If You Keep A Journal, Let Me Know

2007 Journal: front

Originally uploaded by Traci Bunkers

I am going to start keeping a journal. I used to journal from the time I was in my early teens until I was about twenty-nine, but then I stopped. Why? Because I started publishing.

One day, I should post about all the bad habits that come about as a result of publishing. (Would that be too negative?)

I think that my journal was a casualty of the “Published Author” mentality that every word I put down must be for public consumption. Who had time to scribble privately in a spiral notebook when there were novel to work on, essays to outline, blog entries to compose, etc.? I had forgotten the free-writing pleasure of working my random thoughts out of the page. Journaling, for me, went out the window along with pointless travel and reading just for the hell of it. (Post on this last thing will be coming soon.)

Do you journal? What do you journal in? When I was in high school, I used an ordinary spiral notebook so that no one would be interested in it. (I have since revisited those pages. For such a pleasant looking child, I was filled with rage. Go figure.) In college I moved up to cloth-covered blank books that I bought at the bookstore with the money my parents put on account for my textbooks. (Fancy. $7 each!) Now I am not sure what to use. Do I want to be easy breezy with the $2 Staples special? I don’t want to be pretentious with leather bound, acid free– like I am writing with one-eye toward preservation in the Schomburg!

I want this journal to feel like a sweet, comfortable room.

Your thoughts? Your suggestions? I found the journal pictured here on flickr. Apparently, the owner made it for herself. That seems like a special idea, but I have no idea where to start…

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Monday Morning Links

  • Three Black Men are on the NYT list. That’s the headline. But we should also note that two of the books are advising black women how to catch a man, which suggests that the real headline is that Sisters Put Brothers on the NYT List. (Sisters are probably responsible for the third book one, but I’m not claiming it. The first two were hard enough.)
  • Anne’s three year old daughter is changing the English language.
  • This is the harshest “inside publishing” piece I have ever read.
  • MFA Students, Erika wants to know what you want.
  • Tracy K is in The New Yorker!
  • Letter writing for hire.
  • So this guy thinks that bookstores should group books based on where they have been reviewed, publisher, etc. I think this idea would take the existing prejudices in publishing and put them on crack.
  • You have to be a true nerd to appreciate this. (I am not a true nerd, so I only appreciated the entry on Gremlins because I had always wondered about the effect of Daylight Savings Time on the little critters.)
  • Funny article on writers in the workplace. Just imagine my job where EVERYONE is a writer.
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    Six Degrees of Denene Milner

    This is a little bit of randomness, but here goes: I was watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta yesterday. (Consider it research; after all, my book are all set in the A.) Anyway, if you follow the show you will know that Nene has written a book with the help of a ghost writer, Denene Milner. (My favorite moment in the last episode was when Nene’s friends consoled her by saying “Don’t worry about them, girl. You’re writing a book!”)
    Ms. Milner, it seems, is the hardest working woman in the business! I first heard her name years ago when she along with her husband, Nick Chiles, wrote a book called What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know About Sex. And then remember when her husband wrote that famous anti-street-lit article, “Their Eyes Were Reading Smut.”
    And what about The Sistah’s Rules– it was supposed to be that black woman’s guide to catching a man. I didn’t read it but if I recall the message was that playing hard-to-get was a luxury sisters cannot afford. (Remember that drama surrounding that?)
    She also wrote the book based on the movie, “Dreamgirls”? It’s tricky, but Milner’s book is not to be confused with Mary Wilson’s book Dreamgirl (no ‘s’) on which the Broadway show was based.
    And here is her biggest title: the Steve Harvey mega-hit Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
    It seems that Denene Milner is the writing equivalent of a character actor. You may not remember her name, but you have seen her work.
    (Look at all the listings she has on amazon.)

    Posted in Travels & Rambles | 2 Comments

    Jet Lag Links

    Barcelona Street Art

  • Get your morning cute on: Roz’s precocious kindergartener talking about he’s a writer. (And you can hear he’s such a little New Yorker.)

