I attended a book club meeting this weekend hosted by Well Read Black Girl and the author of the novel Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn. That never happens and so I had to go. Partly because I have been looking for a good book club but mostly because it was written about some topics that I am familiar with and I felt connected to the novel. To have her there to talk about the book was epic to me.
Here Comes the Sun is a fascinating story of three women; Delores, Margot and Thandi living in post colonial Jamaica, a place of pure beauty. However, this story reveals the underside of paradise, one where poverty moves in mysterious ways and the inheritance of it forces the women to survive the best way they know how. It is emotional and tender, encompassing a plethora or social and political issues an island dependent on tourism faces. The novel examines colorism, classism, sexism, the politics of prostitution in the service industry, homophobia and greed all which are layered in this authentic representation of island life.
The novel aired all the dirty laundry, discussing all the secret shames of island life and how poverty brings out the worst in people. The novel was artfully written, each character developed in a way that made the story emotional and believable. I loved it.
Last night was my first class at Gotham Writers. Fourteen writers with a story to tell. Our introduction was simple – write the working title of your novel, the flap cover description, the time period and the piece of music/art that best accompanies your novel. And let me tell you some of these people are oozing with talent and I love it. I cant wait for the opportunity to read their work and to hear feedback on my own. Writing is a solitary affair and to have the opportunity to share and exchange ideas is golden. It makes me happy. Its like book club but with your own work.Music rules my world, I am always humming some sort of tune in my head. The tune for my working novel is Ledisi’s Pieces of Me. Take a listen:
I love this song so much it says so much about who I am as a person but the characters in my book are fragmented each shaped by their past in some way that directly affects their present in seen and unseen ways. I am sculpting the pieces of my characters, finding new ways to reveal their back story and their struggles. My previous drafts have been more about pouring out the emotion and motivations for each of my main characters and now I want to present it in a less straightforward way but I want their pain to be felt. I want the emotion to be palpable. So I have to be get all in my feelings to do it but I am prepared to do that work.
This go round of classes isn’t as daunting as the first because I have my tribe in tow. Three of the four members of my writing group are in the class with me. We have been boothing all summer damn near and we know each others work and what we need to work on. Low-key I’m scouting to see who would fit into our little group and who can give us fresh perspective. I’ve already spotted a few writers I am already gaga over after hearing the synopsis of their working novel. After class we went for drinks and appetizers and reviewed. After some good food and giggles…or laughs we have a man in our midst and men don’t giggle….we parted ways. In my head I always have a tune. I walked a bit down to Herald Square and looked up and saw this beauty and the song to accompany it…..what else Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind.
In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Cheesy I know but ahhh…..I had a good day.
Hope you did too.
So to all the writers and creators what are you working on? and whats the music that accompanies your piece of work? Lemme kno!
I’m going through a tumultuous period in my life right now. And I have been searching for peace. It’s such a simple statement but it can often be the most difficult thing to hold onto. At the time I found out about the full moon ritual to rid yourself of things that no longer serve you, I also started reading up on crystals. I did some searching online and on instagram and found Crystal Goddess. We sent a few messages back and forth and Voila! How amazing is this box? Huh. I also purchased a crystal tree. I don’t usually buy things offline because it can sometimes be a hustle, you order one thing and get 5 sizes too small 😂😂😂😂. BUT I was sooo pleased with her service (which is hard because I am a Virgo but alas so is she), the product and even afterwards when I was trying to figure out which crystal was which (even after the card explained it) she walked me through it. She even send me a message asking if I got my box because she saw it had been delivered. Now….where they do that at?? It’s kinda what I like about small businesses and boutiques you get that personal swang on it. That light hand and I now I am swamming in crystals and their healing energy and I am thankful to Crystal Goddess for that. Check her out on Instagram.
On a side note and I am not sure if this is related. I placed my crystal tree by my bed on my night table and for the first time in months, I slept through the night. I will see how it goes tonight but if this is a byproduct I am sold!
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This summer our writing group met with a skeleton crew, as people were traveling and busy so we had a dinner to celebrate and to reconnect. These guys are so amazing. I don’t think they understand how much their presence and encouragement on all things, not just writing leaves such an impression on me. They are supportive and critical all in the same breath. They force me to work, to think and to challenge myself in ways I didn’t know possible. The end of this month we all registered for another writing class which is how we originally met. A novel writing class which is just whew…nerve wracking to say the least. There are 2 of the 5 of us who are well on their way to a complete novel. One who has a full completed piece and we are encouraging him to submit his work for publication. No one can really understand how hard it is to put your work your for critique, especially when for most of us, the things we do write are so very personal. It’s like someone attacking your baby…..like Eykah Badu says. I am artist and I’m sensitive about my shit!
The work itself is the reward though. And knowing that people connect to what you are writing trumps it all. The challenge this month is to submit a finished piece of fiction…a short story to a competition. So here it goes.
I am exhausted but effervescent. I met with my writing group last night at Souvlaki GR in Columbus Circle. We usually meet once a month, and we have been keeping with our commitment to do so but the summer brings traveling and all summer long we were missing at least or more member. This was an opportunity for us to all meet. We ate, we drank, and we talked. We are taking another writing class at Gotham Writers in a few weeks. We met in a Gotham class, fiction writing I and now we have decided to take novel writing II. Now, none of us took novel writing I and so we are all a bit apprehensive but excited in the same breath. I have had this idea of writing this novel, the idea has been in my head for the longest and my first class in Gotham I had to decide between novel writing and fiction writing and decided to go with fiction writing. The ultimate goal (which I am flinging into the atmosphere/blogosphere) is to write a novel. It’s such an undertaking but the formal structure of a class will allow me the chance to focus more on the novel structure. Afterward, I walked down towards Times Square and felt so positive about meeting with my group and the upcoming class and the space I am in. It felt hella good. I got on the train and started writing a new story that I had fermenting in my brain for a few weeks now. So I have 2 stories on the mill.
