A Confession. An Admission. A…Warning?

photo-1429734160945-4f85244d6a5aFull disclosure: I have no idea what this blog will be yet. I will admit upfront to some disorganization and a bit of chaos as this thing hobbles around with an aggressive lack of grace on its wobbly little baby Bambi legs.

I’m not an expert about anything. Not lifestyle. Not branding. Not food. Not dating. Not fashion.

And least of all writing.

At any rate, I’m asking you to bear with me as I figure this out…and have a bit of fun doing so.

Still with me?

Ready?

In advance, grazi mille!

~i

Music to Write to, Vol. 3

PinkPot_CreativeConvex_H5Sometimes, it’s about the beat. Sometimes, it’s about the words. Sometimes, it’s about being taken to a place.

This is what I’m currently listening to that puts me right where I need to be while I hunt… er, write.

  • Compared To What, Roberta Flack (Album: First Take)
    • First heard this song on the beginning credits to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the one with fine-ass Henry Cavill, not the TV show). The matter-of-fact sass of the truth-telling is a the perfect delivery for the awareness and expression of the futility of war. Don’t let the brown-liquor smoothness of Roberta’s vocals fool you: every searing observation and inquiry she makes in this song is meant to punch you right in the chest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG_RvYTfDk8
  • Queen B*&^%, Li’l Kim (Album: Hard Core)
    • Funny, funny thing: when this album came out when I was in high school, the illicit snippets I heard absolutely repulsed me. Looking back, I realize I should have been listening to this in every stolen moment in little tiny snatches of rebellion that I grabbed when I could. But I didn’t. Not sure if it was being steeped in respectability politics, or just not liking the music, but I couldn’t appreciate it back then: Kim’s complete and utter freedom on every level that is still forbidden to women. Now, at 36 I GET IT. It took 20 years, but I get it. And I open the Hard Core translation of my Bible to this chapter every chance I get. In 2 decades, the lyrics, the beats are still as raw and relevant as ever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaBvhhVwNjY
  • Dope Boys, The Game feat. Travis Barker (Album: LAX)
    • Quiet as it’s kept, The Game’s husky, ferocious, but elastic rasp is one of the most recognizable in hip hop, but I gotta be honest: what really sells this song for me is Travis Barker being a disrespectful bastard on the drums. The beat has a certain fanfare to it and neither artist overpowers the other. To me, it’s certainly one of the better rap/rock pairings in recent hip-hop history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ5B3HBWD0k&spfreload=10
  • BURNITUP!, Janet Jakson (Album: Unbreakable)
    • If I’m being totally honest, Janet’s latest offering is a bit uneven to me. Does that mean I’m any less thrilled to see her? HELL NO. Because guess what? Janet’s “uneven” beats the hell out of most artist’s best day. I’m here for the varied textures “CareFree Black Girl” music comes in and I cannot deny the beat on this one. It gets me MOVING. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QvdrmRphjc
  • Get Away, Bobby Brown (Album: Bobby Brown)
    • For reasons that elude me–and that I’m really not all that eager to capture–I’ve been listening to a lot of Bobby Brown lately. Front if you want to, but Bobby at his peak had one of the most peerless voices in R&B. The grit and emotion in every single line, even when he’s being playful, is actually quite seductive. This song definitely resonates with me right now and it’s an underrated gem of his that I’m glad I recently uncovered. If you use writing as an escape hatch, then this song might be for you, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnKm5xdszWo

Off The Cliff #NaNoWriMo2015

And away we go.

I go.

NaNoWriMo is finally here. Seems like 3 minutes ago when I decided to participate this year.

But I had to. I recently did a 7-Day Creativity Challenge courtesy of Michaela Cristallo’s For The Creators website (http://forthecreators.com/author/michaela-cristallo/) and the first exercise was to set a creative intention for 2015.cropped-jlwvautloaq-dustin-lee.jpg

Mine was (seemingly) simple: COMPLETION.

I have so many ideas, and it’s a shame to admit that right now, that’s all they are: ideas.

I mean well. I outline. I keep notebooks on me in case Inspiration’s fickle ass strikes. My ideas live vividly, and not just in the cracks between work, stress, survival, bills and the vague cloud of anxiety that seems to hover over me daily. My ideas breathe. Not desperate gulps of air– but the full inhale/exhale rhythms of peacefully sleeping children because they know they have my attention.

