“Baby boy, you’re only as funky as your last cut.”
~ Andre 3000
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, devices spread out, full from a bomb-ass omelette I made, ready to tell you (and myself) the obvious.
I haven’t been writing. At all. Like, not even a little bit.
And I’m bummed about it. So hopefully, me writing about not writing will make me do it.
This time last year, the waves from having my first print story in ESSENCE were dying down. Only a month had passed since the September 2014 issue hit the newsstands, but I was feverishly pitching editors for the next one because once you achieve a goal, the next natural step is to do it again. Family and friends had posted countless selfies with my story. Folks were rooting for me and proud of what I’d accomplished because they’d been riding with me for a while. Then, honestly, some folks love to say they personally know someone who did “x” supposedly awesome thing. Either way, it was a good feeling.
Shortly after, I wrote a post for Very Smart Brothas, and for once, I liked what I wrote after it was out for the world to see. Then, I got the opportunity to write my first story in Ebony Magazine, and it almost didn’t happen. Interview subjects who run businesses three time zones away from your editor make for long nights and possible missed deadlines. It was such an ordeal, my editor and mentor gave me a huge shout on Facebook that I will cherish. A few stories for a local magazine allowed me to interview Stevie Wonder (*screams), too. Then there’s a front-of-the-book story for Ebony on Flex and Shanice that happened in July 2015.
When making small talk at networking events, friends would nudge or kick me when I didn’t mention that I’ve written for these historical publications. (1) I’m ridiculously modest to a fault and haven’t quite learned how to properly toot my own horn without sounding like a self-absorbed asshole and (2) it’s awkward when I know the latest issue my work has appeared in dropped 90 to 365 days ago. There should’ve been more.
But July 2015….that’s recent, right? Not really when you consider that online pubs push out content DAILY, plus the average person doesn’t know that print stories that drop in May might’ve been written in December. Stories get pushed back for unseen reasons, publications restucture their editorial calendars, that go-to editor who always reads (and responds) to your pitches leaves for another job and his/her replacement may not be as responsive. The entire process can be tiring, discouraging and annoying.
I let all of those factors affect me incredibly. Forget pitching. I stopped writing for myself. No random blog posts about the awesome, terrible, crazy, astounding things that happen daily. What did I have to say that hadn’t been said a million times by other writers and bloggers? I was exhausted by the police brutality, fired up by Black Lives Matter, sad about gentrification, but couldn’t find the courage to sit at my laptop to talk about it. What else was there to write about? Was I talking about any new hotness among my circle of friends that someone else could relate to? I tuned out the repetitive and mundane conversations on #BlackTwitter. I had a backlog of bookmarked stories that I knew I needed to read because writers read first. There’s a stack of unread magazines on my table because although the covers were breathtaking, I couldn’t have cared less, even if my own words were inside of some of them.
My job was wearing. Me. Out. Stretching me is a better word. I couldn’t muster up the strength to write or plan for myself after the work day.
So instead, I slept. Daydreamed. Watched TV (but I did cut a ton of reality shows from my list) and listened to music. Watched documentaries until my Netflix connect cut her service. Made lists of things I should’ve written about, but never did. Scrolled social media on autopilot. Posted inspirational quotes on Instagram while doing nothing afterward. Contemplated starting a podcast. Kicked myself a little or a lot when saw a peer’s new writings or climb up the ladder.
I did everything but sit in this damn chair and write. Why? Because lazy and uninspired.
Then finally, I saw this video by The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates that a FB friend tagged me in. Then I remembered someone I admire told me writing doesn’t require inspiration, it requires action. Nothing happens until you get off of your ass and do something. Here’s my little start. Hold me accountable.