I honestly didn’t know if I could write/publish a novel. It’s weird because everyone else was confident in my ability but truth be told, I wasn’t so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always believed writing was in my blood. My mother was an avid reader and exposed me to fictional worlds that quickly shaped the way I saw my life and my future. Writing provides a freedom that other professions typically don’t or can’t. Being a writer is to be the master of your own very-well crafted world. That’s amazing! Do you realize how much power comes with that freedom? I can take pieces of people I know and blend them together to create characters that walk, talk and have emotions. My characters can say things my reality doesn’t allow me to say and do things my Christian upbringing forbids me from doing. I can exist within the confines of the grammar rules I learned in school or dismiss the rules and call it ‘creative expression.’ Writers can justify the ills of the world while giving voice to those most vulnerable to being overlooked and overshadowed.
But writing also means having to share pieces, or sometimes all, of yourself. It means exposing the parts of you that are often cloaked behind heavily guarded emotional walls with friends, family and even strangers. My first book, Yesterday Mourning, was just that. I wanted to tell a story and while I’d started several novels over the years, this had to be published first. Probably because it was so personal and by releasing it I would actually be freeing myself. A story like Yesterday Mourning doesn’t happen overnight. It happens after years of love, loss and regret. It happens when you want to move forward but the past holds you hostage. It happens when saying I’m sorry is too far in the rear view.
Contrary to belief or assumption, Yesterday Mourning isn’t a memoir. But writing it was difficult because the emotions were/are so real. I struggled when my mom died. The people closest to me remember the depth of my cries and the tracks of my tears. Yvette’s scenes with her mother were born out of real situations from my very painful past. I felt abandoned during the 4+ years when my father and I weren’t speaking. We were both stubborn and mourning but in ways my novel chose not to explore. Writing a story like this means I have to be vulnerable with people I know and people I’ll never meet. It means having to accept the congratulations and the critiques, sometimes in the same breath. While writing Yesterday Mourning was freeing, I was also confused, doubtful, and emotional whenever I allowed my fingers to connect with the keyboard. What would you guys think? What would my family think? What would Oprah think (because every writer envisions sitting on her couch one day!)?
But in the end I realized it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was being true to the little girl that had once been fascinated by the potential birthed in and inextricably linked to a fictional world. That little girl was smiling on Mother’s Day 2013 when I released the eBook of Yesterday Mourning and she continues to encourage me to “run on and see what the end will be.” Plus, a lot of folks seemed pretty confident in my ability and not all of them can be wrong… right?
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