Training’s Over

Good day,

I should be writing my short story rather than this post, but this is something I feel is worth talking about.

I think it’s amazing the knowledge we are able to attain. Continue reading “Training’s Over”

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Being an African-American Writer

Being African-American (as if you didn’t know), you might be a little surprised I haven’t written a post in relation to Black History Month. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I really couldn’t come up with a topic to write about. Until now…

I recently started reading a book I bought years ago. An anthology of stories written by Black authors. There are two volumes, but they span nearly 100 years worth of literature. It covers a spectrum of time periods and themes. Besides Hughes and Angelou, there are a lot of authors in this book I’ve never heard of. I’m kind of ashamed. I guess there’s this perception that I should be looking up to these authors rather than someone like Stephen King. But how can I be inspired by a writer I’ve never heard of before?

The truth is I can’t. It’s not because I don’t care; it’s just that what I write is a lot different from what they wrote. And most of their stories had some sort of message, whereas mine do not. But I don’t see anything wrong with it. I just write differently than them.

I will say the one thing I’ve noticed as I peruse libraries and bookstores is that there aren’t a lot of African-American writers published. There are few stores and libraries with a section devoted to African-American literature. I think it’s kind of sad. I would read more current African-American authors if I knew about them. I know they’re out there. Writers of science fiction, horror, contemporary, historical fiction, poetry. Writers whose stories reflect the African-American culture and struggles that African-Americans face today as they did in the days of slavery. 

I hope to one day be published. I strive to receive the recognition that Angelou or Toni Morrison have, but it may not happen. No big deal. I want to show this generation and future generations to know the possibility of success in the creative fields. 

Outside the Box

I have a story I’m working on as this gets published. As such, I won’t spend too much time on this random thought. 

I took part in a Twitter chat session this past weekend about overcoming fear in writing. I shared a few things I’m fearful of. One of those fears, and thus the reason for this post, is writing outside my genre. 

In case I haven’t mentioned this on my blog or Twitter or Facebook, I write short stories. And all those stories fall into the category of mainstream, or general, fiction. It’s what I’m most familiar with. But as I read Twitter bios and “About Me” pages on blogs, one thing stands out: how authors of multiple genres influenced what they wrote. I’m fascinated and, at the same time, feel this sense of shame. I didn’t read much except what was assigned in school. But it’s not to say I can’t start now. As I peruse bookstores, I look for books outside my “expertise.” But a writer I follow on Twitter, Nicole Rivera, told me that I shouldn’t read to “find” something; that I should absorb stories I like and see if it leads me to write in that genre. That’s a good point. Yes, we learn what works and what doesn’t in a particular story, but we shouldn’t strive to write our story the same way. Our stories are unique, and should be written as such. 

What scares me about writing in a different genre is that it won’t be any good; that what I write will come off as too cliché. But a fellow writer reminded me of something: there will always be that fear of our writing not being any good, no matter the genre; that the important thing is to try. It’s true. I won’t know if what I write will be any good if I don’t jump in. And another piece of advice I received is to start small. Write flash fiction or short stories. Will there be clichés? Sure. But that’s why we have critique partners and beta readers: to learn about those clichés and discover ways to either avoid them or make them better. 

I recently read a post about the progression of why writers write from when they started to today. In it, the author pointed out that when writers started writing, it wasn’t about making money or recognition; it was about having fun and experimentation. Even the most seasoned writers didn’t have an established formula. They experimented with different forms and genres. As I read that post, I thought about my stories of the heroic Detective Falcon  in middle school. I thought about a story I wrote in the form of a journal that got published in junior college. I remembered writing a couple of romance stories as I pursued my degree in Creative Writing. I didn’t think half of them were any good, but it didn’t matter. I got joy out of writing them, and that’s what the post encouraged writers to get back to. 

Looking back, I wish I experimented more with writing. It probably would take away some of the anxiety. But it’s not too late to try something new. I can get back to writing for fun, even if no one reads it. I can experiment and see if it fits me. Anything is possible. 

But before I do, I have another story to finish. 

Project Blacklight: Goals Review

Good day, everyone!

Can’t believe we’re halfway through the year. I think time tends to go faster the older we get. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I figured I’d take the time to reflect on what I’ve done so far and review my goals. Sometimes, I go through my journals, reading the entries, reflecting on my thought processes. I don’t think I could ever create a book based on my entries alone. I don’t have stacks of journals I’ve collected over the years. And now, with a journal app on my iPhone, it kind of makes buying composition books obsolete. (Truth be told, I got tired of my daughter scribbling in my journal. It’s my fault.) So, let’s look back and evaluate where we are so far. Continue reading “Project Blacklight: Goals Review”

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: N is for Nick Bartleby

2015AtoZDay14I can’t believe I’ve made it halfway through this challenge. I have read and followed some interesting bloggers already. I hope that those who are reading my posts have found them entertaining at least.

