The final moments of long-suffering labor. Freedom at-hand yet Worlds away. A single suggestion echoes in the void.
No one said this would be easy.
My lips tremble with agony. A tormented scream escapes. Pain longing for liberation. Seeking a shortcut to existence. A weak will prevents premature manifestation. It drowns in a sea of commotion – a room of spectators filled with awe, horror, and hushed gasps. Pushhh.
No one said this would be quick. 
My hands clench tense air, desperate for a pen. My heart thunders against its cage. Encouragement laces my veins. My heart pumps complicity. The contractions are unbearable. The curtains close. The darkness is a refuge for a mind processing such violent extraction. Push!
No one said this would be painless. 
Bloodshot, my gaze searches the witnesses.
Their eyes betray their eagerness.
They salivate at the crowning.
At this intrusion of the soul.
Vulnerability breeds redemption.
Freedom is on the horizon.
Source surges through the atmosphere.
Chatter booms against prison walls.
No one said there would be pleasure.
Flesh surrenders. A final act of courage. Adrenaline evaporates. My spine withers. I am mortal, once more. My gifts delivered to the mercy of a speechless mob.
No one said there would be applause. 


Behind the Seams


I originally wrote Push while working at my alma mater Georgia State University as an academic study coach in the Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence. It was an easy job, except for the chaos. Every day, I would wander into my part-time gig with collegiate optimism. I would check-in at the center,  an oasis of serenity on the third floor, then descend the stairs into anarchy – a computer lab overrun with high schoolers. I doubled my caseload of students after talking to a few who were unassigned. One student, Big Joc, had a particular gravitas. He shared with me grandeur plans of managing his friends’ rap career, lavish expeditions to Paris to record a mixtape, and other elaborate dreams that I fully believed and supported.

One specifically chaotic day, I found myself in deep thought regarding my future. Here was a high schooler moving through the world with an inspiring certainty and pronounced willpower. And here was I, a recent college graduate navigating a recession and the shocking reality that nothing in the real world works as imagined in my dorm room. Joc’s visions made me revisit my own. All I knew was that I wanted to write, hopefully for a living one day. So I sat down, faced a blank paper, and pushed out the words above.


Fast forward and I was working at the largest non-profit in Atlanta, facing a graver iteration of the same existential question. In the frame of my office window, I could see my birthplace (Grady Hospital), my undergraduate college (Georgia State University), and the dorm where I conceived my daughter. It was trippy. And it was hard not to ponder the mysteries of life and what’s to come when you see that view every day.

What am I supposed to be doing with my life?”

Knowing I still wanted to be a writer, I created Pennedhouse as just a portfolio. So that I would have proof when recruiters would question my writing abilities or creativity. We collaborated on this visual to help me launch:

It’s easy to look back and nitpick at all the elements that could be improved. We tend to do that as ever-evolving creatives, artists, and perfectionists. But the truth is producing this visual unlocked new frameworks of thinking, especially as a writer in a world rapidly pivoting to video. I started to think more critically about advertising and short films.


Not too long after, I ended up creating commercials for the Air National Guard. And this was the first commercial I wrote/produced:


Today with Joc having published his second novel as I wrapped production on my second film, and four films between us, I can’t help but think back to the hectic computer lab. To the job that only lasted two months. To the rich conversations full of elaborate plans and lofty goals. And to the young dreamers who made them come true.

I’m sharing this for every creative struggling to share their art. No matter where you are in your journey as measured by time or skill, you can’t let fear dim your light. You may not always know who you’re inspiring or how or when or why. The willingness to open up, to ask for help financing a project, to share an uncompleted manuscript, and to be vulnerable enough to discuss each other’s wildest dreams – all these things are instrumental to personal growth and inspiring to others on the path. The creative process is a journey, but forward momentum is only possible when you put yourself out there and publish your work.

No one said this would be easy.
No one said this would be quick.
No one said this would be painless.
No one said there would be pleasure.
No one said there would be applause. 

Push, anyway. The World Needs Your Gifts.