On Loving and Writing

Photo by Dalal Nizam on Unsplash

Originally published in Aug. 5 Sunday Kind of Love newsletter

I.
Loving you is something like swimming in still waters and driving with the windows down. Easy. Calm. Even. Smooth. I once believed that love was more of a roller coaster, with skyrocket moments and precipitous drops. Perhaps that is why I was so afraid of it, convinced that any sort of love would come complete with complicated emotions and an ongoing rumble of anxiety. I only ever knew relationships that involved waiting with bated breath for text messages that only sometimes arrived and squeezing substance out of small exchanges. My sole sign that things had crashed and burned came from a stream of silence on the other end—forcing me to read in between the lines, pour a glass or two of Cabernet Sauvignon, listen to SZA on an endless loop, and pick up whatever shards were left.

II.
But, then I met you. I used to think people were full of it when they would say “And then you just meet someone.” It seemed to oversimplify the kind of shift I imagine would only ever be tangled, difficult, and impossible to find. But, everything I once believed about love shattered and is now being to rebuilt. I’m still putting the bricks together. I’m still remembering to stop holding my breath or waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m still savoring the taste of “I love you” on my lips. I’m still soaking up the way it sounds coming from your end. I’m still learning how to be kinder and softer, unarmed and not so sharp at the tongue. I’m still learning the responsibility that comes with holding another person’s heart in your hands. I’m still learning. My sweet love, I am still learning.

III.
I fell in love with you early on a Friday afternoon, in a one-bedroom apartment on the other side of the world. 74 Franklin Street in Adelaide, South Australia. It was gray and overcast, the kind of day destined for curling up in a ball and flipping through television. I would fly to Sydney later that night, but not before I sent you a voice memo, with the phrase “I’m falling in love with you” cutting in somewhere around the one-minute mark. We were two weeks in to the trip by then, with another three remaining before we would see each other again. The weeks we spent apart did not necessarily make us, nor did they break us. As we both would probably put it now, we survived and are glad it’s over. But, with an ocean and a 13.5 hour time difference between us, I learned that there is something unwavering about you. There is something that lifts me up and keeps me steady. Perhaps this is not the stuff that fairy tales are made of. But, I do believe it’s the stuff that lives are built on and upon which lasting commitments are forged.

IV.
The Buddhist says if you meet someone and your heart pounds, your hands shake, and your knees go weak, then that’s not the one. So often, my past relationships felt like walking across dilapidated drawbridges that could give way at any moment. High highs and ground zero lows. I’ve now learned that love is much more balanced and rooted. Love should not leave you flailing or fighting for air.

V.
I spent five years writing about heartache and aching for connection. It seems strange to say that finding love has now made it more difficult to write, at least in a public forum. It’s strange, but true. In fact I’ve been doctoring these words for a few weeks, afraid to relinquish them to any of the online spaces that I’ve abandoned for the greater part of the year. I’m trying to uncover where I go from here—how I transition from lovelorn to in love, from lost to a little more found—and still manage to tell stories that resonate, roar, and ring true. I’m not sure if I even want to tell some of these recent love stories, now that they have shape, soul, and another person I admire attached to the end of them. I want less of my life out there now. Some days, I wish I could collect every morsel I ever left on the Internet and take it all back.

VI.
And I wonder if some of the magnetism and magic of my writing from these past few years was because heartache is so easy to understand; pain is a story we’re drawn to because we can so easily identify it in ourselves. Sometimes I flirt with the idea of writing about past lovers just so I can still sound like the same girl and writer I used to be. I’m still learning how to write from the vantage point of the woman I am now, a woman who feels a bit more grounded, somewhat more judicious, and a lot less willing to surrender her life to the Internet. I’m uncovering the voice of a woman who is searching less and discovering more.

VII.
Joy and love aren’t always easy for others to access. But, isn’t that the work of a writer, to take any sort of human experience and distill it from abstract to accessible? Maybe that is where I begin again. Love is a much more complex language for me to write in—harder to learn firsthand, tough to scribe in, and even more difficult at times to understand.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Recap: 15 Of My Favorite Quotes From Write Your Ass Off April

Write Your Ass Off October

On the surface, it was a simple call to action: share your most naked, brave, no holds barred writing for 10 days. But, naked, brave, no holds barred writing is no simple task.

