nanowrimo, BOLD, and other grown folks business

i am writing my second novel this month!!!, so i won’t be blogging much, but wanted to come on here to share a few things:

1. the novel i am writing has a serious and intriguing situation at the center, but no real plot. i am having the time of my life writing it. i hope someone out there is interested in reading racialized parallel universe snapshots.

2. i was just at BOLD in north carolina – black organizing for leadership and dignity. it’s one of the places i go to restore my soul and spirit, my cool, my belief that the living liberation i long for is possible. it’s one of those things that is difficult to explain when you aren’t there, being with black people intentionally cultivating our dignity, our right to feel loved and safe in our black bodies. we move, dance, sing, struggle, change. all of that is everything, but the thing that is blowing my whole mind right now is that one of the participants, an amazing starlight named kesi, said i was cool. me!?!? and then, another southern starlight named aaron wrote a poem for me !!! and he said it out loud. and then he posted it. the poem actually captures the collective experience of BOLD, this is what we do for and with and to each other. if you love black people you should be supporting this organization.

3. i finally set up a payment plan with a certain entity which has been chasing, hounding and disrupting my peace for several years. it is the lowest i can possibly give because i am still politically at odds with the priorities this entity stands for, and at some point i am sure there will be some other solution that makes the need for this payment plan go away. but right now i feel grown and exhaling at having gotten it solid.

4. i am a month into not smoking. so. !!!

5. i am 20 days into a sugar shift and have managed to hold my head up and my sense of decision making power throughout travel – even through the sweet tea pie shaped dessert fried fish wonderland of the deep south. i am doing this and my novel writing challenge in community, and i feel immensely supported, seen and powerful.

6. i have bitmoji now. now i can finally express myself in text messages and elsewhere.

7. santigold gave me this. and sam smith put this on spotify. and i spent most of the month listening to alabama shakes sing joe.

*update: and then erykah gave us THIS!! timely pleasure activist mantra.

8. i took a day off today, which meant i read volume 5 of saga, my birthday gift from my sister autumn. it was INCREDIBLE and inspiring. and then i found this article, and i read it, and i felt – astounded. astounded. imagination goals – this man used his imagination to survive being stranded at sea for 14 months. here is a taste:

“Alvarenga let his imagination run wild in order to keep sane. He imagined an alternative reality so believable that he could later say with total honesty that alone at sea he tasted the greatest meals of his life and experienced the most delicious sex. He was mastering the art of turning his solitude into a Fantasia-like world. He started his mornings with a long walk. “I would stroll back and forth on the boat and imagine that I was wandering the world. By doing this I could make myself believe that I was actually doing something. Not just sitting there, thinking about dying.” With this lively entourage of family, friends and lovers, Alvarenga insulated himself from bleak reality.”

ok that’s all for now. if you miss me, write me a poem, or a story, or a love note, or a anything. besos til december (unless i desperately need to procrastinate, like this, with you)

10 random and possibly funny reflections from my hedgebrook retreat

1. my favorite is when i am being all brave and going along in nature and then something scares me. the moment when i jump out of my skin and then have to crawl back in and self-soothe, every time, i find quite humorous. like:

mood: brave
fact: a sound happens in the woods
reaction: jump directly and painfully into a tree, twisting around slow motion matrix style to confront the monstrous face of evil
actual fact: a tiny bird hops again and becomes visible to me. i giggle self-consciously, then it flies away.

mood: little red riding hood in the snow
fact: an invisible wolf knocks me down and nearly swallows my head before i can scream, ‘viva la revolucion!’
reaction: set hypothermia timer in my head and decide which parts of my body can be self-sustenance.
literal fact: i tripped and fell in snow and my sister saw it and helped me. (throwback self-shame)

mood: harriet tubman heading north
fact: a sound happens in the woods shortly after i see a mysterious poop on the path
reaction: immediate django on all nearby leaves that might be hiding coyote
tangible fact: a chipmunk darts across the path, totally not scared of me at all in spite of my size and reasoning advantages.

mood: jane goodall on an evening walk
fact: spider attacks me, trying to get me to drop my flashlight
reaction: ‘i’m melting!!!! no but seriously, where is my pocket knife to x cut my face when it bites me, and where is an australian to suck the venom out? foiled!!! give my fancy shoes to my nibblings, it’s over!!!’
truthy fact: spider is minding it’s business in tree. and actually spider yawns in my face.

2. i got high (whidbey island dispensary right by goose market, no card needed!) and went for a walk in the woods. it was outstanding. everything in there had something to say and it felt personally wonderful to me, the way the light pierced the trees, the pine needle carpet. i felt far away from the world, and safe, even with all the wildness, or perhaps, finally, because of it.

3. janet mock stayed in this guesthouse before me. and gloria steinem, alice walker, naomi shahib nye, ursula le guin. no pressure.

4. a bird flew into the window over my desk today. i’d heard the sound before but never up close enough to realize what it was. i ran outside and there was the stunned bird, shaking it’s head as if trying to get it’s tiny brain back into a pinball slot. i talked to it soothingly until i had an internal moment of realizing that the gigantic monster i am to this bird might not be soothing no matter how much i coo. then i looked around and saw another dead bird.

reaction: run away screaming.

i returned and saw that actually all around my guesthouse is a little nature graveyard. there are other dead birds, mice-rats and creatures under the brush. i thought, life really is death. i came back with a busted up seed cracker for the bird and tossed it his way. when i returned later he was gone. i then considered this whole diversion research, because i do actually need to understand the sights and smells of decomposition for my novel. thanks collaborator bird, i hope you are alive.

