Notes on Writing: A Quote from Junot Diaz

If you’re writing for change (personal or societal) or you feel stuck in your writing, know this:

A writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise you keep writing anyway.

Junot Diaz (via Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work)

Creativity Crush: Bradford Young

Though I have mixed feelings about Restless City, I have much respect for the film’s cinematographer, Bradford Young. Check him in out this video:

We use jazz…as a mantra on how we want to make films…the collective responsibility of how you cannot make jazz alone.  And that is sort of what we are trying to bring to the table of filmmaking. – Bradford Young

How can I not have a crush? The analogies to Jazz. The focus on the idea of collaboration and community. The mentions of his inspiration. He’s talking about his work and never says “I”.  Amazing.

More about Mr. Young:
His Website
His Vimeo Page

Black Girl in Paris

Shay Youngblood is my first writer-crush.  She’s so poetic in a non-dramatic way.  When I discovered her in 2007, her words were the first to move me in strange ways; before her, no writer made me blush.  And like any first, she’s opened me up to experiencing other writers in similar ways.

Youngblood’s second novel, Black Girl in Paris is based on her own experiences in Paris.  The reason for her decision to travel to Paris is summarized by a quote found after the dedication page of the novel:

If you go there in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting.  
BELOVED, Toni Morrison

I was too young to understand or appreciate Beloved during my first attempt to read it, but in the space that I’m currently in, this quote resonates with me.  I’m in the midst of what some call a quarter-life crisis, my Saturn’s return, my wilderness.  I’m transitioning from childhood to adulthood.  I’m trying to figure out who I am under the layers of these academic degrees; under the defenses I’ve built to navigate my circumstances.

Eden, Youngblood’s fictionalized self, is a 26-year-old writer born in Alabama and raised in 1960′s Georgia.  Inspired by James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes and other African-American artists, she sets off to Paris to live and create beyond the racism of the U.S. and to actualize the self she wants to be.  She is, in essence, going to the place where it was for artists like Baldwin and Hughes so that it will happen again for her.

There is no physical Paris for me.  Instead, my thoughts turn to my childhood when I was less afraid of trying new avenues of creativity and more centered in myself and the goals I wanted to pursue (no matter how often they changed).  I decided to time travel – to go back to the places that would spark my imagination and re-center my self.  I started by reading some of my literary favorites.  Then I came across some of my old writings and photographs.  I’m able to experience all these things through a different lens – with a self more open to experiencing emotions.  And now these sparks have desires to become flames.  I’m putting story ideas on paper and thinking through other projects that have come up over the years.  Now it’s just a battle with self-doubt.

This entry was originally posted at G is for Grace.
You can purchase Black Girl in Paris at any of these stores:
Barnes & Noble

The Future

The Future is about a couple, Jason and Sophie, who’ve been together for four years. Both are 35 and, whilst preparing to adopt a cat, realize that life is soon coming to an end. Thirty days before the cat, named Paw Paw, is to come home with Jason and Sophie, they quit their jobs and embrace the option of living more fulfilling lives.

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