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Year-End Review: On My Career as a Writer

December 30th, 2013 11 comments

If I had to use Facebook to update my relationship status with my career in 2013, I would say it’s complicated.

Depending on who you ask, or when you ask, writing is either hard or easy. But no one who is a professional writer will ever tell you being a writer is easy. It isn’t. Being a writer is not doctor hard or lawyer hard or science hard or even maybe banking hard. It’s not emotionally draining like teaching or being a social worker, and it’s definitely not taking a toll on my body like construction does on my brother.

What makes being a writer so difficult is the way the profession fucks with my head. From wrestling with words and phrases (like when to curse and not to curse), to getting published, to chasing opportunity after opportunity only to be chasing check after check. From trying to write that article for the publication who said yes, to trying to write that pitch letter for the publication we want to say yes, to writing that book proposal to create our own work so we will no longer have to be begging to write for others….I could go on, but you see it, so I digress.

My life in some ways still moves like the way I just described, but this year I was able to smooth things out a little bit. I’m still at the New York Post, and this year, I even picked up another job in my profession as a contributing editor at The Root. There, I write a weekly column called “His Side,” which I encourage all of you to check out. And of course, I still have this blog, which many of you still read.

Thank you.

The biggest breakthrough I had this year as a writer was internal. For the first time ever, I finally found the confidence to say I’m a good writer. That’s something people have told me most of my life, and it was always nice to hear. Sometimes, I even believed those voices myself, but this year I was finally saying it to myself. It was a good feeling to have, and it was also very scary, which is why I say things were complicated this year.

For the first time ever, I started wondering if there was something else other than writing I could do.

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The Strength Of Our Words

January 18th, 2012 5 comments

Author’s Note: Long time readers of this blog, please excuse me if I have written about something similar in the past. I do not mean to repeat myself, but this is an issue that continues to rattle my brain.

A guy once said I was a smooth talker. It was one of my best friends, and he didn’t mean it as a compliment.

We were arguing, over what I do not recall, but as I was explaining my side of the disagreement, he said, “Don’t do it, Jozen. You can talk your way out of anything. I’ve seen you do it and you won’t do it to me.”

I explained to him what I was saying was exactly what I felt and nothing about my words were intended to con my way out of an admission. If I had felt I was in the wrong, I would have no problem admitting as much. He only grew more frustrated and so did I. Defending myself was taken by him as disrespect, trivializing my words as some sort of smooth-talk was his way of slapping me in my face. Had the argument taken place in person, the end result would most likely have been fisticuffs.

The two of us were able to settle our differences eventually and we never talked about the argument again, but obviously I still remember very clearly his attack on me, and I carry it around with me to this day.

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Lesson From A Married Man: My Interview With Salim Akil

May 9th, 2011 13 comments

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally, when interviewing a subject for a story, there comes a transcendent moment. I don’t know when or how it usually happens in the moment, but I can always tell when the interviewee and I have gone from a formal discourse to personal dialogue, when we’re not just having an interview, we’re having a conversation. The professional in me is thrilled at this because I know it means I will have a wealth of material from which to work when I start writing. But there’s something even more enriching to come out of such a moment.

For me, an enriching conversation with a stranger reminds me of why I got into this business in the first place. Sure, I wanted to talk to the famous people of the world and create good stories from my conversations with them, but more importantly, I am always in search of a lesson from them of some sort. There are things I have learned in life from reading great interviews, so when I’m approaching my own interviews, I’m always hoping to find something teachable, something that a reader can apply to their own life. Do I want to illuminate and break news within an interview? Of course, that is my journalistic responsibility. But I will admit, the selfish part of me also wants to get hip to the game of life. For the most part, I have the privilege of talking to who I want to talk to and I’ll be damned if I let such a privilege be wasted on just the facts. I always try to get to a point where we’re going off the record because I know we’re about to talk about something real, for lack of a better word.

There was nothing off the record during my conversation with Salim Akil. For the unfamiliar, Salim is the director of Jumping The Broom, the brand new movie that came out Friday and went on to make over $14 million at the box office this past weekend. He is also the husband of Mara Brock-Akil, a woman who has slowly but surely become a force in Hollywood. She created the hit series, Girlfriends, and then along with her husband The Game, and she has arguably been the more visible and more successful half of the couple. As I mention in the opening line of my story with Salim, when I was doing my research for Salim, there was more about his wife, than him. Considering their careers as individual, this made sense, but it also enforced my belief that Salim’s story needed to be told.

