“She laughs without fear of the future”

Happy New Year, all!

(And more importantly, happy birthday to my mom!)

2018 was a weird year that I don’t particularly care to reflect on. While I went to some amazing conferences and met some awesome people, I got scammed and had multiple job opportunities disappear into thin air. It was a long, busy holiday season, but I feel refreshed and ready to hit the ground running in 2019.

The busyness starts this Thursday, when I leave for Tin House Winter Workshop—about which I am so freaking excited—and won’t stop for the rest of the year. My seatbelt is buckled.

Last year around this time, I set a goal to get a full-time job by the end of the year. Obviously, that didn’t happen. With focusing writing, including traveling to conferences all over the country and taking classes online and off, I have to admit that didn’t spend a ton of energy on job searching. Writing is what I love and it came in 2018, a lot of it. I don’t feel like a failure, just that life kept me going in a direction in which I already had momentum.

I want to continue writing my face off in 2019, but this year, I want to make money from writing. I made very little ($540) from writing in 2017, and none (like, $0) in 2018. I am determined to make that change this year, with a goal of a whopping $2,000. I’ve gotten a lot better as a writer, and I know that I’m worth paying. This is hard, though; there’s a lot of great publications that just can’t afford to pay. I hate for them to get shut out, but I need to earn my keep.

I want to have 8 essays published—5 longform literary and 3 shortform commercial—as well as 3 short stories (at least accepted, if not actually published). Fiction takes me a lot longer to write than essays, so I’m respecting that about myself. But this year, I want to produce, produce, produce.

For writing conferences/workshops, I made a goal to go to three, but they’re ones that are really hard to get into: Tin House Summer, Sewanee, and Kenyon Review. I’m waitlisted at Kenyon, and the application period for the other two have only recently opened, so I’ll cross my fingers and see what happens. I am going to Tin House Winter, the more intimate, cozy, shorter, and focuseder version of the summer workshop. I’ll be working with National Book Award longlister Nafissa Thompson-Spires on short fiction, and I cannot even put into words how thrilled I am to attend that conference and to work with her (!).

And, yes, I can’t forget about my memoir, the reason I became a writer to begin with. My goal is to actually finish my book this year and start working my way through the list of 100 agents to query. I think I’ve told myself every year that this will be the year, but this year there’s a lot more going on—I’m going to pay more attention to how to set myself up to find a business job, my spouse and I might start trying to have a baby at some point, and I’ve got some other volunteer activities that are taking up an inordinate amount of time, etc.

On New Year’s Eve, I was thinking about everything I plan to do this year, and I felt my body tense up. But then I remembered a scripture I’d read that morning, Proverbs 31:25 NLT, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to relax. So my word for the year—this extraordinarily busy year that could see a lot of monumental life changes for me—is “relax.” That’s divine irony for you.

I’m excited about my goals and plans, and I’m learning to relax when things don’t work out the way I’d like for them to. I whisper to myself “relax,” remember that that verse is talking about me, and after a while already, I find myself laughing, fearless.

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My 2018 goals: The results

For my last blog post of 2018, I wanted to go over what I accomplished this year.

My biggest goal for 2018 wasn’t writing related at all. It was to go back to work full-time.

Mission completely and totally unaccomplished and kind of abandoned for the time being.

In my first post of this year, I said, “Although I’ve worked ludicrously hard on my memoir, I worked ludicrously harder for my MBA. I want to put all that time, energy, effort, and tears into a fulfilling business career.” This is still true.

I still wonder almost every day why God has me doing this work instead of something else, but I know it’s all working toward some larger plan. I recently joined the board of a literary arts nonprofit that’s in flux and I was named Treasurer, so this appears to be a way to start flexing those muscles again. I’m not being paid, which stinks, but I realized my reason for wanting to go back to work was to prove to myself that I can do the work I’ve said I could do for nearly 12 years, and just haven’t been given the opportunity. This is my chance to show what I can do. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Otherwise, in 2018, I wanted to publish 5 essays and 2 short stories. Mission accomplished! (Well, one story was published, but another was accepted and will be published in hardcopy in summer 2019, so that counts to me.)

