Please don't throw tomatoes at me 🍅
A little hiatus...
I’ve been gone for a long time, I know, so you’re probably thinking this newsletter was a flop project. Reasonable assumption — especially as I only ever published one issue. But Unsolicited is very much still a thing. It’s just been on hold for a few different but totally valid reasons. Not excuses! Reasons!
First, I’ve been working on a reported essay that can’t be written in just a few weeks. Since January, I’ve been obsessing over this thing; but I started brainstorming for it months before that. As I write this, it’s March 1, so, as you can see, the essay has been a long time coming.
The slow, syrupy process of writing and researching this story has been both a bitter and sweet thing. Bitter because I hate marinating in ideas for too long — especially when they’re timely. I live in this constant fear of being quasi-scooped, sweating bullets from the intrusive thought that some person will write some story before me, and when I publish mine, the public will skim it as a facsimile of theirs — even if the stories are only alike in ethos and not particularly in thesis or focus — all because I, for once, took my time. I have never been a patient person, in general, and working in journalism for over a half-decade has effectively chiseled away the remaining tolerance I once had for sluggish processes. Unlike the literary space, where words are also the whole world, journalism — when commodified, which is almost always is — requires rushing. That rush has traumatized me!
For instance, the closest I ever got to working in a proper newsroom was holding a staff writer position at a popular digital women’s lifestyle publication, where I wrote about pop music (which strides on a weekly schedule) and celebrity drama (which jogs on an hourly one) every day for seven hours a day. Such a beat rarely gave me a moment to exhale anything of critical substance. I was at that helm for just under a year: long enough for me to realize that I actually never want to work in entertainment news again because not only did I feel hurried but hurried about stuff I didn’t even care for — like Kardashian rumors or Olivia Rodrigo stan conspiracies. Like, okay, it’s one thing when an editor is flagging me down about a timely, evocative story I’ve been commissioned to write about a social issue or current event. (Although even then I get annoyed by quick turnarounds.) It's another when the content I'm writing is completely insignificant to our progression as a society!
At the fault of not any particular person, but rather the go-go-go culture of media, my experience as a staff writer was always shrouded in frustrations regarding the toxic relationship between time and thought. A lack of time is detrimental to good thought. Instead of a newsie — a respectable commander of facts, time-crunches, and inverted pyramids — I’ve always wanted to be the young Black doyenne of written culture commentary, letting her words and ideas slow cook rather than sauté.
But being paid to create patiently is a luxury saved for laureled writers with either a job at a highbrow publication or a book deal. I just have this newsletter. And though it might seem paradoxical for me to claim impatience while simultaneously complaining about people being impatient with me, that contraction is a great testament to how the media’s condemnation of slow movements can be so easily internalized so early in one's career. (I'm only 25.)
So, now, even on the creative island I’ve made for myself — where I get to write how I want, when I want, and about what I want — I feel too close to the chaos of social media, the news cycle, the business of other media folk. It all feels like a hurricane threatening what little halcyon I’ve sought. And I cannot work in isolation, because what is a good culture writer, if not informed and eternally waist-deep in desktop research? Being curious, and often nosy, is part of the job.
All this is to say I’m anxious as fuck about the story I’m working on — that’s the bitter half. Also stressful is my decision to pause the publication of future Unsolicited issues because I’m currently being considered (it’s not that serious lol I just did the application lol lol lol not nervous at all) for a fellowship that would support the creation of this newsletter. In the case that I did become a fellow, I’d be doing up this newsletter a bit, platform- and focus-wise. Something like a glow-up. (Send immaculate, fortuitous vibes my way.)
I don’t hear back about the fellowship for another two weeks. Normally such a waiting game would piss me off. And don’t get me wrong — I am as annoyed as a high school senior refreshing their inbox that's still void of any acceptance letter emails. But here’s the sweet part: I’m sort of thankful for this predicament. For starters, I can’t remember the last time I applied for something with a concrete response deadline. In journalism, editors do not issue an “if you don’t hear back by this date” statement in their pitch guidelines. They prefer ghosting or breadcrumbing. It’s awesome.
On the contrary, I look at this fellowship as an audacious hot date: if she fucks with me, I’ll know. By March 15, in fact. So y’all will be hearing from me around then; and no matter the outcome, Unsolicited will be making a return. Promise.