Everything About You Matters

Affirmations are everywhere in this Pandemic.

Everyone talks about self care and self love, but let’s talk about you and me. Recently, I signed up for a workshop. I get work back from the workshop and it was a critique and then, they wanted money for me to attend the workshop.

Now I know my shit was tight. My work was finely tuned. I’ve made all the changes and I filed it under the “done” folder. As I’m reading this letter, ripping my work apart, I’m thinking, “Well, I’ve had critiques from several other people and they didn’t have this problem.”

I’m a Pisces. I’m paranoid as hell and I get offended easily.

So, I’m wavering and thinking. I’m also about to go finish schoolwork with my kid and make lunch. But hey…I’m thinking that I’m reading a story and I think that the author uses the word “said” too much. Everyone said. Then, she said. No adverbs or descriptions of how they said what they did. Just said. I don’t think anyone said anything to this author during the editing process. Or maybe they said to tone it down on the adverbs. You know what, just change it all to said. I mean the rest of the book is good. (YA is always a hard read because at some point the protagonist commits a series of wtf’s and you wanna put the book down, but you need to finish.)

What’s the point of all this. Man, I gotta stop taking shit personal. If Person A reads it and says it’s perfect. Person B said to add a few details blah blah. Person C says this and that. You go over three or drafts done and finally they all agree. Yay! Then, anyone else that reads it has an opinion as well. At this point, I can only take so much.

Self care and why you matter starts here…do I change this story for the 890th time or let it go. I’m open to critique, mind you. I know a person is trying to make it so they understand it. If I change it for you, I’d have to change it for every reader. And I don’t have the time to do that. In other words, I’m gonna pass on your word.

Am I cocky? Nah. It’s like so many people write the great American novel and never get published. Some people are afraid to get their work out there. I’ve had stuff published and am working on a novel. I’m not afraid of getting my stuff out there. But unless this helps me to clarify something or improve the story, nah, son. This is like my 890th pass on this one work. I ain’t got time.

Basically, know when to say no. Know when your ideas and your truth matters. Know when to say, “Thanks, I’ll take it into consideration.” You matter. Take care of you.

Who Are You Writing For?

I was listening to a podcast and one of the mini assignments was to ask yourself, “Who are you writing for?”

I sat for awhile. I’ve been thinking about it and came up with generic answers like- everyone or myself or people like me or people that like books and lastly, my kids. Do I really want my kids reading about flaying someone alive or playing hide and seek with katanas?

We can rule out my kids. I’m not writing for the haters. People that like to rip other people’s stuff apart while they are working on their “masterpiece” that will never be ready because…just because.

I’m not writing for closed minded people. I have been around a lot of racist black and white folks. These are very narrow minded people. Ask me about my teen years some day, if you are feeling dangerous. These people don’t want to see anything like interracial relationships, let alone interracial friendships because in their mind, you (or whomever) is betraying their race. Bye racists!

Now, who does that leave? Dudes? I have had a lot of guys read my work and like it. Which is super cool. I get a good reaction from dudes. Let’s add “dudes” to the writing pile. Except the time my dad read my worked and promptly called my sister to see if I was okay. We can take dads off the list. They give it a college try but end up concerned about your mental health.

(Imagine me doing that wiping thing with my hands)

Now, do we add chicks? Here’s the deal-some chicks just don’t get me. They don’t get my shit or have soooo many questions that my eyes roll back into my head when I try to explain it. But I do have some chick friends that are awesome and read my shit. Let’s add open minded, non critical chicks to the list.

Notice, dudes and chicks are not black or white. They are just dudes or chicks.

Moving on.

My friend told me she was going to or kinda accidentally used my work in her classroom. It was a super short story under 2000 words. I’m gonna reach out and add teachers to the list.

Okay dude from the “Write Minded” podcast, I know the show was a good while ago, but I’ve got my list: open minded chicks, dudes and teachers.

Oh, and anyone reading this blog post because you fucking rock!

EWF19 (Part 2)

This shall also be known as “The Day I Didn’t Make 10,000 Steps Despite Running All Over Old Town”.

I was better prepared. I was able to eat breakfast, catch a leisure train, listen to a podcast-with my bluetooth headphones (they acted very diva like Saturday) and stroll through the city because I knew where I was going. I even took a picture of this cool sign-near a tarot shop-for my other two sisters.

