I Hope You Dance– Inspiration from my Grandmother

Our lives are easily lost in the hum-drum shuffle of every day life. The most casualties occur, not in actual death, but when we march along mindlessly, unhappily, making ends meet and tying up loose ends; finishing this, and finishing that and just trying to make it to the weekend.

I Hope You Dance

Was my grandmother’s favorite song. I broke down in the shower thinking about her. Thinking about the way she surrounded me with love, the way I felt as a child. I like to think that I was her favorite. I was the first baby girl, for her, as she had bore only sons. She made me feel as if anything I wanted was possible because I was amazing, and smart, talented and creative.

Experts are saying that us millennials and gen x’ers  are getting too much of that superficial, ego-inflating confidence (not based in reality) from our parents and grandparents. If that’s true than why do I feel like sh*t? Why do I believe that the most basic things many people accomplish is beyond my grasp. I’m wondering now, if I have enough support. Who is cheering in my corner, selflessly, to help guide my missteps?

The last good conversation I had with my grandmother was in 2009 (maybe 2008, can’t remember). I was self-loathing because a college graduate like myself couldn’t find work… couldn’t write… couldn’t pursue my dreams… and I called her up, because I remembered feeling surrounded in her love and I knew she could provide that for me. Writing this now, I feel selfish, for calling her, looking to feel loved.

That’s why I broke down in the shower thinking about her. Right now I need to feel her love around me, cheering me on, telling me that I can do it, no matter the circumstance. That I will write that novel…

…if you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance…

I haven’t been dancing everyday, and Mamo would love to see me dance, see me happy. She knew I was capable. I just have to tap into her everlasting love… she is a part of me, you know? She is in my DNA… the question is, how do I feel her?

I want to remember that song because it helps me remember what she’d hoped for me…

I hope you dance.

6-Black Owned Book Publishers

6 Black-Owned Book Publishers

This is what I’ve been looking for!  I’ve been trying to spend my money in the black community, so it’d only be natural for me to want to seek a black owned publishing company for my novel, when its finished in June.  I haven’t researched them yet, but if you’ve heard anything about these guys, let me know.  I’ve looked into a variety of publishing options. I like the idea of self-publishing, but everybody does that, and there is a certain notoriety that comes with having someone else publish your books.  I also want to maintain some control over the image that is on the front of my novel. I don’t want want it to be grouped into the “Urban Fiction” category in bookstores, where you’ll see predominately gansta/sex lit.   My novel may have a sexy part in it, but it doesn’t define my novel. I am not Zane. My book will have a more Fantasy/Urban Fantasy feel to it. I digress… Check these out and let me know what you think.

The Best Mobile Devices for Writers: 2013

I am anti-consumerism, anti-materialistic, anti-spending money-on-unnecessary-things.  However, I’ve been searching for the perfect do-all writing device.  Once upon a time, I used to carry around a notebook and a pen, and when I was inspired, I could write my musings down on paper.  I can still do that, but as a blogger and fiction writer, paper and pen isn’t practical. I often need internet connectivity for research and updating my blog.

Currently, I have a cell phone, netbook, laptop, and music player (kind of like the iPod touch).  On any given day, I have two or three of these devices on hand. Unfortunately, I rarely have wi-fi available when I need it. And my touchscreen devices (cell phone and music player) are terrible for writing purposes.  Furthermore, I can only really use my cell phone for texting and talking on the phone. My phone isn’t really that great for email, or any other applications. That’s why I got the music player–by the way, I cracked the screen a couple of weeks ago by dropping it two feet down to the ground; this incident is what inspired this post. Also, my laptop and netbook are useless if I want to update my blog posts and I don’t have wi-fi. Trying to adapt to this situation, and not spend too much money, I’ve spent too much money. Now I’m just to the point where I have too many pieces of technology that I have to worry about, so something has got to change.

I’m in a unique predicament.  I’m hesitant to acquire a new device because of my desire to spend less money and my current condition of having very little allotted to a discretionary budget. Additionally, I want a multi-function device, constant access to the internet, and a physical keyboard.

