A. E. here. This one is kind of long but I hope you enjoy and come along with me as I go over my roots and rediscover myself (and yourself.)
When did you first declare “I am a ..(insert here)” I am a writer, a poet, a musician, a carpenter, a child of God, whatever it may be.
For me, I had an imagination that wouldn’t quit, that could never quit. As long as I was reading, my mind thought “but what if this happened instead?” and there I was, off writing my own story. My mind churned out stories and my hands could barely keep up.
I’ve been a writer since 1995 and wrote my first three books. Only two survived to modern day, and I’ve shared them with you below.
I was able to write books while I was so young is because I was reading the moment I learned how, and writing before I knew how. Having a spelling error in the title is only the beginning.
Yet, you see, growing up I rarely to never read books by black authors. I in fact didn’t actually read science fiction and fantasy that much either, besides books like Harry Potter, Charlie Bone, Artemis Fowl, that’s about it. I did read Goosebumps and Spooksville too and The Magic Treehouse series.
My main genre I read growing up was romance. Historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, as long as the genre had the word “romance” in it then I was reading it.
If I was reading anything, it was going to be a Harlequin. For instance, I’ll make up a few example titles. Ahem!
“The Greek’s Forbidden Mistress” or “Captured by the Sheik” or “His Secret Wife.” If that was the title, I was reading it.
Yet at the same time, I didn’t write romance despite that being a good majority of what I read.
Between 5 and 13, I mainly wrote about animals like horses, wolves, cats and dogs that could talk and go on adventures, because I read and loved Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, White Fang by Jack London and A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann. M. Martin.
I also wrote about werewolves and teenagers with magic powers, because I read the Anita Blake series and I loved the Animorphs series by K. A. Applegate and my sister read Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewig.
I also wrote about dragons, unicorns and centaurs but none survived far as I can tell. Maybe they’re on a floppy disc somewhere.
Anyway. Between 14 to 18, I had totally abandoned writing about animals and was full into fantasy, despite mainly reading romance.
I still have not read Lord of the Rings (love the movies.) I haven’t read any famous fantasy novels like the Game of Thrones (nor watched the show.) I didn’t read Wheels of Time series or Discworld. I hadn’t heard of Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia Butler at this time.
I only read romance and only writing fantasy.
My work now featured necromancy, shapeshifters, and vampires. And then I discovered world-building. I began to craft cultures and religions and naming traditions and new races.
Still WITHOUT reading any fantasy besides like Eragon (which I will now admit I never finished. I own all four books, I’ve only read the first two.)
I still hadn’t heard of N. K. Jemisin or Tomi Ayedemi. So how am I writing stories about magic and wizards and ancient cultures?
Well…because the romances I read now had these elements. Harlequins at this point have mostly been left behind. I was reading The Carpathian series by Christine Feehan. I read everything by Angela Knight and she writes with supernatural characters all the time. I read Emma Holly, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Krinard and Kelley Armstrong. Without reading fantasy novels, I was getting plenty of the genre within romance. Even Linda Howard did a few books with reincarnated couples and psychic main characters.
It actually wasn’t until I decided to seriously work on publishing a novel, did I realize all my current work was all fantasy and sci-fi despite not reading in that specific genre.
That’s the same time I went to college to pursue an English Degree and a creative writing minor. I wanted to learn how to “officially” write because by my early twenties I hadn’t yet taken a creative writing class.
Everything I wrote was instinctive, self-taught.
And I haven’t even mentioned my fanfiction career. Let’s not go there.
So age 23, I’m accepted to the University of West Georgia, all wide-eyes and breathless, eager to learn to write and maybe get taught how to publish a novel.
I’ll talk about the process of writing and publishing my debut novel The Other Side another time.
However at UWG I learned that not all writing is created equal and not all writing deserves respect. Some writing is more important and better than other writing. In fact, most writing is trash and deserves nothing at all.
At UWG I came face to face with “creative” writing professors who thought only literary fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction were “real” writing and everything else is trash.
I’ll never forget going into workshop and having my piece flung on the floor by the professor and called trash.
That “trash” is my debut novel, now available on Amazon for purchase.
Best believe I’ll talk about that another time.
So for me right now, after all of this, my writing is focused on the Zippy Mae series. This is where I am now. A twelve year old Christian black girl who discovers she has magic and thus has access to a magic world. That’s the fantasy tale I’m spinning now.
Those are my roots. That’s my past, that’s how I’ve grown to get where I am now.
What are your roots, Reader? Where, what, who and how was your genesis that birthed you as a… musician, artist, graphic designer, novelist?
As I have done, go back. Look over yourself and through yourself. Dig in and uncover your roots. How did you become a writer? A race car driver? A poet? A nurse or doctor or singer?
By going back, you’ll be able to move forward. Re-capture your youthful excitement and bring it to your present to start your work anew.
I’ll end on this. I’ve seen it around before but don’t know where so I’ll share it here:
Forget about the past, you can’t change it. Forget about the future, you can’t predict it. What matters is what lays before you. Reach out and grasp it.
You’ve got this.
Seriously. YOU CAN. I CAN. And we will. I hope you stuck around to the end and consider digging for your roots too. You might find the motivation and inspiration you need to keep going. Don’t worry too much.
Just keep going.
And as always, while I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side