The picture for my sisters. They both loved the shop was near a house of tarot cards.

I had a jam packed schedule. Working with An Editor was the first one. I have a loud ringing in my ears and really wished one of the Jedi used a microphone. She made some big gestures and I knew she had to be saying something interesting, but I only was able to hear every third word.

The Jedi-Michelle Koufopoulos, Jane Friedman and Laura Chasen (working the hell out of a spanish vibe-again…my heart.)

After the editorial panel was the panel on How to Write Successful Applications for Grants and Fellowships. Jennifer Baker was on the panel. I knew it would be good. She’s my total Type A type-with handouts! handouts!, Hannah Bae (who has the best energy I’ve ever seen. It’s like she shines like a sun) and Kris Zory-King (If you have not ever seen tattoos on a woman, you need to find her. Her fingers left me speechless until I realized I was drooling.) I didn’t get any pictures because there was a handout! It was super cool. It was also the time I ran into my other Fellows and some awesome chicks I met the day before.

Then, we all ventured to lunch. There was funny conversation, which I will cherish and remember. Suffice it to say, we are not fans of the administration in the White House.

We had Writing the Personal Essay with Hannah Bae. I’m telling you her energy and her class. Also, I love handouts. She had a handout. She is now my next favorite to Jennifer Baker.

After lunch is when my footsteps needed to count. I had the essay class with Hanna. I ran down the street for the Social Media for Writers class with Kendra Baker. No handouts but power point presentations! Small class means lots of one on one questions!!! I lost my mind (and came home to change my brand and platform on Monday. She’s a total boss.)

We told Kendra we needed to hot foot it back down the street to “The Path to the Debut Novel” with Angie Kim. She was animated and funny. She also was a lawyer before and had that experience with negotiations that we do not have. I wouldn’t be able to negotiate my way out of a bag. She was super helpful.

After a day of all this, it was time for me to go. I missed two readings but gained so much knowledge that I slept soundly but woke up like Christmas on Monday to get to work.

Long story short, I would totally recommend this to anyone that asked me. Not because I was a Fellow but because of the wealth of information that I learned. I’m still going through Jedi Jane’s powerpoint and all my notes.

I also only made 9,035 steps on Sunday. I was kinda pissed.

If you have an opportunity, go in 2020!

My Weekend at #EWF19 (part 1)

I was chosen to be a Fellow at the Emerging Writers Festival this past weekend. It was sponsored by Old Town Books in Old Town Alexandria, VA.

A few things-being a Fellow means I had to read an excerpt of my writing, I was able to attend all the events and panel discussions and I met a whole bunch of really cool people. I was so excited and I could hardly sleep the night before. I was a bunch of nerves, woke at 5 am, packed too much stuff and sweat through everything I wore.

Great start, I would say.

(One quick thing-I follow Jane Friedman. I saw on her site that she would be at this festival. I decided to sign up for it. When I saw they were offering fellowships, I got super busy. I forgot and actually wrote on my calendar to sleep in that Saturday when I got an email that said I was in! My plans changed fast and I needed a sitter. Thank God for sisters!)

After arrival, I met the other fellows. They were two pretty cool chicks. There was a lovely breakfast served-the awesomeness of it! A Southern breakfast with biscuits, sausage and something I will dream about forever-Nashville Hot Chicken. Oh man, they even had pickles. Sadly, the chicken was in the same tray as the pork sausage. I haven’t had pork since I was 16. It would have been a very, very bad idea. Although I heard it call me when I was getting my picture taken outside.

The chicken is calling to me. I’m trying to look like I have some common sense.
When I finished reading, everyone looked at me and didn’t say a word. I scared them, I think.

Saturday I went to some events-There was the Panel Discussion: Against the Algorithm-Online book communities as resources for emerging writers. The panelists were Lupita Aquino, Amanda Nelson and Kendra Winchester. (I think I now have secret crushes on all these women). The panel was great with a lot of good info.

There was hardly time for lunch because I also attended Fiction Craft Intensive, Polish Your Pitch (with the super awesome Jennifer Baker) and the Publishing Masterclass with Jedi Jane Friedman. She answered just about every question you could answer from getting an agent, to residuals, manuscripts and everything in between. It was a three hour panel and I made it through to about 2.75 hours. I needed to get home.

