1. It’s ok to have a crush on a boy’s hair
2. Playing Atari and Indiana Jones is cool, but if I like him I need to say it before he falls for a girly girl
3. If he’s annoying, it means grandma was right. She says if a boy is mean it’s a sign that he likes you
1. There’s an element to bad boys that is intriguing. Run. Run for your life, Shonte!
2. Accidentally sitting in cherry pie at lunch makes you the joke of every guy in your math class, especially when you have to get up and go to the chalkboard to solve an equation
3. When * handed me that letter, the one where he wrote the lyrics to LL Cool J’s I Need Love, I should have been real and kind and open instead of cruel
1. If I like him, I better say it before discovering an x-rated letter in his gym bag from my female nemesis
2. Listening to his problems every afternoon is cool, but I’ve possibly reached a level of ambiguity, the unfortunate one-of-the-guys/non-descript zone
3. If he opens my maxi pads and sticks them everywhere, it means he likes me
1. Tell the guy I love him before I pull up for evening classes and find some other chic in his face
2. It’s ok to fall in love. Maybe. Kind of. It just is.
3. When he discovers that he loves me too, don’t ruin it by slapping him in front of the rest of the football team
1. Tell him I like him before he proposes to someone and I find myself folding wedding invitations (literally)
2. It isn’t ok to continuously run from relationships because of fear and pride
3. If they’re open and vulnerable enough to express themselves, be vulnerable in return
1. It’s ok to drop the bravado
2. Marriage wasn’t so bad, and having kids isn’t so scary
3. Love hurts, again and again
I still have a crush on *’s hair
Decades later, I apologized to the guy who wrote the I Need Love letter
Sometimes I still want to slap the college guy, but it’s all love. Always
Know exactly what your client anticipates before saying yes. Are they looking for a basic transcriber? Do they expect you to take the position of a ghostwriter and a creative director? In other words, don’t assume. You may think you’re agreeing to typist when what they have in mind is full-on production. Make sure you and your client have a solid understanding of your job title.
If the client is unfamiliar with how ghostwriting, publishing, or creative writing works in general, explain the various aspects and challenges of each one. Again, get an overall idea of what the client expects for the outcome of their project.
Are they leaning toward self-publishing? Express both the advantages and downside of indie publishing along with any key points pertaining to traditional publishing. Go over any wait times or deadlines that may occur during the project.
Do you possess the time, energy, and resources necessary to complete the job? Does the client agree to all the terms and conditions, including fees and fee schedules? Will you charge per page, per word, or per hour?
Speaking of dreams…
Set realistic goals for both yourself and the client. Unless your client also designates you as marketer or promoter, you have no control over the final success or failure of sales. All you can do is present your very best work to the client and wish them success.
Translation: PLEASE have contracts in place. Make sure to include the number of revision allowances in your contract, and specify any additional cost after these limits are exceeded. This is where a pre-discussion of expectations and ideas is imperative.
You Better Recognize
The client’s voice and your voice are different
Stay true to your client’s writing voice, no matter how much you’re compelled to gut something due to personal preference. If your writing style is more scholarly than contemporary, save your style for your own work. We all have our own magic, just like we all have our own personalities. If you come in with bourgeois paragraphs when the client is more into everyday wording, it will show. It could even turn off their readers and fan base.
You need technology as your friend, not your enemy
Familiarize yourself with formatting and coding. If you’re “full-on production”, study up on trim space. Know how to format for electronic (eBook) publishing.
You WILL Fall Apart
You’ll have moments of doubt and frustration. You will periodically lose your mind and temper. You may even need a chiropractor, physical therapist, and anti-inflammatory (trust me).
They Bet’ Recognize
Fame or fortune is far and few
Very few people become famous when reaching for the dream of published author. However, there’s nothing wrong with aiming for the sky. Sometimes writers gain megabillions and movie deals, most times they sell a modest amount of copies and call it a day until their next project.
