Did you know I actually started writing poetry first? Long before reading romance books, I was reading James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and Edgar Allan Poe. In reading their poetry, I felt the raw and exposed elements of love, pain, and fear transformed into words. It lay deep within me for many years… until recently.
As a young adult, I became a very private person. Letting someone into my most vulnerable space without fear of judgment or embarrassment was never going to happen. Then, going into law enforcement at the age of twenty-two, I closed myself off even more. In law enforcement, others look to you as the authority. You learn to master the look of zero emotion. You are prepared for the worst of the worst to happen on any given day, at any given moment. I became even more guarded and private, and even a bit cynical.
Being an author requires the opposite of who I had become as a middle-aged adult. This process, although tough, is growth. As an author, I have become my biggest critic. I am constantly comparing my work to others, and asking myself if I’m good enough. It is the same old struggle I’ve had most of my life; to stay positive and not let what is going on around me cloud my thinking. Writing is easy for me. Sharing the product and having people judge my work (me), is tough. I realize that this part of being an artist is a part I cannot escape, nor should I, because in a way it’s a road back to “me.”
Positive affirmation balances some of my critical thinking and allows me to start again the next day. It is a shame that I need this, like water to the lips, nourishment for the soul.
They say you have to develop a thick skin if you want to be an artist. However, it’s also about being vulnerable and exposing a little of who you are in the process that can be magical and rewarding. A delicate balance for the two to cohabitate in the same space. To give of yourself knowing the possibility of pain.
For everyone who has been there for me during my journey, thank you for your kind words. I accept, believe, and will treasure your words forever. For those who have critiqued me, you challenge me and help me be the man and artist I want to be.
In closing, I leave you with just a part of one of my favorite poems by the great Maya Angelou:
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.