Here’s my 2018 babies, in chronological order:

You Are Not a Real Writer,” Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, March 21, 2018

Why, As a Millennial, It Was Vital for Me to Own a Home,” Blavity, March 28, 2018

July 11, 2008,” Past Ten, July 9, 2018

Who is deserving of my spare change?,” Fathom Magazine, September 11, 2018

I Help You,” Cosmonauts Avenue, October 4, 2018 (Fiction)

The Right of Way,” Lunch Ticket, December 7, 2018

I also wanted to go to some great summer workshops, and I did! My time at Yale Writers Workshop, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference was PHENOMENAL, and all of them made me a better writer, step by step.

The thing I did this year that I’m most proud of was giving my first public reading! First, at Bread Loaf, then in DC (photo above)! It was surreal to bring my work to life in front of people. It’s a necessary part of being an author, and though it was a little nerve-wracking, it was great, and I’m looking forward to doing it again!

I’m still toiling with my 2019 goals. I’m almost afraid to make them because so much of life changes. Just when you expect things to go a certain way, then BANG, there they go, in an entirely different direction. This phenomenon has taught me about the difference between patience and surrender. Patience implies that you know what you’re waiting for—to see a doctor or hairstylist or the like to act on an appointment you made. Surrender implies that you’re just trying to make it out alive, hands up don’t shoot.

That sounds a lot more negative than I intend for it to, but I hope you get the picture. I don’t know what’s next for me. I keep trying to make things happen, and they’re not happening, so I have to surrender to God’s plan for me. It’ll be great, whatever it is. I just have to have my hands up, knowing He won’t shoot, but that He’ll overwhelm me with purpose and blessing. That’s my prayer for 2019.

Merry Christmas, all! And happy new year! See you again in January.

The Right of Way

My last essay of the year was published on Friday!

Remember when I got hit by a car earlier this year? The experience was actually pretty transformative. Sure, I’m a writer, and a memoir one at that, so I write about a lot of things about myself and the weird things that have happened to me, but this was the first transformative experience I felt I could write about in real time. I wrote that blog post about a week after the incident and I wrote the essay only a few weeks later.

I think this is the first time I felt that writing really helped me feel better about something immediate that happened to me that sucked, but hadn’t been stewing for years and years and years. And it felt great to get it out, almost like therapy. I knew I loved writing for this purpose, but I never knew it could feel so immediate.

So, huge thanks to Lunch Ticket for publishing this, my last essay of 2018. Here’s to hoping I’m more productive (and fruitful $$) next year!

Heavy Voices

Last night, I finished this book, Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon, and I *loved* it. I was super stoked when it came out because I’m a huge fan of Laymon since I read his essay, “You Are the Second Person.”

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Me and Kiese Laymon after his Heavy reading at Politics & Prose in DC.

What I love about Laymon’s work is his voice—I honestly feel like he’s talking to me (or, in the case of Heavy, his mother), like from his mouth to the page. I seek to write more like this and gaining confidence in my voice has been an ongoing process. It’s ironic that this is something I struggle with because, as a Writing Center tutor in college, the thing I would tell people most was, “Stop making such a disconnect between the way you speak and the way you write. Good writing sounds like someone is talking to you.”

This obviously isn’t always the case with academic writing. My business school writing professor told me my memos were “too conversational.”

“But I’m having a conversation,” I said. “I’m just doing it on paper instead of in person.”

I just didn’t get why I had to speak differently on the page than I did in real life. It wasn’t like I was using slang in a professional memo. And wasn’t the content of my message more important, anyway?

I think some of that got lodged in my subconscious. Or at least something did, when I started learning to write essays. When I read them, I realized that many sound kind of the same, reflecting on some type of trauma in a voice that’s melancholy. I tried that, and it worked pretty well. But then I realized that’s not always my voice. That’s my grief voice, not my work voice, or my impostor syndrome voice, or my bougie Black Millennial voice.

All that being said, I love that Laymon is brave enough to write the way he speaks, and I pray to God I get to work with him at a conference one of these days so I can talk this issue over with him.

One of my primary concerns is that my voice isn’t heavy enough, that it doesn’t hold traces of my past trauma. You’d be surprised (actually, you probably wouldn’t) at the number of people who’ve told me they thought I grew up in some sort of stable, two-parent, Cosby Show home type of thing. Which couldn’t be farther from the case. Sure, my mom wasn’t turning tricks for rock or anything, and she quite professional and often brought that demeanor home, but I’ve had my fair share of knocks, though people don’t think I sound like I do. Ultimately, I sometimes wonder, especially as I read these great Black authors in this renaissance we’re in, if I’m being all of myself. I know I am, but I sometimes wonder if I should be something else, too, more raw than I really am.

