Open & Awake

a realist's guide to thriving in today's world

she’s got something to say.

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“I’m gonna mess your life up. Gonna wanna tape my mouth shut. Look out!” / Loveless / Lorde

If you ask my mom, she’ll probably tell you that I write because I have an opinion on everything: from pandas (sure, they’re cute, but they’re garbage and we spend way too much money on keeping them alive), to olives (green or black, they’re amazing and do belong in pizzas and salads), to capitalism (I can’t even come up with a succinct opinion here besides to say it fucking sucks – #DaddyMarxForever). People often tell me they love seeing my writing in the form of Facebook statuses about, well, most things. Yesterday, a friend told me she loved my writing because it seemed honest and effortless, like I wasn’t trying to be a writer – I just was (which is a phenomenal compliment that I struggle to believe is true but my god thank you anyway).

Honest? I mean, yes and no. I try to only type things that I would say in person (at times with a few drinks under my belt), but there’s always an element of confidence that comes with saying anything behind a screen, or a sheet of paper. Does that extra confidence created by the format of my writing undermine my initial honesty? Up to you.

But effortless? Ooh, child.

This seems to be the general thought around my online presence: Dionne is good at words and types them then hits send and watches as her blogs gain followers and her tweets get likes. This makes me crack up to think about, but also makes me really fucking anxious. When it comes to writing, nothing I do is without effort. It took me a long time to feel like I owned the things that happened to me, or even that I was entitled to my opinions. It took years of practice, of pulling myself up and shaking off my doubts, to get to a place where I believe my thoughts and experiences to have any worth. When I first started writing publicly about my experiences, especially when it involved another person, there was always backlash. Hell, I still get hatemail on social media when I speak my truths. People hate hearing things that conflict with their personal reality, and there’s little I can say as a bisexual black woman that’s not going to conflict with dominant voices.

That’s something I have to think about every time I go to hit send. And sometimes, I don’t. Y’all only see the things I can convince myself to not delete.

When it comes to more personal things, I struggle with this a lot when it comes to writing about my exes. I get it, y’all, honestly I do. I wouldn’t want my ex-girlfriend writing poetry and think-pieces about me for thousands of people to read either. But you liked when I shared my love poems. Should have known I wouldn’t stop writing once I wasn’t in love anymore. (To my exes’ credits, they do not comment on my writing despite following my social media accounts, which I think makes them decent people. My first love, especially, is someone who has had every reason to block me on every website ever, but has not, which always makes me feel things when I see his username. Mostly sad and nostalgic. But at times, grateful and naive.) (Lorde has an entire song about this concept called “Writer in the Dark,” please listen to it.)

It was, and still is, hard to write about any of my experiences, especially those that are closely tied to a person. It can feel like I’m swaying public opinion about someone / something, when in reality, I’m just trying to own what happens to me. I have to. No one else will.

I was thinking about all of this because yesterday the hashtag #WhyIWrite was going around. I write because if I don’t, it feels like wave after wave of my thoughts, and the hard winds of my emotions, are eroding my nerves. I get jittery, anxious, upset. I think a single thought, and keep thinking about it until I have the chance to put it into words (perhaps eloquent, perhaps in the form of “lol tha fuck is dis”). But once it’s down, once I’ve hit send and offered it up to my friends or the rest of the world – it’s gone. I write because it frees my soul up to grow, and my heart to feel. It’s a strange, wonderful thing.

That is, when I can actually bring myself to hit send.

 

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