Finally, Some Room To Breathe

I cannot tell you how relieved I was when I was able to hit the send button on the email to my agent, John. Glad that was off my plate. Finally, I've got time to play with filters on Snapchat.


Okay so, here's a story about what happens when you don't listen to everything you've been taught since the age of five. Haste makes waste. Now, unfortunately, in my haste, I deleted the revised version of my manuscript and sent the wrong document to my agent. Luckily, I backed up my work because I originally deleted what I thought was "old version" of my novel. All I can say is my Dropbox saved me.

Now that that's off of my plate what's next?

Well, my Afterword or my Foreword is next. I'm ready to start brainstorming and actually putting my ideas on paper. I'm ready to do some self-reflecting and pour onto the pages why I wrote this book. Why does the story of my fictional character Mya Andrews matter to be and in the grand scheme of young adult literature?

This is a weighty question. One that I am afraid to tackle. Not because I think I can't answer it, but because of all of the ways I know I can. That question is very much an open-ended one which can lead me in several directions. I know the academic manner in which I feel I should tackle it. And that will be included because it is important. It will demonstrate what I've been in doing in grad school. Or at the very least, make me sound way smarter than I really am. Yet, it is in the emotional scope that I wish to travel as I navigate the pages and get to the source of my reason for why? Why have I worked so tirelessly for more than two years to bring this story to life?

Why should it exist on the shelves with other books and not simply reside in my portfolio as a student? Should it exist at all?

These are the questions I plan to explore. Toni Morrison's Afterword for The Bluest Eye was so inspiring. And she's so intelligent and her work is and will always be so important to the literary canon I feel like an imposter for even trying to step in that lane. Then I realized that that's the beauty of telling stories. There is enough room for them all and there is no one way to experience America as a female and as a person of color-- of course. But it can be intimidating when you think about what your work will say about you and the people you're trying to represent. How will the world appreciate them?

It used to be my dream to make Oprah's book club of the month selection and to be on the New York Times bestsellers list. Now, I just dream to be published and hold the book in my hand. I don't know why my dream has diminished or, do I just appreciate and realize that there are levels to this and I must celebrate and not rush past the small steps to get to the big ones.

The road is still long ahead of me and I'm certain I've got more revisions to go from here. No matter what I am going to brace myself and prepare for the process while trying to stop and smell the milestone roses along the way.

For now, I just have to remind myself of the following:



And what better way to do it than with my customized bitmoji

Feeling the Pressure

This week was hard. Even though I had a plan and I thought having an extra day off would help give me the writing boost I needed, I was sadly mistaken. No matter how hard I try to stay ahead of the game, I still feel like I'm playing catch up or I can't stay ahead.

The hardest part for me is that I know exactly what I want to do. But for some reason, I can't execute it in the manner that I envision. There are so many obstacles that arise. And while calling them obstacles, its more like life obligations. You know, if I had a maid, a chef, and personal Uber driver, then I think I'd be able to finish these revisions. The reality is, I don't have any of those things, so I have to figure out for myself. It is a constant battle between fatigue and inspiration that is wearing me down. I also get caught up in the things that I have to do around the house. Not to mention the motherly duties that I have to do like homework, taking children to and from practices that all of my time gets eaten up. I think the hardest part has been for me to disconnect from my world and write new material. I keep second guessing myself and having writer's block.

In order for me to write new material, I have to be able to lose myself in the story. And as of right now I haven't been able to do it. Even though on Sunday and Monday I sat down in my office and tried. I was able to write some, but I didn't even finish the chapter. And I still have another new chapter to add. My deadline of Oct. 15th is slowly creeping up and I am not at all ready or excited about the new material I wrote. As a result, I put my work down and picked up the words of Toni Morrison.

I took the time to study and reflect upon the Afterword written by Toni Morrison for The Bluest Eye. Reading her words and the process in which this literary classic was born made take a deeper look into the meaning of my work. Now, Misunderstood is nothing like The Bluest Eye in terms of the storylines but so much of what she said resonated with me. Her analysis of the conception of her piece gave me an insight into her writing process. When I read Morrison in school it was after she'd written the 1993 Afterword. And I remember looking at that part in class but then I just read as her explaining why she wrote the book. However, I now see it as a reasoning almost like a literary analysis of what she was trying to accomplish as the writer of this book. As I read through her words things started to click and make sense to me as far as my work is concerned. Reading about specific literary moves she decided to make gave me another way to think about what I need to do and should do in my revisions.

It was beneficial to me to step out of my own head and get into another's writers psyche to learn how they approached writing literature. And The Bluest Eye is one of my favorite works that has been added to the cannon in recent history. So to get insight into the mind of Ms. Morrison really allowed me to consider my approach to my own writing-- which I am not suggesting will be added to the cannon. Yet, I do want to approach the writing from a literary perspective where I am making intentional authorly moves to propel the plot forward with good storytelling.

So for this coming week, I am hoping that I find the peace and the time I need to get over this hump because I still have more work to do. I just can't continue to allow deadlines to pile up and without things being moved off of my plate. My plan is to write after work on Friday and all day on Sunday. Saturday will be really emotional as I have to attend the funeral of one of my husband's closest friends. He died tragically and suddenly last weekend so this will be a tough one. I will have to allow myself that day and then try and get back into the work.

Falling Into Place

Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Granted the tunnel is really far away. But, I can see the light.


These past two weeks I feel like I've made some progress. I started with my list. I needed to organize my thoughts and lay everything out so that I know what I've done and what I need to do. My work, school, and home life balance have been all out of whack. But somehow, I managed to find some time to stick with a revision schedule and do the work I need to do to submit my revisions to my agent, John.

I've completed two out of four of the things on my list. And that's an accomplishment. I was able through all of the chapters and move up the chapters where my main character Mya meets her Millburn friends. Which forced me to read through a lot of my early chapters and find the moments where the pace of the story can be quickened.

In reading through the story for what feels like the twentieth time I am still seeing places where I can make things better. Going back and reading the story with a different lens afforded me the ability to look at the text with a different perspective. I was able to take into consideration different things like themes, continuity with plot and characters. I also took a closer look at my peripheral characters to make sure they were holding their weight in the story. I made some tough choices and cut out a  supporting character by pushing her more toward the background. I also had to weave in some moments of foreshadowing and connect some plot lines that seemed to appear out of nowhere. This is different than just writing the story out for the first time. This feels more purposeful. I have to be more disciplined as a writer. Not only am I looking at the text as the author of the piece I also have to live inside it as a reader. Asking myself the questions as if I were encountering the work for the first time. This helps me to cut add, and connect the dots that don't seem to make sense.

My characters have lived inside of my head for so long that they've become a part of me. I know them. But I have to make sure that with these revisions people that will read this work will know them too. I want them to feel for them, laugh with them and yell at them if necessary. In order to accomplish this, I have to make sure that word choice tells the story in such a way that it's not only entertaining but meaningful as well with three dimensional non-sterotypical characters.


I also started thinking about writing a forward or my author's note. I'm thinking a lot about the message I want to share or put out into the world. Questions such as:

Why did I write this book?

What am I trying to say to the world?

How is the city of Newark being represented? 

What is the big picture?

Answering those questions will allow me to think about the compendium. Luckily, I have a solid idea of my next steps. Which as of right now involve writing the two new scenes. I'm praying I can get it done this weekend because I'm off on Monday. Once I get this off my plate I can fully focus on digging into what I like to think of as the heart of this work.