Writer First, Blogger Second Pt. 2

writer first blogger second pt 2

It starts somewhere at the base of your belly. Spills out in half-written sentences and metaphors without context just yet. Thoughts shrieking behind cages and begging to get out. Writing begins as a glorious mess, but it always comes from that shrine at the base of your belly.

My writing process is living and breathing. Existing in the same fractured world we’re all in and itching to vent about it. My process is throwing up the words violently, even when they come to me at an inconvenient time like right now as I sit in the Wegman’s parking lot, the minutes from my lunch break dwindling. I have to unload the words, otherwise they escape my memory as quickly as they appear.

My inspiration is every ugly thing. Every beautiful thing. Every gritty thing. Every monotonous thing. Every day that pushed me to the edge and every experience that took me to the cliff. Every young man who stained my heart with skepticism. Every love story I ache to have. Every observation I make about the person in the car next to me at a stoplight. Every verse and every refrain. Every tear and every cackle. Every night with a glass of wine. Every moment I catch his eyes for a second too long. My inspiration is a mosaic of what life offers most people. Except I grip the moments that others let slip from their fingers. If you’re a writer, you’re also an emotional hoarder.

My soul does not operate with any rhyme or reason. My mind thinks things through, but my soul just pours things out. It never sleeps. People ask me when did I know I was a writer. I want to tell them that there is never a distinct moment of revelation for an identity that has been brewing in your blood since you were born.

I understand why people take the word “writer” seriously. I understand why everyone is not quick to snag the title. Because once you say you are a writer, you can’t ever say you aren’t. You can’t ever back down and you can’t ever go back to seeing the world in pure black and white. When you call yourself a writer, you sign your name in ink and surrender your story to the masses. You become a sacrificial lamb, someone who will confess and express if it means  leading another human being to lay her burdens down.

When you call yourself a writer, that title demands your honesty–with the readers and with yourself. You can’t produce something if it’s not there. You can’t feign writer’s block because you’re lazy. You can’t write piece-of-shit listicles, at least not without feeling a white hot streak of guilt pass through you. You can’t publish anything if it didn’t rise from the depth of your soul and that base of your belly. But, every time you write, you have to carry yourself to the hot hell of your spirit. You have to be willing to go there. All the way. Not just when it feels good. Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when the words flow freely. Not just when it hits you. No, all of the time.

anais nin quote

There are entire courses dedicated to tell you how to become a full-time entrepreneur or how to run a webinar or how to build your email list. You can teach those sciences. But, it’s not so easy to teach this art. You can’t always teach someone how to pen the story shouting from their spirit. Some people spend entire lifetimes deaf to the tone of their own souls. Sometimes you have to learn on your own how to push the pen until it reaches that sacred place. You have to learn on your own how to fall at the altar of your own vulnerability. You have to learn on your own how to seize confidence from corners of yourself that were once cloaked and decrepit.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is a disclaimer: don’t come here expecting pretty pictures or “10 Ways to Get Your Lipstick to Last During Your Night on the Town.” I made a promise not to barter my soul for hits or clicks or the draw of potential clients. Maybe that doesn’t make me marketable, but it damn sure makes me, me.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it means strap on your boots and be ready to trek through the mud with me.

When I say writer first, blogger second, I am telling you that once you come here, I have already peeled back my layers. I am letting you peer at my core. I’m reminding you that my core only reflects some of the stories inside of you that you have yet to tell.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is so I can express my strongest, loudest and most prominent identity, the one that keeps me up at night and stirs me awake in the morning.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is to declare that I have had a love affair with the way words work since I learned how to sharpen a pencil. So, by the time these words have reached you, they have saturated my spirit and spilled through my fingertips. I didn’t pull them out of my ass. I took my time with them.

Because when I say writer first, blogger second, I am telling you that this is some strangely spiritual experience for me. A calling from some being high in the sky. A compass that leads me out of the tunnel. Writing is how I rise from the ruins.

So, I take it seriously. I take you seriously. I take the extinct art of human connection seriously.

The blog is only the medium. But, the words are the message. When I say writer first, blogger second, it means I will always honor the message over the medium.

When I say writer first, blogger second, it is never to diminish the role and work of a blogger. I have a hell of a lot of respect for (most) bloggers. Bloggers are the connective tissue of the Internet. And, I am one of them. So, I say all of this to draw the distinction. Because writers are artists. And artists are the connective tissue of the world.


