Dear 2012: The Ace Hood MyBrownBaby “Hustle Hard” Anthem Is In Full Effect

Dear 2012,

Here’s the thing, New Year: 2011 kinda kicked my ass. Like, seriously. I mean, of course, there are plenty of people who can claim life beatings worse than mine; the streets were full of folk occupying in the name of the 99 percent who, despite their best efforts, couldn’t/can’t seem to catch a break on the job, housing, healthcare and stock markets. This isn’t totally my story. I still have have my home. I still have my health. My babies are well fed, clothed and healthy and in their right minds (most of the time). These are all blessings.

But 2011 was decidedly not the year of the writer. At least not this writer. Freelance contracts dried up. Book proposals—all of which I invested an incredible amount of brainpower, sweat equity and talent—went unpurchased. Burgeoning partnerships crashed and burned. And I can’t count how many people—editors, corporations, complete strangers—blew smoke up my woohah, talmbout, “You’re so awesome, your words are so beautiful, you’re such a star, your blog is the bomb diggity and by the way, we want you to bring your ‘A’ game to write/promote/edit/read/work like a dog on our behalf but yeah, we only got a couple pennies for that, so… ”

Everybody knows how I feel about working for pennies. Word to my agent, Victoria.

By December 2011, really? I was just, like, done with it all—thinking maybe I chose the wrong career or something. It’s like that for us creative types, you know. Politicians start talking about jobs and getting people back to work and the first thing they start hollering is “job training” and “construction jobs” and “rebuilding America.” Um, I got a college degree and 20 years as a professional writer under my belt. I don’t need job training and my 43-year-old writer ass is not going to be out spreading hot asphalt on local roads in Wyoming. #JustSayin’. #NowWhat?

I know I’m not alone in this. And though I’m a reasonably optimistic person, I’ve had quite the time getting past this 2011 disappointment, particularly after forging a reasonably successful career as an author, freelance writer and work-at-home mom over the past six years.

I’ve dreamed big. Played hard. And followed the rules. And 2011 played way too dirty for my tastes.

So here’s the deal, 2012: I can’t have any of this 2011 business, understand? Won’t have it. I’m too good, too smart, too wise, too kind, too generous, too honest, too experienced, too accomplished, too awesome, too fly to be scrambling. To quit. To fail. So what I’m going to do is polish up these here 2012 plans I’ve plotted out, take a deep breath, pump up the volume on my “So Ambitious” Spotify play list and ride your ass into 2013 with my heels dug in your side. My mantra? I tap into the words of the modern-day street poet Ace Hood and his song, “Hustle Hard”:

Mama need a house
Baby need some shoes
Times are gettin’ hard
Guess what I’ma do
Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle—hard
Closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard

Buckle up, boo.

It’s. About. To. Go. Down.

{Flicker credit: StephenDePolo for Creative Commons}

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. **Standing Ovation** I hear you! The last paragraph was everything I needed to read this morning. Rock On Denene!

  2. LOL

    Yes ma’am. You couldn’t have said it better.

    This post is inspiration.

  3. Awesome! I’m with you…and you’ve got too much talent to be working for pennies. It’s been going around…keep on pushing for what you deserve! This year feels like a year of possibilities. <3

  4. I feel and I’m puttin’ Ace Hood’s verse on my vision board.

  5. Head Up! Moving Forward! 2011, Gone! 2012, Nothing but Possibilities! YOU. GOT. THIS!

  6. i hear you, denene! 2011 was far too crapalicious for my taste as well. ummmm… think you can share what’s on your “so ambitious” spotify play list? 😉 hahaha…

  7. I’m right there with you! It’s ON and POPPIN’. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. YAS! YAS! YAS! You make me wanna just….put on a hoodie and just…just…. go do something like walk down my street with my pants saggin talkinbout “This b*tch bad, this b*tch hood”. Let’s get it in 2012!

  9. Love this! Let’s go lady!

  10. Let’s goooooooo!!!!
    This post is so inspirational!
    Everyday I’m hustling…….

  11. Keep grindin’. 2012 is your year.

  12. Whew! Get it, D! With that attitude, this is gonna be YOUR year! Let’s go!

  13. I hear you. I thought that 2011 just dried up on my end a bit. Come on 2012! Let’s get it!

  14. Glad I’m not the only writer in that situation in 2011. I feel you, and I’ll see you at the victory line in 2012.

  15. Love this! Thank you for being candid and honest. This year is going to be mmm-mmm-good. It has to be. Will be. Definitely!

  16. You’ve been questioning your career choice too???

  17. Such an inspiration . Great post

  18. I have stumbled on your blog twice today at different times. This is the first post i read, LOVE IT, couldn’t agree with you more. 2011 WOW. I am stay at home mom of a 2 1/2 year old, ’emerging’ visual artist, and graphic designer. I could copy and paste your story and just add my name. 2012 MUST be different. Good luck – to the both of us!

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