I lost my voice. December came and I found I had nothing to say. January’s deadline came and there wasn’t a thing I wanted to say. At least I thought. I’m writing this at 2 in the morning a week past deadline…I hope Sonya can get this in. Listen, I couldn’t say anything. I lost my voice countless times in 2003. And when it wasn’t completely gone, it was hoarse, scratchy, and strained. I continued to talk too much and not say enough. Now, writer’s block this sistah can deal with — I’m not trying to feed my family off the words I share in the Currents. It’s the soul obstruction that causes the deepest pain. It is the fear of not owning or not recognizing your true voice that can cripple a writer’s spirit. I suffered from the self-inflicted torture of denied expression and the insecure restraint of words. Time after time this year I held back from telling it like it is, fearing I would hurt feelings, crush egos or cross some critical line. I had a hard time putting my verbal foot down. This might sound a little rude, but I really should have just cussed some folks out. I was dying from things unsaid and caught up in some kind of creative community politics I couldn’t understand. I had to step back a bit from a certain creative community because of its propensity for destructive criticism and ego-over-art attitude. I became stifled by my inability to filter out people’s accusations, perceptions, and my own defeatist thoughts about my writing and community efforts: I do not write hip enough. I do not write white enough. My stuff is too black. I am not black enough. I do not write for the black community. I am the token Negro of the white paper. I am not a tweed-jacket journalistic scholar. My words should ignite a revolution. My words will not change the world. I need to use my activist energy in the hood, not cozy Riverwest. How can I take a stance on African-American issues when I am married to a white man? These are just a few of comments and thoughts that I have allowed to crush my creative flow. I have never held so much anger in all my 31 years. I ditched writing this column in December because I wanted off of this small, yet overwhelming stage of public self-expression. I put the pen down because I became too paranoid about what I should say and who I should say it for. My words got lost in self-doubt. I internalized too much and became a vessel of other people’s negativity and confusion. As so many people do. I lost my voice. I lost the joy of writing, creating, expressing. It was not strep throat two and three times a month. It was not polyps on my vocal cords. It was not some mystery infection. It was not me yelling too much. It was simply a manifestation of things unsaid in my personal and professional life. A soul’s disconnect because I let other people’s negative energy and needs consume me. I kept myself from my own joy. You know who this is for. Listen. If you have something that you think should be said or expressed a certain way. You do it. If there is a cause you feel needs to be championed. You do it. If your efforts are sincere they will be appreciated and others will join in your struggle. My New Year’s Resolution is to say what I mean and mean what I say. To do what I love without fear. I write from my place, from my experience, for my reasons. Find your voice. I’ve got mine back.
by Tanya Cromartie-Twaddle