“I don’t out people. I do tell my story.” Drake in an interview with Elliot Wilson
I know that Drake is typically seen as the rapper who expresses a lot of male thoughts (even those some men don’t want to acknowledge), but after watching/listening to his interview with Elliot Wilson the other day, I definitely felt like I could relate to at least one facet of his life.
You see, if there’s one thing you know about Aubrey Graham, it’s that he has no qualms using his real life experiences to illustrate the narratives in his songs. It’s why, even though he’s mocked for it, so many people feel like they can relate to him. He raps his truth — which, in essence, is something I’ve been working on with my writing for quite sometime now.
You all know that I write this blog about relationships, politics, and shoes, but if you’ve been reading for awhile — you also (hopefully) know that those topics are usually colored with my own experiences. But that wasn’t always the case. Some of the earlier posts were very generic in nature, and while they were fun, they also had zero impact on anyone other than a quick laugh in the middle of the day. You know what does impact folks though? Pouring your heart out in your writing. Exposing things about yourself that you probably would never do in any other normal setting. Bleeding yourself (metaphorically) on the paper.
And if any writer claims he or she doesn’t want to impact people with his/her words, I’d love to meet this strange anomaly, because that’s not usually the case. Usually (myself included), writers believe their contribution to the world is to impact change, even in just one person, through their words — to make someone feel. But guess what, writing about yourself and your experiences is no easy feat. The more I do it, the more I realize this, especially now that I’m in full swing working on my book.
For one, as David Rakoff once said, writing nonfiction is “like pulling teeth though my penis.” Basically, that ish is painful. You have to really go there, and it’s not always the sad moments that make it so uncomfortable either. I’m currently working on a shoe story about the night I lost my virginity, and trust me, while it’s not sad at all, I’m still a little uneasy thinking about others reading such a personal moment for me. But I’m doing it because I also realize that story helps connect so many others in the book.
This example brings me to the second problem of writing your story — the fact that most of our stories are not just our stories. I certainly wasn’t alone that night, you know. So for awhile, it kind of bothered me that in telling my story, I was also telling someone else’s. That’s a big deal, right? A person could say “I don’t want that part of my life written about,” or just generally feel like you violated his/her trust by bringing others into your shared experience.
For the most part, I’ve gotten over both of those fears, but they do still creep up from time to time. Which is why I guess hearing Drake say what he said resonated with me so much — it reminds me that I do have the right to tell my story, especially if it’s going to help someone else discover his/her truth. In fact, it really reminds that as uncomfortable, embarrassing, funny, sexual, inconsistent, blessed, and funny as my story may be, I have more than the right to tell it — I have a duty.