1) Know this: there is no such thing as writer’s block. There is you, in front of your screen or holding a notebook on your lap, typing or moving the pen over the page. This can always happen. Even if you don’t know the direction the work is going. Even if you feel like every word is awful. You know how to write, so do that. An idea I’ve always liked is, “You have to get through the bad stuff to get to the good.” And I’ll repeat it again, stop expecting literary gold every time you sit down to write. The beauty comes by way of revision.
Fagin. First of all, I’m not even sure it’s an accurate last name. I don’t know who my biological grandfather is. (Not going to go looking, either.) My biological grandmother, Annie Ruth, gave birth to six children. Five of them, including my biological father, were raised by her older sister, Dorothy Lorena Davis, who I came to know as my grandma. I never met Annie Ruth until I was in my early 20’s. Since all of Annie Ruth’s kids had different fathers, they decided to give the children the same last name, Fagin. So there’s a one in six chance that my last name should actually be Fagin. Continue reading
Just look at her. My grandmother, Dorothy Lorena Davis, was– as Maya Angelou would say– my “rainbow in the clouds.” I know this is what so many of our grandmothers did for us. She saw me, made me feel recognized and she waited for me to see the same things she did. Continue reading
Yesterday I had a reading at the University of North Alabama. Suffice it to say, the subject matter of my book is difficult. Mend tells the story of the birth of gynecology and the role black slave women played in that process. The collection is made up of persona poems, and the women’s stories are told in their voices. There are four sections of the book. Continue reading
I still remember the first time I read my own work in front of a group of people. I was 21. It was at an open-mic at the University of Alabama called “Common Ground.” The poem I was reading was about domestic violence. Continue reading
I’m a writer, creative writing instructor, wife and mother of three young children. Currently, every weekday there are 17 tasks that have to be accomplished for my family life alone. Continue reading
When I tell people I’m a writer, they usually respond with some version of, “I’ve been trying to write a book…” and then this trails off into infinity. But then I ask, “What’s it about?” And I’m genuinely interested. I want to see everyone write the book they’ve been wanting to write. I thoroughly enjoy discussing manuscripts and drafts with writers. It’s something I geek out over. I especially like having these conversations with people who don’t yet call themselves writers. Continue reading
There was a time you actually called yourself a “real writer.” You took every opportunity to write. You were desperate, at any time of day or night to get to your notebook. Maybe you slept with it next to your bed so you could write your dreams and thoughts immediately. You were an active lover of the written word and your nose was always in a book—if you weren’t writing. Continue reading