It was inevitable that fiction would choose me, that my world would become consumed by it. From the fairy tales my mother brought before me, to the fascinating living stories around me, to the nursery rhymes that incited such vivid images in my mind, to the billowing curtain in my childhood bedroom that, to me, offered pretty terrifying possibilities on the other side, my imagination was its own character from the very beginning. When I would hide in the library during recess (we’ll talk about that in another post; praise kind librarians), I would read. And read. And read. All fiction, all topics, all possibilities. A fiction writer was being born. By the age of eight, that writer came alive.
After messing with my dear father a bit about majoring in psychology while filling out my college application (“I want to be a shrink, Daddy.” “No; choose something else.”), I chose English as my major. It was always going to be English; I knew that when I was sixteen years old. Soon thereafter, I chose the concentration for my major: Fiction. For four years, I was ensconced in literature, stories, novels. It was like being in the stacks all over again.
I write poetry, these lovely blog posts, articles, the occasional play, a few songs…
But first and foremost, utterly and completely: I will always be a fiction writer.
What do you love to do that chose you? I’m curious to know…
As much as I’m thankful and grateful for the journey of changes in this life of mine (it took a long time to fall in love with myself, for example; self-worth/self-respect/self-esteem came late for me, but those things came right when they needed to 👐🏾), some things remain exactly the same for your Square Peg. And I don’t have a problem with that.
I still side eye strangers. It’s nice to meet new people. It is. But that nine year-old who barely trusted folks who weren’t mother or father hasn’t completely disappeared. Look: stranger danger is a thing. If we’ve never, ever met, there’s a chance that I’m checking all the exits in case you decide to flip out and/or request something I’d rather not give you, like limbs or kidneys. It is what it is.
I still watch YouTube videos on how to style/wash/manage my natural hair.I returned to natural six years ago. *shrug* One never stops learning. And one forgets. And one finds a bizarre comfort in watching other people wash their hair. And once needs reminders that detangling is a necessity. I mean just because you graduated from school doesn’t mean you don’t still (mind the double negative there) text your old Math teacher to ask her how to calculate percentages, right? Right? Hello? Anyone?
I still use my library card. I haven’t in a while, need a new one for a new state, but I’m a library card believer. Here’s a story for why I consider it a privilege and not a right: my mother had me banned from checking out books from my local library when I was about 13 years old. You see, I was a chronic later book returner. Like chronic. I also had this terrible habit of not remembering where I left my books. (Honestly, my mother’s wish that I have a daughter just like me when I was a teenager was appropriate.) As a result, my Mom was usually left with paying my fines. So, one fine day, Mom went to my favorite library and informed the librarians that I was disallowed from using my card until I turned 18. Yes. 18. So. Gangsta. I was heartbroken, wanted to scream and rage at her (but didn’t because I wanted to also live), etc. But it happened. And on my 18th day of birth, I went right to that library and re-applied for a new card. And promptly incurred more fines. But I was a working woman by then, so who was ‘gon check me, boo? (She was. I became much more careful. *nervous laughter*)
I still have my checkbook. Nope, you’re not in Jurassic Park. There aren’t dinosaurs drifting around you. I haven’t written an actual check in many moons, but there are still some companies that ask for your full checking account number with the twenty-five zeroes. Since that number remains unknown to me by memory, I make sure that my check book is somewhere nearby.
I still wear slips.I am the daughter of an African woman. If I stopped wearing them, even despite the distance and states between us, she would know. Of course, honestly, I don’t wear them as much as I did back in the day. If a skirt or dress has lining in it, I opt to not add more fabric to it. But if I wear something thin or could potentially have a moment a la Marilyn Monroe, I will so throw on a half slip. Sure, I’ve had moments recently where I realized, with cold dread, that the thing was slowly descending towards my ankles…but you know what? Panic is good for the soul. Keeps you alive. Not really. I digress. On the off chance that what I’m wearing may expose, uh, exposure, slips are still my go-to.
I’m still salty about the ending of Lost. There’s nothing more to say.
I still believe in the power of good penmanship. Not only do I believe in it, but I openly admire it when I see it. I know no one writes anything down anymore, so yeah, but on the off-chance that I see someone put paper to pen…and do it so well…and use flowy cursive or straight lines…happy sigh. Look, my sixth-grade teacher nearly hit me for not being able to get that cursive ‘r’ just right. Apropos of nothing. But back then, it was important to write well. It just was. Time and technology happen, so this isn’t a diatribe against that (I am typing all of this), but it’s a lost art that I enjoy seeing and doing.
I still can’t end a list with an odd number. If loving even numerals is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Some things never change.
Are you lover of change? Or no? Or both? Or…just tell me.
Why I meander through libraries and bookstores, often with no intention of reading or buying, just trailing my fingers down endless rows of spines and consuming the sweet aroma of books.
Why books can be desserts, too.
(I dedicate this post to my beloved Ms. Lindquist, who let me escape the battleground of recess (when you’re shy and slow and new to the area, recess becomes a battleground) by letting me make a home in the library while the other kids played. In there, I discovered stories about girls like me, about faraway places, about adventures and pesky little sisters, and everything in between. Ms. L., You opened up my world.)
I mean. Come on. For a proud melanin lady who loves books and sitting on her growing derrière (thank you, squats) and red lippy, this photo is everything.
Incidentally, yesterday was National Book Lovers Day. I certainly hope you celebrated by sniffing some books and delighting in the sweet aromas of imagination and words. If not, fellow bookworm, you know that we don’t need a day set aside to celebrate our love: every day is National Book Lovers Day.
Here’s to beloved library cards and paying off all those fines. Speaking for myself, of course.
I discovered her in college. I’m surprised we didn’t meet earlier, being that–other than my actual home–I lived in the library stacks. I stalked books, really; grabbing whatever my greedy hands could locate on the shelves, investigating, searching, making friends with the Dewey Decimal system. That said, I find it intriguing that in all my library haunts, Flannery O’Connor and I didn’t come to meet until much later, when I took a summer English college course and promptly, promptly, fell in love with her. Nevertheless, that’s how it happened. We read A Good Man is Hard to Find for class and I felt her inspiring me, influencing me, and moving me through her imagery and her language and her ability to knock my very socks off with the brilliant and earth-shattering endings of her stories. A writer after my own literary heart.
Read more about Flannery’s life and background here.
This is my favorite anthology of her short stories, found here.
The text for A Good Man is Hard to Find is located here, in case you’re at work and can’t just run to the store to buy the book mentioned above.
By the way, this a new feature for This Square Peg. Once in a blue moon (I would be specific and say weekly or monthly but ya’ll know me and my delusions of grandeur related to writing regularly), I’ll feature an author that has inspired me, influenced me, intrigued me, and interested me. Because I love you and because I’m a bookworm and I love talking about books and writers. You’re welcome…