Back in the Day

Workout Song of the Day: “Back in the Day” by Ahmad Lewis (clever, huh?)

All right, YA Highway has hit us with another awesome question: what did you actually write about as a young adult? I’m pretty embarrassed to answer this question because my writing sucked as a teen. Seriously. I keep backpacks in my closet filled with notebooks of ill-advised stories. And when I say ill-advised, I mean horrendous. I’m considering erasing all traces of these documents before they’re discovered after my death. Not the legacy I’m looking to leave behind.

A little back story first. I consider two of my cousins (check out Marquita’s blog) to be my sisters, and–as the nerds we were/are–we would spend our summer vacations locked in a room…writing. That’s it. No sneaking out to parties, no sneaking boys in to kiss. Just writing. We’d start off by each writing front and back of a notebook paper, read our page aloud, and then start again on the next sheet. When we started to realize that this didn’t give us enough time to actually develop our stories, we’d wait to read aloud when we wrote a whole chapter. Now that I think of it, these were actually my first critique groups!

So, now on to why these stories were so bad. I went to a pretty “urban” school, and since I’m black, I always thought that I HAD to write about all black characters. Many of the black students in my school behaved in an almost comical way–and I’d take these antics and write about them in my story with the intentions of making my cousins laugh. So there was a lot of eye rolling, neck-swiveling, free-styling, and “yo mama” jokes sprinkled all throughout my stories–but there were never actually any plots. I threw in lines and inside jokes that I knew would get a laugh, but I never really had fun writing about them. I knew I wanted to write something else, but I never knew if I was talented enough to do so.

What I will say now is this–I needed these all night writing sessions with my cousins to find my “calling”–I know that I want to write as a living, and I would have never known this to be a passion if it wasn’t for my practice sessions. I’ve grown as a writer–I write about a variety of cultures, and when I do represent black characters, I’m able to make them more well-rounded.

Thankfully, I’m out of the country–so I don’t have access to post any of my early works. Who knows–maybe I’ll get the nerve to share another time. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Back in the Day

  1. LOL- I actually forgot to mention those late night sessions, but they were interesting! I think some of your stuff was good, actually when we get back to the states, I just might make you post something up here!!! Great post 🙂

  2. I too did not want to be a stigma writer. I completely understand what you mean. The first story I ever wrote was about me living in a house that was next to my parents' house. I was supposed to be a doctor. Then I started writing about living on a farm with both a pig and a golden retreiver. Now, I just write about everyday people living everyday lives.

  3. Don't throw them away! There was a short story I wrote in 8th grade (I know, who cares about the olden times) that was so well done that it was shared to the class as an example. I have pretty much kept all of my really great projects from school, except this short story. I really wish I still had it to look back on so I can say to myself that I did show early signs of talent in writing.

  4. No–I really wanted to enter the Nathan Bransford contest, but I didn't have time to craft something worthy. They're working me hard here in England, but at least it'll all pay off at the end. I'm hoping he does another contest for YA shortly.

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