Writing About Ancestors
Writing about ancestry is very emotional. Telling your family’s story makes you vulnerable because you’re exposing the family’s journey, good and challenging. The writer who takes on this task is bound by established facts, but is still engaged in the art of storytelling, walking back in time. Like a puzzle, sometimes the pieces fit neatly together as expected and at other times, the writer is surprised by what she discovers. Don’t try to change the story. Be authentic and own it.
When we open a book and begin to read, our emotions immediately engage with the words, characters and settings. These beginnings are reminders of past experiences, hopes, daydreams, even old fears. They provide vivid mental pictures. As writers, we’re often told to provide a hook for the readers that will keep them reading. This started me thinking about books that ‘hooked’ me at the very beginning. One such book is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It was published decades ago, but continues to show up among readers’ favorites, certainly one of mine. The very first word in the book is the name of the main character, Okonkwo. Over the first three…
Excerpt from TJ Sloane
I have finished my latest novel, TJ Sloane, about a black man who continues to struggle amid his many triumphs. This man’s life is a storybook of many chapters. Each is filled with unexplained loss, conflict, secret visions that shelter hidden fears and love as it suits him. His tale begins with the back story; circumstances of birth that challenge his self-determination. This part of his narrative need not bind his hopes and possibilities. On the other hand, it could define him by the chains of ancestral struggles, unreliable memories and even myth. Like a river rushing to the sea, the back story is always chasing his present story. When they merge,…
As you advance your literary efforts, harness the resources available to you. One of the most valuable resources is time. It is a gift. Respect its limitations and opportunities. Protect your time by budgeting it wisely. Time is with you at the start of your journey. It will walk beside you every step of the way if you give it respect, but will slip away if you don’t. Eliminate distractions. They hijack focus and weaken commitment to completion of the literary project. Distractions include unnecessary noise, clutter and sometimes people who try to hand over their problems to you. Recognize procrastination in all its disguises. Procrastination is a dream killer.…
Your soul stirring goal to live a full and bountiful life is a journey of change. As with any journey, in addition to the smooth stretches, expect bumpy patches, potholes and hills that often seem more like mountains. You can minimize these potholes and bumps by developing reliable skills. Your journey of change begins when your goal walks out to meet a plan. They pick up commitment and focus. These three coax discipline to join this march. Immediately perseverance jumps on board. Next stop success. You may begin your journey to goal achievement with old habits, but adopting and using these five skills you arrive with a changed outlook and new behaviors. No one can take the journey of change…
There are dreams that thrive and grow, others wither and die. Still there are those that survive only on the whims of luck or chance. I implore you; write your story because time will erase the footprints you leave behind.
When change knockson the front doorFear leaves by the back doorOld habits jump throughthe bedroom windowTired thoughts hide in the closetThen change comes in, takes its placeandSits in the big chair
Ten Resolutions for All You Writers
1. Write Everyday Time is a valuable resource. Make it work for you. Writing everyday moves you closer to project completion and chips away at the distance between conception and goal. You are adding value daily. Don’t wait to feel like writing; develop the disciplined habit of setting aside time everyday. If you are stuck, then review previous passages that may provide an additional word or phrase that gets your story moving again. 2. Stay Alert for Distractions They are dream killers. Fight back by tightening your focus on the work in front of you before moving on to something else. Focus eliminates distractions and makes it easier to spot…
A new year is a new opportunity to begin, continue or complete your literary or creative project. Be it a novel, how-to-manual, poem, essay, sculpture, play, photo exhibit, short story, movie script, music project or a creation not seen before; begin today. Commit yourself.Your time, energy and allotted resources have value. Use them appropriately and you will be rewarded with successful movement toward completion of your project.Begin with a solid plan or continue with the plan you have developed. Next, commit to this plan, focus on each step of the plan, be disciplined in establishing and strengthening habits that only move you forward and persevere to completion. Get moving. Time…