After three years of focused, reflective learning, deep reading and creative (nano) writing practice, I am once again attempting to write Up On The Roof, a fictional literary story about the effects of shame, loneliness and isolation on the possibilities of love, friendship and community.
The novel I am writing this year for #NaNoWriMo2016 is both the same old story I’ve been trying to write for years and something completely new. The themes and basic premise remain in place while the characters and narrative structures have consistently evolved.
The world I am setting in motion is new (structurally speaking) and this makes the entire project feel like a true NaNoWriMo adventure. 50,000 words in 30 days of non-stop, energetic writing.
The main difference this time around is that I have invested upwards of a year learning how to become a better writer by reading amazing novels with an eye toward structure, plot, cultural connections and character development.
Toni Morrison’s novels The Bluest Eye and Sula have enriched my experiment in learning to write (as a reader) more than can currently be said in a single blog post. Among several key writers including Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz and Maxine Hong Kingston, I owe a great deal of gratitude to Morrison for the beautiful, powerful work she has offered the world and people like myself.
My effort to write a novel that captures at least part of the complexities of my experience as a queer woman of color, growing, learning and evolving despite racist, classist, sexist and homophobic currents constantly threatening or denying my humanity, is my own small act of revolutionary courage in a time of immense change.
Still, I have much work to do before I can even hold a candle to the great literary flame that has been lit by the writers that illuminate the path I now walk on. Even so, I am determined to do the work necessary to “become the writer that this book needs me to be.”
Here is a brief synopses of On the Roof, my immensely humble beginning:
Music & technology are at the core of the stories that bring this group of disparate characters together in a changing urban landscape called Harmony Hollows. Some of the characters in this story are related to one another, others become friends or lovers over time and others are separated by circumstance.
Spanning three decades of constant change (80’s, 90’s, 00’s), of spontaneous connections, fiery eruptions, urban decay and hit-or-miss efforts for community renewal, we walk with this diverse cast of characters, following them as they search for unique identity in an increasingly uncertain world.
Other Creative Writing Projects
In addition to participating in NaNo, I am currently working on a project called #MyDiyMFA, a collection of creative non-fiction pieces reflecting on my learning path, this relentless drive to pursue the best education possible by creating community learning projects and using relevant resources afforded by the internet & 21st century communication tools in building a practice of lifelong learning.
Sadly, Seymour passed away in July of 2016, leaving behind a legacy of hopeful creativity and projects that promote the joys of learning by making and the concept of “hard fun” among many other powerful ideas. I wrote a spoken word piece titled The Seed That Papert Planted in honor of Seymour and the many learning paths he helped pave.
Thanks for taking some time to check out @RockshelfStudio!
Happy NaNoWriMo 2016!