He toils away his days tossed like the dirty laundry that’s left next to the hamper. Not an ounce of passion pulses through his tired veins. His insides sink below the earth while his muscle memory does the work
Am I of any use here? he shouts to the heavens. The wind places itself into his net What use am I to the wind?
Over the next few weeks, I will be running an interview series here on my blog. Once or twice a month, I will be interviewing writers, bloggers, freelancers and all sorts creatives who are building a name for themselves.
Are you a creative? I would love to hear from you. Send me an email via my contact page and I will get back to you.
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She paces toward the bathroom. Her loafer slippers drag against the floorboards to the beat of the music. The bedroom is cool but the rest of the house is a thousand degrees. “It’s never ok to hurt someone, not physically or any other way.”
Hell wouldn’t have a bedroom to cool off in, she’s lucky. She’s a lucky girl to have such pleasures in this life. The clock on wall ticks but she can’t hear it even when she gets in its face. She feels her chest begin to sweat.
Back to the bedroom.
The house is full of her acceptance. A beautiful house on a U with a ghost-black gate around it. No trespassers. No hate from the outside coming in, just a community of names. Everyone knows names.
When I first started writing, I wanted to hide behind my creations. I wanted to be an anonymous figure that created something powerful. For me, there was a sense of humility in creating a profound piece of art while living in secret without all the reviews and rewards. Living a private life, hidden from the world is something I do treasure. So this seemed like a marvelous path. But there’s a problem with this mindset. First, let’s talk about our new beginnings.
“Who am I?”
One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as artists. This really is the bedrock of our creations. This is where writing is transformed from mimicry to individual and original works. Okay, now that we’ve clarified our foundation, let’s keep moving forward. What accompanies our who?
With our “who” we are led to our why? Like, why are we writing? Then we are led to our what? What are we doing about our why and our who? For clarity, this might be what your why looks like: I am the representation of a strong woman who perseveres as a writer to show others the gifts and tools writing can provide.
Ok, let’s just say you know your why, how are you acting on that? Not in your art, in your life. What are you actively doing to pass on this mindset? So what I’m saying is, you are what you do. Not what you’ve done but what you do presently. The monotony, the unexpected, the things you say yes to are all who you are. This isn’t to create a sense of unforgiveness or shame but to bring awareness to your actions as a conscious writer.
I am [insert your action] because [insert why].
When you begin to explore your who, the goal is, or should be, to become aware of both your internal and your external until you overcome the gap. Freud would say making the unconscious conscious. Whatever you label it, this exploration has no end. Closing the gap between the two isn’t to reach a fixed state. It should be understood as a constant “production of presence.” According to Gabriele Guercio in Art as Existence; Hanna Arendt, a twentieth-century great thinker, argues,
for a view of the the human condition in which everyone’s insertion in the world must be understood as a ‘second birth,’ singularity revealed via praxis. This birth ‘is not the beginning of something but of somebody, who is a beginner himself.’ It occurs when one stops belonging merely to a natural species and asserts one’s own initiative.
We are a species of new beginnings. The initial “insertion into the world” (what Arendt would like us to call second-birth,) is what some call self-actualization. Part of the second birth is accepting that we aren’t a fixed state. Which means your “who” and your “what” can evolve and change as the gap between the two closes. And as it closes you become fully embodied in your who. What a beautiful thing it can be to become an unpredictable and unique individual. Someone with their own initiative who doesn’t just go with the flow of things.
This is why my mindset shifted from hiding behind my art. I realized that my becoming is part of my novel writing. This becoming and unbecoming is what is going to make my art art. I show up with my flaws, and my mistakes, and my manic days, and my downward spirals because my awareness of all these details is going to close the gap. It’s going to insert my humanity into the world with all my “beginner” showing. It is now my intention to allow my life to compliment my art. I want to mirror something other than the outside world, I want to mirror myself.
The quotes in this article were taken from Art as Existence by Gabriele Guercio.
What you’re willing to die for, should be the same as what you’re willing to live for. Death is inevitable. Not in a depressing way but we all know it’s coming. What’s unknown, though? Your greatness? The impact your writing will have? How much you will change with your mere existence? Those are all unknowns and they always will be. One of my favorite songs from Eminem’s Music to Be Murdered By -Side B album is his song titled Higher. Here’s a line
All I know is every time I think I hit my ceiling I go higher than I’ve ever fuckin’ been
That’s something worth thinking about. For a long time, I knew my daughter was the only thing in this life worth dying for. I said that religiously. But I was killing myself. I had destructive thoughts. While I did enjoy fitness, I still wasn’t taking in enough calories so it was taking a toll on my mental health. My digestion went downhill. My emotions went downhill which had an impact on my relationship and ability to make proper decisions for the future of my daughter.
Then it hit one day. Okay, you’d die for your baby and your mom but what are you willing to stay alive for? Life is fuckin hard as shit. So hard in fact that living in a healthy way is the best most precious gift I could ever give to myself and my daughter.
That shift in mindset changed my entire perspective on why I’m alive and how I should be thinking about my purpose, my motivations, my disciplines, and my relationships.
So yes, how did you die, but it also means (and more importantly) How did you live?
How Did You Die?
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way With a resolute heart and cheerful? Or hide your face from the light of day With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce, Or a trouble is what you make it, And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts, But only how did you take it?
You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that! Come up with a smiling face. It’s nothing against you to fall down flat, But to lie there-that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce Be proud of your blackened eye! It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts; It’s how did you fight-and why?
And though you be done to the death, what then? If you battled the best you could, If you played your part in the world of men, Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce, And whether he’s slow or spry, It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts, But only how did you die?
For the Conscious Reader 150 Black Authors organized into genre.
“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’ve explained in my previous posts, (here, and here) that I’m going to be more intentional about the books I read. So I wanted to take the time to share my journey with you guys. I’ve begun this journey by google searching “books by black authors.”
Please note: This is only the beginning, I intend to network and connect with lesser known authors as well. Moving on.
I want to read books from individuals whose voices need to be heard and understood, in order create social change. I want to keep a forward momentum on all of our efforts. I do believe that right the internet is a great place to create social change. It can allow people to search up topics without judgement. We just have to make the topics visible to everyone. Also, I have learned mostly as an author, that reading books helps me to notice similarities I have with the others, whether it be the author or the characters. I love that feeling when I’m reading and I’m like “Oh, they thought of that too!”
Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer, here is the list of lists of black authors from reliable sources.
This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is an award winning author from Nigeria. She speaks in this Ted talk (which is now one of the most viewed Ted talks of all time) about how we need to be careful of the single story.
Without saying too much, I find it so commendable and inspiring of her to admit that she fell into the same flaw as the people who frustrated her most. She fell for the flaw of believing the single story.
When it comes to stories, I’d never refuse a good book that was handed to me. I read books from outside of my culture regularly. But then I thought about it and the truth is, I only read them because of school or because someone well read suggested them to me. I haven’t intentionally searched for reads outside of what’s suggested to me. Which naturally leads me into the world of dominant culture.
This talk was eye opening for many reasons, but most of all, that it is time I began to intentionally search for stories outside of American and European pop culture. Then I want to listen to what is missing from the stories I’ve already been told. I want to do this because I don’t want to limit myself from learning to accept that humans, in every walk of life, are my equal.