I got my first rejection letter yesterday and of all the things to feel, I felt excitement. I usually write for myself and I am very sensitive about my work so I rarely share it with anyone. This year I decided that I was going to submit work to writing and essay contests and put myself out there and I submitted a piece to Creative Nonfiction. The topic was “The Dialogue between Science and Religion. I enjoyed writing it and I bummed it wasn’t chosen but it has sparked an interest in me to keep going. You lose 100% of the chances you don’t take as the saying goes, so I’m gonna shoot my shot!
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!
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.