See, naked, brave, no holds barred writing means visiting your wounds and digging up the dirt from your dark places. That kind of writing means crying when it spills out of your fingertips and closing your eyes before  you click publish. That kind of writing is tough. Heart-wrenching. Exhausting.

But, it’s the only kind of writing I know. It’s the only kind of writing that leaves me wanting more. It’s the only kind of writing I hope to challenge others to create.

Last month, women (and a few good men) joined me for the Write Your Ass April. What I learned about myself throughout the challenge was one thing. But, the wildfire that raged across the Internet from the other writers was another thing entirely. I am so moved and wowed by each person who committed to this challenge, dumped their hearts out, showed their scars, and shared their stories.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from some of the Write Your Ass Off April writers.

“But you haven’t truly lived until you’ve been betrayed. Passed over and around, kicked to the side in favor of the pursuit of riches, status, sex, their own interests. And given the opportunity to repay the evil, I didn’t kick back.” –Mia Anika | Love

“And then I paused because the idea of being consumed had turned into a reality. It became a struggle between feeling that good, good and knowing the longer I lived in your flame, the more I would cease to exist. We were becoming a bigger you, not a grander Us.” –Syn | Ignite

“I learned the art of elusiveness from a man I once craved. I knew that I could never really have him because he would always belong to himself. I envied that and have gone to great lengths to be as enticing unto others as he was to me.” RIF | Complicate

“Yes, the weight of the man can spark, but the softness of your own touch will set your body ablaze.” –Minnie | Ignite

“You were the one piece of colored clothing that spilled beautifully into the rest of my whites.” Tassika | Spill

“We’re coming for the stigma. Don’t lump us into a category of businesses and people who don’t believe in the words and actions they’re putting forth, and are barely scraping the surface. Mental Health Awareness, building a young woman’s unbreakable belief system, reprogramming the way a society thinks? That is not a fad.” Yetti | Ignite

“I confess that Tyece created a masterpiece…Each word was chosen to cover my life in a perfect sequence. I doubt the world will ever see me like this again. They probably won’t be able to see me the same after these ten days. This is a one-of-a-kind discovery. It’s borderline a mental breakdown expressed on paper that prompts enlightenment and a new sense of security.” Cicely Rue | Confess 

“But we are no neat little narrative. Our expository moment was a fit of sparks and starts and stops and lingering chemistry and starting again. This tale features neither hero or villain, but two people who’ve played both roles interchangeably. Our dialogue wasn’t linear. Words spilled left and right until we found bits of ourselves in the depths of each other’s hidden, murky places. We’ve shared no single climactic moment. Pardon me, but I’d like a lifetime of those.” –The Skinny Black Girl | Spill

“Once someone told me I was mysterious, and I took it as a compliment. I wasn’t anti-social or mean, my personal business was just my business. Now it almost feels like that mysteriousness is working against me. I have a big head full of secrets. Some of them are my own, some belong to others.” –Acecily | Confess

“He takes me slowly, quietly, methodically. He’s learned our melody and he’s playing it perfectly. He stops to kiss me, to look at me, to kiss the freckles on my face. He’s studying me, as I am him, so he can take this with him when he leaves.” –La | Heal

“Love, I’ve imagined you as safety. I’ve been told that you are more than mere feelings and it takes work to have and keep you but, I’m afraid to say, our paths must have crossed, cut each other off and created confusion where certainty should be known.” –De’Nita | Love

“I invited you closer
I could tell in the way your tongue chased your lips
You enjoyed the twisted straight curated mess that is me
To you
I’ve never been complicated
To you
It all makes sense.” – @Magdalenea | Complicate (Instagram)

“Permit the years of beautiful and bad memories to resurface from the vault.” –Crissi Untangled | Heal

