Writer in the Family

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Being a writer in a family of non-writers can be frustrating.  You will be seen as weird, nerdy and a little strange. Creative types are usually a little dramatic; even if they are shy drama will ensue in some form or another.  It’s the nature of the beast.

Yes, there are creative people in my family. My Aunt and Cousin are excellent party planners, my mother a wonderful interior decorator. My grandfather recreates beautifully intricate folk are from household items and I have a late uncle who was an artist, a painter.  So there are creative types in my family. But none of them are writers.

Writous Neuroticas – My own Latin translation, thank you very much- is a different entity all together. This species is defined by their strong addiction to coffee, tea, sweets and in some cases wine.  Writers are prone to  weird outbursts, have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out how to get a character out of a predicament of our own construct.  Only a writer has characters nagging them to tell a story a different way or have dreams of said character constantly reminding them that they are waiting for their turn.

No one else can understand the constant monologue running through our minds or the people who pop up at the most inappropriate moment. Characters hound us; stories come up in the blink of an eye and if not put to paper, will linger like a bad rash until they are expelled.

Writers, as I am often reminded by my daughter, sometimes speak as their characters. Not always out loud, but for several weeks my thoughts, my own personal thoughts, had a very strong Scottish accent. Odd enough for anyone, but especially odd for a black woman born and raised in New Orleans, a city with a dialect that is often imitated but never duplicated by actors around the world.

What made that little trip into madness even more bizarre is that I would sometimes say things out loud in that same accent, which would cause my daughter to stare at me with her head, tilted to the side her brows raised in question.

Once she even told me, with all sincerity, “Mommy, you know that in science they say people who have strokes sometimes wake up with weird accents. Are you having a stroke or is this just another writer thing?”

“Writer thing.” I replied and she relaxed.  She, at 11, has become accustomed to my outbursts and frustrations. She has told me on more than one occasion that she can’t fall asleep without hearing me tapping away on the computer keyboard.  She also has developed a talent for writing, which if fun because she is just as strange as I am at times.

She has gotten use to me reciting lines in the car and has even repeated them back to me when I forget what I said.  Many conversations have started with, “What did I say in the car again?”  She will repeat it as she goes about her life as if this is something that happens in every household in the world. Why? Because she is the child of a writer. She understands Mommy’s weirdness better than anyone else. And she kinda loves it. “Live your dream, Mommy.” She says and I kinda love her for that.

I say all of this to make a point. And that point is this- if you have a kid who talks to themselves, tells elaborate stories of make believe friends, has arguments with themselves or  is always staring off in a daze, is a little bit nerdy and never quite fits in – take heart my dears, your  kid is not crazy  or a serial killer in training.  Give them a pen and paper and tell them to get it out because you my friend are raising a writer.  Welcome!

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I am a WRITER!

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I recently read something in a post on a social media group that I am a part of that had me thinking.  The group is for writers, duh and one of the posts came from someone who said he’d given up on getting published.  He said he’d gone through the whole circus of completing a manuscript and even getting an agent but gave up when the agent couldn’t find a home for his story.

I read that post and I had so many things that I wanted to say but then I realized, that perhaps he isn’t truly a “writer”.  That’s not to say he can’t write, that he doesn’t have the talent for it, but maybe he lacks the passion.  Writers write because they have to, because there is a need to tell a story.

Believe me; I understand being disappointed by constant rejection, the self-doubt   that creeps in when you get stuck on a story. I know how hard it is to keep going when it seems to be a pointless endeavor. I know that it becomes too much and some people can’t take it.

I was like that for a while.  Yet I continued to write because it was my outlet, it calmed me and still does.

Since I was little, I’ve told stories; I’ve written and dreamed up the fantastically dark things that became sexier and more intricate as I grew older.  I went through the constant rejections and self-exploration in my twenties.   I thought that maybe what I wrote wasn’t what people wanted to read.

Then about three years ago, I had an epiphany.  Just because no one is interested in what I have to say doesn’t mean I shouldn’t say it.   So I continued to write, giving myself a deadline of Thanksgiving to have my first novel in fifteen years complete.

