We Need To Show Each Other Authentic Support.

I wanted to wait until my official blog birthday month to write this post. But it’s been brewing inside of me for awhile and so much of its message came to life today.

I woke up this morning at 7 a.m. excited because I planned to begin promoting “Wine, Writing, Women and Wisdom: Celebrating Two Years of Twenties Unscripted.” It usually takes Jesus, Mary and Joseph for me to wake up early in anticipation of anything, but this was big enough. I started blowing up social media shortly after I got up with the flyer my graphic designer did a kickass job on.

morgan tweetI received some love and retweets about the “blogaversary”, but around lunchtime, my phone buzzed with an unanticipated  compliment. See to the exhibit to your left.

Morgan and I haven’t known each other for a long time. We haven’t actually ever met in-person. But, like most of the women who support my blog, she emerged from an unexpected place and has become an important creative partner. Her words came at a much-needed time this afternoon and there weren’t enough characters in a tweet for me to let her know how much I appreciated what she said. She shows support with a capital S and if there is anything I have learned over the past few years, it is that capital S support is extremely rare. Especially in the blogging community.

To people outside of the blogging world, the amount of public praise and love we show our fellow bloggers may seem excessive. Or, so I’ve been told. It comes across as dick-riding or ass-kissing or any other term people have conjured up. But, for those of us who pen our stories online day after day or search for interesting locales to shoot our photos, for those of us who have taken the plunge into this really strange and beautiful world of online exposure, we know that there are never enough words to show someone your love. I can’t retweet or quote Jessica Schiffer enough to show her how much her words have made me pause, reflect and appreciate the writing that she offers the world. Now take that sentence and apply it to so many of the other writers I adore. Erica. Yetti. GG. And, the list goes on.

It’s unfortunate that we exist in a world where many people think praise needs to be watered down with sarcasm. People hoard their authentic support. They place a quota on their compliments before they think it’s “too creepy”. God forbid they actually retweet something you said or outright compliment something you did. Perhaps what those people fail to understand is that lifting someone else up never, ever lessens you. If anything, it elevates you. There are so many people who show support with a lowercase s–they believe their support should be assumed because they gave you a page view for the day. And, yes, support with a lowercase s helps build the numbers. That support still means something. But, I don’t think love should ever just be assumed. It has to be shown.

And, that support has to be shown because what we do as writers, as artists, as creative people, is nothing short of an act of war. It is tough and it is soul-sucking and it requires more energy than we ever thought we had. It requires commitment beyond what we ever anticipated. It requires WORK, all caps required. In the words of Jay-Z, it ain’t for everybody. You think you’re reading 500 words and continuing on with your day, but we poured our souls and ourselves into that shit. We thought about it. We mulled it over. We jotted sentences down on napkins. We deleted phrases that we didn’t like. We fought to offer you something meaningful. And, more often than not, it feels as though we’re being met with deafening radio silence. No, we don’t do it for the accolades, but my God, does the encouragement helps. It helps to know that someone hears us, understands us, connects to what the fuck we are trying to say. It helps more than words can say.

My love language has always been words of affirmation. Words matter and there isn’t a soul on this planet who can tell me any different. Words are how I most openly receive and understand other people’s love and support. Some people want you to show it. Some people want you to say it. I believe you show it by saying it.



Bloggers Have To Lift Each Other Up.

I know the title of this post is very kumbayah, come-one-come-all and let’s join hands, but bear with me. I’ll promise to make a point.

Last Thursday afternoon, a blogger friend of mine hit my inbox to tell me something was happening on Twitter. She sent me a few screen shots and I couldn’t really make sense of the situation so I scrolled through my timeline until the pieces started to add up. An article entitled, “Brown Girls Blogging Creator Ty Jones On Her Copycat: ‘It Was Very Poorly Done‘” had been published on The Stylish Standout. The “copycat” Ty Jones referenced is Marie of GoodLooknOut. Both women curated lists on their respective blogs highlighting black fashion and style bloggers.

Ty’s list: “100 Brown Girls Blogging

Marie’s list: “100 Black Fashion And Style Bloggers Paving The Way”

The catalyst for the article was a well-written essay Ty penned entitled “Duplicate” highlighting the botched sense of ethics that seems to run amok in the blogging world. The catalyst for her essay was Marie’s list that she felt was all-too-similar to hers.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known of both Marie and GoodLooknOut before I read this article. I did not know of Ty and Words And Wardrobes. That is not shade; those are just facts. I find both blogs to be very well done. Yes, I did defend Marie on Twitter. Yes, I did have an exchange with the writer from The Stylish Standout who produced the piece to hear his version. And, no, I do not feel like hyperlinking anything else so that is as much context as I’m going to give you for this.