The thing is, every time I went to a new school and thought I could reinvent myself, me always wound up showing up. That is to say that, anytime I think I’m insufficient and try to be something else, I can’t. At the end of the day, who I am winds up being enough. Something pops up that tells me I’m cool the way I am, which is to say, not all that cool. And I have my own way of being that is perfectly okay.

This is why workshops like VONA are so important to me. Of course, I had great experiences at my other workshops, but there’s something about getting feedback on your voice as a Black woman talking about your experience as a Black woman in a very white world (in my case, the South, during my childhood). There’s a level of validation that an environment full of writers of color provides that you can’t get anywhere else.

Of course, I have to remember to be confident in my voice regardless, but these workshops help *a lot.* Looking forward to my next one!

“Think of something to do”: Bringing the Family Together

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! I went to North Carolina to spend the weekend with my family, and we had a really nice time. For the past few visits, my mother has insisted that we do things; normally, we’d sit around and watch television, but she’s been forcing us to get out. Last year, we drove all the way to Cherokee. Not inclined to take a long drive again, my spouse and I had to think of some other things. And we did them! I didn’t take a ton of pictures because I wanted to be fully present, but this trip, we did a couple of new things!

On Thursday night, we went to see Creed II. No spoilers, it was way better than I was expecting it to be and way better than the first one. Given the period of U.S. history we’re in, in which Russia decided the outcome of our presidential election, it was titillating to see the Cold War being played out again. Rocky Balboa ended it the first time; let’s see how it goes now.

On Friday night, we went bowling. My mom set up a date for us during a family beach vacation a couple years ago, so my spouse figured it’d be a viable option for “something to do” while we were at home this time, so we did. I found myself surprised that bowling alleys—like, just a bowling alley, not one in a bigger venue like a Dave & Buster’s, for example—still exist. And they’re still hella popular! It was actually pretty crowded after 9pm on a Friday.

(Prior to bowling, my spouse and I drove around Charlotte trying to find a place to watch #TheMatch, the betting game between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The whole thing was a sham 15 years delayed, but it was nice to go to a part of Charlotte I hadn’t been to before.)

On Saturday, my mom, my spouse, and I went to afternoon tea the Ballantyne Hotel in south Charlotte. I’ve done afternoon tea twice before, once in London and once in Scottsdale, and I love it. It seems hoity-toity, but it’s actually really nice, and unexpectedly relaxing. As you’ve read before, since I live far away from my family and have my whole adult life, I sometimes feel like we don’t know each other all that well. My mom even told me that once. So, I wanted to do something with Mommy we hadn’t done before, something to show her some aspect of what I like and who I am. And one of the things I enjoy doing is having tea and champagne! At the Ballantyne, the champagne didn’t come with free refills like at the other places I’ve had tea, but it was still nice. Mommy enjoyed it, and we got to spend some quality time together, both of which were what mattered most to me.

And on Sunday, after the Panthers lost to the Seahawks in what I can only think of as a repeat of the 2004 Superbowl, we went to an outdoor Christmas market, one of those fake German things with the stalls full of vendors selling random stuff. It was a chilly night, so we sipped hot apple cider and mulled wine as we roamed around, and we ate bratwurst and pretzels. It definitely wasn’t the first year they’ve had this, but I don’t know why we hadn’t been before.

The Bank of America building in Charlotte, lit up for the Panther’s game.

My mom forcing us out of the house was really helpful. It’s easy to get bogged down in a rut of sorts and think boredom is your only option when you’re away from home. But that’s not the case. I also realize that it’s important to do these things that seem so random—they get everyone out of their comfort zone and you start sharing who you are with each other.

This is the longest visit I’ve made to NC in a long time (and the only time I’ve been home all year, unfortunately), and it felt well worth it. My family is changing, as humans do, and it’s high time I took more responsibility for keeping up with the ways in which they’re evolving, especially if I want them to do the same for me. Less philosophically, doing activities might result in some new family traditions. And Lord knows I love a good family tradition.

What are you thankful for this year?

It’s that time of year again, folks!