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Categories: guys, women, Work, writing Tags:

Breaking Up, What It Feels Like For A Man

December 2nd, 2010 30 comments

Okay folks, one more time. I just can’t help it, so let me explain something before I get into today’s post.

The guy who writes the “F*ck Yeah Menswear” Tumblr (check out the latest ones if you haven’t already) keeps posting up gems, inspiring me to try to do it myself, for creative purposes only. These days, everyone talks about originality, wanting to be innovative, and not realizing sometimes their innovation sucks.

People always ask me, how did I find my voice, and I tell them the first thing I did was read a lot more than I wrote. Nowadays, I write a lot more than I read and the voice with which I write is a combination of influences I’ve acquired over the years. But I still stay in search of more voices, more writing, and when I see some truly great work, I can’t help but want to take a bit of it for myself and see what their magic is to create more magic for myself. It’s kind of like the way all great jazz players study the Charlie Parker Omnibook.

And I know all of this may sound like some unnecessary explanation for writing in this form, but I want to be clear: It’s never cool to copy a writer’s work word for word (as I have previously explained) but there is nothing wrong with letting other work influence your own.

Today, another post inspired by the great work of the anonymous writer at “Fuck Yeah Menswear”. Whoever you are, if you’re reading this, keep doing your thing, dude.

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Categories: guys, women, writing Tags:

Act Like It, Dude*

November 23rd, 2010 25 comments

Dude, stop.

The girl is fwine, man.

No typo.

That’s wine with an eff in front of it.

Not fine.

That means not sick.

This girl is sick.

Fwine.

So why we acting, like she isn’t?

Just going to stand there with a dime on your arm.

Looking like you got change to spare.

Not smiling.

Acting like she’s cool.

She don’t need no public displays of affection.

She ain’t even into that anyway.

Yeah, okay.

Better hold her hand, dude.

Do something, dude.

Before she start acting like she ain’t into that with some other dude.

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If I Had Daughters And Other Topics

November 17th, 2010 Comments off

So today, I received some very good news, but I won’t be sharing it on UIGM. For those who want to know what it is, you can hit me on the side and I might let you know. The keyword in the last sentence being “might.”

That being said, I won’t be writing a post today. I just want to enjoy my good news. What I have decided to do instead is just post up the Poppin’ Questions Podcast for your listening pleasure. So click on this link here and go to the Poppin’ Questions Podcast page to listen or download the THIRTEENTH Edition of the Poppin’ Questions Podcast.

And for those who really want to read something I wrote, check out the recap I wrote about the conversation between Cornel West and Jay-Z. The two of them sat down with Paul Holdengraber at the New York Public Library on Monday to discuss Jay’s book, Decoded. Any fans of hip-hop or Jay-Z should get it because it’s a truly beautiful book and a fun read.

Here’s the link: “Five Things We Learned About Jay-Z’s New Book At The New York Public Library”

As per my usual steez, comments are turned off. Feel free to leave feedback on the podcast over at the podcast page.

P.S.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me.

Categories: poppin' questions, Work, writing Tags:

I Can’t Even Write The Post I Wanted To Write Today, Here’s Why

November 11th, 2010 19 comments

Before I get into today’s post, I have some business to speak on.

Today I discovered some guy has taken a number of my blog posts and literally cut and pasted them onto his blog without attributing them to me or giving me any sort of credit. Of course, Jermaine moved swiftly on reaching out to the appropriate people and sending out a cease and desist, so we’re taking care of it as we speak. And let that be a warning to anyone else who feels like plagiarizing my work and passing it off as their own. My partner and I will go after you swiftly and do anything within our power to make sure you take down the copied posts immediately.

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Via The Wall Street Journal

November 3rd, 2010 Comments off
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Via The Wall Street Journal/AOL/Village Voice

October 28th, 2010 Comments off

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so let me get right into it. Two pieces I wrote elsewhere and one video segment for which I was a guest. Enjoy!

By now everybody has seen Kanye’s Runaway film, but I went to a screening before it aired and did a write up for the Wall Street Journal. Click here to check it out.

For The Village Voice, a fun piece I pitched them and wrote up about the Top 10 Posse Cuts of 2010 (So Far). Click here to read that.

The lovely Amanda Diva invited Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and I to her AOL show The Spark to discuss the hot topics of this week. Good laughs, some of which weren’t shown, but you can still tell we enjoyed ourselves. Click here to watch.

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Via The Wall Street Journal

September 29th, 2010 Comments off
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