I did it.  And I let a few people read it.   Those few people let more people read it and so on and so on until someone finally asked- Where can I buy this?  That led to self-publishing and then an Agent and from that came a support system.  So yes, I continue to get rejections and I will continue to get them until I don’t.

But in the meantime, I write. Not because I want to be the next James Patterson or Ann Rice. It’s because I am the FIRST Tanisha D Jones.  I write because I love my characters and the world they live in.  I do get discouraged and tired and frustrated.  I even get angry but I continue to write because there are so many people on my side telling me I can, that what I have to say matters.

And because, even when I’m blocked or exhausted or frustrated or ready to throw in the towel and say I quit- I don’t.  I can’t.

If I never get a publisher or no one other than my small band of supporters read what I write, it doesn’t matter. It’s what I do, it’s what I am. I am a story teller who builds worlds in vivid color inhabited by wonderfully flawed and dangerous characters even if it’s only in my own mind.  I have stories to tell because… Because I am a WRITER , a damned good one

And I don’t need anyone to tell me that.

Let’s Start at the END!!

The End Tanisha

This is the re-post of an article I wrote for DT Krippene’s http://dtkrippene.com/  blog back in February. I’m reporting because it explains my writing style and how I come up with story ideas. I do have a unique way of doing things, but it works out and explains that there is really no set way to be a writer. Everyone has their own process, my process is just a little- weird.  But  as with most things in life,  weird is good.

“She was worth every penny.”

I have developed a fascination with endings.  I can see the end of a movie without watching any other part to decide if that’s something I want to see. Whenever I buy a new book, I read the last line first, it just makes me curious as to what happened before to get to this particular line. What happened to get to this very definitive sentence? It’s also the way I write.   I like to believe that what I write is an amalgam of O’Henry and Flannary O’Connor with a hint of Anne Rice,  confusing but beautifully weird.

“She was worth every penny”, is the last line to my short story Serenity and it came long before the actual story was developed. It was a line spoken by the main character and I began to form this picture in my mind of the man who would speak this line and under what circumstances which would deviate from the obvious.  I never want any of my readers to go into a story knowing what’s going to happen. That simple line could have turned something fantastically freakish into the mundane.

I could have easily made the story into a type of noire honey trap tale about a dame that done him wrong. It could have turned into a hit for hire  type of La Femme Nikita saga or even the story of a thoroughbred coming in big for a down on his luck gambler. A line like that could also refer to any number of things that aren’t necessarily human like a car, a boat, hell; even a gun.

But in my mind, I would never know who “she” was until I uncovered who “he” was and why they would come into each other’s orbits.

Over the years, with the internet and twenty-four hour news the depravity of man is so prevalent that I began to wonder about the people trapped by their corruption, their own vices. How would someone with enough money and power purge themselves of their sins?

“He was a constant explorer and that was what brought him to the dingy alley in Chinatown he smell of old fish and moo-shoo pork wafted through the steaming grates in the ground as the late October air, whipped through his expensive Armani trench coat. Being one of the richest men in the country afforded him the luxury of his eccentricities. It also afforded him a degree  of anonymity. Never a public figure, media did not hound him, as a matter of fact, not many people knew him as it were. And that’s the way he preferred it.”  This first paragraph is where Max Walters was formed.

The next question was finding a path from that paragraph to the last line, which as it turns out, was an easy question to answer once I explored how an anonymous billionaire would deal with his own self-loathing at the person he had been allowed to become simply due to an endless bank account balance.   How far would he go to rid himself of the perversions and demons that consumed him?

Not only did the story come to light, it also created one of the best WTF!!! moments I have written so far.

Hopefully, my next endeavor will garner the same such excitement as it reaches it WTF climax that I so hope it does.  I have already come up with the beginning and the ending lines.

“My name is Lycia Monglave, I am fourteen cycles old and I am a hunter.”

As for what happens in between… your guess is as good as mine.