Alright so I’m a writer. My dream is to write, sell books, maybe run some workshops, and some mentoring. I need constant reminders that anything else is a hobby or an interest or a challenge I’d like to face and not my calling.
So I was thinking and visualizing myself in the future. I was thinking about who I am and who I want to be, I saw myself writing at a table surrounded by huge scrolls. Huge. Like from the ceiling to the floor. When I saw this image, I felt peace, solitude, and familiarity. I find our minds fascinating and I was inspired to see myself writing while also slightly disappointed by not being surrounded by piles of money.
But it got me thinking about how writers were treated much differently in ancient Egypt. They were called scribes back then and did hieroglyphs. So of course I had to do some looking into the scribe life. Here’s a few tidbits I found on Historytoday.com:
“The text known as the Satire of the Trades dates to the Middle Kingdom, the Golden Age of Egyptian literature, between 2025 and 1700 BC. It belongs to a genre known as ‘Wisdom Texts’, supposed collections of the experiences of learned and influential men to be shared with following generations as advice on behaviour, deportment and career advancement. In the Ramesside era (1300-1075 BC), the Satire of the Trades was one of the texts most frequently copied by student scribes. It compares a scribe’s work with that of other trades and crafts in an attempt to persuade the student that education will make him better off than anyone else. The introduction, supposedly written by a father for his son, reads:
I have seen many beatings – set your heart on books! I have watched those conscripted for labour – there is nothing better than books! It [scribedom] is the greatest of all callings, there is none like it in all the land.
According to Oxford University biologist Kathrine Wulff,
“If people are left to their naturally preferred times, they feel much better. They say that they are much more productive. The mental capacity they have is much broader,” says Oxford University biologist Katharina Wulff, who studies chronobiology and sleep. On the other hand, she says, pushing people too far out of their natural preference can be harmful. When they wake early, for example, night owls are still producing melatonin. “Then you disrupt it and push the body to be in the daytime mode. That can have lots of negative physiological consequences,” Wulff says, like a different sensitivity to insulin and glucose – which can cause weight gain.
Not only are some individuals morning people and some are night owls, but there’s a clear difference in the way their brains work.
Research shows that morning versus evening types show a classic left-brain versus right-brain division: more analytical and cooperative versus more imaginative and individualistic.
You can be a successful night owl. As a matter of fact, according to this article, you’re better off respecting your natural state rather than trying to force yourself into a state that is not natural for you.
Researchers also points out that because evening types often have to function when their bodies don’t want to, it makes sense that they may have worse moods or lower life satisfaction.
With life satisfaction of youth at a significant low due to the negative impacts of covid, I think right now is the best time to respect individuals natural states. Night owls are not less ambitious, not lazy, and not broken. They deserve the same respect as early risers.
So don’t be offended when someone can’t function when you can. It has nothing to do with you and it has more to do with their biology than it does what they want to do. It took me a long time to accept that I was not a morning person. I was always jealous of people at my job who showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed with packed lunches. When I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m not cut out for those hours and that environment, I stepped into who I truly was and who I truly wanted to be.
I dreamed for a long time of being someone different than who I am today. But who I am today is unapologetically me and it’s the most liberated I’ve felt in my life.
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.
I understand the frustration that comes with wanting to write. I understand that sometimes things don’t feel right. That frustration can cause a spiral. It can cause negative reactions but as conscious writers, it’s important that we focus this energy into our art and creativity. Use it in the story.
But first, encouragement! Because I know how that frustration can really bring you down.
You are a creative. You have boundless creative ideas that flow from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. You bleed new ideas. You sweat stories that remain for centuries. You are here to listen, to observe, and to learn then to write it down. That may seem like an easy task, but it isn’t. Conscious writing is complex and layered and universel in ways that others will never understand, but they’ll want to. They will never know what you sacrificed to find these words. They will never know a lot of things you’ve gone through, and that’s ok. You know. I understand. So, let’s get back to writing.
Frustration is no fun
I envision tossing my computer on a regular basis. It sits between my heart and my stomach and bubbles over my entire body. If this feeling comes up with something I’m not committed to, I just walk away. But when it’s something I’m committed to (like writing), the tears well up and I push to adjust. It took time to learn to stay put even when I’m frustrated. But over time, I’ve learned a few techniques that help me use my frustration as an advantage rather than a hindrance.
What to Do With Our Frustration?
First things first. Figure out where the frustration is coming from. In the Harvard Gazette article titled Soothing Advice for Mad America, Dr. David H. Rosmarin explains that during the pandemic, frustrations are heightened and people are reacting with more anger than usual. Instead of reacting in anger, he suggests that we voice what really worries us about the things that make us angry. He suggested that,
we grow in our emotional strength when we admit and acknowledge [our] weakness.
So, the first thing to do is find the root to your frustration. What is frustrating you? What are you not getting that you wish or need to have? How can we fill this gap?
The second thing to do. Use your struggles to connect with other writers. Admit you’re struggling to writers. We are story machines, but it isn’t always easy and it’s important to admit that. In the same article mentioned above, Dr. Rosmarin said,
As attachment theory teaches us, what we really need is not to be strong, but to be close and connected to the people around us.
Connecting with like minds in a respectful manner is important me all the time. More important than I often admit. So, when I’m struggling I like to reach out for support. I appreciate the small group of people who have supported me through my struggles. Connecting with them mean more to me than the story
The third thing to do. Use what you have. Now that you’ve gotten to the bottom of your frustration, use that in your story. Use it in a poem. Use it as an idea for your next book. Journal about it.
This routine is what separates you from other writers. This is what makes you conscious and aware of who you are. I think the most challenging part of these tips for me is getting to the bottom of my frustrations. Figuring out where it is all coming from, but in the end it’s always worth it.
You’re going to the edge and leaping over it. No one is going to understand that and don’t expect anyone to. Not even the few that have known you and understood you you’re entire life. Conscious writing leads you to new horizons. Conscious writing is going to take you to places you want and then it’s going to show you the places where you need to go. These are often two different things. But first, know that people are going to place their own fears and insecurities on you. They are going to make you question things you didn’t even think of doubting the minute you made this commitment. Just know, deep down in that beautiful soul of yours that those are not your worries to carry.
What genius and integrity it is for female writers today to write with all the criticism they receive, not just from men but also from other women. Not just about writing but for the way they choose to live.
We as women are expected to follow suit in terms of patriarchy. What does this mean? Well, when you first think of this, you think of a male-run household and a stay at home mom who knits and raises children. And yes, this is still very much an idea we are fighting against. But today our fight has evolved. Women are now leading their households on top of what they were already doing. Even with our forward movement, women still underhandedly and blatantly bash other women for staying home to raise children instead of taking advantage of a world where women can work. Stay at home moms bash working women for not being there for their kids in a world where suicide in children is far higher than it’s ever been. I’m going with the cliché here and saying raising children is hard. It doesn’t matter what path you choose in life. How is it that patriarchy has a hand in this? According to Webster’s dictionary, patriarchy in a broad sense is control by men of a disproportionately large share of power. Men have been in power for so long now that women are gaining power, they are living in a way to prove that they are as capable as men, rather than living and working in their own natural state. I say natural state as in an acceptance of what they want to do, not to overpower but because this is precisely what they want to do. This working to prove comes with its own sense of superiority toward other women. Which in turn, makes stay-at-home moms feel as if they must prove to both men and working women, they are in fact pulling their way.
Ok, so that’s for moms who write. Now let’s brush over the idea of writing women who do not have children. There’s this strange and quiet awkwardness among women when you don’t have children. It’s like women feel as if they are less because they don’t have children. To be honest, I’ve never seen or heard of a woman bashing another woman for not having children, but there’s this sense of failure that looms when children aren’t created by a certain age.
That is just two of the biggest adversities’ women face within our community of women. There’s significantly more but let’s just stick with these. So, we see that among women we have vastly different ideas on what womanhood looks like. As writers, it’s our job to face adversity. It’s our job to approach the elephant in the room and then talk about it. So, let’s talk about it.
According to Virginia Woolf, the women writers of the past wrote even without a room of their own. Jane Austin without a room of her own wrote an entire novel in secret. She hid her passion to write from even her servants. Do I think we are still fighting for the space to write in peace? Absolutely. Why? Why would we be fighting this in a world where women are allowed the space to write and pursue their passions? Why would a female writer keep her passions hidden under her successful job or her ability to keep a clean house and have well-dressed children walking around? Because as a woman, with the ability to sit undisturbed at the kitchen table, we are still shamed for the lifestyles we choose regardless of the rights we are given.
I’ve felt it. I’ve heard over and over about how my writing isn’t a real job and that I have nothing going for me. Or how as a novelist, I’m not a real writer. I’ve been shamed for the way I cook or don’t cook. I’ve been shamed for the way I tend or don’t tend to my husband. Pish, I’ve been shamed for going away for two weeks to focus on my writing. This is why we hide it. This is why women hide their passions and write in the closet.
Today, it is still a relevant metaphor when Virginia Woolf suggests that women need a room of their own. We need the space and support from fellow women. Not only from men. Not only from our parents but from other women. I’d like to end with a quote from Virginia Woolf.
What genius, what integrity it must have required in face of all the criticism, in the midst of that purely patriarchal society, to hold fast to the thing as they saw it without shrinking.” -Virginia Woolf
Woolf, Virginia. “Austen-Brontë-Eliot” In The Critical Tradition, pp. 602–10
The work is always going to be there, you will not. It’s so easy in today’s world to get caught up in the over ambitious lifestyle. Work work work till you drop. I think discipline and hard work are both important things but not to the point that they become oppressive. Writing should add to your growth. It can bring you tears. It can bring you frustration especially when you’re dealing with internal conflict, but it shouldn’t oppress you.