I have to say the past week or so, I have been writing and jotting things down my brain has been on a creative overload. I am chalking up to the moon and mercury’s retrograde period. I have been writing but doing a lot of reflecting and things are just manifesting around me in a way that is surprising and almost a little creepy If I am being more specific, I have been extremely emotional and writing from a place of pure emotion has made the things I have been working on lately just vibrant. I can feel the emotion when I read it back. I had 2 of the girls in my writing group read a few things and they were like wow. I usually dread retrograde periods because I can be so impulsive and all over the place but surprisingly I have been able to focus my energies into my work which is soooo nice. I am again looking forward to the class but of course I know that once the work starts to pile up that will be short-lived .
This past weekend I caught a marathon of the MTV show Catfish. For those who aren’t familiar – Catfish is a term that refers to someone misrepresenting themselves online and having another person believe they are something they are not. Basically being lied to and strung along by a stranger. To be catfished means it’s being doing to you and to catfish someone means that you are lying to them. So it goes a little something like this. Boy meets girl. Girl is beautiful. They exchange pleasantries and then begin to speak, exchanging pics for a varied period of time. Boy wants to video talk with girl. Girl says her phone/computer/laptop/Skype doesn’t work and never works…for three years. But they keep in touch sending pictures and becoming each other’s support systems through the good, bad and ugly times in each other’s lives. They profess their love for each other but are still unsure if who they are speaking to is actually “physically” the person they say they are. Then they call Nev and he comes and does detective work and finds out BOY/GIRL is either not the person in the pic OR is the person in the pic but is in involved in a relationship. Got it? Good.
I watched a few episodes and I found myself entranced and during a couple of them, and I don’t want to come across mean or anything I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. But I got to thinking about the catfish phenomenon and what it says about our society as a whole. When the internet first came out, my parents AOL and we all had our own profiles. My friend and I bored and curious which are never a good combination, used to get online and go into chatrooms to chat with people from all over the world. The internet made the world a smaller more accessible place. Suddenly you could interact with people from all over the world. But often and I am slightly ashamed to admit this (Kinda) but we catfished people. We created alternate personas, created crazy stories about who we were and yes we even stole pictures and sent them professing we were the people in those pictures. We were in H.S. so dont judge too hard. While it wasnt a constant activity of ours we eventually abandoned it, as maintaining that level of a lie was too time consuming. I did in later years meet people who I met in person and actually became lifelong friends with. Even met a boyfriend or two. So I am slightly confused as to how in 2016 people are being catfished. With the invention of Face Time, Skype, video talking apps, smartphones and laptops etc we can actually see people and and have them verify who they are. So again it baffles me that people can go 3/4/5 years never skyping with a person they claim to be in love with. It seems a bit crazy. But on a deeper level it says volumes about our society and the deep need people have to feel a connection to someone even a phantom voice coming from the ether. But on a deeper level it also speaks to our superficial need to be loved but not just anyone, by the right type of person as well.
There is a certain psychology about catfishing; it speaks to the advantage of beauty. None of the people who were catfishing selected a picture unless it was of someone they thought was universally attractive. Physically they were specimens that they KNEW would grab hold of anyone’s attention and that was why that person selected to use that image to represent themselves. A few of them verbalized it, without actually saying it verbatim. They didn’t feel they themselves were attractive enough for someone to love them or to grab hold of another person’s attention and hold it. They knew that that face would get them the attention they wanted. On the flip side, there were people who because this person they felt they were speaking to was so attractive, they went the distance. Ignoring all common sense for the infinitesimal hope that that image they saw was ACTUALLY the person they were speaking to and what it jackpot it would be. There was a time before everyone had images of themselves saved in their smart phone when you had to describe how you looked or had to scan in a grainy image to prove you were who you said you were. But more than that, you could actually have a conversation with someone that was real. Sometimes sitting behind a computer screen, people are bold. They allow themselves to BE the person they always wanted to be, without physical judgment and have someone call them attractive or beautiful if they aren’t. To actually talk to someone and get to KNOW them from the inside and not be distracted by the outside. Nothing wrong with that. Beauty does not dictate some level of superiority. Alternately, you could very well be that attractive person who doesn’t want to be deemed vapid or conceited because of your beauty and use the internet get away from that pigeonhole. OR you could be a vainglorious person who sees an image of a beauty and is determined to capture their heart ignoring all sense and sensibility. In catfish, I saw so many proclamations of love and longevity, but when the person did not turn out to be who their picture indicated them to be, professions of love flew out the window. The anger at being lied to outranked the shining personality and giddiness expressed beforehand. So if it was love, what happened to it? Where did it go? Are we only in love with an illusion and not the reality? If a person stated everything they said was true, the only thing not real was the photograph — what is the issue? Perhaps it was embarrassment that caused them to leave the situation alone or perhaps I am too much of a romantic but love is a term we use too frequently and can disintegrate with shallow disappointments. But the fraudulent representations can leave a bitter taste and promote people being closed off, not trusting that people are who they say they are. We are already so guarded, that catfish further drives us away from the best parts of meeting people online. But caution is necessary, especially when we are professing love to a person who is unknown. I just cant see continuing on a “relationship” with someone who you haven’t spoken to,haven’t met, and is shady about revealing who they are. But if you are open about WHO you are and allow someone else to be genuine as well, we could possibly discover that there are beautiful people around who us, we we have probably been ignoring because they aren’t as attractive as we require, which is sad.