posted on 6.16.20 / posted in After

when America was burning

Maybe it’s important to hold onto my dreams. even at 46. even when I do the math and this thing started 31 years ago, with a few poems, and the words are still just alone in my room.

I have a creative career, but not writing.

never stopped. finished 5 novels, though most first drafts happened during NaNoWriMo. a few committed revisions happened. even one polished and ready to submit.

when is the first one ever ready?

here is where I talk about obstacles, insecurities, and experiences that derailed things.

there were some.

today, this morning, how is there time for that? ever since this post I’ve turned off the news and social media and near-exclusively read content on Medium from POC and women. only took a few days to question if white men have anything left to say.

my dream tied up in all that.

think maybe it’s better to let it die. maybe acknowledge, it’s dead already. bridges burnt, damage done. the voice is the breath and the breath remains. maybe that’s enough.

found my voice because of a person named Kris Harris. he and I took the same writing class at Brooklyn. he wrote a short story in Jamaican patois.

I didn’t know that at the time. got a story on Tuesday or Thursday and discussed it the next time class met. had the whole weekend. don’t know how many times I read it, excited we’d spend half an hour on it in class. he got language to do that, give his voice so much intimacy and authenticity. never heard anything like it.

I assumed it was a version of English he invented himself. like all great rare moments it made me think of things forgotten. like-

“I think you’ve got a great mind, I just don’t think you’re a great writer.”

harsh to hear that at 18, from the first woman to take me to bed. she was right though. wasn’t there. if all that ever means is finding your voice though, at least I made it that far. thanks to Kris.

loved the flow and grammatical lawlessness of patois. wasn’t language you could attack with a red pencil. took more effort for some people. others didn’t get it at all, made them angry, dismissive, passive-aggressively superior.

a few it came easy, made more sense than the most perfect sentence James Joyce could construct out of pride and privilege. I was lucky. made sense in the place I did my “pre-writing.” pages of notes without formal anything. place where it only had to make sense to me.

where my voice was. is. here too, sometimes more often. be fearless because you’re out on your own anyway and you’ll never sound like them, never think like them. it’s not where your happy is, even if you could burn yourself down and make yourself what they wanted.

you are never that but always someone. voice.