When I got home, I tried to review what I learned and all the handouts. Which morphed into me passing out on the couch and watching the ID Network. Later, I crawled to bed and slept a dreamless sleep.

Why I Write

My sister told me to write the story I want to read.

Whenever I’m stuck or simply not feeling it. I always hear those words in the back of my head. Even after spending hours on Pinterest looking at other Writer’s Boards or reading old stories I’ve started and never finished, it all comes down to one thing: movies.

I am a movie buff. I can tell you that Dumplings is a movie I wish I wrote. I think that DC has the better animated canon than Marvel but I appreciate them both. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is way better than Fullmetal Alchemist. I know all the words to Aliens. A movie I thing everyone should see is, A Day Without a Mexican. I prefer independent movies like Series 7: The Contenders, The Babadook, Stake Land over bloated movies like “Insert Any Movie Remake”, The Dark Tower Or Fury Road (how do you call a movie Mad Max and the main character has less than 10 lines, let alone 10 words). These are my choices and I have zero apologies.

As I washed dishes today, I was reminded of why I write. I watched a movie and let me just go over a few things I’ve seen in the last few days:

Black Male Doctor that takes multi ethnic intern under his wing because he’s secretly rooting for her. Oh yes, he’s mean but that’s because he cares.

Black Girl that Saves the Day-movie protagonist lost her memory and despite being all of two years old, little black girl has perfect memories and talks about them like she was older at the time (and she was only two, I mean, hell-now, she’s eight!)  and saves the day. She helps the protagonist remember who she was, despite protagonist getting the shit knocked out of her for over 90 minutes. I’ve never seen an eight year old child look at pictures of themselves as a baby and remember everything that was said around her, about her and by her.  Sheesh.

Sexy Asian Sex Worker that solves murders but can only do so showing you her full naked bush and smeared make up. She works in a sex club (she is a sexy asian exoctical worker, right?) and she runs with her robe open, titties flailing.  Rrrrighttt.

Gay Friend that touches the protagonist’s white shoulder and says, “You should believe in you.” All becomes right with the world and they hug.

Racially Ambiguous Girl that’s not quite black but not quite white but dates white boyfriend and dumps him to find herself. She ends up dating black and everyone laughs and is happy. Fade to black.

Any Spicy Latina starring in the role of chola, gang banger, sexy bitch or whatever Latino stereotype you can think of. But she always got them eyebrows and is muy picante. Maybe her sister is the bad ass in the gang.

Magical Black Best Girl Friend-She stands by while white friend gets herself together with Magical Black Friend’s advice.  Magical Black Best Girl Friend does not have any friends and waits up late at night for white friend to come home from wherever she was and hangs on her every word. She offers more advice and they hug. White friend gets it together and moves on. Hugs Magical Black Best Girl Friend/Sista Friend and drives off into the sunset. Also see Magical Negro.

Culturally Awake/Woke White Person with dreads and black partner. They are so woke that you want to question your own wokeness. But wait! They are super cool and bohemian. They dance on the downbeat and cook some mean collard greens. They also have dreads but it’s cool because they so damned woke. They can get down with any crowd, including that gang banging group of Latinos that just need some love. They also speak whatever language is necessary to save their ass.  So, let them offer the hombres some love.

There is also White Guy With Heart of Gold that Helps Ethnic Groups or People in Trouble and Non-threatening Black Guys.

I could go on, but remember, this was only the last few days.

I write because I like to have a black female protagonist that owns shit. She owns the scene, she kicks ass and everything else. Not only that but maybe she’s mixed (Black and Mexican, Black And Japanese). She may be based on someone I dated or knew. Actual real life people I know and include in my stories in very sly ways.

Don’t give me that shit about, “Well, you’ve got ‘XYZ Vampire Killer’ or the fact that so many Black writers are expanding genres. I get it. But this is about me. This is also about other girls like me that hated not seeing themselves or people like them reflected in stories.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say some shit like, “Well, fuck the fame as long as one person…” Um, no. I want the checks cut to me, I want my shit made into movies and I want to be that famous recluse that people see and thank with a head nod. (I will be with my kid in public and she doesn’t talk much but we are working on it.)

I write what I want to read. I write what I want and I stand by it.