On Becoming Basquiat

Quietly I’d been submitting my writing for publication on other (more visible) blogs. Each time sent I knew it would come back rejected. It wasn’t me being pessimistic. It was me knowing the mass amounts of things I read on a daily basis are not at all like my writing. Both truthful both emotive both talented though we might be, myself and the other (published) authors. But something about me is a little flawed. A little dirty. A little uncomfortable. A little wince-worthy. I am unedited, quite literally, yet both in the figurative sense as well. I write raw.

One rejection letter cited my writing as being “unpolished.” Another simply “appreciated my effort.” I shrugged them both off for the most part. Not bothering to even think twice about them until I read a comment from a reader only moments after receiving my last rejection which read:

Dear Jess,
Once again you have blessed me with your authenticity and absolute transparency. You have such an amazing way with words, and I look forward daily to get just a glimpse into that beautiful mind of yours. I am but a stranger, a voyeur just so privileged to bear witness to how healing and inspirational your blogs are for me. You speak life. Don’t ever stop. Those of us who lack the ability to articulate our innermost thoughts need you to translate and put our pain into words. To me you are already walking in your purpose. You are a healer. Thank you.

I smiled with my whole body. I know at some point I will be edited. Someone will clean me up and fix my run ons. They will curb my propensity to begin sentences with “and” “but” or “so”. And some part of me is sad for that day.

I should’ve been a painter, I just thought. Was someone editing Basquiat? Professional musicians balance between the technical and the emotion in art. Dance? Same. There is an element of…even in photography. There is such a world in white balance, flooding, and composition. In what art can the artist simply give to the masses through the medium? Skip the editor. Skip the revisions. Skip the polishing.

I just want to touch people. How can I do that better?

I have reoccurring dreams of working with Jay-Z. On some artistry type things. Writing. I cannot imagine what I would be writing for or with him but I see it. I’ve also seen myself being mentored by Liz Gilbert. In my head, she is already a mentor. Her writing is so…full. There is history and anthropology, sociology and heart all wrapped up into her stories, her life. It is full-bodied. And cohesive. I carry that sense with me as I prepare my first major cohesive project.

I just noticed that I put myself in the company of a world wide best seller, an internationally renowned artist, and a billionaire business mogul. and upon my noticing, I don’t feel the least bit ashamed of it. Where else would I be? In whose company would I be in?

Sometimes I get briefly distracted by those more visible than me. More popular. More “liked”. More “followed”. More celebrated. I wonder what I’m missing. And I have to comfort myself with “nothing.” I am not missing anything. And that rather than be envious, to enjoy my relative anonymity. That I am blessed to have the readership that I do have and when and if the time comes for me to be anything More, I will have it. Nothing meant for you ever slips through your fingers.

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5 thoughts on “On Becoming Basquiat

  1. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of yourself with the world. I am honored every single time I read your posts. As for the rejection, keep moving forward. Your creativity, tenacity, and intelligence will always land you on your feet. The rawness and authenticity that you share through your writing warms my heart.

    1. It wasn’t an icon of my choosing, at least not consciously. It’s him because he’s the one that shows up in my dreams. And maybe it’s not him but perhaps he is a placeholder of a figure who can respect my art from all spaces. The academic space, the hod space, the humble space, the enlightened space, the I don’t give a fuck space, the scare and the “I’m the greatest alive”. You know? We will see.

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