Own Your Words: No, It’s Not Just Twitter

December 2012

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. 

I’m sitting in my childhood bedroom two days before Christmas, tied to my phone as I watch the man I’m way too infatuated with tweet incessantly about the club he’s at and the woman he’s with. 

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

Everything in my mind is starting to blur together and the pit in my stomach expands until it consumes my insides. I’m pretty sure my face is going to fall out of my ass in about five seconds.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I can’t stop. And, I wonder if I’m going crazy or if I’m really watching this flirtation transpire or if it’s a hybrid of the two. They’re exchanging the kind of commentary emblematic of dating someone early on, the witty banter laced with teasing. First, they discover they’re going to the same club that night. Then, they joke about dancing together. And, then they’ve danced together and I realize I have driven myself insane enough for one night.

Direct message. Me to him.

“Hey, I can’t do this anymore.”

I don’t know what “this” even is, I just know I can’t do it.

Before he can respond, I block him. Later, he’ll describe how he kept wondering what the fuck was wrong with his phone when he was met with an error message in his attempt to respond. But, all I’ll remember is sitting in my childhood bedroom staring at my medals from 8th grade that are still tacked to the walls while he was sweaty and smirking in a club with someone who wasn’t me.

“It’s just Twitter” is the kind of statement that digs under my skin and makes me want to scream. Granted, I know without a doubt that a decade from now, I’ll laugh at all of the melodrama Twitter managed to deliver to my life. I’ll joke about how much I agonized over things that were said in 140 characters or less. But, in 2014, when I am still a pathetic 24-year-old trying to carve her way in the world, Twitter is one of the many microcosms in which I reside. It is one of the main ways I communicate with my friends and strangers alike. It’s not just Twitter.

“It’s just Twitter” is a pretty convenient excuse if you want to say a bunch of shit and never have to take responsibility for it. And, while no one’s Twitter account needs to be taken as the Lord’s word, it doesn’t fly for me if people don’t want to own up to their shit. My generation spends 25 hours a week online. You’re going to tell me 25 hours of your week aren’t serious? Those 25 hours don’t count? They don’t mean anything?

The last time I seriously dated someone, I instituted a no-social-media connection/communication policy for myself. It worked wonders. At that point, I knew myself well enough to know that I could sit at a laptop (or phone) and drive myself up a wall based on someone’s online presence, especially someone I liked. I didn’t want to waste my energy on that. I just wanted to get to know him in-person, you know, the way they did in dinosaur days.

“It’s just Twitter” is a cop out, a flimsy excuse not to ever cover your tracks or own what you say. I’ve seen Twitter jumpstart relationships. I’ve seen Twitter destroy relationships. I’ve seen Twitter make friends out of complete strangers. I’ve seen Twitter make people cry. I’ve seen Twitter do a lot because behind most of those avatars, there are people and as people, we are far from immune to what others say, online or otherwise. It’s not just Twitter when Christina Fox provides an outlet for thousands of rape victims to tell their stories. It’s not just Twitter when Ebony has to issue a public apology for something one of their editors tweeted. I’ve written before that It’s easy to write Twitter off as some meaningless Internet stage that has democratized the importance of everyone’s voice; it’s harder to take responsibility for the things we say or do and the subsequent consequences of those actions.

Yes, there are many things in life to take far more seriously than social media. But, that doesn’t make anyone exempt from responsibility for what they say and project into the online world. Stop digging “It’s just Twitter” out of your back pocket when you don’t want to own your shit. Just own it. You said it. Now deal with it.



It’s Not Petty; I Just Don’t Like You.

If “thirsty” were the word of choice circa 2011-2013, then “petty” became its annoying younger cousin in 2013-2014. Now hood rats and college-educated folk alike have turned to this adjective to describe just about every possible life scenario including, but not limited to: having ill feelings toward an ex, unfollowing someone on social media, reminding someone they owe you money, ignoring a text message or, in some cases, choosing to breathe.

Anytime a word starts to permeate the vernacular of my fellow millenials, I usually take issue with it. “Thirsty” was no different. It’s as though we’ve forgotten the thousands of other descriptors in the English language and only know how to produce this word in a semi-articulate sentence.

The other day I was talking to a friend and he uttered a sentence I have heard (and said) way too many times: “I don’t want to seem petty, but…”

“Yo, it’s not petty,” I replied, cutting him off. He was in the middle of describing a situation to me where I agreed he had every right not to respond to the person or to say something pretty curt and dismissive. His desire to do either one of those things did not strike me as the least bit “petty.” Instead they seemed like the mature option.

