of what was said, how it was said and who said it. Always consider the source. What you referred to as not so constructive criticism comes from people who do not want the best for you but instead want to tear down what you are trying to build.

I am learning the best way to deal with not so constructive criticism is to just completely disengage. Do not feed the trolls. Do not throw energy to the haters. Do not even think you need to kill them with kindness. Just disengage. Never, ever give them what they want. Because every bit of energy you give to those things is one less second, minute, hour, day, week or month you get to devote to building your brand and celebrating your success.

Xoxo,

Tyece

For Irreverent, Observant And Unconventional Women

Not too long ago, I purchased blog merchandise from “All The Many Layers” that says, “beautiful crazy complex free creative inspired love drunk woman.” Since I met GG earlier this year, this is how she has always described her primary audience and it’s a pretty dope set of adjectives. They are specific. They are memorable. They each carry a connotation and together, they paint a vivid portrait of the kind of woman sitting down to read GG’s work.

I didn’t start Twenties Unscripted knowing my audience. I’m still not sure if I know my damn audience. But, my audience is something I’ve had to devote more thought to as the blog expands. Now I’m at a juncture where I need to attach words to things like my tone, vision, audience or a host of other nebulous concepts.

Clearly, I write for women. I don’t think that’s much of a secret. (But, hey, dudes. Still love you. What’s up, Male Think Tank?) It took more time to consider what sorts of adjectives I would attach to those women for whom I write. Emily and I brainstormed some ideas and I have words such as “frank” and “quirky” scribbled in the margins of my notes from our conversation. I certainly like to think those words apply. But, I also came up with some others.

Irreverent is kind of a terrible word because I don’t necessarily see my audience as an uncouth band of disrespectful broads. But, in this case, I liken irreverent to its close cousin of “sassy”, a member of the trio of adjectives in my blog’s tagline. I write for women who are not afraid to throw a side eye or drop an f-bomb when the moment calls for it. Or when it doesn’t and they just feel like it. I believe in respect–for the people around us and for ourselves. I’m not suggesting we trash respect. But, I write for women who redefine respect. I write for women who don’t misconstrue submission as respect. I write for women who don’t mistake loyalty as respect. I write for women who don’t misinterpret tolerance for someone’s bullshit as respect. I write for women who know any inkling of authentic respect starts with themselves and how they teach others to treat them. I write for women who understand that the word “bitch” or “asshole” might be hurled their way, but that’s just the risk irreverent and assertive women have to take. I write for women who don’t take anyone’s shit.

Observant. Because, unfortunately, it’s rare for people to observe much in today’s world. People let entire days, weeks and months fly by them without ever stopping to think and observe. They just click “like” on everything and retweet some things, but they hardly ever observe what the fuck is really happening. It’s a world of passive engagement and it unnerves me every day. The only way I’m able to pull these blog posts out of thin air is by observing the world around me. The themes aren’t anything new; the perspectives are. The words are. The observations are. But, there is hardly any topic under the sun that has not been written about in some way. I write for women who look closely at the situations and people around them. I write for women who let those observations inspire, challenge and change them.

And, finally, unconventional. I write for women who challenge the shiny little frames that confine us. I write for women who don’t feel obligated to get married or have children, but instead know that both of those paths are decisions that they can elect to make or not make. I write for women who see beyond the 9 to 5, beyond the white picket fence, beyond the fairy tale. I write for women who do not always believe in showing respect toward tradition or convention just because it’s there and it’s what they’ve always been told. I write for women who challenge the status quo.

Irreverent, observant and unconventional women. But, you all are my audience. Maybe you know yourselves better than I do. What other words describe Twenties Unscripted women? Let me know in the comments section.

Xoxo,

Tyece

Young, Wild And Free…Or At Least Trying To Be

Today I received this email and asked the author of it if I could reply as a blog post.

I often read your blog, as you can probably see and I truly do admire how carefree and honest you are. I know it sounds a little silly, but since I realized I was reaching a large group of readers and they’ve all expressed their likes and dislikes, I find it really hard to stay true to me. What was once an outlet slowly started to feel like a job, a job that consists of pleasing the masses and shielding the world (and family) from the truth and drama that is my life.

How do you manage to stay open and honest? Have you mastered the balance of what to share and what not share?