“I am a mess at twenty-two and am all the more beautiful for fixing my fingers to form the truth. I am eye bags, and a weary back, and more tears than my ducts thought were possible.” – Fullamusings | Confess

“I think that’s what eternal love is: not being attracted by ideas or similarities, palms or lips, mouths or genitals, but being magnetized to someone at your core. I think eternal love is a patient witness. It’s not worrying about growing apart, because you know your souls will always find a way to reconnect without interfering. I think eternal love is not wanting to disrupt a person or what they’ve become, but just wanting to watch, to witness, to feel their presence, and to be a part of it somehow.” –Roconia | Love

These quotes don’t even come close to doing the magic of Write Your Ass Off April justice. So, to everyone who touched this challenge in one way or another, thank you. I can’t wait for us to do it again later this year.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

Announcing Write Your Ass Off April | A Writing Challenge

Write Your Ass Off October“remember,
you were a writer
before
you ever
put
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing
externally.
does not mean you were not writing
internally.”
― Nayyirah Waheed

There are stories that sit behind the brick walls. They shout and bang their knuckles against those barriers, but we’ve learned how to ignore them. Because when we consider what it would mean to tell those stories, we recognize the seismic shift that will happen inside of us and to the world around us. We know that once we tell those stories, we can never, ever go back. We understand the gravity, responsibility, and fragility of sharing those stories. So, instead of telling them, we’ve learned how to push them to the bottom of the barrel. Then those stories become sirens inside of us, demanding to be heard.

This writing challenge is about telling the stories that have become sirens.

This writing challenge is about taking on the responsibility of telling those stories.

This writing challenge is about welcoming the seismic shifts and never, ever going back.

Because that is what writing your ass off is about. Writing your ass off is about meeting vulnerability on the bridge. It’s about digging deep and diving under. It’s about extracting inspiration from all things. Writing your ass off is about pushing yourself and pulling from all of your places. It’s about writing that elevates, evolves, and emancipates you. It’s about reaching your own level. After all, it is your writing and, my love, it is absolutely your ass.

That’s why this challenge is only 10 days. Because that kind of writing–the kind that takes you to the cliff and brings you to your knees–is not the kind of writing you need to do for 30 days straight for it to send waves through your world. So, 10 days. Here we go.

Here’s how it works:

Pick any 10 days in April to write. They don’t have to be 10 consecutive days. Just 10 days.
Use the prompts. You do not have to do them in order.
Write your heart out.
I’ll share recaps from the challenge every Friday in April on Twenties Unscripted.

The golden rule:

Share your work and follow along using the hashtag #WYAOApril. I am going to dive into all the magic you guys spread during April. And, of course, I will rise to the challenge right here on my blog.

The silver rule:

Include the prompt you’re responding to + a blurb about the writing challenge in your blog posts (something like: “This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge #WYAOApril” is beautiful and perfect.)

Don’t have a blog or not quite ready to hit publish on your magic? No sweat. Email me (tyece@twentiesunscripted.com) with your pieces.

You ready to rise to the challenge? Let me know in the comments section. 

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

On Writing: The Thin Line Between Inspiration and Imitation

inspiration and imitation

It’s happened a lot as of late. I’ll read the title of someone’s latest blog post and my eyebrow will raise. This little part of me will suggest that I do not click the link knowing that what I’m about to read is only going to confirm my suspicion. But, I always click. I’m a byproduct of my millennial generation, so I am greedy for click bait and insatiable in the worst ways. Then I begin reading the post and the paragraphs sound oddly familiar. The rhythm of the sentences seems oddly familiar. How the words dance and play with one another seems oddly familiar. The tone. The alliteration. The style. The voice. All far too oddly familiar.

Maybe this is an open letter of sorts. Or maybe it’s a rant. Maybe it’s part plea and part petty. But if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that this sentiment is real and it’s begging to get off of my chest. It’s been gnawing away at me and filling my insides with nothing but nastiness. These are feelings I’ve voiced to friends who have convinced me I should not email to the suspected offenders. They’ve told me I should steer clear of calling people out or breathing fire. So instead I’m turning to my own blog, a place both personal and wildly public. A platform I trust. A space where I can express freely. A place I know people visit. And a post I know people will read and wonder about.

