Hello Ebi! Hello Fam!
Since today is #MotivationalMonday I thought is would be cool to share a short story I wrote a few years back. I hope it gives you the incentive to keep pushing forward in your writing, editing, querying or whatever part of the journey you’re in at this moment! Enjoy!
“I am a writing genius!”
Thirty-year-old Olivia, a/k/a Liv, stood before a hanging mirror and barked out her daily mantra. Sucking her teeth, she rolled her dark-brown eyes at the image.
“Who are you kidding?”
For just over six years, the gaping maw that was her mailbox spewed out rejection letters from publishers, literary agents, editors, none of whom were interested in anything she had to say.
“There isn’t a market for your type of work—consider another genre.”
Frustrated, Liv found herself standing at a crossroads—should she pack up her manuscript once and for all or ignore the Doubting Thomas that whispered in her ear each day.
“Give up, Olivia! Writing is for everyone, but you!”
Liv dragged herself into the living room and flopped down onto a frayed, gingham print couch.
“Maybe I should re-write my story.”
As quickly as that idea crept up, it was ruthlessly crushed underfoot. Liv zoned out as her mind rocked back to the past.
“Come on down and get a free turkey with any 75-dollar purchase!”
“Hurry! Supplies are limited and Thanksgiving …”
Liv leaned forward and switched off the small black AM/FM radio on the counter beside her. Getting up, she made herself walk away from the sturdy table, chair, and laptop that were her closest friends for the last two years. Slender fingers and slim, brown arms stretched towards the chipped ceiling of her quaint apartment in NoHo. Liv sauntered over to the living room window and slid back the beige curtain that blocked her view to the bustling street below. It was 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday, and the city still pulsed with life.
Liv laughed out loud and hugged herself tightly. “The final period at the end of the last sentence has been written. My work here is done.”
She rolled her eyes. “Geez, I sound like that monkey from the Lion King. I need to get out more.”
After two years, Liv’s 450-page manuscript or masterpiece (according to her) was finished. All the characters in her head had been brought to life on paper. Closing her eyes, she could see their images and hear their voices. Liv knew their personalities, fears, hopes, and dreams, and now she planned to share all of that with the world.
“I remember that night like it was yesterday. I was elated but filled with equal amounts of anxiety and hubris. My book was one of a kind, and when the publishing industry caught a whiff of it, I would be an overnight success!”
Liv laughed when she thought of it. After a long night of binge-watching Harry Potter movies, Liv woke up the next morning and dove to her computer.
“N.K. Jemisin, here I come!” She bellowed to no one in particular.
Soon Liv’s life consisted of only work, home, critique groups, and an occasional dinner with her parents. Liv’s mom was skilled at bombarded her only daughter with guilt. She’d lay on her Jamaican accent to push her point home—sounding like she just came off the boat. It didn’t matter that her mom had been in the U.S. since 1968.
“Imagine. I brought you into this world, and you can’t find time to come and see me?”
“Mom, I just saw you two weeks ago!”
“What is two weeks? When mi dead and gone, then you will feel it!”
‘Note my mother was as strong as a lion and still is.’
“Maybe if I had a grandchild, I wouldn’t require so much of your precious time.”
After I escaped, I admitted to myself that I was turning to a hermit. If there was an AA for writers, surely I would have joined. The coming and goings of the world were of no real consequence. My answering machine was full, and the milk in my fridge was way past its expiration date. I would peek out on occasion to make sure there were no fires to put out, but then I’d bury myself into and under my prose like a mole would dirt. Writing had become an addiction. Now I wonder if it was worth it.
The new year was just days away, and still, I had no luck. If I were foolish enough to make writing my sole means of support, I would have been living on the street. Everyday colorful envelopes appeared in my mailbox. I was invited to several holiday parties, but I was in no mood for any of them.
It was 10:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve when a loud knocking sound came from my door.
“Olivia! I know you are in there. Open up!”
I dragged myself from the couch and opened the door to my high-spirited cousin Lorraine.
“Seriously, Liv. Do you plan on bringing in the new year like this? Depressed and alone, wrapped up in an old, dusty-ass blanket like some spinster with Dick Clark as your only company?” She asked as she sashayed in.
“I received another rejection letter today.” I mumbled and flopped down onto the couch.
Sighing, Lorraine rolled her brown, oval-shaped eyes and gingerly sat down next to me. She wore a sexy, black velvet mini dress. Lorraine swiftly brushed her hands over her svelte, hips, and thighs and got back up. Her stoosh self would not tolerate a bunch of lint spotting her dress like polka dots.
“Liv,” she said wearily.
“I’ve wanted to ask you something for a while, but I wasn’t sure how you would react.”
“Why do you write? I mean seriously, why do you bother? It has been what, almost five years, and still, you’ve heard nothing. I mean, what drives you? Because if this was me,” she looked me up and down with pity, “I would have given up a long time ago!”
I did not bother to correct Lorraine on how long it had been. It would have looked even more dismal.
“It’s hard to explain Lorraine.” I let out a long-suffering sigh.
“And to tell you the truth, only a writer would understand.”
Lorraine frowned as she attempted to get up. I quickly grabbed her wrist. “Listen, Lo, I did not mean to insult you, but it is what it is. Only another writer would understand what I’ve been through.”
I pointed to my large wooden shelf. It was overflowing with books.
“Do you think those authors were discovered overnight? They struggled just as much as I am. But they found someone willing to take a chance on them. I need that too.”
“Well, your dream is not going to come true, while you are here moping around! Come on!” Lorraine yanked me off the couch and pushed me through the bathroom door.
“You have a half-an-hour to get dressed. I am going to a party, and you, my dear, are coming with me!”
I sighed deeply, beyond ready to shake off the old year and begin thinking of ideas for the new. But I felt guilty for insulting Lorraine and wanted to keep the peace. Jumping into a yellow cab, we stopped in front of a skyscraper at the corner of a major intersection downtown. There was a lot of excitement as people rushed to get to their destinations before midnight. After paying the cabbie, Lorraine pulled me out of the car and into a beautiful, brightly lit lobby.
“You better hurry, ladies!” said the doorman as we hustled by.
“You only have fifteen minutes left!”
As we ran into the elevator and the doors shut before us, I turned to Lorraine. “Who’s throwing this soiree anyway?” I asked suspiciously.
“You’ll see…” Lorraine responded with a secret smile.
We were on the fiftieth floor when the doors opened. My mouth fell open from shock. Stretched across the top of a set of ballroom doors was a banner:
THE ASSOCIATION OF AFROFUTURISM AUTHORS
NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA
I had to fight the urge to yell out. Tickets for this event were sold out months before. I squeaked when one of my favorite authors strolled by.
“I don’t know what to say.” I wrapped my arm around Lo and gave her a big squeeze, but it did not last long. She wasn’t one for drawn-out displays of affection.
“Lo, this is so unlike you.”
My cousin rolled her eyes when she saw the smirk on my face.
“When I listened to you this evening, for a moment, I thought you were giving up. It does my heart good to know that your inner fire still burns bright!” Spreading her arms out before her, she carried on.
“There are publishers, agents, and authors galore. I bet before the night is over, you’ll be one step closer to your dream!”
Lorraine pulled me into the crowd just as the old year ended, and the new year began.
“New beginnings abound!” I yelled.
Thanks for visiting! Come again soon!