Ebony Says I Should Know 7 More Young Black Writers

Yesterday I came across an article in Ebony entitled, “7 Young Black Writers You Should Know” written by a multimedia storyteller named Patrice Peck.  I hadn’t heard of any of them (which actually doesn’t mean much), but I thank you, Ebony, for introducing me to them now.  Now, if I run into one of them on the street (hey, it’s a small young black writer world), this article will make me better prepared to strike up an intellectually stimulating conversation…and pub my blog. No lawyers made the list, but that’s for next year, obvi. 🙂  Below are blurbs about my three faves (not pictured above, but that’s what Ebony had!).  Lata!

Rembert Browne

Like many of his twenty-something year-old peers, Rembert Browne started a blog, 500 Days Asunder, in 2011 to document his daily musings and to put his “creative juices” to practice. His exhilarating honesty coupled with his tangy wit and introspective rumination made for some of the best, most unique blog posts published in a while. Included in his most popular posts are “5 Black Comedians: A Study,” “Top 10 Diddy Moments. Ever,” and “Me vs. Drake.”  While most people, young or old, might have balled up into a dark, deep hole after being fired from their first job within nine months, or withdrawing from graduate school with eight months left, Browne wrote a kick ass, inspirational farewell blog post titled “About That Life” before reassessing his next moves. The Dartmouth alum was soon after promoted from freelancer to staff writer at Grantland, where he puts his distinct spin on culture and sports.

Taiye Selasi

When Toni Morrison sets a deadline for you, you meet it. And that is exactly what Taiye Selasi did, according to an NPR interview. After meeting Morrison through the author’s niece, Selasi ended up having dinner at Morrison’s home and then her son’s home. It was during that second meeting that the Pulitzer Prize winner gave Selasi an ultimatum. “She said, ‘Listen, I’m going to give you a year. If you don’t have something for me by then, I don’t know what to say.” A year later, Selasi produced the short story, “The Sex Lives of African Girls,” which was published in the heralded literary journal Granta in 2011 and featured in Best American Short Stories of 2012. Born in London and raised in Massachusetts, Selasi unpacked intricate notions of identity in her 2005 seminal essay titled, “Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?”) Ghana Must Go, her highly-anticipated debut novel, will be released in March.

Uzoamaka  Maduka

Otherwise known as Max, Uzoamaka Maduka’s name has been plastered all over  major New York City publications. More attention has been given to her  socialite-like charisma than her literary journal, The American Reader.  Nonetheless, the Nigerian-American Princeton graduate has been on a steadfast  mission to revitalize the American literary magazine. “So many of the voices in  fiction that are out there are deeply neurotic white male stories…I kind of  felt like, I really don’t want to sit still for this,” Maduka told The New  York Times. “Literature, from women of any race and men of any race,  besides white, would always be pigeonholed as, ‘Now I’m going to tell you my  Nigerian story,’ and it was so tiring.” Two issues of The American  Reader were published in 2012 to mostly tentative reviews, but Maduka has  already shifted her focus to this calendar year with aims of landing a second  investor and scouting potential writers.

Happy New Year!! The Best Books of 2012…

Happy New Year!  My New Year’s Resolution was to blog more regularly, and so far I’m doing great!  In honor of the new year, I decided to browse some respected publications for their lists of the top books of 2012.  I took a look at the recommendations of the New York Times, Washington Post and The Atlantic, and it turns out that I don’t know any of the titles or the authors. How embarassing.  I did think the novel “Arcadia”  sounded familiar, but then I realized I was thinking of a DC restaurant. And it’s called Acadiana.  Thinking that the universe was telling me gently that despite what I might wish, I’m actually not the target audience for those lists, I decided to move on to a blog called Hairpin that was recently recommended to me a writer-friend. Hairpin then led me to Buzzfeed, which published their  2012 faves and gasp!  I actually knew some of the books!  Not only that, I read half of one of them! (Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, which I purchased because I heard Obama was reading it.)

That all I said, I was looking for something to read, and some of the books were intriguing.  My faves are below.  I hope they live up to the hype!

