AI vs. Authentic Self
A few weeks ago, I saw a service that uses AI to write a blog. And I tested it out. I entered 30 different topics that I have blogged about or planned to blog about. I chose “serious” for the tone, and said to gear it toward older African-American women – my primary Facebook followers. That’s all I did. Within 30 seconds, the AI spit out each blog. Not something I would write, but factual, knowledgeable, thoughtful, powerful, good stuff. I was quite amazed, and felt it was a good use of the investment, because the blogs had good information. I just knew I would never print them.
My nieces wondered why not. It was a real eye-opening moment for me. I’ve been blogging now, once a week, for 6 months. And I have written about a lot of different things. I’ve written about themes in my book around abortion and domestic violence. I’ve written about things that I consider important, like voting and Kwanzaa and Martin Luther King’s Birthday. I’ve written about writing, publishing, marketing. I’ve written about books that had meaning to me. And this week, I have realized, as I rejected the idea of AI Blogging, that I truly love to write – I am a writer.
I’m not sure how I missed this reality about myself. For about five years in the 1980’s, I worked for a computer company in Massachusetts that had on-line forums. Definitely ahead of its time. And I wrote as “’ren – the radical moderate”. I wrote my opinion on a wide variety of things based on my experiences in life as a well-educated, light-skinned black feminist from the DC suburbs at age 25. I wrote with great conviction, and for many people, I was the first African-American voice they had ever heard.
Interestingly enough, I remember a woman who frequently challenged me because her experience as a black woman in New York City was so different from my experience as a black woman in DC, which was very Southern and segregated when I was growing up. It was a strong kick in the pants to come to terms with how UN-monolithic black people are. What I had thought of as anomalies were actually normal. We African-Americans are having completely different life experiences all over the country and there is no one thing that defines us except that our ancestors are African, and were typically slaves. Some of us love to ski. Some of us love to golf. Some of us love to swim. Some of us are more comfortable around black people. Some of us are more comfortable around white people. Some of us are very dark, some of us are very light, most of us are in between. Some of us were raised with money, some were not. Some of us grew up in cities, some in suburbs, some in the country, East Coast, West Coast, Mid-West, Southern. Not so many in Maine, Montana and Idaho, but you’ll find us pretty much everywhere else.
There was no writing avenue again for me until 2004 when I discovered the political bulletin board called . I was completely in my element. I was reading, I was writing. I was commenting. I was following. I wrote under the General Discussion board and the African-American forum. And again, I would present my African-American feminist woman’s voice in a world where we were scarce and my point of view was different. Sometimes I got in a LOT of trouble. When I pointed out that a lot of southern African-Americans are not liberal, are pro-life, are not LGBTQ+ friendly and have strong Christian faith, it was not well received. Everyone wants to think that Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas and Don Lemon and Tim Scott are “anomalies”. No, they represent some African-American viewpoints. Not the majority, but some. I may resent them completely, I may call them names, but I can’t pretend that there isn’t a percentage of African-Americans who completely agree with them.
And then I joined Facebook. It can’t have been more than 12 years ago. I wrote constantly to my very select group of friends and family. I wrote about my life, and I got personal. I had no idea just how UNSAFE Facebook is. My husband gave me a strong lecture about 3 years ago about “spreading your business on Facebook”, so I stopped sharing so much with strangers, but I couldn’t stop writing.
At this point, I had begun writing the short stories. Only a few a year. It was like a gift, a Muse, a new way of expressing myself. As I think about it, I realize that my stories, even if they are not my own experiences, represent my views, my concerns, my beliefs, my feelings. So, Afro-Bougie Blues really is my authentic self.
Marketing a book is a pain in the ass. I envy everyone who has a traditional publisher to do it for them. As far as I’m concerned, Afro-Bougie Blues is a good book. But competing with over 100,000 new books a day makes it a hard sell. I am very proud to have sold 500 copies. I am very proud to have won two awards. I am very proud of my positive reviews. I worked extremely hard for them. But I am recognizing that writing fiction is really just a small part of my writing reality. I love sharing my life, my loves, my opinion. I love digging into the dirt, finding the facts, presenting a point of view. So, my adventures in blogging were born.
I am not a “typical” blogger. I am not in it for the money. I am not focused on one theme. I am not just an author. And I am not in it to push my book! I blog to share my view, to share my authentic self, to present my perspective, and hopefully shine a light on a hidden reality. I am so glad to have you along for the ride.