Before my features in Billboard, Esquire, HuffPost, Into, Blavity, Afropunk, and them., I was a lost spirit, desperate for somebody to notice my work. As I pursued a platform for my voice, I indulged in distractions and ignored—what should be—the main focus of every writer. Anaïs Nin defines that focus as tasting life twice, “once in the moment and in retrospect.” Focusing more on the fruit my labor bore, I took no interest in tasting life; consequently, my literary interests dwindled.
When I had given up completely on writing, my first mentor, David Moye, appeared like a guardian angel. He rehabilitated my desire to write, encouraging me to view writing as a life-long journey. So long as my heart pumps blood, I must walk that journey. If my knees become weak, I must crawl. When my knees burn and my hands callus from crawling, I must acknowledge the pain and find another way to keep moving. There are no breaks, not for writers. That’s what David helped me internalize.
Zach Stafford—the first editor to see my potential (and pay me)—taught me how to pitch, create invoices, and how to control every movement of my career. Though he, Trish Bendix, and Mathew Rodriguez may not know it, they each changed my life in a positive way. Every byline I have is because of their teachings and ongoing encouragement.
All my mentors, including the ones I haven’t mentioned, helped me find myself. They helped me find my voice. They helped me discover who I aspire to be—and that is someone who can be to a newbie writer, who is full of self-doubt, what they are to me: an inspiration.