Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Inspired Me To Become A Writer

Whether I'm doing a book signing, speaking to a civic organization, meeting with a book club, or lecturing to students, the same question always comes up...What inspired you to become a writer? My answer is simple—my love of reading, and a wonderful English course that changed my life!

I've loved reading since I was a small child. I have fond memories of my parents taking my siblings and me to the Half-Price Bookstore in my small hometown so we could buy books. Those trips to the bookstore were like Christmas to me. I loved reading because I was able to meet new people, travel to exciting places, and learn new words, all without leaving the comfort of my bedroom. I continued my love of reading throughout elementary, junior high, and high school. But once I entered Winston-Salem State University, my entire world changed.

While at WSSU, I enrolled in an advanced English Literature course taught by Dr. Elwanda Ingram (I'll never forget Dr. Ingram). That class reshaped my view of reading and literature. Until that time, I'd only read children’s books and young adult novels, but this course focused on African American female literary writers and poets. WOW! What an eye-opening experience. It's sad to say, but I'd never read books by black authors. They weren't plentiful back in the day, especially not in my small southern town. For the first time in my life I was reading stories written by women who shared my same skin, experiences, and community. They wrote about a world that was intimately familiar to me. Alice Walker, Zora Neal Hurston, Toni Morrison, bell hooks...I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I had loved my Nancy Drew books and all things Judy Bloom. But the novels I read in my English class resonated with me in a way that no other books ever had. They were stories I embraced. Seeing those black women who had produced beautiful, entertaining, and inspiring works of art made me think, "Hey, I can be a writer, too!"

My road to becoming a published author was a long and quite challenging one. I'll tell you more about that later. But for now, just know that if you want to write and you want to have your work published, don't EVER give up on that dream. Believe in yourself, believe in your story, and fight with all you have to make it happen. The journey will be well worth it!

Check out my author interview here!