You probably know that I have been trying to raise money to help bring my first novel, LEAVING ATLANTA, to the big screen. We have set up a Kickstarter page that features a trailer and more information about the project.
I am writing this post to ask for your help in one of two ways– You can either give a donation to the cause– $5 or $10 is groovy. Or, you can leave a comment on our Kickstater page.
Here’s why– When we take this project to big backers, you know that we are going to have to prove that this project has a market. If we have lots of comments on our Kickstarter page, then that is proof that people want REAL STORIES, about REAL PEOPLE.
Giving or even commenting is really easy. You sign in with your email and if you choose to give, it uses your amazon account. Easy peasy. When it comes to making movies, it takes a village. (at least.)
Here’s the link to the trailer.
I see you everyday at my job working at the coffee stand. Although Rutgers-Newark is a really diverse place, as far as college campuses go, it’s still easy to pick a sister out in the crowd. I see you every day making coffee, ringing up purchases, organizing displays, and reading like crazy. I try not to be too nosy, but I can see that you like to read many different types of books, but pretty much all of it is by black authors. When you opened that cupboard one time, it was like you had every piece of urban literature ever written. There were other authors in there too, like Pearl Cleage,Connie Briscoe and Eric Jerome Dickey.
When you asked me about my novels, I have to admit, that I was a little nervous. I gave you The Untelling and tried not to look at your face when I would see you sitting there reading it. I shouldn’t have worried. Just two days later you blew kisses said, “That’s one beautiful book.” I was happy enough to dance right there in front of the cash register.
It’s hard to explain what it means to me as a writer, a woman writer, an American writer, a Black American writer– to have my book read by a reader, a woman reader, an American reader, A Black American woman reader passing the time on her job with a book.
I read a really interesting article the other day by Roxane Gay where she basically went off about the fact that Best American Short Stories 2010 seemed to be all about rich white people and rich white people problems. I haven’t seen the book yet, but I am sure that she’s right. It’s nothing new, but still frustrating and– truth be told– hurtful.
Nobody that is compiling an anthology or end of year list is going to ask you what books you liked best in 2010. (They probably won’t ask me either!) The people making the lists, crowning the kings and queens of the year, have no idea about the books stacked in your cupboard. (They probably never heard of many the authors on my office shelves, either!)
Vanessa, I’m getting off track here, but the point is that your opinion means everything to me. I’m going to work today and since you asked, I am bringing you the manuscript pages of my new book, SILVER SPARROW. I really really hope you like it.
The fabulous new organization, Figment, interviewed me about what advice I would offer to a young writer. (Yes, the project is inspired by Rilke’s “Letters To A Young Poet.”) I was a little surprized at how much I had to say about life, love, writing, love of writing, and love of life.
Here’s a little sample, then run over there and see the rest–
Why must you write? What would you do if you weren’t a writer? (Or, what was the best job you had before becoming an author?)
There are really two reasons that I write. That I write at all is for a selfish reason—it brings me great pleasure. When I have spent the day writing, I feel good about myself, like I am doing what I am meant to do and the thing I enjoy most. But the reason I write the stories I choose to write is more because I think that these stories are important, that there is something of value in knowing what happens to the people I write about. If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t be anything. People always tell me that this can’t be possible, but it is. It’s like asking me what I would be if I weren’t a person.
What two books do you find indispensable? Who has given you the greatest experience of the essence of creativity, its depths and eternity?
Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks is the most important novel to me. This is the book that showed me that a novel about an ordinary woman living her ordinary life is art, is important and from that I decided that ordinary people are important, too. Just think how that opened up the “what to write about” questions. Stories are every where, you just have to be open to them. Another important book is a collection of poetry, Mercy by Lucille Clifton. The poems there slay me. She can cram the entire world into a three-sentence stanza.
Who has given me the greatest experience of the essence of creativity?Sadly, I don’t think that has happened to me yet, which is probably good, because after that, I suppose my journey would be over.
The holidays are here in full effect. Do you have a plan to keep your writing on track? If you think it’s hard to demand personal time during the rest of the year,then you know that the holidays are not cute. Over at She Writes, I have just posted a column about managing your writing time during the “most wonderful time of the year.” Go check it out.