  • Remember Khadijah Williams, the homeless girl who made it to Harvard? There is a fund set up to help her out while she is in school.
  • You have about ten seconds to get your application together, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to be a TED fellow?
  • Food I miss from Barcelona.
  • The Europeans don’t shy away from NSFW book covers.
  • Let’s get meta with a link-dump within a link dump. Good stuff on this page– people acting out rejection letters, folks suing their biographers, reports from the Gitmo Library…
  • Our beloved Dwayne Betts on PBS. (video)
  • Bronx Princess, a documentary about a Ghanain girl from the Bronx.
  • “I been locked up all my life”: Heartbreaking last words of Texas death row inmates.
  • Wowza. Jill Scott to star in the movie adaptation of Carleen Brice’s novel, Orange Mint and Honey. (Interview with Carleen.)
  • On the right is a little Barcelona street art, spray paint, I think.
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    Back Home!

    Hi Everybody! I am back home from my European vacation. I am still Leaning Tower of Pisatrying to get my thoughts together about the voyage. I can say this– a cruise ship would be a great place to set a novel. There is just so much going on. The workers on the boat are from all over the world and I couldn’t help but wonder what brought them to work on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Apparently, they are only allowed to go home after a ten-month stint on the boat. At the breakfast buffet, there is a man from the Philippines who greets everyone with “Happy! Happy!”. Before you touch any food, he sprays your hands with Purell: “Washy! Washy!” If I were to write a novel about a cruise ship, that guy would be the narrator. (I know he MUST get tired of that gig! He’s like Tattoo from Fantasy Island.)
    Then again, having just finished THE SILVER GIRL, I am eager to get started on a new project. It’s like being on the rebound after a romantic break-up. Everything I see looks like a potential new love.
    I’ll post photos, etc. soon. I’ve got to go now and get myself together. Pablo Medina and Hache Carillo are reading at Rutgers-Newark tonight. Although I am on leave this term, I am going to attend the event. It’s free and open to the public, in case you happen to be in the area.

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    Hitting the High Seas!

    You’ll see that I posted a lot of links below. This is because I am going on vacation today. No blogging, no tweeting, no nothing. It’s time for me to unplug and get in the moment. I’m going on a cruise to the Mediterranean- flying to Barcelona then boarding the boat to Rome, Florence, Naples, Malta, and Cannes. I’ll be away ten days.
    It’s a big deal for me. Although I travel a lot, I hardly ever vacation. I’m taking just a little carry-on suitcase– it’s time to give the fashion-diva aspect of my life a rest, too. ATT has made it easy to leave the blackberry behind– $2.49 a minute! So I will just be sort of free and floaty.
    I’ll meet you here when I get home.

    Posted in Travels & Rambles | 1 Comment

    8 Years Later Links

    9-11-08 TOWERS OF LIGHT

    Originally uploaded by kevinh_photos
  • Writers remember 9-11.
  • How NOT to talk to an African. (video)
  • A one-book deal is nice. A two-book deal, cool. But a 17-book deal???
  • I love me some family-drama, as long as it’s not my family.
  • Not literary: Afrobella is not impressed with Tyra just because she took out her weave.
  • 50 things being killed by the internet.
  • Really bad movie accents.
  • A Boston book club for the homeless.
  • I am not the only one being driven crazy by self-promoting writers on facebook. I can only buy your book ONCE! So don’t send me 50 notices about it.
  • Watch out Cave Canem. Here comes the Kundiman book prize for Asian-American poets.
  • Drama, drama, drama. This is a murder-mystery looking for somewhere to happen.
  • Why I love Lauren: Because she posted this photo on her blog. i was freaking out yesterday over some little detail-y drama. She talked me write down off the ledge by saying, “Ask yourself, what would a man do.” The answer was
    “Ignore it.”

  • When you thought there was nothing to say about “Paris is Burning”. Enter Joy.
  • When you apply the Bechdel test to race.
  • Great interview and photos of Nigerian artist Aniekan Udofia.
  • How to write crime fiction.
  • Women Super-Heroes!
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    Interesting Developments

    I’m not a Tyler Perry fan, but Shalema McGhee is. Shalema, who blogs at Truself, did some more digging on the For Colored Girls situation and found some interesting facts. Here’s what she discovered:

  • Nzingah Stewart is still attached to the project as a writer. In addition, she worked with Perry on his most recent play, The Marriage Counsellor.
  • For Colored Girls will not be produced under by Tyler Perry Studios, but under his 34th Street Films banner.