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, which means it’s that time of year to think about all of the things I have taken for granted and actually thank the Lord for them. So here goes:

I am thankful for:

  • My spouse, who, despite my being one of the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered, insists upon loving me anyway. I am thankful for his calm demeanor; even though I’m frequently annoyed that nothing ruffles his feathers, I thank God for his disposition. That serenity has gotten us through a lot in 6.5 years of marriage.
  • My family. Even though I live far away and sometimes feel a little disconnected, they always find some kind of way to make me laugh.
  • My writing community. I can’t tell you how much going to conferences and meeting all of these amazing people over the past two years has meant to me (actually, I have told you, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
  • My writing teachers, who I think of as a step above my community overall; the women (and one man! I have my first male writing teacher now!) who taught my workshops shaped my writing in ways I could not have even imagined. I hope to thank them formally in my book one day soon: Blaise Kearsely, Kelly Caldwell, Michele Filgate, Rebecca Makkai, Jac Jemc, Stacy Pershall, Laura Goode (who was for pitching, not writing, but gave me a boost anyway), Bill O’Sullivan, Reyna Grande, Anne Helen Petersen, Lisa Page, Julie Buntin, Dana Johnson, and Emily Raboteau.
  • My church and my church fam, both in NYC and DC. National Community Church and Hillsong NYC have played immeasurable roles in my development as a Christian and a human, and I am eternally grateful.
  • My friends, from networking acquaintances to ride-or-die broads who’ve known me for years and years and years. Without them, I could not make a good life decision.
  • Jesus, without whom I would have zippo peace, joy, wisdom, or hope. Even though that last one flags a lot these days, He is quick to remind me that He is all that I need, even when it feels that the world is ending.

Take a minute to think about what you’re grateful for this week. It really helps lifts the spirits!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Well-Read Black Girl Festival: The Sequel

My apologies for not blogging last week; in truth, I’d forgotten it was Tuesday and was really overwhelmed with election stress. But the good Lord works everything together for our good, including letting Democrats take over the House, hallelujah.

This weekend, I had the great honor of attending the second annual Well-Read Black Girl literary festival in Brooklyn. I went to the first one last year, so I was excited to go again. Glory Edim is doing the Lord’s work in promoting literature by Black women. You can tell this even more when you’re in a room full of them, so many beautiful women of every shade, size, and shape “woo” over authors who look like them.

I arrived to the festival later than I would have liked, thanks to some Lyft Line snafus, so I got a terrible seat.

I couldn’t see much, but Glory looks cute here in the yellow shirt!

Luckily, I could *hear* everyone just fine.

Patricia Smith giving everyone *chills.*

Powerful, award-winning poet Patricia Smith’s keynote address left us all in tears, standing, cheering, and stamping our feet, as her work is wont to do. She spoke about, as a child, being told to be quiet, and how she was being lead to believe that important things were “white” things. She compared this to current events, like the president telling Black women journalists to sit down and that their questions were stupid.

“No, Mr. President, we will stand,” she said, and electricity ripped through my spine.

Next was a panel on the creation of the Well-Read Black Girl Anthology, with contributors talking about some of their biggest Black woman writer influences. I love and hate talks like this, as I get to hear, as a writer, who drove my peers to create their best work, but these things also remind me that I didn’t grow up in an area where reading Black authors was a thing. I didn’t hear the name “Zora Neale Hurston” or “Audre Lorde” until I went to college, and even then, I didn’t get to read their work because I was already behind on my assigned Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. But I learn so much from these talks and I expand my to-be-read list.

My favorite panel of the day was “Black Girl Magic: Writing for and about Black girls.” The panelists were YA and middle grade authors, but I found the topic relevant to my memoir/literary fiction, too, as I recently have written Black girls/women protagonists exclusively. The biggest thing I took away from it was a quote I can’t remember who said (sorry!), “Write for the reader you are.” This is what has driven me to write for most of my life, but definitely in the past year, and especially with fiction. I realize that my literary fiction has plots and it usually involves a relationship gone messy—because that’s what I love to read. I haven’t seen enough stories about Black women who aren’t struggling, but face somewhat ordinary problems, such as encountering messy situations, and I want to read them, so I write them.

Again, my terrible seat allowed me to only *hear* the greatness on stage. Better seat next year.

