Working on my art: How I encourage myself as a writer.

I’ve had a hard time encouraging myself to write.

There are so many fantasy books out there. So many popular authors, so many really good books coming out at all times. At one time I just stopped, how can I even compare to my favorite authors?

How do I compete with them?

Even though there weren’t any Black fantasy books for me when I was growing up, there is so much more now. Nowhere near the amount needed. But how can a retelling of a fairytale ever compete with Children of Blood and Bone?

But then I realized something.

The only person I should be competing with is me from yesterday. Fighting to be a better person and a better author slowly but surely. And the fact is there is no such thing as too many options. There is room for everyone and their books at the table.

The best analogy is that of the bread aisle. There are so many kinds of bread, so many brands, cooking styles, and flavors. So that everyone can get what they want.Regardless of how specific it may be. Everyone can get the exact thing they want.

The one thing that no other person can ever offer is my perspective and my way of thinking because they’re only one of me.

Tropes we need: Black people who are into Science Fiction

Recently I heard a TikToke that really made me … frustrated.

It was about a Black woman recounting when she talked about her parents to a white friend. She talked about how they were rediscovering roots as much as they could, I can’t remember what organization it was but it was obviously a Black one. And then she mentioned how her mom was a Trekkie like she won a Ms.Klingon pageant and the other was a Star Wars fan.

And of course, the obvious question is, how do these people exist in the same house with having totally opposite views on sci-fi. But no, it wasn’t that.

Her response was she didn’t realize that the girl’s parents were white.*

Everything she said about her tracing her roots was instantly thrown out as soon as she mentioned DND and StarTrek.

But

If we are being honest we don’t really talk about Black people beign into sci-fi you certainly don’t see them being portrayed in shows. Lucas from Stranger Things is the only Black kid I’ve ever seen in a show doing something in relationship to sci-fi or fantasy.

One kid.

And when I was growing up I saw nothing, but I had me. So although I didn’t see any Black people into sci-fi, I was one. I grew up watching StarTrek: TOS, Lost in Space, Quantum Leap, Stargate, Firefly, and so many others. If it was in space, had robots from the future(Sarah Conner Chronicles, I’m looking at you), or dealt with any type of aliens, I was all over it. So if I exist, as a Black sci-fi fan, there’s no reason for me to doubt the existence of other Black sci-fi fans. But what about Black people who aren’t into sci-fi? What’s their relationship to Black people who are into it?

So let’s make stories together.

This first one will be a regular romance scenario, with a man pursuing a woman. She’s really into sci-fi. She goes to conventions, owns every episode of Dr.Who, watches Discovery to lift her spirits up whenever she’s sad. He learns about sci-fi, and also about the many Black people that navigate that space. The longer he dates her, the more interested in sci-fi he gets.

Or

We have a story about a girl who isn’t into sci-fi but finds a show from the nineties/two-thousands and starts watching it, but she can’t find the rest of the show. She goes to Reddit forums and makes loads of friends during her search. Only to find out the tragic fate that happened to most sci-fi shows on public television.

Cancellation.

The show is about her growth in sci-fi especially concerning her and Blackness. And her evolving over time into a sci-fi fan.

Or

We have a Black person in a show about a group of Black friends whose into sci-fi and we make it normal. The Star Trek, the Stargate, the Dr.Who references, are integrated into this character’s model, so much so that their friends know sci-fi facts just because of proximity. Maybe we do have an episode where someone tries to define their Blackness and then a strong moment of our Black cast coming together to point out that this person is not the authority on Blackness. And our friends will have a heart-to-heart conversation on concepts like oreo and how it affected their perceptions of Blackness as a child and as an adult.

End Scene.

*I would have a link to the original video, but I can’t find it. And I looked, if you know the creator, you can post it in the comments.

Things you learn as you get older part 1

Some of the people that you were closest to in life, will be strangers in the future.

If you would have told me that I wouldn’t have been lifelong friends with [insert names of people I loved] from high school, I would have laughed at you. I knew we would be friends forever. I knew we would always be close, but college showed me how easy friendship can crumple over things. And maybe you wish that you could fix things, but sometimes you never get that chance.

It’s crazy to think, that one day the people that were the closest to you end up being utter strangers. Doesn’t matter knowing their parents, sharing secrets, or how many years you were friends.

Falling outs are just a part of growing up.