It is not lost on me that I describe them as sleeping children.

But completion is important for me. So much in my life feels in flux. Transitory. FINISHING something would feel Herculean.

And freeing.

So here I am at NaNoWriMo. Again. To finish a novel that I was supposed to finish last year right when everything caved in and the bottom fell out. My version of an extinction level event with no Olivia Pope on cleanup.

Just me.

My pen.

And the refusal to fold.

I’m happy to report on my first day that I exceeded my word goal of 861. I only needed to reach 25,002 words today. I got to 25,174. I know all the days won’t be like this.

But today? I sat my ass down. I got the words on the page. They ain’t cute. But they’re there. (Who knew The Game would be such good writing music? Hm.)

I sat my ass down. And I hunted.

With no intention to tame the beast.

~i

Eyes On The Prize(s) #NaNoWriMo2015

It came to me in a flash, riding a wave of estrogen. My midpoint reward for NaNoWriMo, and my big reward for crossing the finish line.

Midpoint reward: a Magic Mike XXL/Avengers: Age of Ultron double feature pizza party. If the promise of pelvises and abs and grinding and raunch and Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans’ pecs isn’t enough of a motivation, then maybe I should consider religion after all.

MMXXL_Chanpizzaage of ultron

My big finish “Madam-You-Just-Wrote-A-Gotdamn-Novel” reward: the hotel/beach getaway I had planned for my birthday, but couldn’t do. Crisp white sheets. A bed to myself. Shifting beach sand under my toes. Having nice meals in my own hotel room.

I’m there already.

pw0-vzd0wis-rafael-leaoolz1nwleegm-rob-bye

High stakes here.

~i

Music to Write To, Vol. 2

PinkPot_CreativeConvex_H5Sometimes, it’s about the beat. Sometimes, it’s about the words. Sometimes, it’s about being taken to a place.

This is what I’m currently listening to that puts me right where I need to be while I hunt… er, write.

  • Adeline Michele– Redo (album: TBA)
    • I am completely unable to resist songs with that synthesized 80’s bop. It’s truly the music of my childhood. “Redo” perfectly captures that Evelyn Champagne King/Cheryl Lynn sass that I just give myself over to. Plus…it’s a sista on a bass! And what a bonus that this doubles as a bit of a theme song for A Life Rebuilt’s protagonist, Kenley Daniels. Here is Ms. Michele performing the song on the Meredith Vieira show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi6l9VqmcYI
  • Depeche ModeCorrupt (album: Sounds of the Universe)
  • Sade– Never As Good As The First Time (album: Promise)
    • Sade. Timeless. Classic. More music from my youth. And this is one of my favorite songs by her. I love all the things “the first time” could actually be: the touch of a lover, hearing the sound of his or her voice, a kiss. And how many writers can relate to this? Coming up with that first character, that first story…the first time they were published…that coming-together of the words in a way that is planetary-alignment magical. Never as good, indeed. (Really, wherever our passion lands turns the thing we’ve focused on into “the first time.”) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfzmVUrZplw
  • Drake, feat. Li’l WayneUsed To (album: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late)
    • This one just goes SO HARD. I think it’s a good one to play when you complete a project. When you’ve clawed and sweated and edited and bled on the page…yeah. Sometimes, you gotta remind ’em where the fuck you been. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQpfXAcf5SM
  • D’Angelo and The VanguardAnother Life (album: Black Messiah)
    • Ever hear a song that feels like a baptism? EVERY time you hear it? This has that “sway lazily with a glass of red” feel. I first heard the live version of this song when D’Angelo was tourning and playing with us about dropping Black Messiah. There’s something in the way D sings it in that trademark divine, ethereal mumble, there’s something in the music, there’s something in the lyrics…whatever the “something” is, it takes me out of my body for a little while and out of my mind, which is no easy feat as those who know me will tell you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTAnBM0ZdVI

Happy (lusty) hunting.

~i

#Indigo’sDarlings: Standing On the Sun Edition, Bahamas 2014

Just a little throwback to my Bahamas cruise to celebrate my 35th last year. It was such a blast and the first and only REAL vacation I’ve ever had.