So, here’s a little heads-up. With these next two posts, which will probably be very short, I’m giving you glimpses of characters I want to use in future stories. I’ve heard different opinions about divulging details like this, but I want to invite readers to how I write and why I write. That includes character names and situations. I may use them now, or later. I may use the situation I thrust upon them now, or scrap it for something better. Who knows?

When I was in college, I wanted to craft a mystery short story with the main character named “Nick Bartleby.” I really liked Bartleby–named after “Bartleby the Scrivener”–as a last name. The story is about a janitor who witnesses the murder of a young girl in a building across from where he works. He’s conflicted on whether to call the police because it would arouse suspicion because he displays voyeuristic tendencies; spying on her, writing love letters, that sort of thing. Plus, he’s much older than her, which makes it all the more creepy.

I haven’t played much with this story in college. It never made the drafting stage. But, I kept the character in the recesses of my mind if another idea ever came to be. I may still use the original story I thought of, but we’ll see.

Okay, so it’s out there. Let me know what you think in the comments. Should I scrap this story or not? If there are better avenues to take this character, I’m all ears. I value your input.

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: M is for Music

2015AtoZDay13As I am composing this post, I am streaming light classical music on Pandora. I named the station “Writer’s Radio.”

Early in my writing endeavors, that wasn’t the case. I didn’t see the connection between music and writing. I felt it was too much of a distraction. But I read in blogs about how music played a role in writing. So, I decided to give it a try. I tried many different stations, and I found classical music–the light variety–to be my go-to station. In general, listening to this genre helped calm me. It helped me focus on a task. So, when the time came to work on my stories for college, I would turn on the radio and tune it to the local public radio station, the only station that played classical music throughout the day.

Apps like Pandora, Spotify, and iTune Radio are a godsend. I can’t imagine not listening to music when I write. There’s something about music that stirs the creative juices in just the right way. It awakens the muse who tends to sleep on us. Classical music is my first option in writing, but I experiment with different stations on Pandora, depending on the mood and what I’m writing. I have a station dedicated to Lindsey Stirling, which is quickly becoming a favorite. I have stations featuring gaming scores, film scores, and music meant for relaxation. I’m sure I’ll find more stations to listen to as I expand and continue my writing journey.

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: J is for Journaling

2015AtoZDay10When I took my Creative Writing courses in college, the one constant exercise was journaling. I was always told to keep a journal. Write down anything and everything I observed. I admit that I did not see much value in keeping a journal. I didn’t see the link between journaling and the writing process. I didn’t take journaling seriously. But ideas would randomly pop in my head, and they would vanish as quick as they appeared. I regretted not writing them down when the opportunity presented itself.

I believe all writers need a journal. We have all sorts of thoughts running through our brains: characters, paragraphs, stories, miscellaneous thoughts that have zero connection to writing. I have two journals: one for my stories and one for random thoughts. And when carrying a big notebook isn’t practical, technology steps in. Every phone has some kind of camera and voice recorder. And there are apps on smartphones for dictation, note-taking, and journaling. My go-to app is Evernote. With it, I can organize notes into notebooks without worrying about space. And recently, my wife told me about an app called One Day. It’s a journal app that reminds you to write something in it, even if it’s just a sentence. I will be downloading that soon.

After I graduated, I started keeping journals to record everything. The one regret I have now is not keeping them when I filled them up. It’s interesting looking back on them and read what I recorded, to remember what I was thinking at that moment. So, I need to find a box to keep those precious thoughts so that I can come back to them if ever I need an idea or if I’m feeling nostalgic. Journaling has become part of my writing process. I regret not doing this sooner.

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Creative Writing

2015AtoZDay3In my middle school English class, I remember writing stories following the adventures of Detective Falcon with his sidekick Rush, protecting the city of St. Canard from dastardly villains. (I watched a lot of Darkwing Duck in middle school and played Mega Man III on numerous occasions.) Everyone in my class loved my stories. So much so that someone crafted his own Detective Falcon story. (At the time, I felt less than flattered.) I didn’t write any more stories once I entered high school. It was a one-time thing; just something I did to garner the attention of my class. I didn’t take up writing again until I took some Creative Writing classes in college. From there, I learned some important writing habits like keeping journals, utilizing better observation skills, and practicing writing daily.

Though I appreciate the classes I took in college, I feel like I should have developed these habits at a younger age, when I was going into high school. There was no Creative Writing class in high school. The only plausible reason I can surmise is that for students, it was an easy “A,” a class where they can get away with the bare minimum, if that. That’s an injustice to the art.

When I first started college, I wanted to be a teacher. And when I took Creative Writing, I wanted to teach it at a high school level. I wanted to give students a chance to showcase their talents and show their love of the written word, something I regretted not following up. I hope, someday, that having Creative Writing courses will be taken seriously.