That you should have start saving as soon as you can.

I wasn’t raised to be financially literate. I learned how to manage my credit. But I had no background on how to properly budget or save money. Starting a 401K or a Roth IRA would have been a great thing to do, had I known about them.

Travel is worth every penny, go travel and/or live abroad.

I know this kind of contradicts the last one, but that’s why I said I have no regrets. When you live and travel to multiple countries, you enrich yourself as a person. I learned so much about the world, and the experiences are something I look on fondly to this day.

Learning how to navigate a global world can help you in your career, but the biggest thing is that it often helps to make you a more rounded person.

How to respond: When you hear a Black man say he doesn’t date Black girls

For many Black women, when we see these posts, we feel the need to defend ourselves. Not just ourselves, but Blackwomanhood as a whole. You know that you’re not [fill in whatever stereotype] excuse that this man feels that justifies his reasoning on why he’s has left.

Right now, I am seeing a lot of Black men, come for Black women. We’re masculine, aggressive, angry, full of vitriol, gold-diggers, that don’t give any men a second of peace, etc. The comments sections are full of men who wholeheartedly agree, women trying to defend themselves, and a handful of men willing to fight for their lives against their peers. But ladies, I’m tired of arguing with these men. I know we as Black women aren’t a monolith even if our counterparts don’t. So let’s do something else. Let’s get the best revenge.

How?

We do it by living our best life without these men. Ignoring the gurus and these men. Hear me out. Just work on being the best and healthiest version of yourself. And after you do that, if someone doesn’t like you, then that’s their personal problem.

He doesn’t like how excitable and loud you get when you’re happy, then he’s not the one. Do not limit your joy for anyone.

He feels uncomfortable when you correct him. Then find a guy that is fine with knowing when he’s wrong, as long as you’re ok with being told as well in the same manner(told, not called out, there’ a mountain of difference). We go high over here, but we also treat people like we want to be treated. Nothing but accountability in these streets.

People love to say hit dogs holler.

But let’s be honest, it’s natural for people to stick up for themselves and people who look like them. If someone were to look at you and say: all Black people are trash people, who steal, are the most murderous people, are uneducated, and are all welfare queens.

Do you think just because you’re a Black well-off, educated, peaceful person that you still wouldn’t be offended by the generalizations? These negative stereotypes can still hurt. It’s natural to want people to know that their words are harmful. Maybe they won’t hurt you, but if you can get those people to stop before they can hurt others would be ideal.

But let’s be honest. Maybe we’re putting too much on our shoulders. Let’s take of this cape. If these men want to be self-hating, colorist, and prejudiced against their own.

Let them.

Just don’t deal with them. I don’t have friends who think this way because I’m not letting that energy be around me. If they want to spend all their energy complaining about Black women. Let them, they keep saying they’re happy. But if they really were, they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to tear us down.

Happy people ARE NOT tearing other people down.

Miserable people do. Angry people do. Imagine being so angry, at a particular group of people that you become obsessed with them. You can’t even talk about the person you like without talking about the people they don’t like. Think about all the energy and time they take just to tell us they don’t want us.

The videos, the comments, the clubhouse rooms, ladies they’re spending enough time for all of us. Don’t waste any of your valuable time on them. Maybe they’ll never know the truth, but that’s ok.

Live in your own peace, and find a man who knows how multi-dimensional you are as a Black woman.

Tropes we need: Well loved marshmallow dark skinned female characters

In recent shows, brown to dark-skinned female characters are placed into certain roles. Often as the “tough” character, the one who protects the main character or teacher them something. Or maybe she’s just the sassy Black woman. They are often not seen as feminine or soft. To the point where just them existing to some is them showing masculine energy. And if they are tall there’s almost no chance of them being considered feminine, regardless of behavior. They are also often made to be undesirable regardless of whether they are seen as feminine or masculine. Dark-skinned women are OFTEN not seen as feminine or desirable and so as Black people who make media, who better than us to change this.

