On Art, John Mayer, and Creating Your Own Lane


I generally don't substitute disclaimers for introductions, but in the interest of fairness and upon obvious consideration of my mounds of self description as both a feminist and gay black woman, I feel it's necessary to express how disappointed I was as a longtime fan to read some of John's past hurtful remarks regarding women; black women, specifically. Also, his imperious use of the n-word and the f-word. In no way do I condone toxic masculinity, racism, or homophobia, and judging from the lengthy apology issued by Mayer—that has since garnered enough of a believability rating to make it to TIME's “Top 10 Apologies” list—neither does he and for that I am thankful and relieved to know. Now would also be an appropriate time to refrain myself from ever having to say, “JAHN, STAHP!”

From the heights of a pyramid compiled with printed rejection and ignored emails throughout the years of my writing career, I would like to read aloud at the top of my lungs something John once wrote:

“Don't flinch. This day and age won't last forever. It will come back to the real deal and when it does everyone will look around to take stock in who flinched and who just kept to the art. That achievement will be more high tech than any high technology.”

His intellectual engine doesn't take long to turn over, that is, he just gets it. Even if I hadn't accepted his apology, the fact would still remain that we share a common vernacular for balancing uncompromisable art and human trepidation. Despite having my humble work as a writer of poetry celebrated, it took me a long time to fully embrace the title “poet.”

“Poetry is not something I do. It's this incurable, chaotic thing I am.”

Initially my reluctance was due to a sense of looming limitation. How would my deeper forms of writing and my writing of this stuff ever intersect? And on the off chance that they did, where were all the signs pointing to those two-lane roads? (Talk about a roundabout of confusion when all you're trying to do is the thing you love, which is to write. Mostly, you just want to pull over into the breakdown lane and cry.) There aren't as many spaces—that allow for content flexibility for someone like me—as one might think.

That was when it occurred to me, “Hey, there are no spaces you need to fit in order to be validated as a real writer.” I stopped pitching to publications and started visualizing my own space that would afford me the luxury of the freedom of relaxed duality, and so MelissaMTripp.com was born.

I've quite literally created my own lane and I haven't looked back since.