    I am not exactly sure of the significance of these details, but they are really interesting. I am glad to know that Nzingah Stewart hasn’t been totally hijacked. What I would really love is for someone who knows the ins and outs of film making to tell us exactly what is going on! (What I would really really love is an inside scoop from somebody working on this particular project…. know anybody?)

    And if Shalema’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she did a guest post on this blog a couple years ago. Check her out.

  • Posted in Current Events | 2 Comments

    Labor Day Links

    Birds Conversate Too!

    Originally uploaded by pattpoom
  • Conversate” has made it into the dictionary!
  • Stephen Elliot writes wherever he wants to.
  • Book publicity webinar with Lauren Cerand.
  • Haute Lit talks to Farai Chideya about Kiss The Sky. (If the LA Times updates this list, Farai should be on it.)
  • Congratulations to Jayne Anne Phillips!
  • South African lesbian novelist publishes controversial book to bring attention to hate crimes.
  • Five things that get on editors’ nerves.
  • An excellent explaination of the mechanics of drama in art AND in life!
  • Lalia Lalami on writing in her third language.
  • More tributes to Nikki.
  • When libraries throw books away, citizens rifle through the trash.
  • Sue William Silverman tells you how to be a fearless memoirist.
  • Bookkeeping basics for freelancers.
  • So that whole Roxanne Shante gets a PhD on Warner Music’s tab thing was a lie.
  • Slate says American Casino is a little dull, but still important.
  • Free workshop for artist-activists of color.
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    The Rainbow is Not Enuf

    For Colored GirlsEveryone is going crazy because Tyler Perry is going to write and direct the film adaptation of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf.” I’ll admit to clutching my pearls along with everyone else. I’m late putting this post up because I really don’t know what to say. I don’t like Perry’s work. I find Madea offensive. I also feel that his gender politics are a disaster. And he’s corny.
    “For Colored Girls…” is sacred ground for me. I remember that I was about ten years old and my mother went to see it. My mom wasn’t a person to go out much; this is probably why I remember it. She said it was “powerful.” I snuck and read the book but I didn’t get it, but I remembered that it moved my un-moveable mother.
    Later, as a student at Spelman College, I read the text and I got it, or I thought I got it. (I mean at 18, what did I know about “Someone Almost Walked Off Wid Alla My Stuff.”? Still, Toussaint Jones stole my heart, only for Beau Willie Brown to stomp it at the end.) At 38, I more than understand the lives that Ntozage Shange was bad enough to commit to writing. (And let me tell you, alla my stuff has almost gotten away from me, more than once.)
    As a writer, I understand, too, what Ntozake Shange went through to tell those truths. If you thought that backlash against The Color Purple was bad, imagine that times 50. Ntozake Shange was called all kinds of man-hater and accused of being a pawn of the white man in a diabolical plot to destroy the black race. As you can see from her beautiful novels, Ntozake Shange is a community-loving woman. To be accused of being its enemy was a crushing blow. (And when you think of the black women writers who have been accused of high treason– Ntozake Shange, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones, Michelle Wallace– where are they now?)
    While I was looking for more information on this Tyler Perry story, I found this interview with Nzingah Stewart, a young sister filmmaker. In 2007, she did a Q&A with Clutch:

    Clutch: What projects are you currently working on?
    Nzingha: Finishing up a video for Jill Scott and preparing to shoot my first feature film an adaptation of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide: When The Rainbow Is Enuf, starring Angela Bassett, Alicia Keys and Sanaa Lathan.

    It seems that Hollywood is walking off wid alla our stuff.
    (Photos: Orginal Broadway poster, Ntozake Shange, Tyler Perry, Nzingah Stewart, “Madea”)

    Posted in Current Events | 5 Comments