I don’t want just SOFT dark-skinned female characters, no, we have to go deeper. Deeper! I want them to be marshmallows. Soft dark-skinned women who don’t have to lift a finger. Who don’t fight battles and aren’t the strong character in a story. Who are babied, cry easily, and are comforted constantly. I want them to have husbands who don’t want to or let them lift a finger. Who make it their job, to ensure their wife is happy. I want strong personalities without having to be the “STRONG Black woman. I want a character who twists her leg, cries and doesn’t stop crying until she’s comforted and feels better about it. “And still has to be carried back home, just in case, because what if she hurts it again. Who dressily cutely, and knows her worth. To be fair she could be single. If so she is I wanted by every guy in a 1,000-mile radius wanting her and all the women around wanting to be her friend. I want her hand kissed, I want men falling over themselves. I want her to be the biggest baby, and I want a story, that starts with her being like that and ending that way. She doesn’t need a lesson, she needs to keep on being soft. She is on an ebony pedestal that we aren’t going to take her off of. With her getting whatever she wants. She must be unapologetically girly. I want her to find a place where she can continue on that way or find a man that will continue spoiling her.

What does she bring to the table?

What????

Marshmallow is only one part of her personality. We could make her a genius or dumb. The daughter of a king or the daughter of a poor farmer.Whatever we want. Or maybe she has nothing to bring but JOY. How about that. Let’s see Black fantasy go:

Our marshmallow character is poor, works as a maid. She isn’t good at it at all, she’s too clumsy, but the owner can’t fire her because she’s angelic. She meets a cruel sad king. Her softness breaks down his cold heart. Making him feel a warmth that he’s never known. Just by watching how selfless and caring she is, she inspires him to be better. My soft characters are not “magical negreos”(it’s a trope that I hate), and as such can’t do any work to make other characters better. Those tropes are tired, but I think inspiring is ok. Seeing how much better received he is as a king after showing empathy. He realizes he needs her, and they get married, and she becomes queen. With her having nothing to her name but clumsiness, tears, and a happy disposition.

And that’s enough. Everything doesn’t have to be that deep.

The end.

If we are doing realism, here’s how I would do it. In a modern show, I would have her be the main character of a romance. I would have a Black guy meet her and be utterly blown away. He’s not used to a Black woman like her, but he’s intrigued. She likes horseback riding and loves the renaissance festival and cottage core. And he doesn’t know how to do it but likes her. But he’s worried he’s not sure if he’s up to her standard. Hijinks ensue(I can’t give you everything, use your imagination).

Tropes we need: Black interethnic couples

Maybe I’m coining this, but by Black interethnic relationships, I mean people who are dating that may be the same “race” but different ethnicities or even tribal groups.

There are Nollywood movies on this subject, where people from different tribes meet and marry, but here in the States, we have very few stories about this.

In many stories, we’ll have an African American character and Jaimacan character dating or married the end. We never talk about the differences of those two cultures, we pretend that Blackness and we pretend as if Blackness is a monolith when it’s not.

 Everything’s good, their both Black, right?

You don’t see stories about an African American man meeting a Kenyan woman and then falling in love and the cultural differences that come with that. The stereotypes both West Africans and African Americans have about each other, the bullying by some Black children to 1st generation African children. The trauma that gives that lives on with some people as they grow up, about just being from somewhere else. And African Americans who didn’t grow up around anyone of immediate African descent, learning about the “African booty scratcher” taunts, and feeling ashamed, even though they weren’t involved. There are so many storylines to draw into a romance.

I need stories where a Caribbean woman falls for a man from a West African man. Or a Black Brazilian woman meets a man from Harlem and about their love story. Their language difference, their cultural differences.

There are many stories about interracial couples. 

But there are a lot of stories that we are just ignoring because we want to pretend that Black is Black regardless of culture, continent, and religion.

We are different, and that is ok.

For example, let’s have a Xhosa woman. She is working on her doctorate in the U.S., and she meets a man from Atlanta who works I.T. at her university. They meet at a party and they have a lot of mutual friends. She didn’t know much about Black American culture aside from what she sees on social media, and all he knows about South Africa is apartheid. They teach each other. He’s southern, his family loves greens and ox tales (there aren’t many African American families who cook them, but they exist, my family is one). She teaches him about umphokoqo and Inyama yenkomo, and how things were as she grew up. And they bond over stories of their lives. She sadly realizes what his grandparents and parents went through is eerily similar to her childhood and the life of her parents. She never imagined anyone outside of those back home would be able to relate. He grew up thinking Black is Black but loves how proud she is of who she is, and those differences make him love her more. And it makes him embrace what he is more than he ever had before.

Their parents grew up with negative stereotypes of the other, so they object. The story is just about our couple but two cultures exploring and coming together.