In this world oppression is normal and being a slave to our thoughts and feelings is normal. As conscious writers, we are gifted the luxury of standing up for ourselves and confronting our true thoughts and feelings rather than ignoring them.
There are forms of oppression and domination which become invisible — the new normal. -Michel Foucault
When writing becomes the bad guy, it’s time to step back and change your mindset. Remember why you write. Find another way to write. Find another way to tackle the problem. Just don’t let the act of conscious writing become your villain.
You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. ― Octavia E. Butler
Writing can feel daunting. I have been feeling the weight of editing this past week. There were some tears and frustration. I wasn’t ready to quit, but I was beginning to doubt myself as a writer. There’s no room for doubt in writing. I reminded myself, I am where I am from hard work and determination. I had that mindset before I started writing, and I’ll have it till I die because it’s in my blood. Knowing this gave me no other option than to look for another way to tackle the problem. But that meant, I had to wait it out. I had to wait and trust my inner writer and let me tell you, that wasn’t easy. For me, waiting at a red light is fine. I don’t even mind bad traffic as long as I’ll still be on time, but waiting on my inner writer while I have bills to pay, that is tough stuff. I still tackled the novel. I still edited and reread the story to stay connected. Then I walked around the house, talked to myself, and finally realized half of my work had to be deleted. Which is good. Now I have solid ground to build from.
So, what does all this mean? You have to trust that your story will find a place in this world. Allow these moments of waiting to be moments of rest. Drink your go-to beverage and enjoy the journey. This writing job is the place where you should not be turned into a robot. Writing is a place where you let it all hang out in its own natural and restful glory.
Stay strong writers. We’re going to finish these stories.
Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Friedrich Nietzsche
There are going to be times of feeling completely lost. Like you’re in a room without even a sliver of light. Or that moment when the lights go dim and our eyes are still adjusting. It doesn’t feel good at all. These moments lack certainty. In these moments of complete darkness, our only option is to first surrender to it. You could fight but it would be a waste of energy to react hastily or it could cause more problems than need be.
Remember why you’re writing. Why did you take the path of being a conscious writer? Then write. Doesn’t matter what it’s about, just write something. This moment of separation from your larger vision is precisely that, a moment. It will pass.
Ride on discipline or the intention of developing your discipline. These moments in the fog, motivation falls into the background. Being tired and overwhelmed can make this journey feel impossible or too big for us to handle but those are just feelings. You are strong and you are capable.
Remember that this is bigger than us. This entire thing doesn’t rest on your shoulders. There are many of us taking a similar path. There are many of us shouldering the weight of honesty. The point of saying this it to remind you that you are not alone. It’s important to be aware that your story is unique. Your contribution is imperative and since your work is this important, we need you to work in a way that will keep you moving forward and keep your head in the game.
There has been a need for conscious writers throughout history. Storytellers hold the keys of history, culture, evolution, wisdom, universal ideas, and finding joy in times of distress. You are on the right path. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. There is no story too big for you to grasp. Keep carving.
What you have to share is irreplaceable. People can write things similar to you and that’s ok. You’re adding your work to the mosaic. Maybe your piece is a little darker, or more positive, or more factual. We need it all. No matter what, your writing is unique to you because your life experiences, personality traits, and the place you were raised separates you from others. Own it, accept it, and keep writing.
You never know who you’ll inspire when you put your writing out there. As a shy person, I know there’s a lot of shy people who fear speaking up to support your writing, but they are still moved by it. Write for them. Write for you. I know when I first started blogging, I was really shy. I didn’t even want bloggers to know I was reading their blog. Now, I always try to make sure to let writers know I’ve read and appreciate their contribution. I’ve changed from reading blogs over the years. Your posts change people.
If, for the briefest moment you rescue someone from a dark place, your work has filled its purpose. This world has only a handful of moments that are pure beauty buried in the midst of a whole lot of bullshit. It doesn’t matter how you look at it. Dead is dead, gone is gone, and sometimes we are so lonely we can’t get out of bed. We need your work to get out of bed. We need your work to take one more breath. We need your work to remind us that there are times when everything is not ok and even then, we can still bask in a moment of bliss.
Now’s a great time to start valuing your voice as a writer.
I used to be offended when people misunderstood my work, then I came to realize that the evolution of thought is what art is all about. Not that it’s about being misunderstood but it’s about setting the idea free and allowing it to be whatever it becomes. It’s not always easy to allow your work to be its own thing separate from you as the creator.
The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke. — Jerzy Kosinski
When we set out to create something, we must trust that when it’s time, a message will be revealed. We must also be understanding that it won’t be in the same way that we, as the artist, received it, because the artist didn’t have her own art yet to give herself that message. So as the art is sent out into the world, it’s going to give its message in a different way than the artist received it.
The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.— George Inness
What’s great about being an artist is that our art not only evolves and changes when we set it free but we also evolve and change every time we set our work free. The process of creating changes us in million different ways. The way we see our own struggles gaze at us, the way we fill gaps and solve problems, and the way we attempt to give our ideas digestible context. These few things requ