Sunless and Silent and Deep
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou
I first knew that I wanted to write stories when I was in fifth grade at Rosemont Elementary School. It was such a simple moment. I wrote a story, and I read it to my class. There was a funny quip in the narrative and my classmates laughed. I stood taller. They were listening to me, the nerdy Black kid with the precocious vocabulary.
My words had the power to move people.
I was already a voracious reader. Writing was a natural next step. But loving books and scribbling on notepads does not a good writer make. Side note: I did sell a sappy poem to Seventeen magazine for $25.00 in the 1980s, but even if I could locate the stanzas, I would be too embarrassed to share them. In high school, I entertained classmates with a Dynasty-infused reimagining of the doings of teachers and classmates, a soap opera in real time set in small-town, Georgia. Volumes scribbled into lined notebooks.
Undergraduate creative writing classes taught me to approach writing as a craft. Setting, points of view, narrative voice – I needed to learn the tools and how to use them. I had to learn to write authentically. I had to learn to accept critiques and to use constructive criticism to improve my work.
By far, the greatest impediment to honing my craft, however, was the stuff of life. Parenting. Working. Paying bills. Adulting. How could I do all of the things and still hold on to my spark, that free flow of creativity that turns an idea into a page and a page into a manuscript? How could I quiet the voice that mocked me, asking who wants to hear My story?
Now, at long last, I have a manuscript and a publisher and a writing contract. My debut novel, Sunless and Silent and Deep, will be published next month. I get to check off a dream on my bucket list.
My summer has been spent learning the language of literary marketing. Sell sheets, and synopses, and blurbs, Oh, my! I commissioned a book cover; I began to blog. I even broke out the Spanx, concealer, and lipstick and ventured out into the summer sun for an author photo. It has been exciting. Scary. Surreal. And I am so happy to have this opportunity.
What’s your dream? Do you have an untold story simmering inside? Sing your song. Write your story. It’s not too late.