#19: B-Day, No Beyoncé (Sadly)
Featuring super secret unreleased writing passages + an extra long "Writer's Log"
It’s been a minute besties; how are y’all doing? Y’all been gettin’ your rest and drinkin’ your water? Hope so! As for me, ya girl been on vacation because, last week, it was a baddie’s birthday!! I’m 26!! Woo!
To celebrate the festivities, this issue’s gonna be a long one. Think of it as Oh, Write+ (lmao.) Anyway, enjoy!
Writer’s Log #7
For my 26th birthday, I gifted myself a solo weekend getaway across town. It was the first time I had been alone, overnight, in over a year. Ten minutes in, I was in love—and I understood why Maya Angelou chose to rent a hotel room just for writing in.
I enjoyed each part of the room: the king-sized bed enveloped in white sheets, a complimentary Bluetooth speaker shaped like a cube, a window that peeked into the city streets, where the sun kissed my forehead good morning and the moon tucked me in at night.
The two days I spent in a hotel room reminded me how in love I am with my own company. I’ve always valued my alone time, ever since I was a kid. Maybe this comfort with being alone stems from having hobbies that no one cared to discuss (i.e. writing).
As a result, I spent a lot of time entertaining myself, alone. There, I can let my true self run free without fear of judgment from others—a fear that used to horrify me into paralysis.
I did everything I’d been wanting to do for months during my getaway. I ate two delicious bowls of overpriced ramen. I spent a day exploring the city on foot with only Google Maps as my guide, racking up 20,000 steps. I sang karaoke.
I barely wrote. I had so many other activities I wanted to pack into these two days, that I mostly forgot about the craft. But, the next time I go on another solo getaway, I want to dedicate some time to explore my creativity.
In our C.R.E.A.M (cash rules everything around me), capitalist hellscape of a society, I’ve found it difficult to freely express myself through my art as an adult. As a child, I wrote with only joy (and my adoration for whatever male pop star I was obsessed with) as my North star. In adulthood, pressures weigh heavily on my shoulders, whether from:
the possibility of making a profit
trying to go viral (yuck)
appeasing certain people (could be my “audience”, could be my family, could be my friends, it really just depends)
I’ve been searching for a comfortable, safe space to create for a while, a place where those pressures, and many others, are far, far away from my mind.
In his book Keep Going, author Austin Kleon provides a suggestion from professor Joseph Campbell, who said that everyone should build a “bliss station”,
“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you.”
“This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”
Kleon explains the important, yet difficult nature of doing so in today’s technologically-driven society, “Silence and solitude are crucial. Our modern world of push notifications, 24/7 news cycles, and constant contact is almost inhospitable to the kind of retreat artists must make in order to focus deeply on their work.”
Even though I haven’t subconsciously delegated this time as my “bliss station”, I’d say mine is the morning—hands down. Every element calms me: watching the sunrise, making breakfast, drinking a cup of steaming green tea.
But, mostly, what centers me is being alone. That’s what sheds the stress from my shoulders and gets me ready to create. Being in a hotel room stretches that calmness like putty until I’m just slathered in it, smiling from ear to ear.
Somehow, I’m going to make a routine out of this long-term alone time, whether it’s in a hotel room, Airbnb, or a reserved room at the library. Someway, I’ll cancel out all the noise, so it’ll be just me and the words. Just like it used to be.
6 Things I Consumed
Space Jam: A New Legacy (i ain’t even gonna hold you; this movie was kinda bomb)
American Horror Stories (lowkey disappointing, which sucks, but sometimes I dream that AHS will one day let me in the writers’ room ;)
The Choe Show (one of the best shows I’ve watched all year, definitely one of the best talk show/interview shows)
The Suicide Squad (as someone who does not watch a lot of superhero movies, I thought this one was really dope; funny as hell and had some quality characters. i just wish i could have seen it in theaters; because it probably makes for a quality theater experience)
The Girl on the Train by author Paula Hawkins (so lit I even wrote a review on the joint)
Lizzo and Cardi B’s new song “Rumors” (QUALITY)
2 Things I Created
So, on the nonfiction side, I’ve been going hard, posting tons of articles on my Medium account. But, on the fiction side, I’ve got a bunch of drafts that are in various stages of editing. It’s been a long time since I’ve finished something.
Here are a few super-secret, random passages from stories I’ve worked on recently, but haven’t finished:
Loft-warming: “So, who all gon’ be there?” Jill said, staring at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She coated her hands in thick, syrupy castor oil and continued taking out her plaits.
“Do I look like a bouncer to you? I don’t know girl!” Bianca sat on a wooden dining room chair she pulled into the bathroom, “But, you know Nat, she kicks it with a lot of people. Anybody from the spiritual types in her yoga class to the hood niggas from the bar she works at could be at this ‘loft-warming’ party.” She used air quotes, rolling her eyes.
“Anybody?” Jill shuttered, “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“You promised me you’d be my plus one! So, don’t hit me with that, “I don’t like the sound of that.” Bianca imitated Jill’s nervous voice, shaky and shrill. “Besides, when’s the last time you chatted with a human being? And—those older chicks you play Call of Duty with don’t count.”
“I talk to you all the time. Isn’t that enough?”
“No!” Bianca chuckled, “We’ve got to at least show our faces. We all spent two years of college getting our Living Single on in that dusty apartment downtown. Plus—we won’t be there for long, and we’ll get a good Insta photo out of it.”
“You right. Being scared is too much effort. If I see him there...then I just see him there.” Jill unraveled her final braid and fluffed it out, shook her hair out, and smiled at herself in the mirror.
“It’s only weird if you make it weird. And besides, with you looking like the third Knowles sister and all that, that nigga’ll have to stand in a long line to talk to you.” Bianca left the bathroom to find something to wear tonight, probably something glittery, skintight, and from Fashion Nova.
Urban Legend: Two neighborhood kids, Gregory and Hakeem, started to call me Medusa because of my long, flowy box braids. As I walked down the city sidewalk, they’d trail me and let out long hisses, stifling giggles. From the bodega to the community center to the train station, their hisses would follow me like a shadow.
For years I kept this from Ma. I didn’t want her to get all scary and take away my outdoor privileges, just like she did to my older sister back in the day. But, one afternoon, Gregory and Hakeem took their teasing to another level—and I didn’t know who else to turn to.
Thank you so much for reading Oh, Write!
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