What I realized is that we have to stop thinking of our phones as a do-all device. Apple started this nonsense in 2007 when they released the first iPhone.  It may be convenient to have one device for everything, but it isn’t practical when that one device doesn’t truly serve all of those needs.

I’ve been all over the net looking for a guide for the best mobile devices for writers. I couldn’t find one, so I did a little research and wanted to share what I found:

  1. Blackberry Q10: This is my dream phone. They keyboard is great for typing; the touchscreen is great for web browsing; and Blackberry, all around, is wonderful for email. I can open and edit documents from Microsoft Word without having to pay a gazillion dollars for an app. I can write and manage my blog with the WordPress app. I can use the phone for making notes of ideas that come to me at inconvenient times. It worked great when I used to take the bus to work because I could blog on my phone.  The only downside is that writing fiction on a mobile phone is kind of a pain if I need write dialogue. If I had this phone, I probably wouldn’t carry around my netbook or laptop unless I knew I’d be writing fiction.
  2. Any Smartphone with a keyboard: My preference is Blackberry, but I found a few newer model phones with keyboards that may work well as a do-all device for a writer. There really aren’t (aside from Blackberry) any high end phones with keyboards. The three I thought worth mentioning are:
    • Blackberry Bold in the 9900 series: I wanted this phone when it came out a year or so ago. My dad had one for work and I envied him. But this phone wasn’t available on my carrier when I was shopping for phones at that time. This phone is available on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon. It is $100 on all carriers with a 2-year contract.
    • Droid 4: Android phone available on Verizon. It got OKAY reviews.  I haven’t tried it personally, but it will probably do the job. It’s 100 bucks with a 2-year-contract.
    • Samsung Galaxy S Relay: This is a lower-end phone on T-Mobile, but it’s the newest and best one they’ve got.
    • Sprint actually has a bunch of phones with a keyboard, but they are lower-end and older models.
  3. Smartphone with an add-on slide out keyboard:  I don’t know why I didn’t try this with my iPhone 3Gs when I had one.
    • Sharper Image has one for the iPhone 4
    • I found this one on Amazon.com for the iPhone 5
    • I’ve even found a few for the Galaxy S3. And it makes me kind of excited because that phone has an enormous screen so it would be easier to see while writing.  I would never have considered getting this phone because my hands are too small to type on the touchscreen. A keyboard changes everything.
  4. 4G Tablet with Bluetooth or  keyboard: I think tablets are great, except they are moronic for any sort of writing, unless hunt and peck is your style. Now they have an assortment cases and bluetooth keyboards that you can pair with your tablet.  I see it as having an extremely light computer on the go.  The only downside is that I’m not sure that typing on a flat surface keyboard will be comfortable for long periods of time. Nonetheless, I heard that Logitech and Zagg keyboards were the best; that they are the closest to the real deal. If you already have a tablet, this may be worth a try.
  5. Netbook with 4G connectivity: Computers can do anything that a smart phone can do, with much more functionality. If you buy a computer with a 4G plan, you will always have internet available to you.  They make some nice, light and sleek ones nowadays. These you will usually find with your wireless carrier
  6. Mobile Broadband via USB: This option is particularly attractive to me because I don’t need a new device. It is also the least expensive.  I can connect my netbook or laptop on the go.  I found that T-Mobile offers a mobile broadband plan for 3.5GB/month for $35/month. If I’ll I’m doing is blogging or researching for my blog, 3.5GB is more than sufficient. I don’t know how great the service is, do you have any thoughts? I’m sure other companies offer prepaid mobile broadband plans and 2-yr contract plans for more money.  If I try the T-Mobile plan, I’ll let you know how it goes.
  7. Mobile Broadband via Hotspot: This device provides the same internet service as a mobile broadband USB device, except you can provide wi-fi for a few devices at the same time. If have a hotspot, and your data needs are fairly low, you can use it at home and cancel cable internet. With Broadband internet via USB or Hotspot, the only devices you’d probably carry would be a cell phone and a small laptop.

