Writing in The Dark

Writing in The Dark

How do you write healing?

There was a time when I awakened with an urgency to help others heal. Through writing, I would lay bare the first fruits that God poured into me upon the rising of a new sun. Oftentimes, the inspiration came to me first, beckoning me to see someone or something differently; to be more attentive to those around me; to stand in the gap for someone else somehow. This ritual made me feel connected to something greater. I felt useful, like my gifts mattered; I felt valued, like my words mattered; I felt radiant, like my purpose mattered. At that time, I felt as if I was doing precisely what I was called to do—affirm, love, validate, or help someone along their journey, somehow. I wrote healing … or so I thought.

Somehow, I had moved far away from writing. I had become eerily afraid of writing publicly. I was now afraid of my words sounding hollow, insincere, superficial, or lacking if I returned to the page. Something happened, but what?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Attempt after repeated attempt, I failed to write. I failed to find the courage to write or speak the words that had become dark. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had been feeling off. I was no longer inspiring the world. I was no longer writing to heal myself, let alone anyone else. If I dared to maintain a façade that I was writing to inspire, then I would have to declare myself an imposter, so I decided not to write for far too long.

I was not good at pretending I was okay.

I was out of alignment with what gave me purpose and fulfillment. I was chasing what I thought I wanted rather than embracing what I already had. My children were getting older, and I thought that my being a writer and a full-time mom within the home was wearing out its usefulness. Truth is I wanted what I thought was a “real job”. I also wanted a level of financial say-so in order to feel like I was contributing to my family. Being a writer was not paying the bills.

So, I set out to pursue full-time work and got it, but it damn near cost me everything. Not writing cost me dearly. Like an older car in need of constant repair, the costs only mounted. My emotional, mental, and physical health suffered. My marriage did not escape unscathed either. Forget about self-care. I did what I had to do to make it through the day but could not wear a mask beyond that. I was not good at pretending I was okay. I struggled with being present in most relationships due to the complexity that I introduced to an otherwise tranquil, happy, and writerly life. By evidence of my actions, writing was no longer my priority and I grieved not writing.

Truth is, the further away I strayed from my gift of being a writer, the harder it was to return to it. It was as if I had buried my gift somewhere—under papers, behind a closed office door, within the desk drawer, in the safe with a combination lock. But I forgot the combination. The longer I stayed away, the harder it was to call myself a writer. I implored spirit to give me meaningful words to write, to just give me back my gift already, but in order to do so, I would have to write through darkness, and writing through darkness was hard work. There was no quick fix. Writing my unbridled truth, albeit dark, was the only way that I could find true healing.

Writing in the dark allowed me to remember the combination which was living intentionally, practicing gentleness and compassion with myself, and not beating myself up for making mistakes. These were the rituals that restored my gift, allowed me to write again in earnest, and provided me with the inspiration, love, and clarity that I missed.

Writing my unbridled truth, albeit dark, was the only way that I could find true healing.

My healing required me to write even as I healed. It was painful. Getting my gift back required me to reject my mask, acknowledge uncomfortable truths, and forgive myself. Writing is an arduous task, and to do it “right” means doing it true even through the darkness.

Won and Done?

Won and Done?

Part of the answer to the question, How Free Exactly Do You Want to Be? lies in how vulnerable and authentic we are willing to be when and if we show up. We must know that all of our life experiences can be useful and instructive, much in the same way the words of our ancestors are for us now. What we write and share has the potential to be the very salt for someone else’s stew of life. Regardless of how hard we think we’ve fought, we can hardly be done.

Just one day after the 2016 United States Presidential Election, I was more than Continue reading “Won and Done?”

How To Live Forever

How To Live Forever

Living’s heavy work. (Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1975.)

I learned yesterday of Author Natalie Babbitt’s death. Babbitt was 84. While she had written several books, Babbitt was most revered for her seminal work,Tuck Everlasting, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Tuck Everlasting, though marketed to young readers, dealt with the subject of mortality, a topic many think it is best to reserve for mature audiences.  Continue reading “How To Live Forever”

How to Stay Sane Amid The Chaos

How to Stay Sane Amid The Chaos

While scrolling through my Facebook news feed one day, a friend expressed feeling “some kind of way” after this most recent act of terror in San Bernardino. All I could do was send her wishes of love and light, pray for her, and vow to cover her with what I call a virtual woman canvas. I know that there are countless others who feel very much like her. Could this really be the new normal when tragic events unfold with such regularity, that they dare us to forget what we once thought was so urgent?

