(PART 1)
I was thinking today about the writer’s voice. I remember being in a play writing workshop when the director said, “You have a voice.” My response was, “Okay.” I wasn’t sure what he meant. The others he said in the workshop didn’t have a voice. I said, “But they are all getting paid to write except me. Also, they were all white men; most had resentment to the fact that I was invited to participate in the workshop. It was a struggle wanting to understand this “voice.” There was no camaraderie toward me in the group. I didn’t stay long. It was another situation of being the only black participating and race though not mentioned at time was always a background issue. I wanted to be a better writer that’s why I participate in several workshops. Most workshops were a hindrance; stilted creative but there were two that were inspiring. I remember one workshop where on the first day the person told me that they would never recommended me to a publisher but wanted to be sure I had my check to them on time. Another person said I wrote ‘to white’ black people do not speak like that. So I was perplexed. What is this voice several people had told me I had. Do I understand…yes and no. This I do know I am still writing. I write almost every day. The point I wanted to make in this short message was I kept reading different writers; different genres until I found particular writers that caught my attention and used them as role models. I also learned to trust what I felt regardless of others criticism. I made a conscious decision that I was not attempting to be a top ten writer, write for the masses but write what I like and if someone else liked it…yeah but writing was not about asking for permission or to emulate someone else. Most people wanted me to fit into a comfortable category. And being black, a man who loves men, I am expected to write about certain subjects. Write about what you know I often hear so what if I am Imagination…there is no category. I’ve said often, “Writing is like breathing.” I do not apologize nor explain my writing. I write. Sometimes it is inspired, sometimes it is sweat and tears. Bottom line is if I like it that it is. Everyone is a critic. A lot of critics are frustrated and feel they need to feel important and will slice and dice another person’s creativity. Sometimes the criticism is based on their limited perception and we make it “the way it is.” I say to writers, trust yourself. Read…read…read but most of all write and re-write. And when you stop for the day and there is a smile on your face…it is a yes day.

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