And while you’re checking, don’t you love the stationery on the picture here? I ordered a set. If you click the photo you’ll see info on how to contact Mielle, the woman, who designs and sell these adorable cards. Tell her I sent you!
Today is my birthday– my fortieth. I’m feeling pretty good today, not having any “What’s it all about, Alfie” moments and I am grateful for that. I’ve got a sparkly day planned– spa in the morning, and El Debarge concert tonight.
People have been asking me what I want as a birthday gift. Besides “Silver Sparrow” themed jewelry? I would like you to make a donation to Leaving Atlanta, the film.
So far, our fundraising efforts have been amazing. We have raised over $10,000! What we would like to do now is to raise the number of backers. When we take our short film to potential funders we want to show how many people believe in this project. Giving a donation– as little as five dollars– is a way to say that you believe in indie art and you believe in this project and reclaiming this history. And for today, all $5 donors will get a LEAVING ATLANTA postcard signed by the birthday girl. (And it’s so easy to give! Kickstarter uses your amazon account!)
And if you can’t afford to chip in, that’s alright. Support comes in many forms. If you can, post our Kickstarter link on your facebook page. Urge your friends to kick in five bucks. This is grassroots, for real.
And it’s my birthday!
About three years ago, my agent contacted me to see how things were coming along with my new novel, SILVER SPARROW. I told her that is was going well and she asked me if I had a hundred clean pages that we could submit to publishers. I was very excited. Who wouldn’t want a new contract and the security (and ego boost) that would bring? She sent the pages out and.. well.. the manuscript was rejected all over town. This left me in an unpleasant predicament. I had a manuscript that was about one-third through, and was said already to be unpublishable. I wasn’t sure if I should even bother to finish the novel.
For months, I wrote nothing at all. It seemed pointless. My characters which I thought were so loveable and complicated had been undressed and shamed. (Some of the rejections were so pointed that I cried. One even suggested that I didn’t “understand fiction yet.”) And this was to be my third novel.
I’ll spare you the suspense by telling you that SILVER SPARROW will be published in May by Algonquin and I could not be more delighted. I am telling you this up front because this isn’t a success story. It’s a don’t-forget-who-you-are story.
The rest is here on SheWrites.
I can’t even express how heavy this has been weighing on my mind. I don’t really like to blog about my problems while they are happening, so this is why I was pretty silent these last few weeks. Just when we were wrapping things up with the novel that I thought was called SILVER GIRL, this popped up on Amazon.
I was totally devastated. It was decided that I should change my title because it’s bad bad news to have two books called the same thing pubbing in the same season. Just imagine if you heard me on NPR or something talking abotu MY Silver Girl and you see a big-a display for this other book and bought it.
I cried, y’all and cried some more. You know how when Charlie Brown and them cry and the tears fly out from around their heads like bullets? Well that was me. Projectile weeping.
I had invested so much in the title SILVER GIRL. What was going to happen with all my plans for my Silver Party? And even more than that, was the feeling that I was not in control of my book and by extension my life. As Shirley Anne Williams said in her masterpiece Dessa Rose– Can’t I have nothing?
The up side of this is that my friends really came through. My phone was blowing up with folks sending titles. My daddy really went above and beyond. He said he felt like he was trying to win a prize off the radio. My favorite title he sent was “Hey! What Do You Mean That’s Your Daddy?” (The novel is about a bigamist–two wives, two daughters, one big secret.) All my friends came through with suggestions, but nothing was quite perfect. We came really close, I am freiends with some really smart people, but still…
Then, in a phone brainstorming session with my friend Mitchell we came up with the best title ever. Even better than my beloved SIVLER GIRL. We were discussion something else entirely and he said, “I know my portion.” I said, “What do you mean by that.” He said, “It’s from the song, His Eye Is On The Sparrow. ‘Jesus is my portion.’” I almost choked on my cup of coffee. That song is in my novel like three times.
And with that, SILVER SPARROW, was born.
I feel good about the title and I love that I came to it with the help of all my friends and family. When I wrote this novel I was at a very isolated period in my life. I was on my own and I pulled through, but while it was good to know that I could do it all by myself, it was sad, too. So this little crisis at the end allowed me to ask for, and to receive help. The book is really finished now. It’s been blessed with love.
So, ladies and gents–
SILVER SPARROW to be published by Algonquin Books on May 24, 2011.