I Am a Writer by Terris Carter

This is the third piece I have written for Permanently Embarrassed Billionaires. If you know me, you may be asking yourself where this sudden interest in writing came from. What do I have to gain from posting articles about my sordid little life?

My loyal readers may recall that I was a nerdy kid. I spent a lot of my free time reading. In fact, once I was in middle school I became a bit bolder -  I even read during class. If I finished an assignment before everyone else I’d pull out whatever novel I was reading at the time, immersing myself in the story until class was over or we moved on to the next task. Although I was nerdy and did well in school, I wasn’t particularly fond of it. Reading was a brief reprieve from the anxieties of an overachiever. Like most voracious readers, I started to wonder if I could write too. My best friend at the time was also a voracious reader, so we started writing stories here and there and sharing them with each other.

I now had a second way to pass the time during class: writing. I filled at least half a dozen notebooks with my prose. I didn’t share my stories with anyone. I just wrote, with the hope that one day I would publish a story. But as I got older and struggled constantly with depression, I told myself that I wasn’t good at writing. I’d re-read my writing and toss it aside, only to start all over again. The older I got, the less I wrote. Occasionally I’d try to type up a short story, but it seemed like I just couldn’t write the way I wanted to. And if I wasn’t good at it why should I do it? If I couldn’t make money writing, I felt like my energy would be better spent elsewhere.  Eventually I stopped writing completely. 

Free Library of Philadelphia branch where Terris spent much of her time as a kid.
This brings me to my essay, Fighting That Bitch Depression. I wrote that piece a year or two ago, probably a week after meeting with my dear friend Madelyn Mae. She encouraged me to put my feelings into words, soo I spewed all my feelings into that document. I told another friend that I had written a piece about depression and shared it with her. She related to it and offered suggestions for me to improve the piece. I listened to the critique but informed her that I didn’t write it to be good or bad. I wrote it because I needed a way to express the thoughts that were gnawing at me. So I didn’t edit it, I just let it sit on my Chromebook. The only essays I wrote were for school.

Terris as a teenager.
Madelyn and I don’t see each other often, but when we do, we spend hours talking. She frequently encouraged me to write but I brushed it off. I didn’t want to get caught in the writing loop I had created for myself when I was younger. Why put time into something that I’m not good at it? She didn’t relent, however, and eventually she asked if I would be interested in writing a piece for the newly-launched Permanently Embarrassed Billionaires project, I sent the then-unnamed Fighting That Bitch Depression. I didn’t read it or edit it, lest I lose my nerve. When it was posted, people responded to it! I got a few DMs and texts, and lots of comments about how people related to it.

I read the piece I wrote and picked it apart. I noticed things I should have worded differently. I wondered why people were responsive to this unpolished word vomit. So I re-read some of the comments and messages, and started feeling more confident. It felt good that this imperfect piece I wrote touched people! My honesty made them feel seen and understood in such a vulnerable (and often stigmatized) place.. So I thought...well maybe I don’t have to be perfect. Maybe just sharing my experiences is enough. I resolved to write again, I wasn’t sure what my next topic would be until a conversation sparked my next essay: Anti-Blackness Thrives in Silence. Releasing all the thoughts that had been running through my mind was both cathartic and healing

In spite of my best effort, that second essay wasn’t as well-received as my first piece, and those old doubts started popping up - even though a few people did eventually reach out. So why am I back at it again? Because you don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. You can have hobbies that bring you joy, even if you don’t intend to monetize them. Most importantly, I realized that my writing could be helpful to other people! I always knew that I wanted a career that allowed me to help people, but I never knew what career that was for me. Knowing that my writing has the power to help people fulfills that need. 

With my hopes, dreams, and desire to help firmly in hand, I’ve decided to take on a bigger role as co-editor of Permanently Embarrassed Billionaires. PEB is not something we want to capitalize on. We just want to share our stories -and hopefully yours too! - in an effort to heal. You don’t need a college degree or a Pulitizer on your resume to tell your story and reach people. If you’re worried about being a good writer, the only way to get better at something is to practice - and we’re here to support you throughout the process! 

If you have a piece you’d like to share on PEB - or even just an idea you want feedback on - send us an email: contact@permanentlyembarrassedbillionaires.com.

Terris is a co-editor on the Permanently Embarrassed Billionaires Project. She is a proud writer, nerd, practitioner of Muay Thai, friend, and caregiver living in Philadelphia. All photographs of her in this post are used with her permission. This is her third piece for PEB. Fighting That Bitch Depression was her first. Antiblackness Thrives in Silence (Part 1 and Part 2) was her second.