“What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.” That’s Ecclesiastes 1:9, and though I hardly ever quote Bible verses here, it’s fitting. It’s the perfect counter argument to my scrunched up face and my raised brows when it comes to reading work that I feel is a direct imitation of my own. Perhaps it’s self-righteous and off base to believe I’m creating anything new or original or fresh. But, for all intents and purposes, and for all of the unrest stirred up inside of me when it comes to this topic, I will own being self-righteous and off base.

The writer in me understands that very thin line between inspiration and imitation. I love reading work that’s inspired. Inspired work is beautiful. Colorful. Full. Inspired work is derived from all sorts of experiences. The smallest details. The tiny things. Inspired work pulls from a plethora of sources, and every source informs what the writer creates. Inspired work collects all of the minutiae and turns it into something grand. I’m moved even more when I read work that feels inspired by my own journey. It tugs at my heartstrings to know something I shared ignited something else within another writer.

I am not moved, however, when I read work that feels like an apparent knock off of my own. Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Imitation is flat. Obvious. Cheap. It’s taking entire paragraphs and changing a few words without bothering to infuse a new voice. It’s forgetting that writing is not just words, but it is rhythm. It is beat. It is flow. It is style and it is flair. Writing is about one person taking all of their mess and idiosyncrasies and spilling them madly onto a page. However, imitation is like putting on your mother’s shoes as a little girl, when they are six times too big, but walking around like you own the place anyway.

And maybe the kicker is the insult to my intelligence. To my craft. To the unbridled amount of energy I put into spending time with myself and my work to create meaningful art. There are seven times each month when I hold myself accountable for crafting something original for public consumption. One blog post each week. Two newsletter notes every other week. A snail mail letter once a month. Seven times a month when I open myself up to whatever inspires me, let it marinate, digest it, make sense of it, quiet the noise, prove writers block wrong, sit down to write, reread, revise, and publish. Seven times. Seven times when I put something new and personal and vulnerable out into the cosmos. Seven times when I challenge myself to stay authentic, but somehow remain universal. Seven times when I distribute something that I hope speaks to someone else’s plight or happiness or hell or sheer wonder.

Seven times a month. That means 84 times this year.

So, it’s strange and downright sad to me that anyone would think I do not know the sound of my writing voice like the back of my own hand. Its rhythm. Its beat. Its evolution. The words that have been cemented forever in my book. It’s hurtful that anyone would assume I’m not acute, aware, or observant enough to recognize a knock off. And it’s completely foolish to think I wouldn’t get fed up enough to at least write about it.

I’ve always said I am a writer first and a blogger second. Blogging is the science, but writing is the art. And it took hell and high water to get here, to this point, where I believe in the resounding power of my writing and have worked for hours to refine it. So, maybe that’s my plea. Maybe that’s my ask. That we all take the hell and the high water. That we each spend the time to hear the sounds of our own voices instead of singing the tunes we studied so gingerly from others. Maybe we should each put in the work and do the heavy lifting to figure out what we want to sound like. Who we want to be. How we want to write. Maybe we should save up for the real thing instead of shamelessly buying the knock off.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Woman Behind These Words: Launch of www.TyeceWilkins.com

TyeceWilkins.com launch promo

It’s live! Head over to the bio page on www.TyeceWilkins.com to check out the “Meet Tyece Wilkins” video, produced and edited by Roconia Price of www.EverSoRoco.com


 

July 22, 2014. One day before I flew to BlogHer in San Jose. But, July 22, 2014 was also the day Brown Girl Bloggers published my Blogger Spotlight. I’ve done a lot of interviews since then. I’ve answered a ton of questions. I have told the story of how I started Twenties Unscripted more times than I would like to count. But, it was something I said in that particular Brown Girl Bloggers spotlight that never quite felt right and always stuck with me:

What are your future plans for your personal brand?
My personal brand is something I didn’t start thinking about until a few months ago. I always just thought “Tyece Wilkins = Twenties Unscripted”. When you think of me, you should think of the blog. When you think of the blog, you should think of me. I still believe that. But, it’s not that easy. Personally, I want to begin to be viewed as a source on writing for and about millennial women. I don’t know if I have any concrete plans for my personal brand. I do want to take another shot at throwing my name in the hat to speak at blogging conferences next year, but I’ll have to think more about it. Maybe my plan for my personal brand is thinking of a plan for my personal brand. Go figure.