 

So that’s the list.  Is there anything else I haven’t thought of? What do you devices do you use to write when you are on the go?

 

*** Update May 2014.  So, I ended up buying the Blackberry Q10 last summer and I love it.  I don’t use the WordPress app as much as I thought I would. The app is not as good as on the older Blackberry models (Blackberry OS 7), so I just don’t feel like dealing with it.  Yet, I do use this device frequently for writing on the go.  I type bits and pieces of my novel in a word document on my phone and then upload the document to Dropbox (over wifi) for a copy-paste into my novel later. If you have a cell phone company with lots of data, you probably could sync Dropbox all the time and write directly into your novel or whatever else.

Typing is great on here. The touch screen makes web browsing easier, but I do miss the trackpad that older Blackberrys had. Sending emails to clients is a piece of cake on this device.  Battery life is amazing: I’ve lasted two days with this thing.

One thing that I love about this phone with Verizon is my ability to create a hotspot.  I use that feature all the time when I’m away from the house.  It doesn’t cost me extra money.  I like the hotspot for my laptop or netbook. I can always write and access my documents from anywhere. Blogging online doesn’t use too much data– even though I haven’t been keeping up with it.  Actually the 4GLTE is faster than my internet at home and at my ex-job.

Device Downfalls:

Apps.  This this not a gamer’s phone.  I have apps and games on here, but I’ve just gotten used to the lack of availability of apps.   My cellphone is a tool, not a toy. And while I do use Facebook and a side-loaded version of Instagram on here, those apps were not the reason why I bought this particular phone. (You can sideload pretty much any Android app on here; the side-loaded apps work great.  I haven’t had any problems doing this. For me it’s kind of a pain, and I don’t really use apps that much anymore. )

Another down fall: this device was not cheap. Nor is my cell phone plan with 3GB of data. I pay $112.80 a month on this sucker with Verizon. Whew!! It’s expensive.  I miss my cheapy phone bill!

Last issue: Call quality.  Not superb. Not even really good.  I don’t know if my phone was defective or if it’s Verizon cell phone service, but the phone handset quality is not that awesome (for neither the speakerphone nor the handset).  I can always hear okay, but people say they cant hear me that well.  I never looked into the issue. However, if I’m on a serious, important or lengthy phone call, I use a headset or Bluetooth and that fixes the problem.  I’m not on the phone enough anyway to really care.

Overall, I like the phone, despite its pitfalls. Although, I’ll probably find a new cell carrier when my contract expires next year, I will probably stick with Blackberry!

 

Twenty-Six Students in a Mixing Bowl

Twenty-Six Students in a Mixing Bowl

Twenty-Six students in a mixing bowl,
boiling to escape

They’re sliding cards
and “f*cks!” across the table
Public Displays of Affection without discretion
“It’s not just a kiss,” I say.

There’s confrontation:
a girl about to beat the sh*t out of a boy with long hair
and someone worried about impregnation

Twenty-Six students in a mixing bowl,
boiling to escape…

but when summer begins
and reality sets in
where will they go in haste?

My Writing Schedule

Now that I’ve finished my graduate school education, I can take some time to really focus on my own writing projects.  I’ve done like most bloggers have suggested and created a blogging schedule.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I decided to go at it 4x a week.

Monday and Thursday- I post on my Slow Paced (Living) in the United States blog. I have created a writing schedule for the next 5 weeks.  On this blog, I’m currently doing a series called What You Should Stop Worrying About Right Now; it will be 10 posts.

Tuesday and Friday- I post on this blog. I think I’m going to continue to post poetry on Tuesdays and post about writing or the writing process on Thursdays.

So far this week, I’ve met all of my blogging deadlines, but it seems rather ambitious. If working on my graduate thesis has taught me anything, it’s that my independent study skills need some improvement.  I work better when I’m accountable to others. Since I’ve told my readers when they can expect new posts from me, I have to be strict with my deadlines.  I don’t want to disappoint you all.

