Year: 2018

Tortoise and the Hare

It’s been a minute, y’all! Please don’t take my absence here to mean I’ve not been busy. I have been! I kind of feel as if I’m running the slowest, fastest race known to man!

I had the pleasure of presenting at HippoCamp for the third year in a row. It is such a great conference. It’s big enough to meet new people and network, but also small enough that you can run into familiar faces. Do yourself a favor and go if you have the chance. 

Besides that, I did my first ever book tour stop. I was honored to read with three other poets at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. for the Breakbeat Poets Vol 2: Black Girl Magic anthology. While that day was an adventure (wallet left behind in Philadelphia!), it was great to hear the work of other black female writers and vibe with a room of people interested in hearing our work. 

I was also honored to be added as a member of the Moving Forewards  Memoir Writers Collective. This is an amazing group of women! 

There are a few things I can’t yet speak about, but I’m hoping 2019 is full of abundant writing success! 

What If Icarus Was a Writer?

In a perfect world the managing editor of my journal, Angie, would have stepped in and stopped me from writing this before I even logged into the site. This is a not a perfect world.

One of the things I aim to do in my writing here and elsewhere is to be as honest as possible. My honesty is not loud nor does it often manifest itself in ways that fit the mold of a brooding writer. I am not one to delve into the opaque. I guess I’m pretty simple. And that’s what worries me.

For the last few years, I’ve been in silent competition with people who have no idea they are even in a race. I catch wind of publications, book deals, guest spots with prestigious outlets, and other activities that let writers know they’ve made it. And I turn green. And I turn red. And then I turn blue. I get jealous because I want to scream, “What about me?!” I get angry because I feel as if I’m never going to breakthrough. Lastly, I get sad because what if this moment is as good as it gets?

That last thought has been the topic of discussion with the two people closest to my writing, Angie and Jameel. Both of them have done their best to shake me out of my impostor syndrome. They’ve reminded me of my years of publishing, the success and consistency of Linden Avenue, the great things forthcoming. Especially, they remind me that I’ve done more in my thirty-nine years than many will do in a lifetime. The problem is that I never feel I’ve done enough. I’m always looking at what others are doing and comparing myself to what they’ve accomplished. Doing this means I’m never satisfied. It means I’m blind to what I’m doing and where I’m going.

I will never pretend to be wholly confident in what I write nor in my position in this community. In some ways, that works to my advantage. It makes me want to improve. It makes me want to figure out how to push myself off the beaten path and into the wildness of what my writing can be. It makes me Icarus. And we all know what happened to him, right? But before he came crashing back to Earth, he made it higher than those on the ground. Perhaps that’s what I need to concentrate on. Maybe those writers I am in secret competition with are the sun and the closer I try to get to them, the sooner I will crash and burn. What’s stopping me from being happy in my extraordinary ordinariness?

A few entries ago, I wrote about doing what you love and how detrimental that can be to writers who have a dual life. I’m one of those. Monday to Friday I sit in a cubicle. I am a worker bee. And as noble as my job can be, helping those people trying to stay afloat, it is not very glamorous. It is a rare occasion I can attend weekday meet and greets or network in ways that seem to make opportunities appear. And I’m shy. So in the end I feel like my writing is the only way people know who I am. And maybe it’s just not good enough. Sometimes, when I’m especially in my feelings, I think that I believe I am more talented than I actually am. Maybe I read my words and feel them in ways the world never will.

But there are those times when I’m convinced I’ve yet to find my audience, my niche. I know my strengths and perhaps once I find those people interested in what I have to say all of this doubt will dissipate. I’m hoping it will. In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep my head down and write. There are so many things I want to say. I just need to avoid the sun and enjoy the view.

100 Good Words

This week, and it’s only Wednesday, hasn’t been going too well. I’ve had two rejections for submissions I thought were pretty certain. One was solicited and it was still a rejection. The other was for a place I’d written for in 2017. The final straw was a workshop I’d been looking forward to attending cancelling the creative non-fiction track due to lack of interest.

I moped my way through work and then through my chiropractor appointment and then through dinner. I’ve been sitting on sofa trying to think of a way to breakthrough what I see as a wall in my writing. I’ve always felt that I have a knack for description and dissecting people, places, and things, but I’m not sure if there’s any soul in what I am writing. I know people have emotionally connected with my work, but I’m sometimes unsure of why.

I read memoir and personal essays that leave me questioning how I can fall off of the edge of my writing. That’s how I’ve always viewed what I’m crafting. It’s like I’m standing on a cliff looking over into a chasm. I’m brave because I’ve made my way from safety to the very edge of this precipice, but I can never quite open my arms wide and let the wind carry me down the slope. Of course, this brings up doubt about whether writing is what I am supposed to be doing. That perhaps I’ve yet to find my passion.

So what’s the solution? Out of the blue the phrase “100 Good Words” pops into my head. I started think that maybe I need to approach my writing as building a road. If I can put in 100 good words each time I write it will eventually add up to something great.

100 words isn’t a lot. People write many times that each time they sit down at their computers. For me, someone who reads each things she writes aloud obsessively, 100 words that perfectly fit for not only content, but also musicality, is a solid foundation.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take it 100 good words at a time. Is it a snail’s pace? Yes, but it may work for me. Instead of me looking at everything I write as a larger manuscript, I need to concentrate on the individual pieces and then the individual pages and then the individual paragraphs and then the individual lines. Microscopic it is! 100 good words starting now.