When everything else falls short, our dreams are sometimes the only things that can pull us through. When you wake up each morning and go to bed every night yearning to break out and bring your passions to life, you’re eventually going to have to make a decision. Either you’re going to continue living a life unfulfilled or you’re going to commit yourself to working towards a fulfilled life where you achieve your dreams. I’m glad that I finally made the decision on November 27, 2011 to make a serious push towards achieving one of my lifelong dreams.
On November 27, 2011 I submitted the initial draft of my manuscript to be self-published through iUniverse. For at least three years, I’d been toying with the idea of publishing my first volume of poetry. For whatever reason, I was conflicted. I take that back. For several reasons, I was conflicted. I’d given so much of myself away to my job and school and other entities outside of myself, that there didn’t seem to be much time or energy left to focus on what truly mattered to me. I doubted my talent and wondered if I really had what takes to make it. And I got caught up in others’ and society’s expectations of what I should be doing with my life. I found myself trying to adhere to standards and live a life that I didn’t want and that didn’t fit me personally. I suffered because of it and had to work to rebuild and get myself back on track.
So in the months leading up to submitting my manuscript, I eventually said, “Fuck it!” I was tired of being depressed. I was tired of doing things I wasn’t passionate about and could really give two shits and a side of fuck about. I realized that there was no better time than right now to go after what I wanted. I couldn’t blame anyone else but myself if I got to a point in my life where I was completely frustrated, disappointed, and angry about what I did and did not accomplish. The blame would definitely fall within no realm but my own if I committed to the quest of living the life dictated by others. So I went to work. I did research on how I should go about getting my work published, talked with friends and others about their experiences publishing and what advice they had for me moving forward, and continued nurturing my craft. And in roughly six months time, my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics was available for public consumption.
It fills me up with so much pride and joy seeing my book in print. It’s a major accomplishment, and I’m glad I finally pursued it. Now that my book is out, work hasn’t stopped. I’m still writing, networking, and planning for signings, readings, and other appearances to promote my work and myself. I’ve also begun work on my next project (more on that in another post, I promise). The focus for me is becoming a full-time writer. Outside of my writings about music, entertainment, pop culture, I’m most interested in writing about the human condition and the many things that we experience in our day-to-day lives. My writing—be it poetry, song lyrics, short stories, or prose—can, at times, be raw, confrontational, and confessional. As people who’ve read my writing have said, it’s engaging and it’s real. I’ve long since realized my style is not for everybody. However, if my writing resonates and touches just a few people, then I’m on the right path.
While writing is one of my passions, the dreaming doesn’t stop there. I’m in the process of achieving two other dreams. The first is finishing my MBA (which will be completed December 2012) and the second is becoming a voice over actor/artist (which I’m training for as we speak). And I have others, that, in time, I will continue to nurture and work to achieve.
It’s great to have dreams. We should all be encouraged to dream. But nothing is sadder than when we don’t go after or put in the work to make our dreams come to life. It’s critical that we do not let anything or anyone (and that includes ourselves) stand in the way. And you can’t give up if success doesn’t happen immediately or happen in the way you think it should. Always be open and flexible to what the universe may bring you. It may be better than anything you ever dreamed or anticipated.
Whatever you do—keep dreaming and keep achieving. Live your destiny.
I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it. Just think of the work you’ve set yourself to do, and do it as well as you can. Once you have really done all you can, then you can show it to people. But I find this is increasingly not the case with the younger people. They do a first draft and want somebody to finish it off for them with good advice. So I just maneuver myself out of this. I say, Keep at it. I grew up recognizing that there was nobody to give me any advice and that you do your best and if it’s not good enough, someday you will come to terms with that. ~ Chinua Achebe, 99U & The Paris Review
When it comes to writing, if you want to get better at it—write. Just write. And keep writing! Believe in yourself and what you’re writing and do the very best that you can when writing. There simply is no other way. You must continue to work at your craft. Write, rewrite, edit, revise, finalize, and repeat as many times as it’s necessary. Don’t be scared to do the work. It will pay off.
You have everything you need within you already. You must trust what lies within. It will very rarely steer you wrong. And write about what you feel. Write about what moves you. Write about what you’re most passionate about it. Let that be your guide. Write from your heart first. Be critical about it later. Use the feedback you get from others to help fine-tune and guide your work. But please, don’t take it personally. If you can do this, everything should fall in place.
Don’t be scared to take risks either. You never know how it may help you grow not only as a writer, but also as a person. If it proves to be a bust, so be it. It’s still a learning lesson that will help guide you as a writer and as creative being as you move forward.
People say to write about what you know… I’m here to tell you, no one wants to read that, ’cause you don’t know anything… So write about something you don’t know. And don’t be scared, ever. ~ Toni Morrison, USA Today
It’s so easy to get caught up into the formulas for writing, especially if they’ve brought you a fair amount of success. It’s safer that way, isn’t it? But as creative individuals—we thrive when we’re challenged. We thrive when we’re put to the test. We thrive when we let go of our inhibitions, take on the unknown, and, without over-thinking, simply create that which fuels our souls.
You learn more about yourself, others, and the world when you step outside of the realm you call home. Get unsafe. Move beyond the known. Embrace the unknown. Be inspired by the unknown. There’s no telling what magnificence may come about.
You can’t even give a little bit.
You won’t even try.
You fail to do anything that you think is going to challenge your ego.
You’re afraid of compromise for fear of losing yourself.
God forbid you should ever have to change.
But compromise is the key to keeping the scales in relationships balanced.
You can’t be the tyrannical controller and think you won’t get checked,
or think that I’m just supposed to go along with it.
You shouldn’t have to brand yourself differently to make our relationship work.
We have to accept each other as we are;
Else, our problems are much larger than we both can see.
I’m willing to make it work,
But if you aren’t—there’s nothing I can do to make you save our union.
It’s better to be selfish when you’re alone.
And we both know we can do better than that.
So if by now you haven’t changed your mind,
then consider these parting words:
Can’t deny I won’t be sad,
but I’ll get over it;
and you will too.
I’ll just wish you well
And I sincerely hope and pray that you find whatever you’ve been looking for
Cause it obviously isn’t with me.
Get over the fact that no one will ever be the same.
Get over the fact that there are multiple umbrellas, and everything and everybody will
never live only under one.
Get over the fact that most people have no desire to (and will never) reside in the same
space, because complacency is equivalent to death.
Acceptance, change, growth, and progress are pertinent and inevitable.
Let it be!
I was also honored to be featured with Rashid Darden, Monica A. Hand, and Red Summer the Black LGBT head / heart / love poetry reading (I’ll post video of my reading soon). It was a phenomenal experience. The energy from the audience was great. They were really feeling our poetry (which is always a plus). And the turnout was excellent. After the show I received lots of kudos from members of the audience and my fellow poets from the reading. It was also touching to have some of my family and friends present at the event. If it wasn’t for a solid support system, I wouldn’t have made it this far. My support system has definitely helped me prevail.