I often hear the ideas about what it means to be a writer, and how quirky and weird writers are; and I find absolute humor in many of the statements. The idea that writers aren’t social, are difficult, eccentric, alcoholics and a probably a many more adjectives that equal a one size fits all mode of thinking. When the truth is, I am very social, at times; I’m just not as social as some people need to be, like extroverts. I am an introvert, and I like my downtime to myself, so I suppose that’s where scrutiny pops up for me as a writer. Yes, I write and edit all of my work and it’s pretty much been that way from the beginning.
I included writing into my curriculum when I was studying at Columbia. One issue I wrestled with as an amateur was—rewrites. I hated them, literally, and I would do just about anything to not rewrite a piece of fiction or a poem. The ideas that I was carrying around in my head were so much bigger than what I could put on paper, at that time. I had never written an essay over 10 pages, and I was accustomed to writing papers for my major and core requirements; but that writing was different. That writing is full of references, and continual streams of information. Yet, somewhere in the depths of my mind, I began to write short pieces; almost like they’d come from memory. A thought would spill out and continue to flow without an interruption, and it couldn’t be interrupted, anyway. For me, it was so amazing and such a blessings that it became sacred—my thoughts.
This led me to want to explore those ideas, and I’d dedicate time to writing it all out. I realized that writing is what I did all the time, and I decided to let the pieces fall into place and I created my own compilation of no rewrites work. The piece grew throughout the year, and I wrote papers and sometimes shared a piece of the work in class. I was open to constructive criticism, but negative subjective feedback—I ignored. My goal was to write out the story from the subconscious place in my mind. That part of writing, where you explore a character to yourself when you’re eating lunch with friends. Writing is always happening. I look at the beginnings of writing for me, like lessons in discipline because that was my challenge, then. I had not learned how to gracefully say “no,” and how to really take care of me yet—so, I learned the art of hiding out, literally.
The most radical moves that I ever had to make happened the summer in 1992, and without my permission. I had commitments; I was a Production Manager on a commercial; and working a work-study job. I would discuss my quiet writing project, but everyone was working on projects, especially the graduate students that I was around. Without notice, at the end of the school year, I gracefully bowed out of everything, but my work study job, and that summer was my first experience as a writer. It was a strong urge, a quiet request made like a pleading. I maintained a social life, although it wasn’t as social as some would think. During those years, I had all of the traits of an introvert, but not the understanding of being one.
I drifted into my routine. If I didn’t want to go somewhere, I didn’t go and if I wanted to explain—it didn’t allow me to explain. I couldn’t. Some of my associates became irritated with me, all of my usual after school, after work, after study activities lost my interest, and I couldn’t help it. I’d rest in my thoughts, and everything made sense and guilt lifted. I relished being alone with a purpose; but what the deal really was—I was an introvert. People have the idea that introverts aren’t social, but we are just I a different way. My alone time was a blessings, but then it became kind of a curse. My associates would punish me by being unavailable, and eventually, I accepted what I was called to do.
That is a part of the creative process, though. Sometimes, the artist has to be willing to handle the backlash of misunderstandings. There have been times when the isolation became overwhelming, and not being surrounded by my tribe left me to figure it all out. Yes, there were times when I wanted to talk about my work, but what moved me didn’t always move other people. I believe this is where I learned the art of talking about everything, except writing. It became personal, and due to the misunderstandings between associates and the disdain of my following my path—I kept it kind of as my secret. The pages became my safe refuge from all that I didn’t want to think about; it was the beauty of stories that tied loose ends and made sense of life. It added to my already existing compassion because you witness different perspectives.
But how this added to my life, wasn’t always the vision of the rose colored lenses that I used to write with. As a writer, you are constantly shifting realities, in a sense. There is the world you’ve created, where you understand or are forced to understand what all of the characters are facing as their challenge in life. When this is carried into living day-to-day, it can enhance a way of life, but then there are elements that should be avoided. For me, it’s a way of living that leaves me open to receive the goodness of a spiritual way of being. I know that imagination is a part of survival, and that this is why writing is a huge part of my life. I’ve ran to the page so many times in my life. When friends were starting families, and getting knee deep in office politics to climb the ladder; I’d work on writing, and I’ve recently come to admire my editing skills, as I’ve released the fear of rewrites.
