Encouragement Pages: 4/17/19-Pen & Paper

One of the most nerve-wrecking things about writing is the lost ideas!

These are the ideas that you tell yourself that you are doing to get back to or will writer down later.

There is no ‘I’ll write it down later.’ Later, like tomorrow, will never come. Write down the ideas on the backs of envelopes, voice record them, or on napkins! Write them down—they are evidence that something needs to be written. By you.

Professional Networking and How-To’s:

Image result for building a network

The crazy thing about being a writer is we are these packs of lone wolves, that want all these attention of other people through our various talents.

There is something to be said for being a writer and being able to construct you own network. You must understand that writers do not, cannot, exist in a vacuum.

Writers need community.

The health of writers depends on community!

Social media has given writers the access and courage to engage the entire world. From Facebook, Twitter to the SquareSpace and WordPress, writers now are able to find other people of our tribe with button clicks! You are able to post work, interact with the people that read it, and interact with other writers.

From these three tenets, you have the beginning of your social media connections. These connections will allow you to build confidence and a professional network to showcase! It will allow you to have platforms to collaborate with, to talk shop with and learn from.

Writing is a solitary profession, yes. But the health of your writing career is not just in talent but in community.

[image from crashtactics.com]

Writer Corner: Rebecca Quarles, Author of ‘Running Away From God’ Series

I have known the lovely and grounded, Rebecca Quarles for better than a decade. When we reconnected last Spring, it was as if no time had passed! When I found out that she was writing, and still very much in love with the craft, I had to know more about her process and future projects. Between her full-time day job, and the release of her fourth book in the Running Away from God series, she sat down with me for an interview.

SG Writing Services: How did you start writing?

 

Rebecca Quarles: I initially started writing when I was in high school. I was in an African American studies class. The teacher had us do some writing assignments and suggested that I stay after school to join the African American Poetry club. I did that until my sophomore year. 

 

Shekinah Glory Writing Services:
Are you published anywhere?

 

Rebecca Quarles:

I am currently published about 700+ locations including, Amazon.com, Lulu.com and Barnes & Noble.

 

SGWS:
Do you have current projects?

RQ: Currently I am working on the spin-off of my first series that I just finished. I don’t have the name of it yet, but I am extremely excited about it. It’s completely different that anything I have ever written.

SGWS:
Do you have a writing schedule? Have you been able to stick to it?

 

RQ:

No, I do not. I am a sporadic writer. Sometimes I will get ideas and I can jot them down and at other times I can write for 2-4 hours. Consistently writing multiple chapters in one sitting. 

 

SGWS:
What do you wish people realized about writing?

 

RQ:

That this is trurly my hearts desire and there is a lot of relatable messages in the characters that I write about. You can read these chapters and identify certain traits that you may have or someone you know. I wholeheartedly want people to get the messages and learn from them.

 

SGWS:What have been your greatest joys in writing? Challenges?

RQ: Joys? Coming up with complicated characters and making their stores intertwine. 

Challenges? Finding the time to write. I work a 9-5, so I believe if I didn’t have to work, I would have more time to write and could get a lot more done. 

SGWS:
If you could offer anything to potential writes,what would it be?

 

RQ:

Enjoy what you do, don’t stop being creative and don’t allow what others think you should write about deter you from what you want your book, poems, spoken word pieces to be. You are the producer of your writing. Allow your heart to help you write. If you come up with an idea, jot it down. Even if you don’t use it in your current project. You can potential use it for another one.

Stay focused!

 

 

Writing Corner: Amanda Wells, Founder of FLOW: Where Writing Moves

 

 

 FLOW STL staff.

Amanda Wells is pictured on the far left.

 

 I consider Amanda Wells as a writer’s writer.  She is knowledgeable, accessible and a constant source of strength and collaboration. After completeing her undergrad and graduate degrees at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, she established the creative-writer group FLOW:  Where Writing Moves. Another acrosymn she gave me for FLOW is For [the] Love Of Writing. I couldn’t agree more.

FLOW is based here in St. Louis, Missouri, with its artistic residence in the Grand Art Center, down from Saint Louis University on Grand Boulevard. It’s a mix of everything there! From music, to spoken word, artistic collaboration, to writing space. There’s something there for everyone!

 What sure you ask about SPARK!

 

What They Do And Why That Is Amazing

 “We’re a close team of writers, teachers and scholars who believe in the power of individual creativity to connect people. We work together to build strong communities by fostering meaningful writing and storytelling experiences.”

[taken from FLOW:  Where Writing Moves homepage]  

Does it take a village to raise a writer? Sometimes.

There are portions of the creative work where it is beneficial to have a sounding board or at least a few like minded people to keep you from going utterly mad. Worse yet burning anything you have written  and called your work.

How do I know this?

When I was writing RUBY, it was the founder and phenom, Amanda, that talked me off multiple ledges. It was her firm grip ton reality that helped me edit and to finish the book.

 

(RUBY now available at The Novel Neighbor.)

