The Promise of Being Seen in Writing

I hope this mentorship will provide me with some much-needed perspective on my work and help elevate the novel to a point where it’s ready for publication and will have real impact for women who read it.

The characters and story were born out of a simple thought in the early days of dealing with a mental health diagnosis in my family. It stayed with me and weaved into a story about grief and mental illness until one day I had to sit down and write. After a few months of finding time before and after work, I took three weeks off, drove around the east coast and wrote the bulk of the first draft.

My most identifiable writing process is, I have to outline. The completed work very rarely resembles the outline, but it gives me a place to start and a reference on those days where I’m not sure where the story goes next. I also write scenes and ideas as they come to me; some of them make it into the final piece but many also do not—they just give me a bit of context about characters that help me understand and convey their motivations.

If I could have an author write my novel, I’d choose Zadie Smith. I’d love for it to be Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, for the poetry of her style, but I think Smith would capture the raw elements of my childhood experiences in a way that would properly reflect the person I have become and am becoming.

In a perfect world of which I was the ruler of all, a writer’s life would be free. They’d have patrons so the pressure to publish would be motivated by getting the story into the world and not attached in any way to survival and the need to produce for the sake of paying your bills. There would be specific writer communities in places all over the world, where writers can visit for extended periods (months and years) to work and collaborate on a regular basis with others in the communities.

I hope to be a published author in ten years with more than one award-winning novel in the world and space in my life carved out to focus on writing and creative exploration. I’d love to be at a point in my craft where I can also teach others and share what I’ve learned. I pray that I’ll be able to look at the publishing industry and see it reflect a more diverse array of voices, experiences and backgrounds. The low in getting there would likely be the (current) and ongoing struggle to find the right agent and the high would be talking to a reader who felt seen by and reflected in my portrayal of a character.