grateful and grieving – but it’s ok
last saturday, i saw someone very dear to me who i hadn’t seen for years. the next day, invigorated, i started writing about the encounter. veteran’s day is next week, i thought. i have the perfect update to my previous piece.
a few days later, though, on my 20th edit or so (honestly), i finished the piece and cried, and cried, and cried some more.
i initially thought it was a happy piece, a piece of hope. at this particular moment, it’s a piece of grief. i’m not grieving like i was before, mind you, but i’m grieving nonetheless.
i wouldn’t say it’s a happy ending. after all, i don’t think i’d be crying the way i am if it was. but it’s a better ending. it’s a better ending than what i’d previously had, which was no ending. it’s a better ending than what i’d feared, which was a bad ending.
and the better ending once again reminds me that it’s okay.
oh, and the piece i keep referencing?
“grateful for jay on veteran’s day”
the courage to write
i just finished writing a piece that has drained me. initially, when i started on it a few days ago, i was happy, invigorated, grateful. now, after dredging up the distant past, re-examining the recent past, and editing compulsively, i’m worn.
but this blog entry isn’t about this. it’s about the courage to write.
i often find that i’m censoring myself. should i say this? do i seem too self-indulgent or narcissistic? will i offend people? maybe i should rephrase it this way or take it out altogether. as i was working on the just-completed piece, i caught myself doing that. i talked about it with a few friends: “do i focus too much on myself? are the lovey-dovey parts taking away from the point of the piece? i don’t want to offend people.”
it’s time to start offending.
i’m not saying i’m going to go out of my way to offend people. but it’s important for me to speak my truth. fact is, at least someone is going to be offended by everything i write because that’s just how humans on the internet are – we get offended.
one friend told me, “the love is what makes this piece so powerful.” another person said, “don’t change anything. fuck people who are offended.” still another said, “speak your truth. tell your story. you raw and uncensored is you at your best.”
the yet-to-be-published piece isn’t raw or uncensored. that said, every time i caught myself wanting to edit it based on who it might offend, i gave myself permission to speak and know that some people, hopefully a lot of people, will appreciate it.
and if noone else appreciates it, i still told my story.
i have to write
i’ve been writing a lot. in fact, i’ve probably written more in the past month and a half than i have in the past year. a lot of stuff has been going on, coming up, needing to get out, and writing is this phenomenal outlet for me to do that.
take yesterday, for instance. i was working myself into a tizzy over something – a something that i’d been tizzying myself over for a few months. at some point, i just started crying – pained, frustrated, despairing tears – and out came the laptop. i started off writing and crying, then just writing, then writing and laughing. i called a friend, started reading my piece and we both laughed at it, then i started crying again, and i just kept writing. i wrote three pieces yesterday. i’m not going to publish any of them, but it doesn’t matter – they each have a purpose.
this morning, i was driving to work and thought about an addendum to my three pieces. where i was stuck yesterday, i felt free now.
i’ll be writing about that later today.
depression lessons: an interview
check out this awesome article, in which i was interviewed:
it’s a great piece by psych central’s margarita tartakovsky. a number of people i respect share lessons they’ve learned about how to manage their depression. i’m grateful that margarita allowed me to share a couple lessons as well!
write, doubt, bust it out
and not necessarily in that order.
i admittedly haven’t written nearly as much in the past couple years as i used to. when i do write blog posts, it’s usually because some current affair is tickling my senses – or weighing heavily on my mind – and putting pen to paper is the best way for me to make sense of it.
the problem with that, though, is when i write a first draft, it is usually very rough. it’s not something i would show to people. in the past, i would edit it three or four times, pass it on to a good friend of mine who would edit it again, and then i might still turn out a couple more self-edits before finally submitting it to huffington post, psychology today, or other websites i write for.
in this time of quick turnaround, though, i often don’t have the time to invest that many edits in a piece.
take my latest huffington post piece, “when boys are raped”, for instance. i read an article on gawker and another on jezebel and after reading the jez article and checking out commenters’ reactions, i realized i, too, was bothered by the tone of coverage of chris brown’s “first sexual experience.” i remembered someone else who’d expressed a similarly cavalier reaction to being raped at a young age and i felt compelled to write something, even if it was just to calm down my own mind and put my thoughts on paper and leave them in my documents folder on my computer.
i realized, though, that i wanted to post the piece on huffington post, but since the guardian article had come out a few days before and people were already posting reaction pieces, time was of the essence. it was around eight at night. even if i’d wanted to, i wouldn’t have called my friend and asked her to quickly edit the piece – i felt that would be inconsiderate. so i made a couple quick edits and submitted my piece.
it took a couple days – and three e-mails to the huffpost blog team – before my piece was live. in the meantime, i saw other people post chris brown/rape/media coverage pieces and i thought, ugh, my piece will be so out of date by the time it finally is live – if they publish it at all! i also noticed that devil of self-doubt creeping in. c’mon, adia, that piece isn’t your a-game. you should change this sentence. you shouldn’t have cussed there. that title is vague. in fact, i would’ve submitted edit after edit to my piece but after working with huffpost for years, i know each edit slows the approval process down even more and i was trying to have it be published as soon as possible.
a few days ago, after i wrote the chris brown piece, i decided that whether i was able to only do a couple self-edits on a piece, i owed it to myself and to others to at least try to get my pieces published. do i think this latest one is my a-game? no. even reading over it a few minutes ago, i noticed embarrassing typos. but if i hadn’t submitted it, if it hadn’t been published, i would’ve been bringing my no-game. so when time is of the essence, a b-game or even a c-game is better than a no-game, particularly if i feel it’s a piece that might be beneficial to other people.
i write a lot about ending stigmas of addictions, mental illness, and now rape. sometimes, people need to see just one piece that helps them talk about issues they haven’t discussed with anyone else. it’s happened before. i’ve written pieces and people have e-mailed me to share their stories and it’s helped me realize how important it is to continue to talk about these things.
when i have more time to post a piece – when it’s not on such a time-limit – i will of course do my normal 6-,7-,8-edit process and try my darnedest to make it as great as possible. hell, even with the huffpost piece, i tried to make it as great as possible. but with topical rather than time-sensitive pieces, you can probably tell the difference. a few more edits really do make a big difference – but not enough of a difference that i think i shouldn’t post it.
so, here is my something-game piece and that is perfectly fine. hope you enjoy and know a little more about my blogging process.
go check out my latest piece! “eating disorders affect families for the bad and good”. it’s my first blog piece for national eating disorders association’s website. more thoughts to come about what inspired me to blog about it. in the meantime, check it out!