The Burden of The Pen: Say Something

There is a power in saying, “I am a writer.”

In the right circumstances, that title is both intimidating and completely discouraging. This is the dichotomy that writers encounter. It is a calling most odd: you have things in your head (ideas, concepts, characters), and you want to tell people about them.

Yet, when you tell people those magical four words, the reactions you get run a gamut! Either you have people whom think you’re immediately going to be published and win an Oscar; people who think that you have no talent and can’t believe you want to write; people who think they should be your personal muse.

Yet, with being pulled in multiple directions, you must have the wherewithal to own your pen. And push doubt away, while keeping focus on what it is you want to create. You have a right to that…don’t relinquish it to the people whom have no idea how powerful you are, and may never read your work anyway.

Treat the naysayers accordingly.

The Burden Of The Pen: Say Anything

I have been at the ‘writing thing’ professionally for about 8 years now. And when I was in my last serious relationship, he had the habit of telling me “Babe, you gotta say something about this!” I will give him this credit: he forever was telling me that I could write. For that, I am grateful.

Yet, that is the most powerful thing of this mystical art. You have the command of an alphabet, of a language (one or more if you are one of the cool kids! Shouts to the multilingual writers!), with the ability to say anything. From the dynamic to the controversial, to the hot takes or cold, hard facts–you have the ability to say everything you see to say.

So…say it. Write it down. Publish it. Share it.

But, say it–because it just might need to be said.

WEAR RED

May 5th is MMIW Day. I am not a Native/Indigenous woman, but I support Native/Indigenous women. This piece is dedicated to Native/Indigenous women who survive, who thrive, and whom we are all looking to bring home. -JBH

Image taken from Vogue.com

If oppression

had a color

it would be red–

to tell you when

to stop,

how to be,

to tell

you where you

cannot go–

to erase you.

By making you

unapproachable.

There are women

whom are

my mirror on

this land that

was both stolen

from them and

was chained to me.

I look for them.

Remember them

because their face

is my face!

Being seen and unseen.

I will wear read

to be seen!

I will wear red to look.

I wear red to

remind myself

that they, too,

are my sisters.

I will never forget.

Neither will I

abandon them.

I will always wear red.

-JBHarris, May 2022

The Burden of The Pen-Overview

The thing that is interesting about being a writer–and not even a ‘famous’ writer!–is there is always this desire to chime in on the world around you.

And when people know you write, that desire increases ten-fold!

I call this: The Burden Of The Pen.

The Burden Of The Pen.

Noun. The desire to write about all that you see which may be pertinent or pervasive to culture, policy or to add to greater conversations.

-coined by JBHarris, March 2022

This mini-series will reflect on this desire to say everything, when to say anything, and how dangerous it is to say nothing.

May 9: Say Anything

May 16: Say Something

May 23: I Don’t Know What to Say

May 30: Here Is What I Have To Say

30 DAYS OF JAYE-2022 FINAL THOUGHTS

This collection of poetry for this particular April 2022 was personal and freeing. As these pieces were published here, I did 30 days of poetry on TikTok as well (look for the playlist 30 Days of Jaye 2022). This was needed and necessary.

This year I have become the personification of this quote:

“I have so completely given over to the talent, that I cannot bare to doubt its power.”

-JBHarris, April 2022

There were ideas that bubbled up this month, poems written in the matter of hours, and books of poetry found on my phone.

Yes, my phone.

This month was a reminder to do what Baldwin said: do my work. My job as a writer, as a keeper of space, is to fill that space. My job is to keep going, keep creating, keep sharpening the weapons of my warfare.

There is much left to do, much more to say, and there is work indeed to do.

30 DAYS OF JAYE-DAY 30: The Hymn of Black Like Me

When they see us

they want to be us

knowing that only we can be us!

from the swivel of hip

to haircuts

to the box braids

to the colors that

inhabit our skin

are melanin and

I hear that springs forth

as halos from the top of our heads?

only we can be us

because we got us

cause we came from us

the ancestors are

about the future at

our forward and

our eyes are still yet

watching God from

the belly of ships

to the White House

on the front steps—-

we are indeed everywhere!

there was no space

for blackness cannot touch!

and it is irredeemable

from whiteness,

but distinct from whiteness

yet black as where the unnecessary

Thinks is where whiteness

goes to die there—

There is no peace

of my blackness as

they wipe your skin

and have it and not

be touched and transform

The I am straight

with no I am straight

with no pay with

no chase a clear without

apology and I staying

as a non-binary

with me being necessary

the we that got us

is the way they got me

in the way that is

inside of me takes care

of all enemies when

the ancestor said as

we were taken from Shores

I am we

the I In the I AM

with was identity

the we was always their company

we are never by ourselves.

-JBHarris, March 2022

30 DAYS OF JAYE-DAY 29: Grand Rising

We can trace

The fall of any

Kingdom to

Once held together

By love—

Both its power

It’s devotion,

And secrets

The moment

The queen rose,

Seeing the king

Not as comfort

——but as enemy.

Determined to free

Herself from what

Was love

Now made trap

By the bed made

By selfishness,

Indifference and

Apathy which try

To maintain holds

Over hearts and

Minds through the

Joining of body

With the familiar

Lift and lilt of

Love making which

Allows body and

Mind to separate

So both don’t have

To endure the affliction

Of the lie that is

This I love you

At the same time.

For freedom, she must choose violence.

For freedom, she must choose herself.

JBHarris, May 2021