Majority of the time when I write on here, I feel like I’m spit balling so I’m always surprised when people are reading and more surprised when people like it. That seems to be the common sentiment around people who create. The “I’m just doing shit and people are watching” followed by a slow shrug. So let me start with words of appreciation for any of you that are following me, have been following me, and to those that leave comments. You’re the real MVPs.
I’m going to be real here. This writing game is hard. It’s hard, but I’m a masochist in the way that I keep going back to do it again and again. I don’t know why. It’s an urge that’s the strongest in my soul. The one I wrestle with constantly. The one that drives me forward whether I want it to or not. I love it. I hate it. I don’t know if I’m good at it. I don’t know if anyone’s watching, but I find myself here over and over again to pour just a little bit of my heart and soul into a page or two.
For me, it’s like that quote in the Willy Wonka film. Near the beginning, a young boy in the candy shop is talking to the Candy Man about Willy Wonka and why he does what he does. The Candy Man says: “My dear boy, do you ask a fish how it swims? Or a bird how it flies? Of course not. They do it because they were born to do it.” And it may not be the most magnificent flight or the most elegant swim, but they do it.
I may not say the most elegant or eloquent things, but I say them.
I decided to take a leap and see if I could get published last year and that was scary. Even if I was sitting in the safety of my own apartment, staring at a screen, it felt daunting. I happened to see a post that the feminist nerd blog “The Mary Sue” was looking for contributors. My eyes brightened, “I could do that!” Which was immediately countered by a tsunami of self doubt.
“Yeah right, what do you have to say? They’ll probably reject you. Forget it.”
And I could feel my palms sweating as I argued with myself, frozen and unable to move forward. And I, like anyone in that situation, did the most logical next step: I grabbed a beer from the fridge to drown that voice. It’s not the healthiest thing, granted, but it turned that voice from a 10 to a 2 as my bravado came out to say, “Fuck it, I’m gonna see what they say.”
So I laid on my bed, typed out a pitch and sent it so it was no longer in my mind and there was no argument to be had.
I had a message from them on my phone the next day. They liked my pitch. They wanted to read what I had to say. I worked the article to the best of my ability and when it was published, not only did I get paid for it but there were very little edits to my original voice. (I’ve seen editors strip my work to the point where even I don’t recognize it as my own.)
People saw it. People had a lot to say. Some positive, some negative. Either way, I did it.
Then a friend told me about Curly Nikki.
The voice echoed sentiments from my youth, “You’re going to write for them? You’re not black enough to do that. They’ll see right through you.”
Granted, that sentiment is for a whole other post, but needless to say the voice was back. After nailing the first publication I thought, “If I did it once, I can do it again.”
And I did for four months. It became easier. The hardest thing was trying to keep it fresh but I’m thankful to have had a good editor along the way (shout out to Erickka).
The point of me writing this is to remind myself of the strides that I’ve made in spite of myself, but also to let you know that if you have a doubt in your mind about all that you can accomplish, you have to try.
Yeah, it’s uncomfortable as fuck. Yeah, it digs out all your old insecurities that you thought you buried. And yeah, not everyone is going to feel what you’re putting down but you gotta try. You gotta do it.
You gotta do it for yourself. Do that shit that you wish you had seen growing up. Do it to turn your doubts from a 10 to a 2 (because they never really go away).
The surprising thing about taking the leap is not only do you get bragging rights, but you’ll meet some people along the way that breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Thank God, I’ve been waiting for someone to say this…”