Orsayor, lately there
has been a lot of negative conversation about African American literature and literacy
that it becomes easy to forget why we fell in love with writing in the first
place. However, talking about why we fell in love with writing may help us to
refocus our energy and talent to become better authors so future generations
will read our work and become inspired to write.
Thank you so much for encouraging me
through this topic to reminisce about my love for writing.When I was in the first grade, I loved to
read aloud, enunciating my words and I loved to spell. I can see myself jumping
out of my chair whenever the teacher asked, “Who wants to read?” Looking back,
it’s kind of funny how I almost knocked over the chair, a child, or whatever
was in my way to be the person chosen to read. I love reading so much I brought
bright red apples to my teacher to make sure she knew exactly who I was. This
way I felt she would give me special privileges to read in class when she
needed a reader. Back then they called a person who tried to impress the
teacher, the teacher’s pet.But truth be
told, I was just a reader who loved to show off my skills.
When I was young I was competitive so I
participated in spelling bees. To learn new words and other information I would
read encyclopedias and dictionaries. I know what you might be thinking, “Who
does that?”Reading became my total joy.
remember the first word that made an impact on me. I must have been about 10-years-old
when I found my mom’s Secret Magazines. Immediately, I started reading the romance
stories, trying to figure out all the words and what they meant. The word
orgasm was the one word that stood out. I remember thinking it meant organisms
like in Biology, a contiguouslivingsystem. It
took me a while to learn the pronunciation.
I remember asking my aunt why women had organisms. She
fell out of the chair laughing. “Where did you hear that from?” She wanted to
know.I ran to get my mom’s magazines
and showed her.My aunt said, “The word
orgasm, not organism and that’s what women had when they were with their
husbands.” She took the magazines, but that didn’t mean a thing to me
though!I would wait until mom’s
magazine would fall from her hand because she read until she fell asleep. Then I’d
grabbed the magazine, sneak away and read as many stories as I could, then
tiptoe back to her room, placing the magazine back where she dropped it. Reading
those magazines sparked something in me, the desire to write and tell stories; I
My family is very close.When we were younger, mom took us out of town to beaches and water
parks. Oftentimes I refused to leave the hotel rooms or a relative’s house
because I preferred to stay to read. My siblings participated in sports and
neighborhood activities while I remained in my bedroom reading from my
well-stocked library. I missed out on a lot of family activities because I
couldn’t put down the books. To date, my mother tells me when she sees people
from the past, they ask about all her children, except me.She said it puzzled her why folk didn’t
remember me. It hit her; I was the one locked away in the room with the books.
I was happy because I had access to a world of experiences and information.
Reading caused me to fall in love with writing.
I had interesting information about the
world. I visualized what I read. The
description of Paris and Hawaii was so great; I dreamed of travelling there
wearing the designer clothes I learned of. The more I read, the greater my
imagination became. Reading gave me hope to do and become what I’ve read.
Writing helped me to express feelings which could not be voiced because of my
bashfulness. Because of the vast information I accumulated, I had to share it.
I began writing letters to prisoners, relatives and other pen pals. I read the
back of the Right On Magazines and found
pen pals. I wrote them, describing what was happening on the outside of the
world I was so descriptive, they would write back asking me to describe the sun
and the moon. My mother found out and put a stop to it.
But you know Orsayor, after that experience, I believed I
could write anything and I did. I knew writing gave freedom to exaggerate, telling
a story your way. You could make your scenes do what you wanted them to do. I
could write exactly how I wanted my dream man to look and how I wanted him to
make me feel when we were together. I could make him whisper sweet words of
passion to me as I stared adoringly into his sexy, dark brown eyes. It gave me
freedom to become, to create and to explore. That’s what writing does for me.
Growing up my mother always told me if I didn’t have
anything nice to say about a person, don’t say anything at all. But with
writing, I could say exactly what I wanted without guilt or shame. I could write about things that bothered me
and I could write about things I hoped to change. Even if I decided to do
nothing with my words, once I released them from me, I was free; free of stress;
free of restraints.
Writing allowed me to purge my soul of pain without
revealing who I was, if I didn’t want to acknowledge my truth to the world, I
could give that pain to a character. I could tell my story, releasing the
burden holding me hostage, ultimately, giving another person the strength to do
Orsayor, this is a great topic to think about.Writing can take your characters to the end
of the world and back, then take them back again and again with different
voices. You can live vicariously through your characters until you have the
courage to explore the opportunities the world has to offer and then come back
and write about what you discovered. Writing never bores me because there is
always something new to write and someone new to share it with.
I hope we continue
to improve our craft by taking classes and producing more great books so our
children and their children will fall in love with writing, having the desire to
Thank you again Orsayor for taking me back on that memory
trip.It was good to remember how
important literacy was to me as a young girl. It will help me to stay focus on
creating and writing the best stories I can.