It’s been an interesting year for all of us, but for me, this was even more true.
For the first half of the year, I languished in a job that I despised. That had never happened to me before. Not coincidentally, it was also the first time I was not performing well. I was miserable.
This misery manifested itself in many ways – I gained weight, I was moody – but especially in my writing…and lack thereof. I wrote a three-part series on the nature of work today, but for the most part, my misery led to a dry spell.
I didn’t want to write. And when I did manage to put words on the page, they weren’t very good. I struggled with who I was, and while that generally meant my day job, it also affected how I do this. I kept reading books and sending out my newsletter, but I felt like the fire was beginning to flicker and fade. I questioned if I should keep writing; I questioned if I were good enough to justify keep writing; I questioned everything.
Then, as they so often do, things turned around. I secured a much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much better job. From there, everything began to flow again. And while I don’t have the outpouring of words that I did a few years ago when I would write two things per week while also publishing a few books, it’s coming back. I even have an idea or two for a book.
Speaking of books, the five year anniversary of my first book, The Hip-Hop 10, came and went back in May without a word from me. I knew about it, but I wasn’t sure how to celebrate. That book is my most popular by far – I’d have to run the numbers, but I’m pretty sure it has outsold the other eight combined. It has reached #2 on Amazon (in the Rap category) on two separate occasions. That’s great. I’ll never complain or minimize success.
But here’s the thing: it’s not my best book. It’s possibly my worst. But it still sells. Over the past year or so, I’ve kept thinking about what people that pick up that book for the first time think about the author. It was written and published in 2012 and was clearly the work of a man rapidly approaching middle age who worshiped ’90s east coast boom bap over all forms of music and said so. And while I’m still proud of it and still stand by what’s inside, I thought it needed an explanation. If a 17-year-old were to read that book, he or she may think they were getting lectured by their grandfather, talking about music from another time.
So I’ve added a new author’s note to the front of the book and also dropped the price ($0.99 for Kindle; $6.99 for paperback). If you’re going to listen to an old rap superfan yell at a cloud, you shouldn’t have to break the bank to do it.
Anyway, that was my year. Below are my choices for my best work of the year. This list is far from everything I wrote – it’s just the best.
My Very Best Writing from 2015
My Very Best Writing from 2016
In Appreciation of Sticky Fingaz
The Triumphant Album of My Youth: ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ at 20
‘4:44’ Is Great, but Not New – Jay-Z Has Been Making Confessional Songs His Entire Career
Revisiting the Best Rap Rankings from the 100th Issue of ‘The Source’ [January 1998]
History Will Be Very Kind to Sam Hinkie
Imaging the 1980s Houston Rockets Superteam
Reading & Writing
Four Ways That Reading Makes You a Better Writer
The Hard Truths About Self-Publishing
Burnout, Arrogance, and Workaholism: The Problems with Corporate Finance
The Hellishness of a Ridiculously Long Commute
When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Turn Down a Job
A Surefire Path to Success? Ask Smart Questions
The Best Way to Overcome Failure
Dropping Out of Grad School [The First Time] Is the Greatest Decision I’ve Ever Made
If You Need Some Humility, the Universe Will Provide It
Most of Us Will Never Live Out Our Dreams – And That’s Freeing
How Toys on YouTube Invaded My TV
TV & Film
The Main Problem with the DCEU: Universes Aren’t Built In a Day
The Closest Thing to a Graphic Novel – Celebrating 25 Years of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’
Jefferson Was Actually Like Trump So Adams Is the Founding Father You Should Be Studying
If even one person reads any of the things that I write, I’m elated, so thank you to everyone that clicked and supported this year.
See you in 2018!
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.