And in the last panel I attended, Uncovering the Legacies of Black Women, I learned of even more writers with whom I was not familiar, which again, I feel bad about, but until Doc and Marty McFly come by with a Delorean, I’m going to have to be okay with not knowing sooner.

One thing I always note in these environments in which I am *not* the only Black person or the only Black woman is how different we are and how homogenized literature and pop culture can make us out to be. I loved Nafissa Thompson-Spires collection, Heads of the Colored People, because it broke up that narrative. I believe Camille Acker’s Training School for Negro Girls does the same (haven’t read it yet, but I am so excited to!). These books give me the space to be; they make me feel adequate in a world where I’m supposed to have been drowning and hopeless in a den of drugs and abject poverty, which was not my story. They give me room to tell my story and I am eternally grateful to them for it.

I also, because of this conference, I got to meet up with a writer friend I met online! I love when social media does what it’s actually supposed to do—bring us together. So, three cheers for Glory, Well-Read Black Girl, and Black women writers supporting each other as we show the world who we really are.

Finally—An Insulting Workshop Experience

I’ve heard horror stories of people—particularly women writers of color—receiving really devastating feedback in workshops. Sometimes so devastating that they stop writing for years. I have been very fortunate as a woman writer of color to have been in workshops where I felt understood. No one has ever given me feedback that made me question myself or felt insulting…until last week.

I’m currently in an essay class at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. My instructor is the great Bill O’Sullivan, an editor at Washingtonian magazine. This is one of those classes for which you have to apply; months ago, I submitted my Catapult essay, the one I am most proud of, and was thrilled to have been admitted.

Bill asked for volunteers to go the first round of workshop. I had an essay I’d been toiling with and had hit a wall with. I wasn’t sure if this would be the right crowd for this essay—in it, I’m exploring why I’m so freaking fascinated by the prep life, preppy things, and, in particular, this one woman who ran a blog about these matters. But it is actually about identity—who I am allowed to be and why are certain styles of dress reserved for certain races/classes. I start it by talking about a trip I took to Vineyard Vines in Georgetown, where I found the vanity sizing to be so egregious, they’d erased thin women like me. When I did some research online about the brand, I found the blogger woman and got sucked into her very fascinating world.

This is my first class at the Writer’s Center (I took a class online, but that was different), and from my tangential experience with the organization, the students incline a little older. Which is to be expected, in a way; the center is in the burbs and runs classes during the day and at night, and who is likely to take the day classes but retirees, particularly those in their 70s and above. I hesitated to turn in the essay because of this, but I did anyway. YOLO, as the kids say these days.

I was surprised to find that my class is actually relatively young, almost exclusively women who are in their late 20s to 50s. The only “outliers” are one woman who’s in her 80s and a man who is probably in his late 70s.

Our discussion of my essay went great! They gave me some really helpful feedback about expanding the parts about my personal history and how ending the piece sooner than I currently do would really pack an emotional punch.

The man in our class was absent for my discussion, so he emailed me comments. First, he emailed to say that he usually just says what comes to his mind as he reads, so he can come across as gruff. I shrugged that off and thanked him in advance for his comments. And then I read them.

I have never been so insulted in my writing life! I did not read past the first page of his comments. Essentially, he misunderstood my fascination with the blogger woman; as a result, he thought my essay was going to be about my self-discovery as a lesbian (!). He also said I was ignorant for not knowing whether Georgetown the university was named after the neighborhood (which, of course, I knew, I just worded it more voice-ily in the essay for those who are not familiar with the school or the neighborhood). And he basically said that I was dumb if I didn’t know what size I was and was trying on clothes that were too big for me.

I mulled over what to do. My options were (a) leave it alone; he’s an old man, so it’s not likely that he would learn not to be disrespectful, or (b) tell Bill the instructor, and let him handle it as a professional. I went with option B.

Bill was also appalled by the man’s comments. He sent the man a letter explaining that he was wrong and outlining how to give feedback in a workshop. I was super grateful to Bill for doing it, but I also thought, How is this even necessary? Why would anyone have to tell someone in their 70s, who is retired from a very prestigious and high-paying career, not to be disrespectful?

I remain baffled.

But I finally have a notch in my belt of weird workshop experiences. Luckily, I was able easily brush off what he said. I have published enough essays and been admitted to enough prestigious conferences to know that I’m a damn good writer, and no one is going to rankle me about that.