Still, for the last two posts that went up, I was sitting at my computer at 10pm still writing them. At least they went up on the days that I intended.  The idea though, is to get a week or two ahead with my blogging so I’m not posting at the last minute.  Hopefully this weekend I can write all of my posts for next week. To be a writer, you actually have to write, and with all this blogging, I can say that I’m a writer.

I’d like to fill the other three days of the week with fiction writing. I’m not sure I’m ready for that though…

So what I’ve done is turned my day-planner into a writing scheduler.  I’ve had the pink planner all year and have barely used it for my to-do lists.  For each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I write down the blog and blogging topic. And underneath, I have plenty of room for notes and ideas that come up before I have a chance to write the post.  Usually what happens is I get random bursts of ideas, and I can’t always get to my blog to write a draft. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a draft right then, and that awesome sentence I thought of while in the shower needs a place to be jotted down– hence the day-planner. 

The only issue that remains, is when exactly do I write?  I would love to make a consistant time every single day. I love writing early in the morning when my head is clear and I’m relaxed, but I have a job where I work early in the morning.  High school starts at 7:20am people!  Maybe I can figure something in a couple weeks because summer camp starts an hour later.  Right now, I write whenever I have time, but I think having a schedule would get me into a routine and I could write more.

How do you organize your writing or blogging schedule? How do you fit in writing with a full-time job?

Being

This is a new poem… second draft.

Being

I stand,
admiring the edge of clouds along the sky
but I can’t connect to their certainty of being,
and action.

I’m floating like an air molecule,
“invisible to the naked eye,” but I’m here.
Fluid like ocean water and swimming amongst many.
I’m strangely relevant,
but irrelevant.

I can’t define the source of my fragmentation,
as I was born embedded in the Source.

South Beach

This is another old poem I wrote in college… undergrad maybe.  I think it’s strange how I wait years and years to share things I’ve written.  Do you other writers do that?  Anyways here it is

South Beach

Lavender moonlight nudges
sun rays creeping behind
the horizon.
But a khaki colored morning
sighs, the brown haze
glaring over remnants of
nightlife.

Early morning
gnarls its face, hoping
that in a few more minutes
the scattered crazies
will retreat behind their posters.
But more people arrive,
their tie-knots choking them,
lying saleswomen
and skimpy tramps
showing off their pale behinds.

Golden light struggles to
climb out of its ocean bed
Fighting,
knowing it will only be red hot
by midday;
realizing that
as night approaches,
black bass thunders,
disturbing sleep.

The African-American Writer’s Inferiority Complex

I spend a lot of time feeling like I cant. I think it’s an issue that plagues most African-American writers. Honestly, writing a New York Times #1 bestselling novel seems out of reach. Some days, I attribute this lack of confidence to the political nature of race in this country: To get to number one on the NYT list, I have to sell to everyone, not just black readers. But, the cards are just simply stacked against me. It’s challenging enough to sell a book to a publisher, and get them to market if for you.  If you get that far, you’ll realize that publishers and bookstores prefer to sell books by black authors that depict the “stereotypical” black experience of thug life and promiscuity; you know, the books with sluts on the covers.  And those books don’t sell to everyone.

Other days, I attribute this inferiority complex to a post-slavery era mentality that’s been imposed upon me by the collective subconscious.  I feel that my only option is get a good education, go to college/grad-school, graduate and get a job. It doesn’t matter if my degree is in a creative field. I can’t have success on my own. submitting writing to literary journals isn’t for my kind. Nope. How could I possibly be talented enough for that?

Is it just me? Or do other African-American writers (or artists of any kind) feel this way too?

I want so much for myself.  I’m bursting at the seams with ideas.  I’m going to keep moving forward, regardless of how I’m feeling. I’m going to keep blogging, writing, thinking, planning and moving. I’ll never make it if I don’t try, right?

My Hair

I wrote a lot of poetry in college. My sophmore year (2005) I debated whether or not I should stop relaxing my hair.  This poem was written at the very begining of my transition.  This is my favorite poem that I’ve written.

My Hair

I like to examine
the way my hair grows
at the roots,
naturally.
The fuzz of my frizz
and the contours of my curls
I can’t remember.