  1.   The Buddhist, by Dodie Bellamy. “It’s not the story itself — the agonizing wake of a breakup — that’s so compelling. It’s the way Dodie turns the body of the story, the process of untangling emotional trauma and trying to understand how we relate to each other and ourselves, into a process itself. She breaks down any sort of traditional narrative structures to weave bits of writings, real-time accounts of her days, excerpts from her blog and selfies, splaying out her thoughts, obsessions, musings. And in doing this, she invites you to pick through the aftermath in step alongside her, in the same way you might during a long, boozy brunch with your best friend.” (BuzzFeed) Jenna Wortham, technology reporter, The New York Times’s pick.
  2. NW By Zadie Smith. “Smith’s piercing new novel, her first in seven years, traces the friendship of two women who grew up in a housing project in northwest London, their lives disrupted by fateful choices and the brutal efficiency of chance. The narrative edges forward in fragments, uncovering truths about identity and money and sex with incandescent language that, for all of its formal experimentation, is intimate and searingly direct.”  (NYT)
  3.  A Hologram For the King By Dave Eggers. ” In an empty city in Saudi Arabia, a ­middle-aged American businessman waits day after day to close the deal he hopes will redeem his forlorn life. Eggers, continuing the worldly outlook that informed his recent books “Zeitoun” and “What Is the What,” spins this spare story — a globalized “Death of a Salesman” — into a tightly controlled parable of America’s international standing and a riff on middle-class decline that approaches Beckett in its absurdist despair.” (NYT)
  4. Swimming Home. By Deborah Levy. “In this spare, disturbing and frequently funny novel, a troubled young woman tests the marriages of two couples.” (NYT)

And here are links to the 2012 top books lists that I checked out.  Holllerrr.

How to Get It Done: 10 Tips From A Lawyer to an Aspiring Writer

DisciplineIf it sounds like this post is going to be me giving advice to myself, then you are correct.  This is what it has come down to.  Sigh.  Maybe you have figured this out, but I’ve been doing a lot of lawyering lately—so much so that I couldn’t even THINK about putting together a blog post last week.  This week things are still a bit cray cray, but I have at least used some of my creative juices.  Yup, I started my short story about an addict.  It’s horrible right now, but writing it has been an interesting exercise nevertheless.

Anyway, last week when I was subject to a bunch of deadlines I had a thought.  That thought was that I would certainly make those deadlines because if law school and lawyering have taught me anything, it’s how to be disciplined and get ish done.  Not to generalize, but I imagine that a smaller percentage of aspiring writers have mastered the art of completion the way many lawyers have.  Unfortunately, no one can write a novel without discipline.  For that reason, I have listed 10 tips for aspiring writers about getting ish done from my life as a lawyer:

  1. Just because you have completed a first draft does not mean you are done.  Edit, revise, review, scrutinize.
  2. When stressed, alcohol (despite its relaxation effects) is a bad choice.  This is because it will make you fall asleep, meaning you will cease to make any progress.
  3. Create a schedule with small achievable goals and stick to it.  Be sure to include fun on the schedule.  But stick to it.
  4. Don’t pull all-nighters.  And certainly do not PLAN to pull an all-nighter.  All it does is take you out the next day and mess up your entire sleep, digestive, and other systems.  It’s not worth it!
  5. Pay limited attention to the practices of your peers with the same goal as you (whether to complete a novel, excel on an exam or make your hours).  It’s useful to see what is or is not working for others, but you’ll never have the whole story.  You don’t where they started or what else they have on their plate.  Just re-read # 3, and keep it moving.
  6. If you find yourself reading the same line over and over again for 15 minutes or more, stop what you’re doing and go to the gym (or for a run, or put in your Insanity video).
  7. Food is a distraction.  You think you can eat and work, but you really can’t (I’m not saying that I don’t continue to try, but that’s probably because I’m looking for a distraction).
  8. Try to remember why you are working so hard.  There must be a reason, use that to drive you.  If you don’t have a reason then maybe you should be devoting you energy to something else.
  9. Do not cancel plans with friends or neglect family.  This is crucial.  What’s the point of achieving your goal if you no one to share it with??
  10. Facebook is a distraction. That is why I posted this on Facebook.  Because I want to catch you while you are procrastinating.  If you truly want to complete something, do not log onto Facebook.  Or at least force yourself to work for an hour before you do.  If that’s too difficult, start with 15 minutes and then work your way up.

Of course this is advice to myself because soon I will have to become disciplined with respect to this novel.  As I may have mentioned, I believe that in order to complete a novel I will have to commit to writing every day.  I plan to begin this exercise Nov. 1 for National Novel Writing Month (seemed fitting).  Seeing that today is Oct. 18, it’s time that I get my act together.  Til next time!