It was at one of her Saturday open collaboration spaces at FLOW that confirmed writing is indeed what I want to spend my life doing. It was brainstorming in that space which allowed me the freedom to expand my novel. In that space of bouncing off ideas, I began to think about what I was working on and possibility of thinking it could be more.

I am of the belief that every writer needs a community. Writing can be lonely and draining! It is refreshing to have a space that is dedicated to that cultivation. FLOW STL is a tool for local writers here in St. Louis Ana is one of the cities best kept secrets!

The website offers other interactive classes and forums as well. The first writing retreat was this October not too far from St. Louis. FLOW STL has a Patreon available and active for those that desire to help with its mission.

Christopher Priest said a real writer can write anything. I agree. And in writing the anything, you need all the help you can get. FLOW STL and its staff are patron saints. They have taken the task off helping all those of us crazy enough to believe we can bend these 26 letter as we see fit.

[images from FLOW STL, and authors album]

2019 NEW PROJECT-FOR A BLACK GIRL

The new year brings new projects!

The latest labor of love via pages is a book of compiled essays based on experiences of African-American/Black women. These essays can range experiences where you were ignored, underestimated or rendered not worthy of respect. The key phrase I have often heard in situations where I was seen as less than, I often heard this as a antecedent/predicate phrase, “For a Black girl” or ‘…for a black girl.”

I would like the essays submitted to be to reflect these challenges, and their outcomes! I want the women whom decide to submit to this book to think of the phrase the author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide But The Rainbow Was Enuf, Ntozake Shange said:

“I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive. I can only change how they live, not how they think.”

I want the book to be a reminder of how great Black women are. I want it to be a book of encouragement, even if the reader is provoked to tears. I want it to be a record that what was meant to kill a Black girl–only missed or nicked her. 

If you would be interested in submitting an essay to this book, or would like more information, please contact sgwritingservices@icloud.com with the subject line reading “For Black A Girl.” I look forward to hearing from you!

[image from videoblock.com]

-JBHarris

For My Grandmother, Arceal Williams

Today, this morning marks 5 years since my grandmother has passed. Here is what I would want:

I want to go over her house today at 4221 Prairie Avenue, with the swinging gate that creaks. I want dogs to be barking as soon as the gate shuts with a metal clanging protest. I want to walk up the brick walkway—looking at the lush magnolia tree. I want to talk up the gray stairs to her front porch. I want to knock on her front door with the ‘family knock.’

I want her to open the door without her walker, glasses and eyes bright. Her gray hair pulled back. I want the smells of Lysol baptized floors to greet me. “What made you come by!” I want to kiss her cheek, clean and smelling of Nadiola cream. I want to smile at her, betraying nothing. “I just wanted to see you.”

I want to sit in her front room, on that same cream colored couch, inviting and warm. “Did you eat?” I smile, stomach rumbling. “No ma’am.” I want her to laugh loud, her drawl evident and soothing. “Come getchu something den!”

I want a plate she’s make me; making me full with her presence, strong with her whit, ready with her strength. “What’s been goin on baby?” I want to kiss her face again with the plate of leftovers in front of me on her dark oak table. She would sit across from me, snapping beans or wiping counters. Bleach and lemons steadying me.

I want to tell her I’m writing. I want her to know I took her advice. I want her to know the girls want to know how to sew in the Spring. “That’s good, Jennifer.” She never did call me Jenn. “Grandma, I finished my first novel!” I want to drink her sweet tea, watching her reaction. “I knew you could do it! You was always so pretty and smart!” I want to study her favorite red house dress. The paisley pattern making her look more regal than I ever thought. Her hair coifed and short. Her hand would be on her hip. She would look at me, giving me future and past. The one standing as the ten-thousand Maya Angelou spoke of.

As I finished my plate, she’s come close to me and just hug me. She was never one for words. But in her love, in that embrace, her love would soothe the jagged parts. The parts that wonder how, why and keep me dreaming. “So proud of you, Jennifer. And bring me a copy of all those books to put in the China cabinet.”

I would hug her back, “Yes ma’am.” I’d squeeze her once more. I’d help clean up, and she’d tell me how I’m not doing it quite right. I’d ask if she needed anything. She’d lie and say no. Fiercely independent at almost 90. Don’t wait so long to come by!” She’d pat my hand, kissing it. “I’ll see you later, Grandma.” I’d say. She would smile at me, and I’d hug her again, going towards the front door. Leaving the solace of her warm green kitchen, the sleeping watch dogs to go face the world again.

*Note: This image was taken on the actual front porch of my grandmother’s house here in St. Louis, MO. It was also used for the cover of my book, WriteLife. If you would like to purchase a copy, click here.

October Theme: Writing Horror

Image result for harvest time

 

The theme for October will be something some may find frighten everyone whom writes:  loss of the gift, or believing the gift or talent is gone.

This is going to a hard one, and it’s going to be a little more personal. We’re going to delve into some of the things that hinder, stop or halt writing.

I invite you all to chime in, be honest and transparent.

The only way to get through this type of fear is in community.

Buckle up, it’ll be a bumpy ride–be we’ll make it.

 

 

With Pen & Ink,

JBHarris