Sunday, April 24, 2011
My tryst with literature...the juicy kind...
I loved to imagine...the ideas would envelop my mind, move me to explore my thoughts, entice me to enter a realm of possibilities that answered every curiosity that mentally perplexed me. It was a way of release, a way of living out fantasies that may have never come to fruition but satiatied my desire to experince them.
My fingers would guide me, make me sit down and chronicle every notion. I did that for a while. I never really worked on articles or short stories. I was always anxious to get that full manuscript.
My first manuscript, though unpublished, took two years to write. I played with scenes, rearranged words, and found myself frustrated with the prose. I wanted so badly to complete it so I could self-publish it, but it lacked structure. A Touch of Love received its copyrights in 2007, the same year I was to experience a complexity that led to the publication of Extra Baggage.
When I first got on the scene at Florida A&M University as a dually enrolled high school student in 2003, I would always see this guy. He was mysterious. His looks were entrancing, eyes hypnotic, smile, melodic, voice and swagger, tantalizing, but he had this confident appeal, an aura that was intimidating. I would watch him at fraternity parties, hopping around, chanting, and find myself dazed, wanting to introduce myself.
He didn't notice me at first, never acknowledged me if he did. He enjoyed engaging the crowd, but those eyes never quite landed on me...until a couple years later. We'd see each other out, smile that inviting smile that made both of us wonder if there was a possibility, but by the time we started flashing inviitations, we were both in serious relationships.
I was still curious though. Thoughts of him taunted me, but I respected him and his relationship too much to make them known. I respected my own relationship too much to let the thoughts go beyond my mind, but every time I saw him, my curiosity grew. So, I started writing, analyzing the possibilities, dissecting the idealistic introduction, interaction, seduction, the actions that made lead us to euphoric realities...it consumed me, and my words left me feeling and experiencing the possibilities.
The book, Extra Baggage, was being birthed. Its sensuality captivated all of my senses, making me rush home to further develop my prose. Although it was romantic, I had other pressing issues to ponder. I was working at a nightclub as a bartender. I had been there for two years at that point, and partially being raised by my feminist aunt made me very cognizant of the degradation and humiliation of women in media. I watched women dance to misogynistic rap music and buy into double standard notions that disrespected us, mistreated us, abused us, and raped us of our humanity.
As a psychology major, studying Afro-centric ideology, growing into an adult and challenging cultural perspectives and worldviews, I was very passionate about addressing these issues in my book, but I couldn't be too militant. I wanted to guide the reader into her own thoughts about these issues. Unlike writings of amazing philosophers like Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, I wanted my readers to understand what I was saying without allowing my academic jargon to confuse or discourage them. I had to meet them on their level.
A lot of African American girls and women may pick up a romance novel before picking up a book on philosophy. When I enter a book store, I look for Eric Jerome Dickey, Mary B. Morrison, or Toni Morrison to stimulate my senses and relax me. Cornel West gets my attention for a good thirteen pages before my eyes get tired of simultaneously reading his ideas and looking for words in a dictionary to fully understand the text. I agree with almost all of his words, but it's mentally exhausting to piece everything together. I wanted my readers to analyze these ideas without getting frustrated. I wanted a stimulating situation that would entice them but educate them simultaneously, so I factored that into Extra Baggage.
I found a way to make my fantastical relationship with my college crush work through a business relationship while entertaining the idea of each other. Although Extra Baggage is a fictional prose, it began with that mysterious man who caught my eye when I first stepped foot on campus. It ended with an in depth analysis of a psychological disposition that plagues the African American race. All the while, Extra Baggage arouses every sense of the body, calling its readers to journey this tale with me...and that is only the beginning...