Three years ago on a mild spring day in New Orleans I got the word “Free” tattooed on the right side of my body. The ink rests on a small patch of skin typically covered by my bra. For those who have seen it, it’s often mistakened as being my name because of the swirly and somewhat unidentifiable cursive it’s written in. 

Look closely enough and you'll see the "Free" tat. It's sort of like Where's Waldo.
Look closely enough and you’ll see the “Free” tat. It’s sort of like Where’s Waldo.

It was the last day of my junior year spring break and we all decided to get tats on a whim. Because that is how tats work–you either have some grand and philosophical motive for getting them or you get them on impulse. I didn’t know precisely why I wanted that word on my body, I just knew it was an adjective to which I aspired. Free from worries. Free from caring about what others thought. Free from a lot of the bullshit. So I got a physical manifestation of something I could only achieve mentally. Makes sense. Or not.

When I read the email earlier, I was taken aback in a flattering way because I certainly don’t consider myself carefree. Honest? Sure. But, carefree? Probably not the first word people would use to describe me. I live in my own overanalytical mind where things hardly ever happen without planning, thought or consideration. I am not the kind of person who books a weekend trip on a Friday afternoon. Hell, I’m not the kind of person who takes a trip without a complete list of things I need to do before leaving. I always pack extra underwear. I don’t like impromptu sleepovers (nope, not even those…) I like to know the details of anything before saying yes. Carefree? More like neurotic.

But, it’s a little different when it comes to my writing. And, I guess that’s what we’re talking about here.

I lucked out in the sense that I had a good year to build this blog before anyone really knew or cared. I’ve been blogging in the same “sarcastic but always with a message” sort of way since college and it went virtually unnoticed. So I had time to find my voice and get into a groove without being vulnerable to the responses of others.

Last summer, right as the blog picked up its first bit of serious attention, I finally told my parents about it. Not just “Oh, yeah, I have a blog.” But, “Here is the URL if you want to read it.” And now they do. Pretty much every day. Soon after I introduced them to it, we had a few slightly contentious conversations about my chosen topics and my frequent drop of the f-bomb. My parents know I love them and I value their input. But, my writing is not something I really budge on. I listen to feedback. I read comments. I hear people. And, then I still do exactly what I want to do with this space. You can love it. You can hate it. I’m still going to speak my truth.

In terms of what I will/will not share, the two things that are exclusively off-limits are any specific details of my 9-5 life and my sex life. For the 9-5, I need to remain gainfully employed. Duh. And, as far as my sex life, I just think it’s implied that I’m a big girl and I do what big girls do. Not much of a need to discuss it beyond that. Not that I have a problem with people who do. It’s just not what I’m about on this blog. Whether or not anything else is off limits is pretty much on a case-by-case basis. But, yes, as a blogger, you need boundaries. You need the things you keep for yourself. Otherwise you’ll lose your damn mind because people will think they can assume some really shitty and inaccurate things. They’ll think they have some right to jump to conclusions about your life all because of one sentence you wrote. Draw the line in the sand.

Perhaps this is all a lengthy way of saying own it. Own your space. Own your brand. Own your voice. Own your shit. There are few things I will hold back about on here because no one wants to read some sugar-coated bullshit. People want to see other people. They want to see the mistakes, the screw-ups, the wrong decisions. I expose my wounds because I really would not be half the person I am without them. I write my insecurities because it’s the only way I can wrap my mind around them. And, if people don’t like what I do on this blog, well, there are a million others out there that they can read. That’s like a customer threatening to stop giving its business to a company; that company doesn’t actually give a fuck. That company has a bunch of other loyal customers who will support it. I am forever grateful for my small but loyal army of supporters.

To my email friend, if there’s anything else I would say, it is that you started blogging because no one else can say what you say quite the way you say it. That is why you started. Remember why you started. Because no one else can speak your truth the way you can. If that truth makes people squirm or shout or shun you, it means you are doing something right. If your words make people uncomfortable or angry, it is a reflection of them, not you. It is a projection of their own reality. You were just the conduit to them looking at themselves and their lives and some people don’t like that. They don’t like when they read something and it suddenly uncovers all of their life’s ugliness that they have tried for so long to mask. But, good writing is not a kum bah yah kind of sport. Good writing doesn’t always make people feel warm and fuzzy inside. No, good writing makes people think.

Remember why you started. Please, remember why you started.

And then keep going.

Xoxo,

Tyece