The transcriber, ghostwriter, creative director, full-on producer is not a Fame-N-Fortune Genie. They are humble servants wanting the best for their client while at the same token wanting to get paid what has been agreed upon via contract. So, be a kind client; don’t deny payment if their part of the assignment is complete.
Set a sales goal, but a realistic one
Unless your collaborator is also assigned promotionals and marketing, please don’t take it out on them if sales are lower than anticipated. Again, this is where clear job duties/title is imperative.
Blow the Most Bucks On the Cover, Especially If Self-publishing
This is one of the most crucial aspects of any project. First, potential readers and purchasers are going to examine a book’s cover. Second, they may check out the first page or paragraph. Then, they’ll flip through to see if you’re about your craft. Eventually, they might zone in on grammar, spelling, etc. The latter is where choosing a proficient and detailed transcriber or ghostwriter also comes in handy.
You’re Both in This Together
If you’re a beginner in the field of ghostwriting, or if you’ve always dreamed of seeing your words somewhere other than your notebooks and journals, don’t give up or feel inadequate. Keep going, keep writing, and continue developing various skills along the way.
Okay, okay, I’m a rebel. Do you know how hard it is to choose only thirty books? I have more than that in my three-tier case in my living room, not counting the closet space shelves in my bedroom and the black case in the study room.
Slowly I narrowed down to fifty-one titles (and even that was hard). For the full listing, in no particular order, click at the bottom of this page.
For now, though, here are a few favorites that I’d like to keep…for a while:
Beulah Land by Lonnie Coleman
Sugar by Bernice L McFadden
The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes
The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
Butterscotch Blues by Margaret Johnson Hodge
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Where did you go, you know, the person? Not the one we see but the you inside.
Where did you go? You let them strip you of your joy, your energy, your light.
Lose who you are and you become a collage of everything and everyone else.
Feeling some sort of way that I can’t define. Is it depression? Frustration? Inertia? My writer’s brain says “caged” but that’s a bit dramatic. It’s a long story that I suppose my conscience has nudged me about before. Something has been trying to tell me something for years.
So when do you say, enough is enough? When do you just…free fall? Is there anything besides concrete down there when I jump?
The abridged version of this story is that the current circumstances aren’t working, at all. However, being the overly cautious thinker I am, I’m reluctant to just open a window and plummet. It seems impractical to starve while happy, and yet it’s crazy to make money while sacrificing one’s self, family, and sanity. Tis the world we live in. We learn to become collages.
I eventually retired from retail in 2012 due to health issues and a couple of surgeries, one of which didn’t go well. Now, because of more life changes, I find myself at yet another crossroad.
True, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being fully present when it comes to family. And in hindsight, things happened that I don’t know if I could’ve dealt with while working full-time–serious illnesses, the death of my father, marital separation.
It baffles me that I got more writing done while working thirty to forty hours, with two small children, than I do without a binding schedule and with kids old enough to occupy themselves. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, I’ve also missed the security of steady paychecks. I’m saying this to say that happiness doesn’t come from circumstance. Happiness is a state of mind, period. But we have to figure out who we are, what we want, and how we’ll balance our true callings with the titles society places upon us.
Who are you? Where did you go? Lose who you are and you become a collage of everything and everyone else.
In definition of “inner calling” how would you define yourself?
In terms of societal titles, name at least three that describe you.
If you’re not being true to yourself, what’s the reason?