Evolution.

It makes me both cringe and smile to read those words now. I see tenacity blended with insecurity. I feel the confidence mixed with misgivings. I want to yank the word “source” out of the response and tell the woman who wrote that how much more she’s bound to become. I want to tell her that she will transform into an influence, not merely a source. And, more than anything, I want to tell the Tyece who wrote those words that this equation does not work. Tyece Wilkins ≠ Twenties Unscripted. Tyece Wilkins is a separate entity. She is a woman with layers, complexities, and gifts. She is more than the voice behind a brand. She is her own emblem.

I didn’t know that back in 2014. It took all of 2015 for me to figure it out and draw the line in the sand. It took all of 2015 for me to gain that confidence in the woman God was assembling and the trio of talents he had given her.

Amplification.

The first lines I wrote in January’s snail mail edition were “Roar. This is the year of boom. This is the year of loud laughter and big truth and bright lights. This is the year of a voice that doesn’t shake even when the ground below is rocky or the waters get choppy or the fire gets hot.” 

I told my mastermind group that if I had a word for the year, it would be amplification.

See, this is the year that I go boom. It’s the year that my writing goes boom. It’s the year that my speaking goes boom. It’s the year that my spoken word goes boom. It’s the year that I stop ducking for cover, making excuses, or pushing other parts of my artistry to the side. It’s the year that I rise to the challenge of living out every branch of my purpose.

Risk.

And, yet, I still don’t quite know what I’m doing. In this life, it’s possible to know who you are and why you’re here while still not knowing exactly what you’re doing. But, I am giving way to the growth. I’m letting that growth lead. I’m letting it encourage me to step into this next leg of the journey and completely outside of my box–scary and uncertain as that might be.

WYOA promo

The debut of www.TyeceWilkins.com represents the official launch of my writing services and the free monthly “Write Your Ass Off” cultivation call! As part of the launch celebration, all one-on-one packages are half off until April (aka a whopping $25 dollars). Head over to the Work With Me page to learn more and sign up.


The story.

Evolution. Amplification. Risk. Elevating the woman behind the words. Living out every branch of my purpose as a writer, speaker, and spoken word artist. That’s the narrative behind www.TyeceWilkins.com.

What has changed.

Twenties Unscripted isn’t going anywhere. I’m so happy and full right now when it comes to this blog and how much it has grown. So, TU will remain the umbrella for my writing and other mainstays of the brand. But, I’ve transitioned my spoken word archive to TyeceWilkins.com.

Most importantly, I’ve replaced the former “Work With Me” page with a link to TyeceWilkins.com. This is where I’ve established my writing services and built out more of a presence to highlight past, future, and potential speaking engagements.

The hardest part.

I had to shut off the noise. There’s a lot of it these days. But, I had to remember something I heard awhile ago–there’s a difference between a signal and noise. A signal summons someone’s attention. A noise just distracts them. With everything I do, I have to create a signal.

I also had to scrape for some courage at the bottom of my heart to finally declare that my energy and time are worth something. I had to dig for some chutzpah to truly believe in the knowledge, skills, and expertise that come with writing a book and building an award-winning blog. I had to stop shying away from saying that I created an award-winning blog. I had to be open enough to share what I know and self-assured enough to position it as more than just something you can gather on a Google search.

Yes, this was the hardest part. Work With Me was one of the last pages I created. Because it induced all these fears of rejection and beckoned that sneaky little devil on my shoulder.

But, it’s there now. It’s live. The devil on my shoulder has once again been put to rest. So, welcome to the woman behind the words: www.TyeceWilkins.com.

Xoxo,
Tyece