Some Of My Best Essays of The Decade…
Let’s start from the very beginning
When I decided to become a full time writer in the fall of 2013, I had already been writing steadily for 7 years, prior to when I took the fateful leap into the unknown.
For the first couple of years, all the work I did was for the privilege of well-touted “exposure,” which we now know was the slyly preferred tactic of publications, both prominent and barely recognizable.
It was the biggest lie of a demanding industry, that enslaved hopeful and ambitious talents, who truly believed the hard work and long hours would actually lead to substantial results.
To say that my trajectory has been dramatically uneven is putting it mildly.
In the early days, I did everything from covering the iconic Chocolate Festival at the Javits Center, to spending an hour-long lunch break, while working as an executive assistant at JPMorgan, interviewing an up and coming filmmaker, whose latest release was garnering major buzz for the African Film Festival that year.
None of those outlets that I wrote for back then, are still alive and kicking. Including the ones that showed the initial promise for longevity, based on target marketing that smartly gave Black women what we craved in ways that the world of print couldn’t adequately satisfy.
I distinctively recall how I dutifully balanced my 9 to 5 with the promotion to daily writer/editor for one of the foremost editorial brands, that most Black women creatives graduated from before claiming their best lives in future endeavors.
The hectic schedule of being able respond to ‘breaking news” after receiving notifications from the managing editor, while scheduling meetings and booking travel for multiple executives at the private bank was a feat that I relished with pride.
First off, the last couple of years at my corporate jail ended up pushing me towards the direction of creative freedom and fulfillment.
I had explored the option of moving away from administration work, by reaching out to contacts in marketing and communications, but the feedback alluded to the fact that the basic qualifications of an Ivy League education, and parents who were already clients of the bank, were above my pay grade.
So yes, I grew bitter.
I didn’t want to sink in the desperation and helplessness of being stuck in a dead end job that wasn’t paying nearly enough to justify such ysacrifice. I needed to reclaim my dignity and self-respect by exerting my independence as an employed writer, who was lucky enough to have a steady source of income, in addition to the pay checks from monthly gigs.
It was a sweet ride for a minute.
That period of security and validation gave me the false belief that online media was going to be this tangible evolution that I was just beginning to experience at its infancy.
Living in NYC was swell, but when you’re managing your own apartment in the heart of the Upper East Side, you must have the flow of income that doesn’t have the threat of being delayed.
And so I kept the corporate job and used that location to master the skills of an on-call reporter, who can whip up the ABC’s of the lethal condition that killed Heavy D, while transferring temperamental millionaires to their designated client service teams.
But the good times don’t last forever.
By the summer of 2013, I had left my shitty cell of being over-worked and underpaid for another hellish venue that paid way more, but presented challenges that weren’t worth the crippling migraine.
Two weeks after the mutual split, I attended the gathering of a friend who was showcasing her fall fashion line at a cool spot in Brooklyn, and the taxi ride home with a new friend, led to a conversation about my current status as a writer for hire.
That’s how Medium found me.
Some years later, and my daily grind of submitting essays, except for the weekends, which just started this year, is a delightful habit that has allowed me to perfect my craft and mature as a writer.
My loyalty to this platform stems from life-saving measures.
It began when my friend and later editor, who was a first-class instructor of the art of storytelling in its most authentic form, graciously gave me the enduring gift of being able to express the hope, fears and victories of walking away from bondage, and into the realm of risk-taking as a freelancer.
That inaugural piece was the launching pad for so many more to come.
I have written over 4,000 essays so far, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it But I’m humbled by the sheer force of that number, and how it represents dedication to my most favorite thing in the world.
My engagement here has given me the highs of being selected as one of the Noteworthy writers, back in 2017, and the lows, which included a former friend, who happened upon an article I published that she didn’t approve of based on my interpretation of events.
Medium has undergone a lot of changes that have sometimes baffled and rattled the faith of longtimers, who have either chosen to leave or steadfastly remain active. For me, the necessary updates are proof of how brands and their influencers will always be valued over the excellence of unverified talents.
As this decade comes to a close, I marvel at my consistency as a writer who wrote for free with no regrets, until getting paid also presented a set of complications that made me miss the good old days.
I love Medium for what it was and I don’t blame it for what it has become.
I enjoy reading the amazing work of other writers, and I’m humbled that there are still people who read my work, even now!
And so I definitely need to celebrate the essays that had an impact because of my schooling at Medium, and how they captured the notable periods of my life and culture as a whole.
I do believe that the wobbly foundation of online journalism will continue to erode.
It’s simply not a feasible model for the future, and while I can’t come up with a better solution, I can confidently state that as things worsen, we will be forced to accept the inevitable, and revert back to the integrity of our station without damaging adherence to clicks and viral addictiveness.
In the meantime, as the year winds down, I will be taking a long walk down memory lane, and I hope you will come along for the ride!