From domestic and international acts of violence and terrorism, to the more local yet nationwide systemic injustices that send children to prisons, to the inadequate systems of education that continue to fail children already within the margins, to the innumerable trending hashtags that publicly decry injustices and a Massive Cover-Up at every turn, it’s a wonder folks haven’t lost their natural minds. My very own wellness can be broken by the weight of the world.


As a woman of faith, I know that every battle isn’t mine to fight, but as a writer who has accepted her creative calling, I know that I bear a responsibility to not create for mere entertainment value; but rather, I am to probe deeper, ask the bigger questions, make the connections, and create in a way that isn’t self-serving. I am convinced, however, that my usefulness as an artist will be compromised without regular boundary-setting and adherence to some disciplined practices for my soul’s preservation.

How does one create or serve when s/he feels like they’re on the brink of insanity, or get to feeling some kind of way? What does it mean to feel this way? Is it hopelessness or resignation? Is it fear or inadequacy? Is it bottled rage?

“… he [the artist] must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen … a higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing human damage.” (James Baldwin, The Price Of The Ticket, Collected Nonfiction, 1948 – 1985)

This intense questioning and reflection uncovered some plainspoken but oft-forgotten inspiration that I believe can help us stay sane amid the chaos of today’s world:

  1. Surrender to Something Greater: your God, Spirit, a consistent framework of faith or belief in which you cast your cares, and steep your burdens, for you cannot possibly carry them all.
  2. Acceptance. There are many causes, but there is only one of you. Your small way must be sufficient for it is part of a bigger collective of “small” ways that will undoubtedly make a difference.
  3. Be Intentional: Make the moments be about the moments. More than your physical presence alone, intentionality requires a broader consciousness and awareness. Put the phone down. Restrain your need to share, tweet, or snap it. Ask yourself, “what am I aiming toward?,” then direct your every thought and action toward that purpose. (I am constantly working on this one.)

  4. Play…. for Real: Play like Serena Williams, like the best of them. Go all in. Whether for that power negotiation, an interview, or a game of Scrabble with your family, go all in and keep your eyes on the prize. You didn’t just come to play; you came to carry out a specific goal.
  5. Engage: Make eye contact. Read body language. Touch. Hold and feel the hands that are in yours. Make a point to hear and recall the names and stories of folk you meet. Show them that you’ve listened.
  6. Embrace The Rain: Rain is perhaps one of the most physical metaphors for life; it speaks to the inconvenient times in our lives though it is purposeful and instructive. Rain washes away what is no longer useful, renews and replenishes, and most importantly, it gets us off the road and back inside. Speaking of which…
  7. Get Back Inside: It’s okay to be alone. In that space and time, we can hear ourselves and better understand our identity in, and relationship with, the world. Go within.
  8. Love: Choose love. Even while sharing your rightful outrage – sometimes through courageous truth-telling that will hardly be popular – choose love, because love is what has kept you this long.
  9. Be Well: Too much bad news is bad for your health, and can deal a quick death to creativity. Find a balance that keeps you whole. Get your exercise. Slow down to savor a seat along with your meal.

There is remarkable potentiality in community, but in order to harness that potentiality, we must first be well and rooted in more than our privilege, opinions, legalities, or “rights” alone. Let us do a better job of being attentive to our mental health and wellbeing so we can, in turn, better listen to and serve one other because we do need each other. I am most certain that by the time this post gets to you, there will be yet another event to give you pause, in which case, you should return to number one and begin all over again!

It is my belief that we all want to be well, so do share. How do you keep your sanity amid the chaos?


About More Than The “Inner City Blues”

The poem Massive Coverup (click for audio), appears in A Journey Of Life On Purpose, written by Avril Somerville and is available on Amazon (Score composed by FunkyLB Brown)

Image Credit: Johannes Plenio


  1. James Baldwin on the Creative Process and the Artist’s Responsibility to Society Maria Popova
  2. The Weight in Being Well: The Salt Eaters and the Genius of Toni Cade Bambara Joel Diaz, Steven G. Fullwood
  3. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind Joceyln K. Glei, 99U
  4. Kalief Browder, 1993 – 2015 Jennifer Gonnerman






‘How’ Do You Know?

Who I Say I Am

What were you born to do? Is there even such a thing as being born to do something? How can you know for certain? At what point along the journey do you receive confirmations about your gifts, purpose, or calling? How can we have clarity about the answers to these questions?

These questions confound most of us at some point in our lives; yet, I’m convinced that no two answers are exactly the same. This is because no two people ever see the world exactly the same way.

Continue reading “‘How’ Do You Know?”