In Ty’s defense, I do agree that some (not all) bloggers have a misconstrued sense of ethics. The modern microcosm of social media and blogging has made some people think it’s optional, not required, to reference their sources. Every day I see people throw gems on Twitter without any name behind the quote. Come on, boo. You know you didn’t just conjure up that wisdom in that pretty little head of yours. Whether it’s Marilyn Monroe or some blogger we’ve never heard of, let us know who said it. I don’t think you need to have taken a course in journalism ethics to know that you need to give credit where credit is due. That’s just common sense. I recently had conversations with two editors about properly attributing my work after seeing things that made me raise my brow. So, yes, I do believe if you see someone try to take credit for your shit, you need to say something.

Ty and Marie are certainly not the only women who ever curated lists of black fashion and style bloggers. They can’t be. I’m not even in the fashion blogging world and I know that. If Marie did use Ty’s list as a source, yes, she should have attributed that.

The reason I zoomed to Marie’s defense on Thursday is because it always dejects me a bit to see bloggers not support one another. And, no, calling someone a copycat is not exactly a form of warm support. Blogging is HARD. Blogging is tough. Blogging is not for people who want to see immediate results. It requires you to crawl. It requires you to commit. It requires you to marry yourself to consistency. So, you need allies. You need people who live in the very blogging world that sometimes agonizes you. More and more, I lean on my blogger kinfolk because, let’s face it: my friends don’t care if I’m torn between writing about two different topics one night or if I’m unsure about a particular post title. But, my blogger kinfolk get it.

This thing is not supposed to be a competition. Your chapter 1 is someone else’s chapter 15. That chapter 15 is someone else’s chapter 30. Ultimately, no one can do what you do quite the way you know how to do it. That doesn’t mean we all don’t look at other blogs or bloggers and wonder, “What the fuck am I doing?” If you don’t ask yourself that question every now and again, I doubt you’re a breathing body.

But, the competition can’t consume you. I know that no one will ever write the way Tyece can write or tell her stories the way she knows how to tell them. And, yes, I said my name in third person because I feel like being a cocky motherfucker right now. I have spent years finding, honing and polishing my writing voice. It is the one voice I have that speaks loudly. It does not quiver and it does not stutter. It is a voice of which I am proud and I have unwavering confidence that no one else has it. Yes, there is a cornucopia of twenty somethings writing about dating and friendship, but no one will do it the way I do it. And, when you believe in the uniqueness of your shit, you feel free to applaud others. You are open to retweeting for days. You have the liberty to give props and show love. Because, you respect what others do. You know that nothing about what they are doing will ever dim your shine or stymie your hustle. You see the beauty in other people’s work. You don’t need to compete; you just need to create.



To The Woman Who Helped Make My Showcase A Reality

Wildflowers Unscripted Writing Challenge Day 12: Praise a person

ssf-invitation-webfinalToday the showcase that I have been planning since December sold out. It was sort of a surreal feeling given that when I booked the venue a few months ago, I lost sleep over whether or not I would even be able to put a show together. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in showcasing their work. I charged $5.00 for the tickets because I was so worried that people would not come, so I didn’t want price to be an issue. Then, over the past few weeks, I saw the amount of available tickets go from 60 to 30 to 11 and then to 1.

Today was a good day.

And today’s writing challenge topic is fitting because all of the effort behind this showcase comes from so many people. The person who sticks out most in my mind is my friend Kalani who has done all of the graphic design for the show–the original call for artists, the showcase invitations and the program for that night. She was one of the first people I talked to when I came up with this idea last summer. It didn’t quite work back then which only increased my anxiety about trying it once more.

I won’t deny that I can be a bit of a Nazi to work with. I send a lot of emails, I always have edits and I can be a manic perfectionist. I expect a lot from people because that is the standard I hold myself to. Do it right or don’t even bother doing it. Kalani has witnessed all of this and has still done a kickass job. An idea is usually just an idea until someone puts some creative thought behind it and makes it visual. Visuals make it real. She made the vision for this showcase real. She gave it a look and feel. She gave it a design so we could promote it. And, now it’s fucking sold out.

One of my favorite quotes is the sentence, “Praise the bridge that carried you over.” Praise the bridge. Praise the people. Praise it all. So many of my friends have stood behind me and this blog. No one has to believe in you or anything that you do. But, when people back you up and support your work, it’s an incredible thing. I am a manic perfectionist when it comes to Twenties Unscripted because it is such a huge part of who I am. In about two short years, I have put an investment in this space. I put my heart into this space. I put my soul into this space. I put my thoughts and my time into this space.

I am always, always, always thinking about this blog and this brand. And, sometimes I even hate calling it a “brand” because this isn’t Ralph Lauren or some shit like that. But, I do believe this has become more than a blog and I truly don’t think I could say that if I didn’t have the solid support of so many of my friends. Graphic designing is not my talent. Photography is not my talent. Hell, event planning is not my talent. Writing is my happy place. Everything else only comes together with the help of so many people behind me.

I thought I would wait until showcase night to shower Kalani with accolades, but, if you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for helping to make this crazy idea/dream of a showcase actually happen. Thank you for loving this idea even last summer when I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into. Thank you for dealing with my many emails and then subsequent gchat messages when I got too anxious. But, above all, thank you for having faith in this very infant brand. Hopefully I get a sweet book deal one day and can look out for you. If not, there’s always monopoly money.