It’s been about two months since my last post. I haven’t been paying attention to promoting myself much. I certainly haven’t been posting as much on my author social media pages because I was taking a birthday break. Then, that break turned into the COVID-19 pandemic that has everyone worldwide as its reluctantly captive audience. As a writer, I was paradoxically beating myself up for not posting and indulging in necessary self-care just so I could feel free to write again.
It’s not that I haven’t written at all. It’s just that it seemed silly to write about point-of-view (POV) and perspective when my heart wasn’t in it. Why on Earth should I write about my choices as the author of Forever and One Day when I had more important things that skewed my focus? My mother, being in that age category of at-risk folks with diabetes, hypertension, and a hereditary vision condition where her corneas came to a point before the corneal replacements, was my focus. She worked her ass off for me to send to the best schools possible and I’m not going to be the one to bring home a virus that could take her away from me.
Like many of you, I began consuming copious amounts of information from various sources because forewarned is forearmed. I started checking out what the other countries were doing and had learned because there’s no way I trust anything coming from Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. But there comes a point where you have to unplug from the news and social media outlets and just breathe. After many meditation sessions and seeing the mounting outrage at the (to put it mildly) bumbled handling of the response, I kept trying to remember this one Toni Morrison quote about artists getting to work. I couldn’t remember it and didn’t want to keep trying to find it. So, I found a different one. One that I wasn’t going to use until I talked about why I chose the ending that I did for the novel. In these uncertain times, I’d rather just say what’s on my heart and mind as well as what’s needed.
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” – Toni Morrison
I started my novel because I wanted to be free.
I wanted to be free of the pain and hurt and guilt of never fitting in. Anywhere. I did what I was supposed to do. Listened to my mother. Went to school. Got good grades. Didn’t cause too much trouble. Went to church. Did all those activities my mom could afford to put me in. Yet, well into my adulthood, I still felt as if I was either born too late or too early to make any sense of why I could never just get along with how things were.
While growing up, I had many people tell me that God was going to use my voice. As a singer, I just laughed it off because I was already doing that. It didn’t hit me until much later that I was born to help create a new world. A more humane world that celebrates the richness of life. Love. Happiness. Peace.
Like Savannah does at the end of the novel, I attempted or contemplated suicide multiple times. For someone on the outside looking in, my life seemed just fine. I had a family that loved and cared about me. But I always felt like I needed to fit into a mold that I had no say in creating. I was just supposed to figure it out and not make waves. Accept things as they were because there was no way to change the world and the way it is. That’s why I created Savannah as I did. That’s also why she commits suicide at the end. It’s symbolic. It’s the metaphorical shedding of the old way of living thinking and doing. I wrote my poetic prose this way with great purpose. I want people to shed the old ways of thinking and being as I have. I want everyone to be free. True freedom begins in the mind. It begins with the individual. It begins with me.
Why give up my weeks of teasing this out as I had originally planned?
Because there is nothing more that feels like a call to action as an artist than watching the capitalistic greed and immorality that has swallowed up the alleged United States of America in this moment. I say alleged only because there is never a justification for the loss of life.
Because of the white supremacist patriarchal capitalist system that’s been in place for centuries with its institutions meant to sell constant pursuit of happiness claims never to be grasped, this was the inevitable climax. The unchecked greed and narcissism. The distract, divide, and conquer strategy that has perpetuated fear and negativity. The ad nauseum pleas from soulless corporations for togetherness in this plastic society built on the burial grounds of the indigenous peoples of this land and the blood, sweat, and tears of slaves stolen from their mother land and distributed at various places all over the globe including this nation.
Although we may crave returning to the time before this all began, the real question that pleads for an answer is why should we? We, as a nation of humans, should fully examine what worked for society as a whole and trash what didn’t. Why is it necessary to continue a system that sacrifices entire communities for the sake of money that you can’t take with you when you die? Why is it necessary to stay chained to institutions that were never designed to bring freedom and only manages the rationale for perpetuating the illusion of true freedom?
If we keep avoiding conversations that make people uncomfortable or try to keep rewriting what has been, we will never change this horribly jagged pattern of trying to make everyone conform to what has never made sense and never will. I’m embracing my freedom and ready to create a new and better society.