(***No grooves were retrieved, procured, or gotten.)

If you knew what I had to go through to get the photos of that sunset…whew! LOL

All packed!

All packed!

On second thought...we DON'T need a bigger boat.

On second thought…we DON’T need a bigger boat.

In my...zone.

In my…zone.   

Snakes on a plane. Books on a boat.

                                                                    Snakes on a plane. Books on a boat.

Just couldn't believe I was actually on a cruise!

Just couldn’t believe I was actually on a cruise!

Come up and see me.

Come up and see me.

Dessert first seemed appropriate for this occasion.

Dessert first seemed appropriate for this occasion.

Just taking it in.

Just taking it in.

Serving "pre-nap" face.

Serving “pre-nap” face.

Heading out!

Heading out!

Coming into the port was SUPER exciting!

Coming into the port was SUPER exciting!

I didn't have it in me to stand right up on the rail for these photos, but the view was no less appreciated.

I didn’t have it in me to stand right up on the rail for these photos, but the view was no less appreciated.

Dinnertime view.

Dinnertime view.

Beachwear. Leggings, sundress, sandals.

Beachwear. Leggings, sundress, sandals.

Beach excursion on Balmoral Island, which I'm convinced is actually a little piece of Heaven.

Beach excursion on Balmoral Island, which I’m convinced is actually a little piece of Heaven.

Land, ahoy! (I'm rusty on my "pirate.")

Land, ahoy! (I’m rusty on my “pirate.”)

A glimpse of downtown.

A glimpse of downtown.

Beautiful art.

Beautiful art.

I surely plan to.

I surely plan to. 

All fresh everything.

All fresh everything.

This STILL takes my breath away.

This STILL takes my breath away.

My fear of heights didn't mean more to me than grabbing these shots.

My fear of heights didn’t mean more to me than grabbing these shots. 

iPhonepix 464iPhonepix 465

Screw you, acrophobia!

Screw you, acrophobia!

Goal Mine #NaNoWriMo2015

I already had the goal to complete the first draft of my manuscript for A Life Rebuilt done by the end of this year.

I wrote 24,141 words of it last year, which leaves 25,859 words to reach the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 total.

I’ve heard that when setting a writing goal, it is much more productive to adhere to a word count goal rather than a time goal. I agree, even though I think time goals are good for fun writing prompts– especially in groups– and as a way to get your feet wet with the writing process. But that’s how writing is done, after all: word after word, ON. THE. PAGE.

Photo courtesy of PinkPot

Photo courtesy of PinkPot

They will be shabby words. Raggedy words. Rough-shod, fragmented, unburnished sentences and paragraphs, but they will be words. ON. THE. PAGE. Sifting through the rubble to find the gems is another part entirely, but producing the making of the gems, the raw, unrefined stuff, is still an accomplishment.

It will be unsexy. There will be comma splices.

Here’s my plan to forge ahead and reach my remaining goal of 25,859 words for the NaNoWriMo 50,000-word total in 30 days:

  • 6,027 words a week (with a couple odd weeks in there)
  • 861 words a day
  • 287 words per 3, 30-minute Pomodoro increments (I’ve already entered the increments into my iPhone on the Pomodoro app. Preparation.)

The nifty thing is this combines, in a way that is manageable for me, the word count goal and the time goal. 90 minutes of writing a day for 30 days, 861 words a pop.

I mean, isn’t this how runners do it? They train with a time in mind to meet a distance goal, and they have a training plan to get there consisting of concrete, measurable goals.

“Concrete” and “measurable” have the nasty bite of adultness though, don’t they? But that’s how it’s done when you are dead serious about finishing.

It’s not all bad. I plan to reward myself when I hit targets, mini-rewards for the day-to-day milestones and big splashy things for the midway point and the finish. Good rewards, I think, are designed with a two-fold purpose: to celebrate how far you’ve come, but gently and sweetly remind you that you still have a ways yet to go.

25,859 words seems like such a faraway place.

I’ll get there. So will you.

Happy hunting. May you never tame the beast.

~i

The Writing Life (An Accidental Manifesto)

“We all want the stuff that’s found in our wildest dreams.”– Sheila E., song: Love Bizarre

I find that mentally, I’m usually anywhere except the present. Future, mostly. I do a lot

All I need in this life of sin is me and my ink pen.

