So Marley said this to me several weeks ago. I had told her that I couldn’t wait for the day that I got thousands of people responding to my work, “different levels, different devils,” she replied. When you get to the place where people are actively responding to your work, there are inevitably people who are going to tell you that you suck, that you’re a horrible person, and that you deserve to die.
It’s the price of success, as soon as you become a success, there are people who are drawn to you purely because they want to destroy the thing that you are focusing on building, and I can’t help but wonder if I really want what I claim to want.
When George Floyd died, I made a concentrated effort to surround myself with Black and Brown writers and creatives, because for the first time in my life, I felt completely alone and utterly vulnerable. His death changed the way that I see the world, the death of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor helped.
These three humans and their deaths affected me in ways that no other Black death had affected me before, largely because of the way they died and the decision of those in power, not to do anything truly effective to combat the hurt that their deaths caused.
So now here I am surrounded by all this amazing BIPOC people talent, these amazing writers, photographers, these phenomenal people in the cannabis industry each doing their parts to make sure that people of color have a voice, and I am still wondering where I fit in.
I said that earlier today, and that’s what I want to do with my writing. I want you to stop everything you are doing, so I can punch you in the face with my words. I didn’t realize this is what I wanted until long after I wrote Uncomfortable, I didn’t realize it until this moment actually.
I read a series by Kim Harrison once, and I’ll probably not dive into any more of the franchise of her books, because to be honest, I am still digesting what I have already read from this amazingly beautiful author. The world she created is still buried in the forefront of my mind, I still have moments of “I can’t believe that character died,”. When this particular character died I cried. I mourned him like I was mourning a lover of my own, I was so devastated that I actually had to stop reading her books for months to digest the pain of losing someone so rich and realistic.
When I sent the writer, @BurningBunnies a tweet to tell her she broke my heart she laughed and said “good”. That was it, and that was more than enough. That was a teaching moment for me, because that is what good writing should do.
One of my favorite authors is JD Robb, aka Nora Roberts, her “In Death” series tackles racism, rape, gang rape, murder, ritual rape, and all kinds of topics that are close to my heart. She has a kick ass main character who is fighting her own demons, and of course Dallas has her partner in crime Roarke who helps her fight the demons and the bad guys, and she makes the world seem like a less scary and less harsh place.
Good writing should do that too, it should break your heart, and it should absolutely give you faith in the future. These are Masters, or Mistresses, as the case may be, of good writing. They know exactly how to stoke the tone of “what the unholy fuck who comes up with this shit?” and “that could actually happen, a hole in the universe could exist so that people can go from one world to another world in a single footstep.”
Good writing should stoke the imagination, and challenge everything you know to be true about the world that you live in. It should teach you what could/might/would/should happen if things were just a tiny bit different in one area or another.
That’s the kind of writer that I want to be, because that’s the kind of audience I want. I want one day to be like “yo, I just read this book by Devon J Hall and you’ll never believe what she said,” but I also know that in setting myself up for that future, I am also setting myself up for disappointment.
There are going to be people who just don’t get my writing, and it might be because the color of their skin is different than mine, or because their experience is different than mine, or because they genuinely think I am a fucking idiot, but at least they’ll know my name.
This feeling of needing to be known, of needing to have my voice heard, comes from feeling like for years no one was listening. Whenever I went anywhere, guys would grab me and kiss me, and put their hands all over me, or rape me for days on end, never asking if it was something that I wanted.
It’s not the compliment you think it is, it’s a violation, it’s vicious, and cruel, and leaves me feeling unwanted by nice guys, or unwanted by nice people. It gives you this belief that people aren’t supposed to ask permission before touching you, and then you just start letting them do it because you’re too afraid of what people might say if you say no.
It confuses you and makes you think you’re weird for not wanting the advances of the normally really nice guy that everyone thinks is good looking, and it alters everything about how you see the world. Wanting to be known is less about wanting to be famous just to be famous, it’s because there is power that comes with having lots of people know your name.
Several months ago I got into a twitter spat with someone – I don’t even remember what it was about, but at the time another twitter user started making threads upon threads upon threads about how they were championing me, and it really pissed me off, and so I told her so.
She wasn’t giving me the space to defend myself, she was speaking for me, and that was a really traumatizing experience, it took me back to the place where people spoke or did for me, instead of letting me do for myself, and it victimized me in a way that I wasn’t prepared for.
That’s why I write the way that I write, that’s why I want to punch you in the mouth with my words, it’s my way of standing up for myself. It’s my way of proving that I can stand up for myself and that not only do I not need help, but I also am not a victim anymore.
The problem however is that the more known you are, the more people try to tear you down, and sometimes you have to rely on others to support you and defend your name so that you don’t so beaten up, you can’t do it for yourself.
Sometimes you have to let people help you out and sometimes you have to let their experience take over the task so that it can get done properly.
Yesterday I wrote a post about Cannabis Strains, and the importance of being able to access the strains you need or like, on a regular basis. I had a tiff with someone who told me the information that I’d put in the post was wrong, but as it turns out it wasn’t. I realized through another friend that I wasn’t right, but I also wasn’t wrong, neither was the person who had tried to give me additional information.
We were just coming at the topic from two different sides of the same story, and I hadn’t experienced that before. I didn’t know that I was going to write this, but honestly it feels good to have had a conversation with a friend who could ask me to look at things from a different perspective, in a way that wasn’t abusively arrogant. This third person didn’t tear me down or tell me that I was wrong, or that I should just get over it.
She told me instead to look at it a different way, she also taught me that in the industry they don’t refer to the different kinds of cannabis by strains, but instead by Cultivar, which was something I wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t made an attempt to lean on a friend.
This is what makes my writing better, having people come to me and say “yo, did you think about it this way?” challenges me to do better. To be a better keeper of record, the information you know absolutely must be challenged, so that you can ensure you are providing the best information available.
I just want to take a moment to say thank you to the readers, commenters, and editors who have already helped me get this far. I didn’t realize until today that writing in public is a group effort and I am truly lucky to have so many of you in my corner.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall