Nobody Said It Was Easy.

nobody said it was easy

It’s Saturday night and I’m heading home from a few hours spent with my friends watching the NFL playoffs. It was one of those simple nights that always affirm why I love that group of people and how grateful I am to have met them just a few years ago, to have been taken in by their sarcasm and dysfunction and pure, ridiculous love. The sky is dark, the air is cold and I have an hour-long drive in front of me to get home. Long drives are dangerous because even with my Nelly Furtado playlist blasting, I’m left alone with my own thoughts. That’s a scary place to be left alone.

As I start coming off the high of all of the laughter and joy of the night, I begin giving thought to one of my least-favorite questions on the planet: “Has Ty started making money off of her blog yet?”

I would love to answer that question with a flippant response. “Yes, every time I sit down to write something for Twenties Unscripted, I make $200 dollars flat. Didn’t you know that’s precisely how blogs work?”

For better or worse, that is not the answer. The real, true and flat answer is no. No, Ty has not started making money off of her blog yet.

Sometimes when I’m left alone with my own thoughts, I let my thoughts creep into the unhappy place–my bank account. I think about money: wanting more of it, feeling like there’s never enough of it, stressing over a blog budget sheet with far more outgoing than incoming. I think about the misconceptions people may have because I do work, I do pay my own rent and I am fortunate to enough to always have a bottle of a wine to drink and a little bit of OWN to watch. But, money is a fragile topic, a grenade waiting to explode when brought up in mixed company. The topic of money is laden with shame and secrecy and judgment and a lot of other things that no one wants to deal with. No one wants to talk about it.

And I sure as hell don’t want to talk about it much more in this post.

Because money is only an external mark of success. It’s something other people use to measure someone else, to see how they stack up and fit into the overall fabric of the American rat race. Don’t get me wrong; I like money. I’m not going to pretend I’m above needing to pay my bills or take some trips or keep Sallie Mae (or Navient, whatever they want to call it) off my back. Bitch gotta eat.

But when I think about bringing my dreams to life, I don’t think about money. When I sit down to churn out a post, I don’t consider the day when doing so will somehow translate into a dollar figure. When I think about this beautiful and precious space that I create, build and protect, I don’t think about a blog budget sheet or a dwindling bank account or how I need to monetize my words. I get to come home at night and pour out my heart, bare my soul and do my life’s work. I think about reaching women. Creating change. Lifting my voice. Speaking my truth. Cultivating something of substance. Carving out a path for my legacy so that I leave something other than tweets behind when it’s time for me to go.

Of course, I would like to start seeing the financial fruits of my labor. Anyone who lives in a creative space and tells you otherwise is probably not telling you the whole truth. But, if that were the ultimate goal of this whole operation, I would have quit back in 2012. I would have stopped long before there were ever a one-year blogaversary or an annual showcase or a blog series. If money were the motive, I would have lost motivation from the outset.

I used to listen to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and apply that line “Nobody said it was easy” to my current relationship status. Now, I think about my life, my dreams and how foolish it is to think that attaining success is supposed to be some sort of cake walk. If it were easy, everyone would do it. If success were sitting right outside the door just waiting to be picked up, we would all be Beyoncé. But, hard work is the discriminator for success and a lot of people want to do just enough to get by. Dreams are a demanding son of a bitch, at least if you want to go from just dreaming to actually doing.

Sometimes I let my mind wander and dream about what life would be like if I were the kind of person who could just put in my time, come home, cook dinner and plop on the couch for the rest of the night. I think about what that life would look like, how it would feel to not always feel recklessly compelled to make my mark and sign everything with my stamp of 100% effort. I wonder about that life. On the bad days, I even crave that life. But, then I remember that it’s not the life I was built for. I wasn’t put here to just be here. I texted a friend about my longing for that life, and she said, “…While it sounds nice, that ain’t for women like you.”

I settled in after my hour-long drive Saturday night around 1 a.m. I emailed my graphic designer. I ordered showcase postcard invitations. I mapped out the work I had to do less than 12 hours from then once Sunday afternoon crept in and forced me out of bed on what used to be my day off. Now, I can only afford one weekend day off, and I still battle guilt about that day. But, I need that day. I need a safe place to call sanity.

Nobody said it was easy.

Nobody said it would always be fun or always go well. Nobody said that all of the hard work would just magically appear in your bank account one day. Maybe the Universe is making sure you know how to take care of all the shit you have before it bestows more upon you. Nobody said it was going to happen overnight. Nobody said it wouldn’t wear you out or break your back or force you to sacrifice. Nobody said it would be easy. But, I believe they said it would be worth it. And, the things worth having are usually the most difficult to obtain.


2014: A Year of Questions and Answers

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

Zora Neale Hurston once said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” I’ve been reflecting on 2014 ever since October and I still don’t know if it was a year that asked questions or a year that answered them. If it were the former, it would have asked, “Who are you really trying to be as a woman and a writer? How are you going to let your work evolve from a twenty-something just telling everyone her business to staking your claim as a voice who has earned the right to be heard? And, are you going to let the bullshit stop you or fuel you?”

And if 2014 were a year that answered those same questions it would have said, “You’re trying to be a woman and writer whose convictions and truth will always transcend the ephemeral trends of the day. You are going to let your work evolve by setting boundaries when it comes to your personal life and pushing limits when it comes to your writing style. You will stake your claim as a voice who has earned the right to be heard simply by speaking up and believing that indeed, you will be heard. And, you are absolutely going to let the bullshit fuel you. You’d be a fool to respond in any other way.”



I Want It All And I Want It Now.

Wildflowers Unscripted Writing Challenge Day 25: My Vices

So I realize I have done an abysmal job of keeping up with the very writing challenge to which my blog’s name is attached. I suspected that would happen. But, I didn’t want the month to end without me at least trying one more time. Plus today’s topic fits pretty perfectly with where my mind is. So, there’s that.

“I love how you’re already planning another event before the first one is even done. Lmao.”

That’s what my best friend said today on Gchat when I explained that I had secured a venue for an upcoming DC Bloggers Brunch. (Get excited, DC people.) I’m three days away from what is the largest event I’ve done on behalf of Twenties Unscripted. And, what do I decide to do? Start planning another event.

In my mind, Saturday is done. At least all of the important details. Now we just have to get there and not royally screw up the entire thing. In my mind, I have done everything I had to do and now I just have to get there and see it come together. So, naturally, it’s time to start thinking about what is next.

Or is it?

My number one vice is that I am one very impatient being. It is that very vice that has me itching to get to the next event before I have even seen the fruits of my labor for this one pay off. In theory, I should be focused on what I’m performing on Saturday night and how much Chardonnay I’m going to consume after the night is over. In actuality, I’m now preoccupied with the next event.

My impatience has stung my relationships, punched my self-esteem and forced me to abandon shopping carts in stores where lines are too long. My impatience has caused me to snap at people and doubt myself when I don’t see something immediately pay off.

I want it all and I want it right now. I have always been that way. I want the world and everything that comes with it in sixty seconds or less. But, let me explain. Because, I think there are a lot of people who want the world and don’t want to work for it. You’ve read my stuff. You know I have less than an iota of respect for people who don’t work hard. So, I want to do the work. But, I’m still a product of the microwave generation where I think the ROI is supposed to be this immediate present that falls into my lap after I’ve done the work. And, life has this way of reminding me often that it does not just happen like that.

More often than I let on to others, I have giant and bone-crushing doubts about what I’m doing with this blog. Am I doing the right thing and why am I even doing any of it? What is the ultimate payoff? Those are the questions that tango around my brain and those are the questions I poured out to my best friend earlier today.

“If you enjoy what you’re doing right now, then it’s for the right reason,” she said as I spilled out my writer woes.

She’s right. Sometimes I forget that the reward of things isn’t always in the form of accolades or money or bylines. Sometimes, the reward of things is the very comfortable and content feeling I get from coming home every night and spilling out my thoughts. Sometimes the reward is knowing I have a space to always fall back on, whether my day is amazing or horrendous. Sometimes the reward is the very thing you have, not what you ever expect to yield from it.

I still want the world. I want the stars and the moon and the sky. There is a lot I want to do in this life. Maybe that’s why I’m impatient because I always know there is more I could accomplish, more I could see, more I could conquer. But, there isn’t a point in having the world if you can’t quiet your mind long enough to enjoy it.



Passions And Paychecks

Wildflowers Unscripted Writing Challenge Day 5: A day in the life of me

I’m supposed to give you a play by play of my day. But, frankly, I wouldn’t even want to read that. You don’t care what I eat for breakfast or when I call my mom or any of that mundane shit. So allow me to diverge from the topic a bit.

During the summer of 2012, I had what I will affectionately refer to as an identity crisis. I had just started my blog and, consequently, started following more people in the so-called blogosphere via social media. Following these people meant that I was all too aware of the lives of many bloggers who managed to exist outside of the 9-5 norm. And, not only did they exist, but they thrived. Their lives seemed full, exciting and fun.

All I could wonder was what the hell was I doing sitting at a desk, wasting my youth away?

I’m not sure when this identity crisis dissipated; I just know that it eventually did. I gave myself enough “You’re only twenty-something and right now, at least you have a roof over your head” pep talks to get over the hump. I soon realized that I was no less or no more for working a corporate job by day and full blown feeding my passion of writing by night.

Before my summer of 2012 identity crisis, I sat at a bar with one of my coworkers. It was someone’s going away party or whatever other excuse you find at work to imbibe alcohol after hours. At the time, I hadn’t yet started Twenties Unscripted and was only writing here and there somewhere on Tumblr. I told my coworker how much I loved writing and how I would love to spend my life doing that. And then she said something that caught me off guard: “You might not love writing as much if that’s what you relied on to pay your bills. You might start to resent it.”

It’s a sentence that has stuck with me because, like most sentences that stick with me, it’s probably true. As much as I’d hate to admit that. I’m probably head over heels in love with writing because it’s not what keeps a roof over my head. It’s not what keeps food in my fridge or my lights turned on. Writing is like my mistress; the place I go to get away from all the other bullshit and just enjoy myself.

Yes, that was a terrible comparison. But, you got it.

So, what does any of this have to do with a day in my life? Well, that is my day. That is my life. My day is spent giving a large fraction of my energy to my day job and my night gig of blogging. My day is spent jotting sentences down in my phone. Pulling inspiration from Twitter. Wondering what is next for every aspect of my life. My day is spent thinking too much and thinking too hard and wishing that I could just quit thinking for a moment. My day is spent laughing and extracting happiness from routine. My day is spent chasing a paycheck and chasing my passion.

People always tell you to do something you’re passionate about as if it is just that simple. Telling someone to do something they are passionate about is the most over-privileged statement in the history of the United States. At least now. In your twenties. When what you really need to do is put your big girl pants on and figure out how to stand on your own two feet. You can feed your passion and still get a paycheck. Why do you think blogs even exist? For schmucks like me who need somewhere to goafter work so they can shout to the Internet stratosphere until someone hears them. That is what I do every single day. That is what I focus on. That is what I care about. I care about keeping Sallie Mae off my back and keeping Twenties Unscripted alive and well. And I care about my kinfolk, of course. I try to sustain healthy relationships with the five people on this planet who can put up with my bullshit.

Feed your passion. Get that check. And, if the rubber finally meets the road and you find a way to do those both simultaneously, well, that’s fucking amazing and some celestial being has looked out for you. But, do not sit idle waiting for that to happen. The rubber does not meet the road without you being on a relentless grind. Move. Work. Bust your ass. Then bust your ass some more.



Do Not Hate. Hustle.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela

do not hateI had every intention of starting this blog post a different way. In my usual snarky approach, I wanted to lament about how I’d spent the better part of my day treading in self-pity because a twenty-something writer I love just inked her second book deal. That was how this blog post was supposed to begin. Then right before 5 p.m. today, my coworker came by my cube and announced Nelson Mandela had died. And, the beginning of this blog post changed.

I shrieked. I took first to CNN and then to Twitter. I read a stream of tweets, many with quotes from Mandela. Quotes. Quotes are how writers think, feel and breathe. They do something to us. Soon enough I found myself fighting back tears, aware that today, like every other day on this Earth, the world lost a beautiful warrior.

Earlier today, I was in a meeting when someone said, “If we focus on what we haven’t done, we lose sight of what we need to do.” It struck a chord with me because as the year draws to a close, I’ve focused a bit too much on the fact that the draft of my manuscript isn’t done. Back in April when I started working on the book, I was sure the manuscript would be complete before the year was up. I’ve beat myself up a bit, a mental whipping that takes away from two things: 1) what I have accomplished this year and 2) the strides I need to take in order to actually finish the book.

But, the Mandela quote at the beginning of this post says it all: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I could say that for each and every thing I have already done with Twenties Unscripted. Back in 2012, I sat on a coaching call with Demetria Lucas early on a Saturday morning discussing strategies for my blog. I hadn’t even created Twenties Unscripted yet. She talked to me about making sure everything I did always led back to the blog. She said, “That means writing, social media, events…” I remember thinking “Events? No one would ever attend an event I hosted on behalf of my blog.” I’m now working on my third Twenties Unscripted event for next year. Yes, it does always seem impossible until it’s done.

It is very easy to hate on the work others are doing. But, it’s much harder to pull ourselves out of the jealousy doldrums and bust our asses. The energy we waste on trivial matters pales in comparison to the work we are meant to do in order to leave a mark on the world. Hard work is just that–hard. Taxing. Difficult. Exhausting. But, it is the only kind of work that ever shows results. Mediocrity only breeds a flat life until one day, you just flat line.

For me, writing is a labor of love. It is activism. It is what I was put on this Earth to do and I know that more than I know anything else about this life. So, I know the only energy I should devote to the work of others is in praise. Otherwise, I have to grind. I have to put my head down. I have to work. I have to hustle. I have to write. That is why I am here.

The world has experienced a collective heartbreak tonight with the passing of Nelson Mandela. But, my God, how fortunate were we to have him here to learn from his work, his spirit and his legacy.

Rest peacefully, Mandela.