All I need in this life of sin is me and my ink pen.

of “wildest dreams” thinking. The kind of thinking that’s just beyond the lip of rampant daydreaming.

The stallions REALLY run free there.

And I’m not necessarily talking about a wildest dreams “fuck you, pay me” salary that makes college not seem like a massive waste of time, or even the kind of juicy, wildest dreams “fuck up some kitchens, yeah” dicking-down found in the most titillating erotica. It’s not the house (a spacious loft like Nina Moseley’s in “Love Jones”, by the way). It’s not the car (my beloved cranberry 2007 Saturn Ion, by the way–miss you, Beckett!). Although all of those things have a place in this swirl of Technicolor visualization.

In particular, I project my active imagination onto what it would be like to write with pleasure and discipline…like, full time. Making a living off my words. My stories. What does that kind of cliff-jumping look like?

I mean, I know it can be done, because I follow some phenomenal wordcatchers on Twitter.

Here’s what I do know: I would like the kind of Writing Life that has enough breathing room for the stability of a day job I do love AND an active creative life that I also make good money from. This is what the “all” in “having it all” looks like to me.

But what does The Writing Life look like for one indigo darling?

It looks like…it always looks like me at a window. Or a balcony. I’m always up high. Elevated and observing, rather than participating, which I think is very telling somehow.

It looks like me living near a beach.

It looks like me living in Tampa, Houston or San Diego. (Not that I need to be in these particular places to be productive, but these are locations that call to me.)

It looks like maybe 1 published work every 2-3 years or so?

It looks like at least a couple of completed, sold screenplays.

It looks like eventually not going to a 9 to 5 every day and still being stable and financially comfortable. I don’t have a figure in mind, just a certain amount of ease I’d like to enjoy so I can maybe make things just a bit easier for the people I care about, without overextending.

It looks like quality, relateable, well-written work that appeals to Black women in particular.

It looks like me helping other writers of color, either by helping them promote their work, or providing insight to help them on their journey…just offering what I can in a way that best fits my talents and gifts. I am not sure yet if this means starting my own publishing company at some point.

I don’t know if it looks like me self publishing or going the traditional route.

It looks like me having the words I need to tell whatever stories I need to tell.

It looks like me writing daily, with discipline, on a schedule, with clearly defined daily goals.

It looks like me knowing the right people, having a tribe of wild women with a rich array of perspectives and personalities. (Happy to report this foundation is already being laid!)

It looks like exploration– a door to experiences I’ve never had before.

It looks like travel. When I feel like it.

It looks like me inviting in sensual, sexual energy– the good, rich, lush kind.

It looks like me experimenting– hopefully successfully– with different forms and genres.

It looks like me collaborating with like-minded people who provide just enough of the kind of tension that’s needed for constant creative evolution.

It looks like me getting up every day and WANTING to create with consistent productivity.

It looks like me managing my time, money and resources well.

It looks like creating with a clear head and a healthy strong body.

It looks like balanced days: work I love…play I love…self-care.

It looks like as many of the right “yeses” and “nos” as can be managed.

It looks like FUN.

It looks at least a little sexy from time to time.

It looks like working from home– in matching jammies, or a super cute “Olivia Pope casual” outfit: tank top, leggings, oversize cardigan. Writer chic.

It looks like a thick skin and effective stress management.

It looks like happy solitude.

It looks like doing what I want, after years of doing what I gotta.

Now.

You’ll notice that many of these are components for a good life in general, not just for a writer. But that’s just it, isn’t it? In order to create well, there’s a core of balance, of healthy habits we have to establish so the channel is clear and we are open to well, ourselves.  And to the stories inside us. And to the characters who need to use us, consume us a little…possess us, if necessary.

I am a long way from this Writing Life. It’s the new normal I seek and I know it will be a very slow crawl. I expect it to shift and morph. I expect the more nebulous desires to take shape. I expect the possibility that some of the more concrete ones might shed themselves. I expect the possibility I might forcefully jettison others.

But I see it. That will have to do for now.

Whatever your version is, I hope you see it, too.

If you are living it, I hope you are doing it lustily. Boldly. May you never tame the beast.

Happy hunting.

~i