Every six weeks
I burn them with chemicals,
breaking down the beauty
I was Given.

For simplicity, perhaps
or maybe
I’m trying to reach a standard
expected of me
I can never achieve;
a straightness
that wasn’t Created–
by God–
for me.

I want it to grow back
all of it.
I want a mane
like Leo,
the lioness that I am.
I can’t remember what my hair looks like!
Because beyond the roots,
only the raggedy, scraggly wannabe
of something I’m not, I see.

SketchGuru_20130513090224

As you can see, I went through with the transition. (December 2005) Glad I did :)

© Talia Clay

Why I Write

After a tumultuous year spent writing a thesis, I came to wonder why I started writing in the first place. Apparently, I love writing enough to get a Master’s degree in it. There were times in my life where writing something was a necessity to get through the day. Yet because of thesis, I’ve stopped writing. All writing has become a chore. My blogs are suffering because of it.

So why did I start writing?

I started writing because I wanted to be heard. As a kid, I never really felt that people listened to what I had to say. I was told an infinite number of times “you talk too much” or “stop talking.” I was silenced. I had no outlet for my musings, thoughts, or emotions. They had no place to go. Furthermore, I had feelings that most perceived as irrational. How could I talk about something that most people didn’t think was worth talking about? I had some friends growing up, but really, who wants to listen for hours on end to a rambler?

Diary

For instance, I got a pink diary with a lock for my 9th birthday.  I still have the key in an old jewelry box in the top of my closet. The first entry says:

August 9, 1995

Today is my birthday. Ths my friends S slept over. They were being mean to me. Yesterday my friend said “Just becuse tomorrow is your birthday means you can have the light on.” (Flashlight on seling) Then I had ters in my eyes.

Apparently, this was a painful experience for an oversensitive nine-year-old on her birthday. Darn it! I wanted to play with the flashlight on the ceiling when we were supposed to be sleeping.

And still, I’m an oversensitive adult, at present, lacking an appropriate outlet for my, at times, emotional overflow. So I’m forcing myself to go back to writing. No pressure to post every week on a certain day (sorry guys), but I have to write something everyday.

When I was in high school, and the first year or so of college I maintained a diary at freeopendiary.com.  Do you remember that site? (Don’t bother looking for my diary, they went on a deleting spree a number of years ago, and it is gone).  I wrote any and all of my business online for people to read, and I would hope and pray for comments and advice. I’d hope that people in the internet world would care about how I was doing.  Needless to say, they didn’t.

I have found in my course of study there is some debate going on about whether writing for others to read is a truly, justifiable reason to write.  I always get the feeling that “true” writers feel that it is taboo: that a real writer writes solely for the craft of writing– like any other pursuant of the arts. It’s true we certainly don’t do it because we expect to make lots of money– but we do hope that we can reach people on a profound level while making lots of money. That would make us really happy, knowing that people give a enough of a crap about what we are saying to actually pay us.

I used to write for myself. I enjoyed when I came up with a particular line, passage or poem that I loved for the sheer way it sounded. Once upon a time , I wrote just to organize my thoughts, or figure something out. I’d write because I was bored. My teenage years were filled with angst and drama: I needed an outlet.

Working for a movie theater when I was sixteen, I’d often find myself in the unfortunate position as the ticket taker on a slow night. I’d flip over the back of movie schedules and just write and write. About what, I can’t remember.  I have so many notebooks and random papers stashed away, you’d think I’d had an addiction to writing.  I’m not like that anymore. It seems that life has gotten in the way.

Right now in my life I’m dealing (barely) with all sorts of stress. And instead of expressing myself the way I used to, I’ve been bottling. At this rate I’ll burst like mentos in a coke bottle.

So now, I write to be heard. Blogging is such a public activity– I mean, I can’t tell you everything. I would like to have a job one day. But I write for you guys/gals out there reading. It’s nice to know that someone out there is listening, and that someone can hear me. (And I hope you aren’t judging me.) I spent a lot of time in my life hurting (as nine-year-old me can attest to), and I just want to be able to communicate, and work through my fears and insecurities.