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?
Dear Reader, I've been thinking a lot about bravery recently, what it actually means and what it takes to be brave. This bravery thing seems like a simple thing to figure out but I'm not quite so sure. I've been called brave once. About a year ago. See, I did something that most people wish … Continue reading Don’t call me brave. Call me chingona
Dear Reader, This is a website about writing. And the writing life. It is about dispelling those myths about what the writing life actually is. It takes courage to live this life. It takes more courage to live this life as a writer of color. Today is one of those days where writing is my … Continue reading Being a writer in the age of Alton and Philando
Dear Reader, One of the very first things I heard during my VONA experience was this: “You are allowed to take up space.” The words weren’t foreign to me but how they were put together were. Space? I nodded thinking that I knew what that phrase meant. All through my week, I kept hearing that … Continue reading Stop apologizing: What independence really means
Listen, my black speaks Spanish. And I love learning about African American History. Love it. But I want to know about my history. Who are the people who fought in wars and made discoveries? Whose names are all but forgotten? What are the issues they have confronted and overcome?
Dear Reader, I have a confession to make. I've never read Langston Hughes. Nope. Not in a class. Not out of class. Know of him. Know of his work. But never really engaged with it. Yes, I know. I am a special kind of person. Got it. However, I am growing into my blackness. That … Continue reading Growing into my blackness: Reflection on Langston Hughes