The Pain of Not Realizing Why Your Artistry Is Costlier, Than How Much It Will Cost When Others Can’t Afford Your Words
When I joined Medium — four years ago — I was eager and hungry to say anything. I wondered what I would do if I had the freedom to divulge the shit — that I would only dare recite to myself while allowing the pressure from the shower to wash away the residue of life.
I’ve always been flawed in my honesty. Or at least what I recognize as my truth. But what is really the truth? That word doesn’t hold much value when you really ponder how you use it.
I mean is it true that I was sexually molested at the age of nine? I would say, yes, absolutely. I was there and I remember bits of it and I know how that experience shaped me. I know someone— a relative — who didn’t quite see it that way. His truth was very different from mine. He wasn’t a witness or the perpetrator — just someone who didn’t want my truth to interfere with his.
I became writer when I discovered a passageway from my daytime nightmares. The ability to convey simple emotions through the tongue of my preference without admitting more than required. Actually, it was really admitting more than I should in ways only you can understand.
That was the habit I functioned when my first set of poems became public and I realized that I didn’t care much for the hoopla or pride in the eyes of adults witnessing a youngster at her best. It just felt natural and affirmative — to be kind to myself under the covering of tangible expression.
The weight of my past never prevented me from blossoming into the awkwardness of surviving into a person who despite shades of gray that abruptly alter the scenery from cheery to tombstone — still remains enchanted in the process of daily swipes that register the ticking bomb of the heart.
I don’t know how to love with body and soul because both were disconnected by a vertebrae that was dislodged.
This happened when the vision of what I was to become was fucked away senselessly. Maybe the gift of stormy encounters that sport no thunder — is the only way to be propelled to a higher realm of astute brilliance.
The vividness of the aftermath was expressed in the tendons of understanding — and worshipping the protector who allows various methods of speaking in tongues — that don’t necessitate the biblical chant of the accusers.
Victims have an easier way of tapping into the vortex of self-healing with the forgiveness of sentences that are lumped so dramatically — that it is compulsory to scale it down — in order to invite prospects with heavier arteries — to breathe in the air supply that you selfishly saved for yourself.
Before I joined Medium — I had a lot to say — and I said it.
I kept a blog that detailed the fears and the joys from the fears that eventually lead to outcomes that require no fear in explaining — why.
It felt safe to share and be shared in a minimalistic way. Not many cared — but the ones that were demonstrative — made it clear that I wasn’t alone.
My struggle or victory was transferable and even transformative — and that realization was endearing — but never quite settled enough to convince me that an innocent post on Facebook with the link to the testimony of why one night stands in South Beach shouldn’t be underrated — would cause an epic familial breakdown.
Family members never disappoint. Particularly when they read a piece that contains all the language that God can’t handle — in case it makes him horny. Imagine what a mess that would be! No, this was less messier than that — but messy just the same.
Nigerian parents should never, ever be allowed the web delivery of an essay that details how a hot night in Miami made their plastered daughter horny enough to use the sandy beach as a tool for the biggest orgasm — that only the stars in the sky can attest to.
But they got what they didn’t ask for — and the person responsible later tried to do what I sometimes do in my sleep — and so did her other sister — but writing comes from an internal mechanism that is built to thrive past the thrill of claps or shoutouts from notables.
When Medium became my medium of choice — it was like a scene from The Wizard of Oz — when Dorothy is blown away by the fact that going home was a strong option— with the help of the Wizard — who as we know — was just some whack ass dude — pretending to be someone he’s not.
Shit! That applies to a lot of people.
Anyway — I felt safe here. I mean I was so high from the enticing interface — that I pretty much discarded the metrics of it all. I come from that period when we exchanged books at the end of the school term. I disappeared in Enid Blyton’s offering of my life in pages — through titles like The Famous Five, Malory Towers, and St. Clare’s.
I was also obsessed with global affairs — like the assassinators that vanquished Anwar Sadat and shortened the life span of Pope John Paul II. And this was due to hours spent in my parent’s bedroom — plunging into newsmagazines that actually presented “the news” with authoritative might — that resembled no adherence to clicks and many more clicks.
So, as you might already gather — I suck at clicking my work into the clicks from clickers with blue tickers and the numbers that reassure their relevance — while leaving mine in question.
Folks, I was born to write myself into a grave that waits for me to manage it
I mean, I adore the time spent cursing out a system that makes marginalized citizens that are close to the margins of danger and hate — even more at risk as we take the days that leave us alive — with careful morsels of gratitude.
I enjoy tussling with adjectives and nouns that name the bad guys with fury and then heap all the descriptions that elevate the reasoning behind my sculpture of duress.
I can’t imagine not being able to say why my day was bad — without calling out the thing that made it worse — days before — and even now — as I type this with slight tears and the defiance that I will be heard— regardless of what it will cost when my artistry ends up being costlier than the words — that most can’t afford.
The comments sometimes hit with venom as the assault on my disposition as a writer who uses race wars as bait — continues to gain traction in a climate that is bipolar when it comes to the state of defined activism.
The battle of being the person my mother would’ve been if she had been exposed to my world — continues to rage without me. I don’t ponder the consequences of telling you why the jobs I’ve had sucked.
I just innately present why the sucky job makes me realize how being a writer who does shit — that goes against being writer — can be a major bummer to the writer and those who need to haul ass — to fit in the third meal of the day.
The war that waged without me — has finally overpowered.
Now, I know why I do what I do. I have come to respect the noteworthiness of my words and how they can force me to delete certain parts — that were loved and applauded — but crossed the line of corporate requirements, which is ironic when you reckon how hard I don’t try to escape the alarming detriment of being an artist in a material world.
I scrubbed away the testimony that got me here in the first damn place.
The honesty of admitting why this isn’t working as a shield to hide the shame and scar from that moment so long ago — when being a girl was hard and painful.
When I deleted the pieces that are now missing — I cried.
The pain was tender and and my blood didn’t spill onto the white space that has given me the power to say it like it is — without fear of artistry. The pain rocked me back to this time, right now, with you.
Here we are again. I’m spilling it all out and you’re receiving. Your truth is whatever you think I’m saying and whether or not I’m saying it truthfully.
Did I just admit that I was asked to remove my work in order to avoid the stuff that makes it clear why words can sometimes rise in value — especially when the market can’t decipher if it’s the freedom of speech or the speech being free enough to accumulate an unexpected fee.
The words have been flooded out— but they remain in the chamber of riches that don’t ever collide with how what we say can be transformed to what we do — when the check is deposited and your dreams of being paid for writing finally clap into fruition.
My breath escaped me afterwards and then scolded by stubbornness at rejecting policies and policing through my instincts as the person who can’t hold back — even when everything is on the line.
I went on Twitter for no reason and saw lauded filmmaker — Ava DuVernay’s tweet that highlighted why the message of Art & Fear — by David Bayles and Ted Orland — needed to be expelled by her — on this day.
I will not be afraid to be the one — carrying the words that cost enough to require the dismantling of the pieces that seem effortless — but cost way more than you know. Four years ago — I took the sex piece down to save the soul of my parents.
Today, as I got the receipt for the one that clicked so well — I was forced to pay the ultimate price for careless mentions and getting too high on all that white space.
And now, I’m convinced that I actually can afford the cost of my words.
And just like that — the pain goes away.