Not unlike many of the people I knew and grew up with I was raised by an extended family. And while it hadn’t been drugs, jail or simple neglect that tore me apart from my immediate family the after effects were all the same, an extra mouth to feed in a house already burdened by having too many mouths to feed. The one consolation for my new family was not only was they able to collect on SSI but I would routinely be the stress reliever, for whoever needed some stress released.
When I was three my mother died due to kidney complications and my father, well his story changes with each person I ask so I’ve resigned to making up the most elaborate story whenever questioned. Some days it’s a car accident while other days it was a shoot out, something like the OK Coral.
While it would be years before I could actually break free of my oppressors. The one thing I did find solace in as a kid was reading
was the one thing that would take me away from it all and help me to forget about all that troubled me. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on too. On those days when the R.I.F wagon came to our school you would have thought that it was Christmas all over again. I could have had a thousand degree temperature with one of my legs hanging by a tendon but I would not miss my chance to get some new books!
It wasn’t until I made it to the 5th grade that I discovered that I could write just as well as I could read. I started off with the usual, you know, writing poems for girls in my class that I was digging. Even the occasional holiday card. Eventually I expanded from poems to short stories. Then one month I went for it. I wrote the longest story I had ever written, 50 pages long! It was my shining accomplishment and I could not have been prouder of myself. To show his gratitude my cousin promptly ripped it into tiny shreds as I looked on in horror. Being that this was a handwritten story, well before our times of back-ups disks and flash drives that was all she wrote. If that wasn’t discouraging enough, the fact that there were no repercussions for his actions made it all the more appalling.
I gave up writing at that point and was resigned to losing myself in other author’s imaginative worlds. Then something happened that started the change in my life, Boyz N the Hood and Menace to Society were huge hits and actually spoke to me and the struggles I was facing. It wasn’t long before other emerging Black directors hit the scene and just as with anything else the quality just deteriorated rapidly to a point where now most ‘Black’ movies go straight to DVD. And even then some of those movies should not have been made.
So now I had a mission, I would revive my writing passion
and use it to make better movies then the ones that were being put out! Several scripts later I realized that without any real money there was no way I could make a movie the way I had envisioned and even with a good script no money meant sub par talent, which is what was killing many others in my position. I wanted total control over my work so selling was not an option. So again I was sidelined.
Then something amazing happened. I had once read some books by Donald Goines and Robert Beck and really loved the style of writing because again these were stories about me, my life and the people in my neighborhoods. So I sought out books of this nature and was surprised to see that there was a re-emergence of this style writing. As with what was happening in the film industry and seemed that a lot of these books were so good awful I couldn’t understand how they could even be called books.
Considering that I had been working on one script for at least 5 years I felt that it had enough guts to it that I could convert it from a screenplay to a novel without much trouble so instead of For Da Love
the movie it’d become For Da Love
Now with Urban Literature, Hip Hop Fiction, Street Lit or whatever you want to call it being more widely accepted by the mainstream audience and also inspiring a new crop of readers who before would spend days on end in front of video games or even worse on the corners downing 40 ounces, I believe I’ve found my calling. Hopefully I can live up to some of the greats that came before me.