I joined an online Q&A with the author Nadia Owosu for her new book Aftershocks a few months ago. It was one of those events where you wonder how there aren’t more folks there, like when I saw Edan and Justin from Chances with Wolves DJ in Manhattan and I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a line around the block. Or when I chaperoned a coworker’s kid to see his fav DJ, Deadmau5, and he assumed everyone on the train was probably going to the show too.
I asked in the chat if Nadia felt like she was journaling while documenting the breakdown/breakthrough she weaves throughout the book, or if she had a sense she was onto something more. She very confidently responded that she considered it research. She was documenting was happening to her. All this long before realizing it would turn into a book one day.
She distanced herself from the word journaling and maybe that’s what’s important. Owning her stuff as something deeper, even if it’s just a name.
Patrick Rhone shares a metaphor with folks who write online to get them thinking about their work in a new way. He asks us to imagine what is it like to drink a Coke from a wine glass. The same taste in a different package. He wants us to look at our writing online or blogging as something more. As essays written online. Shed the idea of a ‘blog’ for a sec and look at what your writing looks like in this different container.
In Nadia’s case, the container of a journal for sure didn’t fit the depth of what she was documenting and creating.
Later in the interview, she shared that she had no intention to write this book until her professor noticed some of her research. They immediately asked her to scrap what she was working on and dive into this!
I think about how we can learn from Nadia and own our work a bit more too.
Humility is most lovely. But what about when it’s used to a level of self-deprecation? Such a balance for us as the speaker and the listener in these conversations with our art.
Once my friend Captain told me about how he just started talking about his art more. When people ask what he’s been up to, instead of saying, “chilling,” he pulls out his phone and shares a couple of examples of new work. He’s able to do this—and even tell me about doing it—in a way that doesn’t feel braggy at all. It feels natural and right.
In my notes for this essay, I wrote—ex. friends being overly humble. why not be overly confident too?
Guess that’s why Edan named himself “The Humble Magnificent.”
Confident & open love.
PS: Speaking of humble, confident, and inspiring humans—have you heard my interview with Nisey Shanks? 💜