I Write Myself Naked

I’m thirty-eight years old, and I’m sitting here in front of anyone reading this — completely exposed.

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Little AJ Kay in the 4th Grade

I was working-class, low rent, salt of the earth stock. My people worked with their hands — got other people’s coffee.

I turned in that story for the local Young Authors competition as an assignment for my English class. To me, it was just another piece of homework.

I was dropped off and told to meet my mom back out front in an hour. I mean, it was a Saturday after all, and she had shit to do.

I remember my name being called and walking up to the podium. I remember never raising my head to look up at the sea of round tables, covered in white linen, filled with adults who, for some inexplicable reason, showed up to hear stories written by little kids.

Most importantly, I have tirelessly shapeshifted my thoughts and feelings into Times New Roman, recounting and processing almost every significant life experience spanning my 38 years on this earth through my frenetic fingertips…and the click of those keys stood in for the beat of my heart on more than one occasion when I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep going.

Writing is the best therapy I’ve ever had. I wrote to keep myself alive, by the grace of any god who would listen.

I feel like a poor little kid up on stage being asked to read something she created from the purest part of herself, and submit it for judgment.

You are judging me. You are judging the parts of myself that I hide from the world. You are judging my intellect and my self-awareness and my blind-spots and my Achilles heels. No clothes. No armor. Naked.

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Self-portrait of AJ Kay taken at 3 a.m after writing this piece.

I write myself naked.

I write this in the eye of the storm of a panic attack induced by a sudden, sustained increase in views on a story I wrote and published recently. So I’m writing about it right now — you are reading my therapy session.

  1. To be the person you want to be, you need to do the things that the person you want to be would do.
  2. Vulnerability is strength, not weakness.
  3. Perfection isn’t a thing.
  4. Writing is my purpose.

I will overuse ellipses and chalk it up to stylistic license. I will use “and”s instead of commas because I like the way they sound in my head.

I will write about things that people label “TMI” (or they did 10 years ago) because those things will resonate with someone who needs to know they aren’t alone.

People will tell me my writing is shitty. Unoriginal. Offensive. And I’m going to keep fucking writing, even when it means sitting naked in the shower for 45 minutes at 6 am, scared to look at my “views” because the only thing scarier than no one reading my words, is a shit ton of people reading my words.

I will do it because I’m done denying myself the thing that feeds my soul out of reverence to fear. The thing that binds me with the rest of humanity. The thing that reaches a level of spiritual interconnectedness that I can’t access any other way.

I will do it because I’m a mother-fucking writer and I’m not going to let fear hold me back anymore.

Mama, writer, lover, fighter — I wear my heart on my sleeve because my pants pockets are too small. www.ajkaywriter.com

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