Dear Reader, I didn't read Devil in a Blue Dress until grad school but the first line still grabs me. "I was surprised to see a white man walk in to Joppy's bar." Good Lord, are you allowed to write that? See, up until then I understood the tenants of fiction to be that you … Continue reading Meeting your heroes: How not to fan girl when you meet Walter Mosley.
Dear Reader, I wanted to recap something amazing that happened recently. I'm really bad at self promotion. Yes, it's such an ironic statement coming from a blogger and former journalist. I am getting better at it but I am very much a work in progress when it comes to promoting what I'm doing. So...this happened! … Continue reading 20 minutes.
Dear Goodreads, Usually I address the readers of this blog. In fact, that's the name of it, Dear Reader. But for this topic, I'm addressing you because, well, you need some help. So this week you have proclaimed it Mystery and Thriller Week. YES! We all could use more thrills in our lives. And as … Continue reading Dear Goodreads: You’re missing out but I’m here to help.
Dear Reader, It's National Poetry Month! This is an awesome month when we can read poetry, appreciate it, and learn from it. Well, actually, every month is poetry month in my world. So, I was actually reading two collection before poetry month and just finished one them in time for the celebrations. Danez Smith's collection, … Continue reading Death or a reclaiming: Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead
Dear Reader, There is a saying that has circulated around social media and public discourse -- representation matters. And it does. Seeing yourself reflected back at you is affirming. It tells you, shows you, that you are not alone and that you are okay. After the turbulent 2017, I needed to see that. I needed a … Continue reading Watching black bodies move
When I talk about my father and when I write stories about him, I chose my words carefully. His is a story of redemption. The success of that redemption depends on who you ask. My dad was Osiris Fernández y Ferrer. That was his full name according to his Cuban passport. I say that … Continue reading How redemption continues even after death
Dear Reader, The weeks after Harvey has been, let’s say, a crash course in patience. Patience in and with FEMA. Patience in myself and my own healing. Patience in the new normal. Patience. So much of it. And then, without warning, or maybe with some warning, my sister in Cuba dies. She dies after the … Continue reading The Act of Patience in the New Normal
Dear Reader, I wasn't going to write, not anymore. I promised myself that this week. I was prepared to end my love affair with the writing life, not out of frustration but of trauma. My words, they failed me and the energy wasn't there to pursue them. Since Harvey sucker punched Houston, I wasn't interested in … Continue reading The rain, the flood, the trauma
Good Sunday morning! I hope you’re doing well and that the writing is flowing as well as the coffee and that you’re doing the work you’ve always wanted to do.
It’s been a busy week for me and this upcoming week will be even busier. But I wanted to share this essay with you from my friend Vanessa Martir’s website, Digging into Memory. She is an essayist, poet, fiction writer, and all around badass. This year, she’s pledged to write an essay a week and man, she is sticking to it! Great job, Vanessa!
This particular essay I’m sharing from her series has so many truth bombs. Love me a good truth bomb. The first sentence alone drips with truth and feeling. Here’s another section that jolted some truth in me, when she talked to writer Chris Abani about self-care:
“Then he got serious and said that I will come up with ways to take care of myself, like the boxing I was doing at that time and my walks in the forest. But there will come a time when those things won’t work and I will have to reinvent my methods of self-care. ‘You will always have to reinvent those ways, Vanessa.'”
I haven’t written much about self-care on this site but I’ve hinted at it. (This will be something I’ll be correcting real soon.) Part of the writer’s life is to dig deep with your work (yes, even genre writers have to do this. Especially genre writers, I’d say.)
Sometimes, while digging some emotions/feelings/thoughts bubble up that you don’t want to deal with. We have to pick at the scabs and pour alcohol on them to re-bleed on the page. It isn’t pleasant. It’s not supposed to be. But the craft is empty if it isn’t followed by the emotional work. That’s what makes it authentic.
I’ll write more about this soon. In the meantime, read Vanessa’s essay and her Relentless Files for more truth bombs. Definitely worth the read and the time invested.
Doing the work,
*An essay a week in 2016*
Here’s the thing no one tells you about digging into memory and writing about the ghosts that haunt you: you will have to relive those moments and it will leave you reeling and you will carry that reeling in your chest and you won’t know what to do with it or yourself, and you will snap at people, the people you love most, who hold you when you’re heaving, and you won’t know what to do with that pain so you lash out and you can’t help yourself…in the moment, you will blame those people, say it is them, their nagging, their demands…and only later, when you’ve had time to calm fuck down will you see that it wasn’t them, it was you and your shit coming up…and you will be so fucking sorry but sorry doesn’t heal the pain you already caused…so what…
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Dear Reader, Someone recently posed a question to me. When you think about teaching creative writing, what does that mean? The answer was easy and came to me quickly. This is all about empowerment. Writing, especially creatively, is about being empowered and empowering others. This is why I love teaching writers. In my career, I've … Continue reading Why do I love teaching writing?