LaTonya Yvette built a brand, not only around her lifestyle blog, but around herself. Her first book Woman of Color — a collection of honest essays and sage advice that is both a classic memoir and a lifestyle guide — is a true reflection of who she is as a writer, blogger and mother who refuses to limit herself to a singular label. Below LaTonya shares her journey creating space for herself as a writer and blogger.
I often, just like my own writing, swim through a hot haze of blurry spaces. This is made clear in my first book, Woman Of Color. I find discomfort in inaccessibility for followers and readers in both my roles as a writer and a "blogger" (I still haven't found a proper term for a writer, who has a blog, but also doesn’t have a lot of editors so she can’t be called a founding editor). It often seems like my job, on top of the other things I do, is to make sure I am clear that the space is always blurry and I am privileged to work this way in any capacity.
When it comes to running a website — more widely known as blogging — I stay away from a relationship that seems to glamorize it. But at the same time, I stay away from a relationship that seems to make it seem like the hardest thing in the world.
I started my blog almost eight years ago as a 21 year old Black mother living in Brooklyn. I was in college, with no full-time job and a new family. I was still dressing up for my new body, and bringing my young daughter with me on daily outings. I needed a space that encompassed all of who I felt I was. My worlds felt so separate, and my blog back then allowed them to converge. It also, in many ways, mirrored a similar lack in inclusion and diversity in the mom-groups and breastfeeding classes (you name it, I took my daughter to all of the free ones) I attended. Years later, I realize that starting the blog back then, not only gave me space to converge the true parts of myself that I often felt society required me to keep separate, it also gave me a space to give other women that same window.
While I loved being a writer who had a blog, I don’t think I have the capacity to do it exclusively. Blogging daily requires a multitude of energetic skills that can keep up with the flow and need for content. It requires a pin in the crowd, and a distinct pin in yourself. And while I do in some cases have that, I don’t do it well enough. Or consistently enough. My need to write long-winded pieces, often gets in the way of the fast-paced digestion of blogging. My own personal tie to the heaviness of the world sometimes leaks through sentences about sun-dress and woven bags. I don’t think I have a niche enough to keep one specific group engaged. I skip days when other work comes in.
Rather, as a blog, LaTonya Yvette is a window into this particular womanhood and expanding community. It is imperfect. And while I know many are in need and desire that window in, the many are also busy folk. And so, again, there is chewing and there is moving.
My book allowed me to realize that this same lack of inclusivity I was feeling as a mother, writer and blogger, was also missing in the stories both white women and woman of color were reading. And often, my own fight with my writer/blogger life, was sometimes rooted in the reality that my blog couldn’t hold space, or expand enough to properly comfort the stories in Woman Of Color. Though my blog is so many parts of me combined, my life as an author — one I hope to continue to expand — requires early mornings, not late evenings, it often requires solitude. More importantly it holds space for me in a way that I don’t believe my site could.