Somewhere between 2013 and 2014, shortly after my first professional gig as a writer, I clicked the share button for one of my articles to promote myself on social media. With little thought, on my phone, I typed “Read It Because I Wrote It” and put it on the internet.
I didn’t put much thought into it. But a funny thing happens once we speak our thoughts or write them down. They are no longer something we’ve conjured up or mulled over in our heads; they now belong to the universe. You are now face-to-face with your thoughts, dreams, aspirations, etc., and in their current form, will look you in the eye. In this moment, I felt it.
Within ten seconds, something changed. An off-the-cuff, dry humored remark rolled off my tongue and showed me purpose. In all of its wry, it gave an air of confidence and vulnerability. Within five words, I told an audience everything they needed to know. “You may like what I have to say; perhaps you may not. I got this story to tell; and if there is any reason to take five minutes out of your day to engage with these words, read it because I wrote it.” Despite a couple of phone calls, a national headline or two, and a growing base, once I put “Read It Because I Wrote It” into the world, I finally felt like a writer.
I have always been a little left-of-center; or as my kindergarten teacher once told my mother in parent-teacher’s conference “Chad marches to the beat of his own drum.” The son of two artists, my parents made sure my twin sister and I grew up with supreme confidence in ourselves and abilities; yet never displayed the self-doubt which both cripples and propels creatives. It may have been one of the best lessons I learned from them because I owned my uniqueness and it acted as a guide. Clearly Ms. Staton, my kindergarten teacher, understood this when I told her I changed my name and for some time I wrote “Blue Milner” on my headings.
As confident as I was, my childhood insecurity that has followed me all of my life is feeling misunderstood. Often, it has held me back; but on the other hand, it produced a tireless work ethic. Almost anything I find interest in, I will toil away until I feel it is undeniable, or someone sees my potential and wants to assist.
I had a blog with over 20,000 views in a year and a story which resonated with people. I loved to tell stories and rapped since the late-90’s. Yet, I still didn’t view myself as a writer. In the back of my mind, a 2002 conversation with my AP English teacher looped on repeat. An excited sixteen-year-old kid told an instructor he looked up to “I’m a writer” and the response of “I’ve seen your work. I wouldn’t say all of that” morphed into the question “Am I really a writer?” for the next 11-12 years.
In 2013, I was walked into an office and introduced to some of the writing staff of a large platform. The editor gave me her business card and offered to pay me a little more than most freelancers as incentive to be a black man, who wrote about black fatherhood for their audience of mostly women. Yet it took me a month to write her back because I didn’t feel confident enough in my capabilities. I probably wrote it different; but the tone of my email was “Dear Editor: Hey! Remember me? That guy who came up to the office before Halloween? You told me I could write for you guys and you wanted to pay me a little more because I’m a black father? I know it’s December and all; but if you’d give me a chance, I’m sure I can put some words together and hopefully you like them. Thank you for your time and consideration: Chad.”
After her yes, a few pitches and articles, and lots of support, I felt as if I was one my way; but still not a writer. All of this changed when I said “Read It Because I Wrote It.” As I typed those words, every day, with every post, I began to believe my own words. A thought became an action, which begat a habit through practice, and evolved into a lifestyle. In time, friends and strangers would write to me “I really like your stuff.” In a gracious tone, I would say “Thank you.”
Often “I read it because you wrote it” was their reply.
I began to tell myself “If someone were to asked me “Why should I read this?” and my answer is “because I wrote it,” they will just for this reason alone. In time, my nonchalant self-promotion became a proclamation; the soapbox platform I stood on. It went from “Hey guys, check this out and I hope you like it” to “You should read this because I’m really good at what I do. I guarantee even if you don’t like what I have to say, you will find it to be a damn good read.”
So that’s exactly what this is and why I’m here, to do exactly what I have told the people who have done so in over 170 countries: read stuff because I wrote it. My writing style is conversational and because I still have this insecurity of feeling misunderstood, it makes perfect sense to actually recite my words to feel like an intimate dialog; why not give it a voice? Perhaps my moments of sarcastic, dry humor will resonate more with some or the insightful and sentimental ones will as well.
In the spirit of keeping things a buck, I came up with the idea for this podcast sixteen months ago. I began to comb through some of my older work and recorded over thirty of them. But I was still wary and nervous to do so (It’s that feeling misunderstood thing). But as my close friends-and therapist-have told me is I tend to delay the invitable, so I might as well get over it, myself, practice what I preach, and just fucking do it.
So here I am. Each week, I will write something new, record it, and do the same with one of over 750 essays I’ve penned on my site, Single Dadventure. With each older piece, I will give insight from the five w’s and an h behind my words or how I feel about them today. To kick things off, I’m throwing in a few older essays to get you-and me-used to what I have going on here…
At the end of the day, my purpose in all of my words is for others to see and learn about themselves through my words. Everyone’s got a story to tell and I hope this inspires some of you to do so as well.