5. there is a mood to what i am writing: it is grief stricken and terrified. as i write it i am comforting myself as i do immediately after a death or crisis – cookies, ice cream, butter on bread. even biting my nails. consuming the world. i feel a little guilt around this until i remember what i am writing about, what place i am taking myself to every day, who i’m spending my days with: ghosts of beloved people and places. i am having a crisis response in the midst of being immensely well nourished, well rested and cared for.

i should write a book about a woman on retreat the next time i go on retreat, to reap the full benefits.

6. dreamt i had a conversation with drake. about serena. it went like this:

me: i am really pleased with the direction you’re moving in.

drake: i’m sayin! she’s fantastic. she makes me laugh.

me: she’s the best.

drake: yeah and she is the best at something that takes actual skill. not charm. i’m the best at charm. but she is the best at something that requires physical, emotional and mental superiority. woe on fleek times legend.

me: there is justice in this world, that you see that. and she’s gorgeous.

drake: unbelievable. like unbelievable. AND farrakhan dissed her publicly for her outfits!

at this point we both do that thing where you spread your hands and shrug like, ‘does it get any better’?

me: don’t mess it up. be worth her attention.

drake nods seriously.

7. i wrote a novel. i wrote a fucking novel. i drafted it during nanowrimo last year, and then worked it over, and over, and over…such that now i could imagine other people reading it for feedback. there are sections of it i understand. i did that. late blooming novelist, new title.

8. it is hard to color outside the lines and communicate. it is hard to be inside of a particular and beloved box, to have become something else while inside the box, then to be reaching out with words that only transmit by moonlight. when someone says, ‘what are you doing?’…i am writing, i mean, a story, i am a sorceress, it’s about magic and grief, it’s about america, it’s 713,000 metaphors for gentrification. and you?

9. my world is so small. everyone i meet is basically my first cousin by love, art or movement. thus my love stories have no endings, and every world has to be infinite.

10. everyone please read ursula le guin’sthe birthday of the world, from the foreword to the last word. we might need a reading group on the story ‘paradises lost’.

so all that to say: all women, do hedgebrook at least once in your life.

hiatus

i am writing a draft of my novel this month as part of national novel writing month. it is really exciting, in the midst of an exciting time – we had a wildseeds gathering at the american studies association national meeting to think through bringing octavia strategies for liberation to the academy – i was a visitor from beyond the towers, it felt like an honor to contribute. octavia scholarship keeps growing!

i also got quality time with mentor/friend tananarive due, who i just deeply admire and respect.

then i met kid fury and crissle from the read today, and kid fury liked my turquoise bracelet game and they were both everything and lovely and sweet…and i think i acted relatively normal in the face of my black queer love for both of them. we got to uplift crissle’s read on ferguson and our weariness at the onslaught of state-on-black violence to her face. they’ve created a segment on their show called black excellence that feels like the podcast embodiment of my political mode of gifting my attention to the things i want to grow.

also, beyonce is releasing something magnificent before the year is out. !!! sigh. !!! breathe. just…just breathe. she makes me need to produce like a virgo.

to that end, i am going on hiatus for at least the rest of the month. i am going to finish this draft.

y’all see how easy it is for me to accidentally write y’all a whole post when i was just trying to say hi…atus. all kinds of brilliant white rabbit level new ideas keep coming up for blog entries. life is just moving so quickly. and yet, with all of that, the characters in my book are calling me over to their table for tea and monologues and dialogues and backstories and intrigues.

so i will put the wonderland blog concepts on a virgo list AND not let them be a way of procrastinating. i will not be denied in this effort. i want to pour every word i have this month into this work.

so.

see y’all in december 🙂 send love!

nanowrimo

i am writing a draft of a novel!

i had an incredible experience with napowrimo, national poetry writing month. i spent april writing a poem each day and remembering how much i love poetry, that i am a poet in my own way, even if it isn’t my primary form.

i have been reading a lot lately. i was recently inspired by kiese laymon’s long division, and then margaret atwood’s maddaddam trilogy. both were wonderfully creative and funny stories, the first one on time travel, the second on apocalypse and corporate control.

i was looking around for my next book, which i am pretty sure will be chimimanda ngozi adichie’s americanah, when i was reminded that november is national novel writing month (nanowrimo).

my style isn’t really funny, but it absolutely concerns time travel and apocalypse – in detroit. this is a story i have been trying to get out for a while, and everything i’ve written is too small to tell the story. the goal of nanowrimo is 50,000 words. i hope that’s enough, but i figure that by the end of the month i will know a few things:

– how i feel about novel writing
– how big my love story of detroit needs to be
– what’s possible inside my writing practice with a rigorous daily word count goal

the other thing to share about this story is that it’s all about grief, of course. part of why this story has been hard to land is that grief keeps knocking me sideways. today i pulled together the writing i have done about grief on this blog and it was so much. it was beautiful to see how time has made each loss more bearable, more complete. and it was humbling to see the ways in which my real life grief is being transformed into a generative force in the story i now write.

this novel may be like my songs and most of my poems, for my own release and healing. but i am excited to let it out, to give these ghosts a place to play together.

send me love, and luck. and if there are people you have lost that you would like me to include in some way, especially connected to detroit, please share their names and stories here. i’ll see what i can do.