Sunday, November 1, 2009
If you missed it yesterday or today, it's gone for now. Several people who caught it enjoyed it immensely, and I thank them for their comments. I'm speaking of a short story I wrote about the monstrous horror of what went wrong in one family.
People blog for many different reasons and cover a seemingly infinite number of topics.
Well readers, I've been blogging for confidence.
I was given the gift to write well long ago. Luck would have it that I had a wonderful Catholic school education through 7th grade, and my public school English teachers for 8th through 11th were excellent.
I loved reading and could spell my azz off. I had a clue on how good I was in 8th grade, when my teacher had the class do a spelling bee. I was one of the last two standing. My classmate missed the word, but I sounded it out and used the weird rules that I somehow know without knowing and got it right. Even the kids who took little interest in English watched to see if I'd blow it. You could hear a pin drop. I got it! The teacher looked astounded, and dropped her head down with one of those, "damn" expressions, as in, damn, how'd she get that?
Boy that felt good!
My 9th grade teacher saw my book of poems and encouraged me to enter one. I was shocked with I won 1st place in that DC citywide poetry contest.
The thing is, my parents weren't into my poetry. They really didn't understand it. Left me feeling like it wasn't all that important.
It's kind of weird because my father wrote and sold poetry to white men just so he could see it published. Wouldn't be in his name, but at least he saw it in print.
I wish the hell I had a list of those guys now, not to sue them, but just to know who those fuckers were.
Maybe he didn't want to see me get hurt like he had been. Instead, he encouraged me to study journalism in college since I liked to read so much and could write a decent essay.
Well fuck, that field had a very low glass ceiling too, so low that a dwarf might bump her head. Like my father in the 1940s or 50s, I couldn't break the racial barrier in the early '80s. I managed to get two gopher jobs - "go for this and go for that" - in black media places, but sexism was rampant.
I got fired by one old fart (old as in his 40s, which was old to me back then), because I wasn't interest in getting with him, and he got jealous because I started dating a guy my own age who worked the technical end of radio, who quickly became one of my best boyfriends ever. He was fired a week after me.
The degradation I saw a number black women go through, and the racism black men and women had to put up with, made me think long and hard. I gave up on journalism and pursued social work, and shortly after that, mental health. It was a rewarding career, financially and mentally.
At the end of some days, I went home feeling like I'd done God's work. And I had.
In 2006, I began writing again for the first time in years. My parents were dead, but none of my family members were supportive.
I'll never forget when I read an excerpt to a novel that I knew was great writing, and this relative said something really cruel. The way he did it reminded me of the little cruel acts my father would do to me after I learned I was infertile.
He would say, while grinning, when I'd tell him that I was going out on date, "Don't get pregnant!"
Mind you, he was the number one person who pushed me day and night to get an abortion when I was 19. The men in my family are mixed bag. They can show you love and support - usually in areas that interest them - or they can say the cruelest things just because they're assholes.
So this time, with this relative, I confronted him.
"Why did you say that? Do you really think that?"
He became uncomfortable.
"No. I don't know why I said that."
He really didn't.
It hit me then that he was jealous, and his poisonous words were a knee-jerk reaction. He writes very well and should be doing his own thing in that area, but something holds him back. My success will trigger his insecurity and make him feel like he's wasting his gift.
Plus, he had wanted to edit my work after reading the first chapter because he said he liked it - but he wanted a huge cut off any profit... something crazy like 25 percent, rather than my paying by the hour for his help. Suddenly, my story wasn't good anymore.
Jealousy is so destructive. Even when you know the person is jealous, if your confidence isn't 100%, you might feel uncertain and insecure. I was getting demoralized by own family at their lack of interest.
Not everyone had the green with envy issues. Two close relatives simply didn't like the point of view of one of the characters. They'd scan a few pages, hone in on one, and start ripping the whole story apart. For one it was over religion, for the other, the character was too ghetto.
Folks can real pissed if their own values or beliefs are challenged by the thought processes of someone who thinks differently than they do.
"Do you believe this?", one demanded.
"Nooo, but my character does."
"Why don't you write about nice people with happy endings?"
"We all start out nice at birth," I explained. "For a bunch of folks, it goes downhill from there, and there are reasons for this. Read the story and you'll see."
"That's okay," he said dismissively, "it's not my cup of tea. By the way, I read a really good book recently that you might like."
Fuck you too, you unsupportive son of a bitch, I thought to myself.
Not a single one of my friends would take time to read my stuff. I know if I was their damn boyfriend or some nigga they wanted, they would. I got no dick, they had no time for my dumb hobby.
They'd yap for hours and in multiple phone calls over how some nigga done them wrong. I can't tell you how much those conversations bored the crap out of me after the age of 40.
If ya ain't happy with him, ain't you learned by now what to do? And don't you know the warning signs when shit first starts going downhill? Ain't like he's gonna marry you anyway so stop sweatin' the man.
Oh damn, how my girl friends hated hearing that.
That wishful thinking shit causes more heartbreaks than reality. Reality is raw. Only 30% of black women will ever get married, and we can expect half of them to divorce, so enjoy your kids if you got any or get a dog if you don't.
If you prefer cats, resist the urge to get more than one. My past two never wanted to share the litter box, and who wants to be over 40, unmarried, and thought of as the cat lady? Having one cat instead of one dog does have one great advantage - you don't have to rush home after work to walk it.
(Anyway, I got a little off track here. My bad. Told ya this post would be somewhat random.)
So I got into writing fiction three years ago, and lots of it. Posted one on-going story on the Internet and got 500 hits each time I added a new chapter.
Problem was, racism reared it's ugly head. My characters are black, and they had a lot to say. The cyberhate was mind-blowing. I still can't even talk about it, it was so bad.
But what was also upsetting was the poverty of black support. I know they were reading the shit because I'd see their user names in the 'room' where the story was posted, but proportionally, they were stingy as hell with the comments.
I mean, what's up with that?
I learned there really is truth that black male writers (and bloggers) get more attention from readers than black women.
Some bro can write some half-assed shit in one paragraph and get ten comments - or worse, write stuff that is sooo fuggin' wrong that if a woman wrote that shit, half of her readers would bail.
We got sistas out here in Blogland who routinely write quality stuff, but get far less attention. And it's not that I resent the kudos good male bloggers get, it's that I resent that women too often are not treated equally, even by other women.
I often think we're all starved for black men, even black men.
We hunger for their voices, opinions, and guidance, so much so that a woman can say the exact same thing but it not have the same impact.
It's not just a black problem either, it's a human problem. This is why male preachers will always dominate houses of worship, no matter what religion. Same goes for the political arenas. It's like everyone wants a daddy-figure to tell them what they need to know.
I can't complain too much, though, my male readers have been very good to me, and I have as many of them as the ladies. I attribute this to trying to be fair and looking at both sides of an issue, and being nurturing to them as well.
All of you together, the brothas and sistas, and my white readers too, have given me a sorely needed gift: confidence.
The few comments on my short story, which was only up for 48 hours, were so nurturing.
Last night, my son had four friends over, all between 20 and 23. I read it to them and they were mesmerized. Their excitement, like that of my readers here, was genuine. I got from you and from them what I could never get from own friends and family, with the exception of my beloved son, Xavier, who has always been one of my biggest fans.
Collectively over the past 18 months of my blogging, you have healed my soul.
My next step is to submit that story and some others, with the hope they'll get published in a book. This is why I switched it to 'private view - invite only' on my other Keep It Trill companion blog.
I don't know if I will succeed, but after blogging for confidence and succeeding in that, I'm ready to try - again, and this time, eff the haters.
Tonight I want to thank all of you. Here's a toast to you. Cheers.
P.S. - Please excuse the excessive bold highlighting and earlier typos. This unusual post was so long and filled with randomness, that I figured highlighting the different shifts in thought would be helpful.
Posted by Kit (Keep It Trill) at 10:15 PM