 

I’m Not Scared Anymore

Last week, I went through a version of a very long exercise my friend Carole recommended to me: write on an index card every scene in every chapter of your book; this allows you to move things around, so you can find a structure that makes sense.

I took this one step back—listing the scenes in a notebook instead of on index cards—but also one step forward—writing transition sentences for the opening and closing of each chapter. It was time-consuming (it took 4 days to complete) and exhausting (as going through my memoir drafts always is, as it feels like living my life over again in a truncated timeframe), but soooo worth it.

I’ve been avoiding doing reflection in my book, mostly unintentionally. There were parts I felt speak for themselves; there’s just not a lot to say as I look back on some things my father and sisters did. But the opening/closing transition exercise challenged in a unique way—I had to ask myself a question about the primary “thesis” of the chapter. For example, if the thesis was, “My father made me feel like an outsider by excluding me from activities with my siblings,” then the question I would ask myself was “How did I feel not fitting into my family, or anywhere else, for that matter?” And suddenly, I had so much to reflect on.

Doing this exercise took up most of my time last week, so I didn’t have time to blog. And I’m glad I didn’t force it because going through the exercise took a lot of energy that I’m glad I conserved: after going through my book at that high level, I finally felt in control of my narrative. I’ve felt this way since I returned from Bread Loaf, but I was finally able to put it to the page.

I suddenly wasn’t scared to go into the depths of how I felt at the time, or to guess how I felt at the time if I don’t remember, or to lay meaning on top of events. I was so afraid of feeling false, I assumed the reader could glean the significance of certain occurrences. I believe my reader is competent, of course, but there’s a reason why people read memoir (well, more than one), and one of them is to see what meaning people ascribe to their lives as they look back on it. I feel better able to do that now.

I pray to Jesus that this is the last draft of Daughter of the Most High I complete before I start querying. I finally, *finally* feel confident that I can actually make that so. I’m excited and I’m anxious—not scared, just ready to face it. I feel like I’m going into an athletic match that I know I will win. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to come out victorious. Just you wait!

My first short story is published!

Pardon my absence last Tuesday—it was my 33rd birthday, so I had to let myself breathe, treat myself to a tipsy lunch, and wander around a suburban mall. I couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off to my Jesus Year.

But this week was made even better by the publishing of my first short story, “I Help You,” in Cosmonauts Avenue!

Well, technically, it’s my second. I guess my real first was when I was a senior in college, published in the spring 2007 issue of Georgetown’s on-again-off-again literary journal, The Anthem. It was called “Shine,” and it was weird and trying to be subversive because I was in college and that’s what you do when you write in college. (I still have the hard copy floating somewhere among my boxes of mementos.)

The one thing my current first story has in common with my original first story is the theme of trying to escape one’s past. In “Shine,” the character fell victim to a generational curse without noticing, it seemed; the protagonist in “I Help You” is significantly more aware of what’s at stake. Cici in “I Help You” is older than the main character of “Shine,” whose name I can’t remember, but I believe Cici’s awareness has more to do with my maturing as a writer. I’m more aware of what a character needs to know about herself, and also what readers expect to know about her that she doesn’t know. I’m also more mature as a person and know what it is like to create one’s own expectations of oneself rather than doing what you’re told.

Even though imposter syndrome tells me that “I Help You” is silly because it’s about a girl chasing after a boy, I’m infinitely proud of this story. In a workshop, someone said it was “well-plotted,” which I think this person meant as sort of an insult, as if to say the story isn’t “literary” enough. The perception is that, in “literary” stories, nothing actually happens; characters just “be.” But when do people ever not actually do anything? I mean, sure, on vacation, sitting on the beach or by the pool, do people just languish in their thoughts. But literally every other day in every other life circumstance, people do. They move, they act, they show how they love, hate, think, believe. Also, the definition of literary fiction is that which is driven by the character, not the plot. Cici and her desire to live a different life drive this story, therefore, it is literary, my friend.

I am so stinking happy about this story, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I pray that it is the first of many, many more. At least enough to fill a collection about Black women thriving in white spaces. Fingers crossed tight.

In case you missed the link above, you can read “I Help You” in Cosmonauts Avenue here: https://cosmonautsavenue.com/vonetta-young-fiction/.