My style of writing became raw because I could say what I wanted to say, and I’d let it fill up the pages. Of course, I believe that subconsciously there are elements that tread water to my life, but that is to be expected, as the creator of the work. When it comes to names, though, names are a challenge because I could go the symbolic route, but I always get too carried away. I like common names in the sense that it could be anyone, but sometimes coincidences are uncanny, and there are those who assume that it’s them that I’m writing about, but it’s not. I tired of explaining the process to others, and it became the first real thing that I owned—intellectual property,
Here’s this world that I created, and these characters are telling me their story. It was almost like an honor. I had met a senior woman, in real life, and I remember her request of me when I told her I wanted to write books. She spoke to me about documenting the experience of being diverse as a woman of color. Comments from elders are sometimes the most powerful, and I remember thinking, how do I bring attention to that? The elders have seen a lot, and take an interest in the written word. This brings me to my belief that creating brings one closer to the Creator, and this is only my perspective. My writing comes from a place that has to tell a story; it has to come out. There’s no room for it where it is coming from, so I must tell it. I don’t believe in “writer’s block;” I believe that when the story is ready to be told—it will tell itself if it has too.
My challenge is always to begin because I’m either doing one thing or the other; living is busy work. Living is learning lessons, creating the writer’s life. I have a quiet dislike for a critic or two in mind that have notions about when a writer writes, and what that looks like. People are always seeking or creating a production. This brings me to encourage writers everywhere to read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book is like my bible for writing, it puts everything in perspective; the crazy makers, the naysayers, the con artists that lurk, and seek negative information. I connect with other artists, and there are times to share and then there is just plain nosy. I’ve always had an issue with the idea of the tragic artist scenario; I must work a job because I need to pay my bills. I need to be good at doing more than just writing. Life is busy, and I became skillful in carving out time to write; in between relationships, it became where I healed. Writing became my main focus, and eased some of life’s blows.
One woman in particular leads me to lend her compassion in her ignorance of what writing is. It’s not a production, and it’s one of the only things that one can do alone; anytime or anywhere. Writing is personal, and this is why “these characters” who have chosen to violate my work are an issue. Their act of violating my work is personal for me because it belongs to me. What saddens me about people who violate writers is that I don’t believe that they think. I mean, I sit with a piece of work for years. I’m not into workshops; I’ll go and listen, and sometimes it’s motivating, but my writing is up to me. It’s a commitment that I make to do something for myself; and after I have cultivated the work, then; I share it with others.
There are myths about being a writer, like we write every day at this or that time? It’s as if we’re structured by forces outside of us. Me, personally, I fall in and out of rituals because it’s never the same. I do always, always meditate before I write, sometimes I do a lot of domestic activities around the house to clear my mind, I listen to music and I de-clutter all of my surroundings. I loathe clutter. Maybe this can be considered a process, but the calling to tell a story is like a new friendship; it’s one that I want to cultivate. I’m getting to know my characters in my head long before I actually put them on the page; I think this was a part of my rewrites issues. After thinking about what a character wants to say, and how they want to say it; it’s so authentic that my own straight-forward way seeps in, and that would be it. I’m not touching it. Can I recreate that meaning better than that? I learned over a seven year span to enjoy tightening up a body of work. I was working a job that left me depleted of my own person, by way of being contained racism and sexism, so I became a better Editor to keep my sanity.
Life was happening while I was working on Shades of Red, so it was easy to find those moments to fall into the story for a tick. I broke it up in increments and stared at it, until I’d figure out a way to make it better, if at all. I even hired an Editor, believing that somehow I couldn’t do it; I believe it was fear. In truth, the Editor was stuck on the story, and that’s another story. I’m like any other writer, I’ve endured rejection after rejection; letters on top of letters, even while I was still in college. But what editing did for me was that it kept me in the process, and it kept me dreaming of the possibilities of the novel; even when my job was an absolute dead-end. Life was happening for real, so when critics have so much to say about who isn’t capable of something; I’m aware that maybe they haven’t done anything that mattered to them, at all. Where there is a will, there is a way. Again, writing is my safe place and my writing belongs to me. I don’t steal it; I wait patiently for the stories to manifest; it is my spiritual alone time with my thoughts. It’s the one thing that really belongs to me, and it is my responsibility to share it with others and no one else’s. I send peace.
Welcome to my blog spot. I aim to share, inspire, motivate and connect with others to witness the human spirit in motion.