As a person who is in one of these relationships, I look for media that tells my story. But I can’t find anything.

My adventures in writing a book: Part 2 : Yay I’m rewriting half of everything

Even though I’m writing this right now, and I’ve written the drafts for two new tropes. When it comes to original content for my book, I’ve hit a roadblock.

The beginning chapter is FUEGO. I think it might push anyone to keep reading. And every chapter dealing with my main male character, also fire. He is a fully fleshed-out character with pure motives, and he’s an easily lovable empathetic character.

My female main character, I love her, but she seems boring. I’m working hard to make everyone else love her too. And it’s not going as well as I hoped. I have about eight chapters right now. And I’m unsatisfied with half of them so I have work to do.

I’m worried it’s me, can I not write women. Am I like the mangaka of Naruto, can I not write WOMEN? I’m not sure what to do with her chapters at all.

The problem is, I am having a hard time moving forward or rewriting the chapters. So I guess I’ll play some videos games until I can move forward.

Tropes we need: Tall dark skin guy who is introverted, shy, and quiet

This is what I want.

Tall black male characters who are not hyper-masculine or athletic. A tall quiet dark skinned-guy who would much rather read a book than go to a club. I know some men, might find this soft. But I don’t care.

I want to start with darker-skinned tall men first because they are the ones who are the most tightly choked by tropes. You normally get an athletic popular tall handsome black guy, a guy in the streets, or the dark-skinned villain who beats on women.

That’s the norm.

I want Black introverted men to get a view of themselves being the main character as well. It’s almost as if we don’t believe Black men can be introverts; in media, we make them extroverts or socially awkward. And that’s not realistic. I can’t blame this on stereotypes but on our cultures. I’ve seen people tell introverted men to stop being introverted.

BUT OF COURSE, it doesn’t work.

So he can be the main character, which would be new, or even a side character.

We can have our main character pretending all of his life to be extroverted and when he grows up he throws off the mask because it’s exhausting. And of course, family and friends start to complain. He’s no longer the life of the party he had been pretending to be. Then over time, he makes friends with people who are willing to accept him just as he is. It ends with him laying back in his house, enjoying the silence.

or

We have a regular Black friend group movie, and we have one of our characters be this trope. And we don’t point it out directly. We make it normal because being an introvert is normal. He talks when he feels it necessary to. And we follow all of them in their dating experiences. Maybe he might get a girlfriend who thinks he’s cheating, but he’s actually just taking time to recharge. He can’t prove it to her, but we, the audience, see him put on headphones and just listen to music, as we see his phone going off with her calling. Which he doesn’t see.

You have to make it dramatic.

There’s no one way to do this right, but it does need to be done.

Grown Black Joy meet hobbies

I know one of the biggest things in our community is grinding. Doing what needs to be done so that we can live the life that we want to. For us and our future generations. I love how the community is striving to make generation wealth happen for our children.

It is SO beautiful.

But the thing I have to ask you is, what are you doing just for you, that you enjoy? Even if it doesn’t add a dollar to your bank account. Especially if it doesn’t add monetary value to your life. Are you still doing things that are fun and make you happy? It may sound trivial, even childish but when is the last time you as an adult did something just because you enjoyed it?

It is very easy to make work and your business your life. But it isn’t and while you are building a better life, it’s very easy to just work through and not enjoy the present. When was the last time that you valued your interest?

And if you say your interest is money, then when you get it what are you gonna use it for? If the sole reason behind you getting money is just having it. Most people want to get money so they can enjoy their interests fully, so they can live more freely and do all the things they couldn’t because of finances. One day you could definitely make it big if you dedicate yourself to that business. That is the dream, and I’m not telling you not to strive toward your goals, but to prioritize the present as well. Maybe just take fifteen to thirty minutes a week to do something that you love doing, for the sake of your love for it.

?

So you’re telling me, you don’t have time for fun things. Yeah, I get it, we’re adults some of us have kids, and the day may not have the number of hours we need. I’ve found is that if I purposefully schedule in time for something. I end up doing it. We make time for things we find valuable. And I really want people to find value in their smiles just as they do in the dollar.

Go read that book, try baking that thing, build that Gundam, go live, stream with friends. I don’t know what you like. But you do, so go do that thing that makes you smile.

Because what we forget is that we need balance work shouldn’t be life, and it’s the things we enjoy that make life worth it.

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