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ON WRITING, RACE, AND RANDOM REFLECTIONS

The Joy of Writing

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, Webucator Bob Clary asked me for an online interview. As a committed novelist, I was happy to oblige.

Q: What were your goals when you started writing?

I wanted to contribute to a national conversation—especially about race and gender equity. As a white woman who’d been married to an African American man and as the mother of biracial children, I had a perspective I hoped might provide a bridge for white people.
And I loved the mere act of writing, playing with words, creating well-crafted sentences. During the busy years of child-raising, two jobs, and night school, I found little time for formal writing. But late at night I poured my desires and frustrations into a journal, which exercised the writing muscle. Sometimes I experimented with poetry, and always read voraciously.  Read More 
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Chairs

(Blog first posted on Women Writers, Women Books site, and Homeslicemag.com)

Chairs I have sat in. They’re usually too big, those conference table chairs at editorial meetings I attend, or seats set in a row for panelists at author events, with a copy of our latest book propped on the long table in front of us.

It’s difficult to be one of the “important people” in the room–and there I perch, feeling like Lily Tomlin’s comic character Edith Ann: feet barely touching the floor, knees unable to bend properly around the too-extended front of the chair.  Read More 
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The Great March for Jobs and Freedom, 1963

(Blog first posted on Women Writers, Women Books site)

I’d bought the car at a police auction for $25. You could do that then in New York City: ride the subway to some out-of-the-way lot full of junked cars, make a bid, and the next day, the car might  Read More 
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On Writing and Not Writing

There actually is a difference. As an author and columnist who’s been steadily writing, nearly daily, for twenty years, in the last few months I’ve become “a writer who emails, and writes on the side,” as my colleague Meg Waite Clayton says. Promotion for Mama’s Child has spawned endless emails: details  Read More 
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Shelf Awareness Book Brahmin Interview, May 24, 2013

On your nightstand now:
Arnold Rampersad's biography, The Life of Langston Hughes. Rampersad is nearly as lyrical as his subject's writing. Reading the biography right after Langston Hughes's own two volume memoir (The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander) is a joyful dip into the world of a man with the biggest heart imaginable, who revolutionized American poetry by writing in African American vernacular. Stanzas like "Good morning, Daddy!/Ain't you heard/The boogie-woogie rumble/Of a dream deferred" set critics rumbling about low-down trash-talk, and why would anybody want to read that?  Read More 
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Creating Fictional Characters

Creating fictional characters is one of the most mysterious aspects of the enigmatic activity we call creative writing. Here I sit, the author of a novel, imagining beings who have never really lived. Often they are composites of many people I’ve known, fused with bits of my own experience or personality; but ultimately they become their own people, whose voices I hear.  Read More 
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Why I Write

Writing, for me, is pure: totally involving, pleasurable, existing only for itself, not the end product. In the same way I cherish hiking a trail in the woods early morning, eager to see cottontail rabbits leaping into the brush, or the joy I get pulling weeds in my flower garden--where the aromas of leaves  Read More 
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It's True: I Love to Write

"What, another book already?" friends exclaim. "You must be so disciplined." They shake their heads in disbelief.

Well, no, not really. The fact is that I love to write. Shaping each sentence, piling them up one upon another in a logical sequence, creating a clear beginning, middle, and end--all these activities fill me with  Read More 
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The Oddity of the Writing Profession

Being a full-time writer is a strange occupation. I work all day alone in a tiny cottage behind my house, hunched over my computer, lost in an imaginary world. If I weren't producing coherent literature, some might consider this behavior peculiar, at best--or worthy of psychiatric intervention.

Even at night my characters follow me,  Read More 
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On Becoming a Writer; 1st Books Blog

At twenty I married a writer, though I had no idea how to become one myself. The year before I’d stood on a street corner at a New York City pay phone and called Random House, telling the woman I reached that I wanted to be “an editor or a writer.” Unimpressed, she  Read More 
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