Last week I had a conversation with my sister about her daughter, my niece.
Sister: Every time I ask Shania what she wants to be when she grows up, her response is either: Actress, Dancer, Model. Never, Doctor or Lawyer.
Me: Well she is a creative soul.
Sister: That just means that I am going to have to take care of her longer. *sigh*
Me: Yeah, probably.
I did not have parents who were in a position to "take-care" of me beyond 12th grade. Once I graduated high school I was on my own financially and was expected to find a job. College was something they wanted me to do - but it was not a deal breaker as in: Get the hell out of my house if you do not plan on going to college!
I did both....for a while and then I fell in love and then I had a baby and then I fell out of love and then I went back to college..for a while...and then i fell in back in love with my very first love..writing and you know the rest of that story.
But through it all I supported myself. I made a way where at times there seemed there was no way at all. I remained steadfast in my belief that I was put here for specific purposes one of which was to become an author, the other was to become a mother. I just didn't know that the "mother" purpose would come before the "author" purpose.
No matter, it worked out fine - because if at this age I had a five year old or even a ten year old, I would be seriously "fucked* 'cause there are child labor laws...you know what I mean?
You: Shaking head, looking confused.
Okay let me spell it out: Although my parents did not have to support me even though I was for many years a struggling artist - my child now has too.
Initially, it was not her intention to come home to find a job, (she had built a nice life for herself in NC. She had a car, home and friend - but she the situation here was "somewhat" dyer and so she packed home and came back. I did not ask her to come home, she made that decision on her own and I suspect that decision was based on a number of reasons:
Maybe it was all the fabulous vacations we took around the world
Maybe the six figure amount dolled out for her college tuition
Maybe because I took care of her when she was sick
Maybe because I set her firmly back on the right track when she began to stray
Maybe because I didn't give up on her, when she wanted to give up on herself
Maybe because she believes that "writing" is my calling as much as I believe it to be
Maybe because I am her "mother" and it is as simple and as natural as that
So she is out pounding the pavement looking for work and I am here spending my days working on a new novel while simultaneously spreading the word about an old favorite and a new release.
I have said all of that, to say this:
More people than I can list turned down the opportunity to publish Glorious. Still more declared my career to be "dead." The lesson here (aspiring writers pay attention) is that you have to determine your worth. You have to hold fast to your beliefs, even in the face of rejection. You have to believe in order to achieve.
And so just like Sugar - Glorious has become my second "Little Book that Could." The pre-orders are rolling in and people in "HIGH" places are taking note. Publisher's Weekly astounded me with one of the best reviews they've ever bestowed any of my novels and my child is looking for a job so that "mommy" can continue doing what she was put here to do.
Today is a good day....
Glorious Bernice L. McFadden. Akashic, $15.95 paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-936070-11-4
McFadden, in her powerful seventh novel, tells the story of Easter Bartlett as she journeys from the violent Jim Crow South to the promise of the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. Along the way, Easter forms relationships with both products of McFadden's imagination and actual historical figures: Rain, the sensuous and passionate dancer in Slocum's Traveling Brigade, a troupe that traveled the backwoods “entertaining negroes”; Colin, Easter's husband, who is provoked by a duplicitous friend into assassinating the Universal Negro Improvement Association leader, Marcus Garvey; Meredith, Easter's untrustworthy benefactor; and many more, including poet Langston Hughes, pianist Fats Waller, and shipping heiress Nancy Cunard. McFadden (Sugar) weaves rich historical detail with Easter's struggle to find peace in a racially polarized country, and she brings Harlem to astounding life: “The air up there, up south, up in Harlem, was sticky sweet and peppered with perfume, sweat, sex, curry, salt meat, sautéed chicken livers, and fresh baked breads.” Easter's hope for love to overthrow hate—and her intense exposure to both—cogently stands for America's potential, and McFadden's novel is a triumphant portrayal of the ongoing quest. (May)
Causes Bernice McFadden Supports
Hurston Wright Foundation
Girls Write Now
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS)