May Your Words Reach The Right Hands.

The idea is notto live forever,but to

It was one of those emails I knew I’d tuck away for safe keeping. Standing by the PO boxes in the post office while waiting for triple A to retrieve the set of keys locked in my car, I checked my email. Usually my inbox only consists of LivingSocial promotions that I don’t want or can’t afford. But yesterday, there was an email entitled “Twenties Unscripted” with a heartfelt note from someone who had just finished the book–someone I wouldn’t characterize as my typical reader.

It all sort of felt like the Universe’s way of coming full circle. That same morning I typed a snail mail note to subscribers telling them that all you can hope for as a writer is that your words land in the right hands and shift something for someone. We don’t always know whose hands those will be, what those hands will look like or the texture of life’s fabric that those hands have touched. But, whenever I click publish or stick a stamp on an envelope or sign the front of a book, that is my silent prayer: may these words land in the right hands and shift something for someone.

I guess it’s a tall order for whatever deity I pray to on any given day. It’s a tough charge for me as a writer. It isn’t something I’ve always wanted or considered. But, eventually as a writer you evolve from me to we, from venting to connecting, from just being glad you got something on the page to praying that what’s on the page reaches the right person, at the right time.

Yesterday was proof that my prayer was answered.

Some words are a direct godsend–no call waiting, no interference, no operator and no lost connection. Raw talent is just writing the words that go from God’s heart straight to your hands. Maybe that’s why raw talent has become extinct, because we live in a world weighed down by interference and laden with lost connections.

When it comes to the support I have received, I have learned that people will surprise you in both horrific and fantastic ways. I’ve made grossly inaccurate assumptions about people I thought would never read my work, only to find their faith in me outweighing my own. I’ve bet it all on people who left me high and dry, strung out from the overdose of broken promises. I’ve been wrong more times than I’ve been right when it comes to people, yet somehow I’ve always been loved. Someone has always had my back. I have always been kept. My words have never failed to reach the right hands. Maybe that’s less a testament to people and more to that proverbial amazing grace. But, whatever it is, I will take it.

Maybe there is not any typical reader when it comes to Twenties Unscripted. Maybe that idea of a typical reader connotes some exclusive club and expected set of eyes, both of which choke the universality of good and golden writing. Good and golden writing builds bridges and traverses time. It strips race and gender, age and experience, and instead heightens that fragile and fierce sense of humanity brewing inside each of us. So, maybe there is not a typical reader for me. Maybe there are just words mounted on faith, written with love and sealed with a prayer.

May these words reach the right hands and shift something for someone.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Not All Clicks Are Created Equal: Finding Authentic Support

I’ve thought all year about this idea of support. About the many different forms it comes in. About why it’s important. About how it can be measured, if at all. I’ve thought about what it means when someone supports you and then suddenly stops. I’ve thought about what it means when someone doesn’t support you and then suddenly starts. I’ve thought too long and too hard about lyrics like “You wasn’t with me when I was shooting in the gym.” I don’t know if I’ve come up with anything useful or tangible from all of these thoughts.

If society measures a citizen by his or her salary, the blogosphere measures a blogger by his or her’s “numbers”–page views, hits, etc. We’re a numbers-driven, quantitative kind of world. This is a fact I’ve both played into and been sickened by. It makes my stomach hurt when I think of all of the amazing, brilliant individuals I know who go unnoticed by society because their numbers don’t quite add up. It makes me even more sick when I think of bloggers who suffer the same plight.

When I disclosed my numbers to Emily this past summer, I followed the sentence by joking that she had basically just asked for my salary. I know bloggers who willingly unveil their numbers publicly, but I am not one of them. Because, the same way it’s nobody’s damn business what’s on my pay stub, it’s really no one’s damn business what I see when I log in to Google Analytics. Knowing my numbers is a necessary evil. I now know enough not to mistakenly measure my worth, nor the amount of support I have, based on my hits.

If you don’t pay attention to your numbers, you’re fucked. On the contrary, if you pay too much attention to your numbers, you’re still fucked. All I see when I log in to Google Analytics are numbers. I don’t see names. I don’t see faces. I don’t get a metric for how many women I’ve reached, truly reached, in a way that changed their lives or forced them to think about something differently. I don’t get an asterisk next to a number if that person has read my work since 2012. I don’t get a breakdown of which hits are from people who support my work and which are from those who just like to clock my moves. Google Analytics does not measure the nuances of your readership. It does not measure who is real and who is absolutely not. It just uses some algorithms to spit out some figures that try to tell you how well your blog’s doing.

I’ve thought all year about this idea of support. About the many different forms it comes in. About why it’s important. About how it can be measured, if at all. If there’s anything I’ve learned about this idea of support, it is that arbitrary numbers certainly can’t measure it. I’ve learned not to just trust the numbers nor take them at face-value. I’ve learned that a hit could be from someone who was, indeed, shooting with you in the gym or it can come from someone who just wants to see if you forgot a comma in a sentence that day.

I’ve learned that some of your biggest cheerleaders are people who don’t necessarily read every post the second it’s published, but instead keep an eye on your work and watch from afar. Those are often times the people who understand your vision so deeply that they don’t need to be engrossed in the day-to-day of executing that vision. Those people are your guardian angels, watching over you and looking out even when it seems they’re absent. There are people who read your work religiously who don’t necessarily support you; they just like to have a pulse on you to determine when it’s the perfect moment to try and cut your lifeline.

There are fair-weather fans who come and go. There are friends who knew you before the brand, before the blog, before you ever gave two shits about anything–they have been there all along and always will be. There are people who love you until you stir some insecurity inside of them and they decide they can’t support anyone doing “better” than them. There are people who assume there’s a limited amount of success to spread in the world and somehow they believe yours threatens theirs. There are some people who just can’t stomach you. Period. Point blank. No explanation required. There are people who read your every word, people who type that URL into an address bar routinely because they truly care about what you have to say. There are people who are heaven-sent, people who have your back when you have reached your wit’s end, when you’re losing your damn mind, when you want to give up. The forms of support, or lack thereof, are so varied and complex.

So, you can’t consume yourself with the support. It is there, even when it’s just your guardian angels watching from a distance. Soak up the love you have. Do not lament the love you don’t. This dream is yours for the taking. And, all clicks are not created equal.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

For Erica

Sometimes you meet someone, and it’s so clear that the two of you, on some level belong together. As lovers, or as friends, or as family, or as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another or you’re in love or you’re partners in crime. You meet these people throughout your life, out of nowhere, under the strangest circumstances, and they help you feel alive. I don’t know if that makes me believe in coincidence, or fate, or sheer blind luck, but it definitely makes me believe in something. –Anonymous

May 2014

It’s the morning of “Brunch, Blogs and Books” and I am stressed to the point of a hernia. The event is sold out. My dress is hung in the closet and ready to go. But, I do not have an HDMI cable. And, I should not stress this much about a damn cord, but my inner perfectionist is revealing her insecure self. I need an HDMI cable to hook up my computer to the screen at the restaurant in order to show the Keynote presentation I pulled together the night before.

Best Buy and Radio Shack, two places that will surely sell HDMI cables, do not open until 11am. I need to be in DC by 11am. I call Target and the customer service rep stumbles through what’s in stock at their store–no HDMI cable. I call Walmart and the guy and I go back and forth before I finally give up and hang up. I want to get mad because I don’t know what the hell he’s saying, but chances are I am also not describing what I need accurately.

Erica is sitting on my couch scrolling through her beloved iPad. I sit on the floor and explain the dilemma. She looks through a few things on the iPad and calls Walmart (the same Walmart I called a few moments before). 

“Hi, I’m calling to see if you all have HDMI cables…yes…uh huh…no, I did not call here earlier,” she says. (Clearly the one rep from electronics at Walmart is getting annoyed). 

“Let me give you the product number from the one I see online,” she tells him.

A few seconds pass and I hear her say, “You have it? Ok, good. How much? Alright, we’ll be there this morning.”

And, just like that, I have an HDMI cable and a successful brunch.

We call this the holy trinity. Or, Erica, me and Yetti. Whatever.
We call this the holy trinity. Or, Erica, me and Yetti. Whatever.

I tell that story because it sums up who Erica (www.everythingenj.com) is both as a person and also to me. I wish I could tell you the story of exactly how we met, how our Internet love affair started brewing, but I honestly do not remember. What I do remember is this bubbly pistol walking into another brunch I held in NYC last year and feeling like I had known her for years. Erica has that way with people, this way of saying “Hey, mama”, giving you a kiss on your cheek and making you feel like everything is going to be alright. She puts you at ease and reminds you that in a fast and sometimes frightening world, there is someone who will have your back. I think it’s the mommy in her.

It’s hard to believe that Erica (affectionately known as “E” in our group chat) and I have only hung out in person three times because she has become a part of the daily fabric of my life. The quote I plopped at the top of this post is also the one I sent her in an email a few months ago on her birthday. But, today, she is celebrating a different kind of birthday–her blog’s 5th birthday. If you know anything about me and blogaversaries, you know I find them to be of the utmost importance–maybe even more so than actual birthdays. It is beyond special and incredible to spend five years nurturing an online space, evolving as a writer and growing as a woman. Blogaversaries must be celebrated, dammit. Hence this lovefest of a post. How do bloggers show other bloggers love? Blog posts, of course.

Erica has been a constant and authentic source of support and love for me. She has seen me through tumultuous times and a lot of self-doubt. She has pushed me. She has challenged me. Earlier this summer when I lamented that “I always have bad summers”, she did not just let me bitch and moan. Instead, she said “That means the universe is trying to tell you something and you’re not listening.” She has taught me that it’s better to have a lot of real love from one person than lukewarm support from 10 people. She has listened to me fret over everything from blog post topics to men to money. When I wanted to change my upcoming fall event because I was worried about the money for the venue, she told me to wait to do it until I could execute it the way I really wanted to. I waited and then the money came along to meet the vision. She was right. She usually is.

E, on your blog’s 5th birthday, I just want to say thanks. Thanks for being a beautiful person, a kickass writer and a woman who gives the world everything she has. Thanks for filling our group chat with ridiculous gifs and a lot of “WHET”s and an insane amount of love. Thank you for trekking to DC for events. Thank you for rallying with me as we rant about blogger issues. Thank you for believing in me and what I am trying to do. Thank you for being there when I am broke or when I am broken. Thank you for taking me in, a woman who has always been told I am not “approachable”, and for making me feel like I finally could connect with people, especially other women. Thank you for being my friend, my cheerleader, my blogging soulmate. Your talent is unmatched. Your strength is unrivaled. Your truth is changing the world and the women who are fortunate enough to read it. Your friendship is everything, no pun intended.

Xoxo,

Tyece

To The Beautiful Black Women Who Read And Support My Blog

Author’s note: Today is my last post until Monday, July 21. Next week there are 11 phenomenal writers whose work will be represented during Twenties Unscripted Guest Writers Week. Please show them love.

I never write about race. It’s sort of this unofficial rule I conjured up a long time in hopes that my writing would reveal itself as universal for women, not just black women. I struggled with the title of today’s post, aware that I could lose readers or polarize my audience. But, I had to write this, especially in light of celebrating two years of Twenties Unscripted and knowing the bulk of women who have made my blog what it is.

I’m not writing this to say that there are not women and men of all races and ethnicities who have supported my work and boosted Twenties Unscripted. I completely get that. I do not take it for granted one bit. And, I will continue to write in the interest of all women, independent of what they look like. I appreciate anyone who has ever read my work, even one word of it. But, I had to pause today. Because there is something incredibly special about the black women who support my work.

There are certain moments in life that only prove to be pivotal in retrospect. One of those moments was last summer when Evette Dionne listed Twenties Unscripted on a Clutch Magazine list of 5 Underrated Blogs You Should Read. After that list, a lot changed for me. A lot of doors opened. And, black women I would have never known read the list and embraced my blog with the kind of love I thought could only come from close friends and family.

Later that year, I won a Black Weblog Award for Best Personal Blog. Another one of those pivotal moments that I didn’t even realize would change my trajectory until after the fact.

Since then, women like Candice Shaw of Brown Girl Bloggers have reached out to me and given me opportunities and exposure. Women like Morgan and Lindsay of #BlackGirlsWhoBlog have constantly promoted my work. Women like Kimberly have given me opportunities to write for From A Wildflower and present my writing to a larger audience. And, there is no way I could write this without saying that women like Erica and Yetti have let me lean on them and vent to them about every tiny writer woe I have. They have uplifted me and pushed me beyond my own incessant self-doubt to do things I thought I would never be able to do.

These are all beautiful and supportive black women who have taken chances on me and given me opportunities to run like the fucking wind. There is not one doubt in my mind that black women have primarily made my blog what it is now. When I scroll through my Twitter mentions, I see a hell of a lot of beautiful and different brown faces. So, instead of resisting the need to write anything about black women, I have decided tonight that I must embrace it. I must embrace the same group that has so graciously and zealously embraced me.

Listen, black women are awesome. We are motherfucking awesome. I don’t need to tell you why. We just are. And when we get together and support each other, we are only that much more motherfucking awesome.

So, thank you. Thank you for making me feel validated and valued as a black woman in the blogosphere. Thank you for taking in my work and wry wit. Thank you for telling the rest of the world that black women do not only have to blog about hair to kick ass and gain readers. Thank you for being beautiful and supportive and responsive and encouraging and intelligent and so accepting of what I am trying to do and give to the universe. Thank you for holding me down in a world that too often tries to hold me back. I mean this. All of this. From the bottom of my heart and the tips of my fingers and the pit of my belly. You all are some kind of wonderful.

Xoxo,

Tyece

Why Women Need To Look Out For Other Women

I was on my second red cup of Chardonnay (the epitome of being classy and trashy at the same damn time) Saturday night when I started on my feminist rant.

What? You mean you don’t expect feminist rants at house parties?

It didn’t begin as a rant so much as a series of compliments sent to several of the women around me. One woman’s outfit was giving me a very Love Jones vibe and I needed her to know I appreciated that. Another woman’s hair was laid by the gods and goddesses. And, one woman just had really great boobs.

One must always acknowledge really great boobs. Always.

While my mild state of inebriation probably made me more apt to dish out the compliments, they still came from a sincere place. The ranting didn’t start until I kept saying “We as women don’t do this enough”, but I blame that on the unknown concoction I imbibed after the Chardonnay.

Last week, I read Alida Nugent’s “Hail The Sisterhood: Little Ways To Be Nicer To Your Fellow Girlkind” and it stuck with me. Her list included things such as “Respect the importance of the female bathroom line” and was meant to encourage women to try just a little harder to be kind to one another.

It seems like a simple concept. Women supporting other women. Women looking out for other women. Women complimenting other women. Unfortunately, I’ve seen people make this simple concept so much more difficult than it has to be. And, I know that because I used to be one of those people making it really difficult.

You want another anecdote? Last year, I went to a Grits and Biscuits party (if you don’t know, don’t ask.) My friends and I pre-gamed at some random hotel, compliments of a woman whose name I never gathered. She was a friend of a friend. In retrospect, she was a sweetheart. She also was wearing a pair of white volleyball shorts (a more appropriate way of saying booty shorts) and I did nothing but hurl my side eye at her and spit snide remarks about her attire in the January blistering cold.

It was a really ugly and nasty way to talk about another woman, especially a woman who had been nothing but nice and let a bunch of us cram into her hotel room to pre game. I remember that moment and I always want to kick myself when I think about it.

The more I write about feminism and the more I work to embody the things I believe in, the more I fight to support other women. Support comes in varied forms. Compliments. Reading women’s blogs. Buying women’s books. Going to women’s events. Taking a second to text someone and see if they are OK. Mending fences with someone after a prolonged and unnecessary hiatus. Letting someone know you loved something they said or wrote. Saying hello to all of the women when you enter a room, not just your gaggle of girlfriends. The list could go on and on. But, I am very conscious and proactive about giving props to other women. Because, as I often times say, we are all fighting the same damn fight. And, that fight is relentless, a barrage of societal bullets hurled at us from every direction. I don’t think it helps us one bit to toss more bullets at each other.

It always baffles me when women say “I don’t really get along with other women” or “I can’t stand females”. (My issue with the term “female” as an insult is an entirely different blog post that I will reserve for a different day). Anyway, by all means, have your male friends. I love my guy friends and I always appreciate how frankly I can speak with them. But, I don’t discount my girlfriends and the incredible value they bring to my well-being. They keep me sane. They make me feel a lot less crazy than I often times feel. They simply get it.

Saying you “don’t really get along with other women” is really just an insult to yourself. Look down. You see that? It’s a vagina. You have one just like the very women you so proudly proclaim you don’t get along with. So, to say you don’t get along with other women is pathetic and inaccurate. Maybe you’ve had some women in your life who did not mesh with your spirit or where you were headed, but that doesn’t mean all women are like that. It’s the same as saying “I hate all men” because you had one douche of a boyfriend. You’re looking at the world through a limited and broken lens.

It doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it. To paraphrase another thing I’ve written, lifting someone else up, especially another woman, will never diminish you. Throwing side eyes and shade takes so much more energy than just choosing to be kind and accepting. It doesn’t matter how many side eyes you throw. It doesn’t matter how many snide remarks you make. Because that woman’s ass will always defy gravity. Her talent will always amaze audiences. She will always garner the attention and respect of certain people. She doesn’t even realize you’re attempting to dull her shine; she’s too busy glowing. Your hate does not and will not subtract from her light. So, don’t waste the time. Don’t waste the energy. Just support her. Because there is nothing but goodness to be gained from you looking out for another woman.

Xoxo,

Tyece