I’ve done a lot of things that could be construed as “petty” and, quite frankly, that’s just a linguistic risk I’m willing to take. I’m coming up on my 25th birthday this year and even though I am by no means some old and wise guru, I’m learning how to behave in ways that preserve my own sanity. That means being deliberate about who and what I allow into my life. That means saying “no” when I don’t feel like doing something or when I think doing something will put me in a regretful situation. That means choosing my own peace of mind over politeness. If it looks or seems “petty” to other people, I hope that doesn’t keep them up at night. Cause it sure as hell won’t do it to me. Catching those zzz’s, baby.

We are not children and this is not the sandbox. We do not all need to like and befriend one another. Respect me, respect my work and I will return the favor. But, it’s not “petty” if we don’t like each other. It’s not “petty” if we don’t want to be butt buddies on Instagram. It’s not “petty” if I remind you that you owe me money and here’s my Paypal email just in case you forgot. It’s not “petty” if I look at a text message and decide that my not responding is better for both parties than my replying with some vitriolic message. It’s not “petty” if I tell you how I really feel instead of sugar-coating shit. It’s not “petty” if I act in the name of self-preservation. Maybe it’s smart, maybe it’s selfish, maybe it’s irritating. Maybe it’s difficult, maybe it’s shocking, maybe it’s polarizing. Maybe it’s unfriendly, maybe it’s isolating, maybe it’s harsh. But, “petty” it is not. So, grab your copy of Merriam-Webster and find another word. Petty, petty please.



How To Respond To Foolishness (According To Tyece)

There were a lot of things I could have said to the seven-text-message diatribe that hit my inbox on Thursday night. There were a lot of things I wanted to say and many more that I considered saying. And after I successfully typed and subsequently deleted several of those thoughts, I instead replied with “Take care.”
There is an art to using your life as your material as a writer. One of the most important lessons to learn early on is that you never write, at least not publicly, at the expense of people close to you or even those who were once close to you. Yes, you may write about them. Sure, you will reference them. Yes, you will characterize them. But, you do not throw them under the bus. You do not say anything on a public page that will embarrass or demonize them. And if you even have an inkling that your words could damage them, you talk to them first. You run the idea by them. You let them know your intent. I will try my best to adhere to that ideal tonight.
Once my mind descended from the high of our unexpected reunion, I was left with the same thoughts I had six months ago. This was not meant to be. There was no need to reincarnate a situation that did not function the first time, even if we were doing so under the guise of being casual and taking things one day at a time. There was not any amount of YOLOs in the world that would excuse us trotting down a path of nothingness. Again. And knowingly at that. So, when I dropped a text and said I thought us hanging out was probably a bad idea, you should know that my mind was already made up. I was not asking for your permission; I was hardly asking for your blessing. I was just asking for the respect that two adults give one another. I did not want to torch our bridge. I just had zero desire to walk over it again.
I am older and wiser, or at least I’m striving to be the latter. I don’t have much of a choice in the former. I try my best to bow gracefully out of situations when it is time to exit. I try to think before I speak (or text for that matter.) I try to have enough self-awareness to know when someone is attempting to push my buttons and enough sense not to give in to them. I do not always accomplish these things. But, I try.
So, on Thursday night as Scandal was wrapping up and I noticed a healthy amount of not-so-nice texts on my phone, I tried my best not to act a fool. Because, I could have done that. I wanted to do that. I could have responded with a monologue of my own. But, why? What would that have accomplished? A whole lot of nada. Anger, bitterness and resentment are all emotions that will completely occupy your brain space yet leave you feeling hollow. You never win with those.
Where and how I allot my energy has become increasingly paramount as I move through my twenties. Perhaps even more importantly, who I choose to spend that energy on is also significant. I have far too much shit to accomplish in this life to waste my time or my emotions. Because, I have been you. I have been the person on the end of the phone forgetting the adage that “less is more” and instead choosing to stick my foot in my mouth, typing damaging word after word. And, few things in life will decay you or suck your energy more than being that person.
So, if you wanted my monologue of a response, this is it. Here it is. On my blog. A place where I do not mind pouring out my thoughts or scribing my soliloquies. The payoff here is far more evident than it would ever be buried in a text message.