Map out a way to get back to the real you 😉
In definition of inner calling, I’d define myself as: a writer, an empath, a peacemaker
In terms of societal titles, I’d describe myself as: a mother, an estranged spouse, an introvert who knows how to play it off when necessary
I’m not true to myself because: I’m not a fan of failure, abstract ideas, or what-ifs
And yes, I’m mapping out a way of getting back to the real me 🙂
I wonder sometimes if she sees their pain …all of our pain. What kind of job it must be to hand out the poison that ruins every other patron. Is she a home-wrecker? A murderer? An abuser? She’s just doing her job. We are the ones so willing to walk through her doors & waste away an entire paycheck on that sweet nectar that rots our minds. The housewife with her Sunday wine. The college kids with their vodka & Redbull. The awkward first-timer perusing the wares. The homeless man counting his pennies for some gin. Everyone has their story, why they’re here. Why they can’t look her in the eye. I’d like to blame her for all the misery. ‘Why do you do this to me?’ when I really want to ask ‘Why do i do this to myself?’ That must be one of the worst jobs in the world. To see the best of people with the worst of intentions go in & out – in & out – day after day, week after week … until one day they don’t show up anymore. Jail, rehab, death? Where did they go? What path did you lead them down? – the drunks, with their pursed lips & dry hands. The ones who are too weak or too strong to make it through their days. How many families have you ruined? How many hearts have you broken? Jaws have you broken? Cars wrecked? Thank you for your services, liquor store lady. You are the kindest of doctors. The sweetest of anesthesia. The warmest of fires & the Queen of the Drunks.
I have shared several of his poems and essays on the blog–BROKEN DOLL, GIVERS VS TAKERS, INCOMPLETE; we’ve collaborated on a few projects, or at least tried (FREESTYLE); and now, Mr. Robinson, aka The WriterlyGenius, has finally granted an interview.
Do you agree with the cliché that creative types are misunderstood?
I do agree with that statement, because of personal experiences and scientific research. Artists are often stereotyped as weirdos, and I think some of that perceived weirdness derives from the creativity we hung onto and expanded throughout our lives. We do not quite fit into the box of what is considered “normal” due to our natural born talent.
I draw, paint, write short stories, and dabble in poetry. Those things require me to think differently than the average person. I think all artists think differently than the average person, which can lead to us being misunderstood. In many cases, I just experience the world in a way that others do not. When I look at real life landscapes, I see them as two dimensional like they were on a canvas. At random times, lines and stanzas just pop into my mind.
From an educator’s standpoint, how would you encourage a young person interested in the Arts? How would you encourage your younger self?
Usually when students tell me they cannot write poems, short stories, or plays, I reassure them that they have the ability, and they just need to tap into it. Generally, they are afraid that it will not be good enough, so I explain to them that “good” is relative. Some may like it; some may not, so write something that you will enjoy. My mother was very supportive of my artistic side, so I would encourage my younger self the same way she did.
We often hear the term “natural-born talent”, do you feel we have innate gifts, or is creativity one of those things learned over time?
I believe we are all born with creativity. When left to their own devices, kids come up with some creative – sometimes crazy – stuff. I think some of us are more developed in specific areas than others, also. My mom said I started drawing at age 3. I remember being in Headstart at age 5 and drawing my own cartoon characters on the back of the pages they gave us to color. I think schools, adults, and the need to fit-in kills the creativity.
You’re both an artist and a writer. Which of these was most dominant in your formative years? In later years? Are there similarities in each field?
In my formative years, I was more of an artist. I did not think of myself as a writer at all. I still don’t. Looking back, I realize that I used to tell short stories to entertain my cousins. It was usually silly stuff, but it fit my age. I really enjoyed drawing, and it garnered lots of support, so it was much more of a factor for most of my life. I only started writing within the last fifteen years after I stopped drawing and painting. It started with blogging. I had a way of getting my point across in story form and that eventually morphed into writing short stories. My ex-wife was a poet, so I kind of started messing around with poetry because of her.
The similarities between the two are that I am trying to tell a story. The differences are – besides the obvious- I have to find just the right way to tell my story in a single image while drawing versus writing where I paint the picture with as many or as few words as I like.
Imagine you have time to pursue a creative project. What would it be?
I would write a novel. For years now, it has felt like something I was destined to do. It is hard to explain. It just feels like the next step.