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Writing and Changing… and Changing and Writing

As a writer, sometimes, your goals can evolve based on your needs. While my core goals are still the focus, some of the immediate ones are being met in new and unexpected ways.

Lately, I’ve turned my attention from script writing to journalism and copywriting. Within the past few weeks, I began doing marketing and advertising copy for the blogging service Content Cucumber. So far, the experience has gone pretty well. I actually enjoy the work I’m doing as it allows me to do my favorite thing as a writer – tell a story. Through the agency, I have a steady stream of clients coming weekly. It’s nice to use my writing talents to improve someone’s company outreach rather than create content for click-bait. I might have another gig in the wings (fingers crossed for that one).

I’m still working with CBR for now. I hope to continue my journalistic journey as I pursue more positions. I want to tackle more pressing contemporary issues across various arenas at some point. I’m still waiting to hear about my status with one or two clients, but I know it’ll be awhile given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Within the next few weeks, I plan to pick up my screenwriting again. I’m still waiting on some feedback from one or two beta readers. Hopefully, by the time November arrives, I’ll be in the process of rewriting for the umpteenth time. While I want to focus on my first two projects, I hope to start revising and rewriting my action-adventure screenplay by the end of the year. Along with screenwriting, I plan on finally writing a personal piece I’ve been thinking for a while.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

On the school front, my classes are barreling towards our first test. I’m still working out the kinks when it comes to teaching online. The effects of COVID-19 has impacted my students as well as fellow faculty in this early stage. Things may return to normal next semester, but given the trouble many college campuses are having, it might be stretch, to say the least.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Writing to Survive in 2020

2020 has been a trying year, to say the least. As a freelancer, growth, and change have become my mantra when it comes to expression. But survival has become my motto as the year has brought continual blows.

As a writer, survival has become a way of life as I chose to take my career into my hand. Unbeknownst to me, 2020 would rain on my parade quite a bit with the catastrophic situation after situation. It put me in an awkward position as I tried forging a freelance career. Surviving came before my craft as I began experiencing difficulties when it came to finding and maintaining freelance work. I began doubting myself and my abilities.

This affected all aspects of my writing. Coming back to do this blog was a challenge in itself as I had gotten stuck in a certain style of writing. This blog was my way of surviving while my contract work started falling (and in some cases, draining me). This place became my haven and purpose when it came to expressing myself. I felt stifled in other areas of my life. But my voice came back as soon as I started writing this blog again.

Another thing that brought me joy is my screenwriting. Despite taking a break at this time, writing my projects has given me a sense of peace (as well as some anxiety). Writing dialogue. Planning out scenes. Developing characters. That’s my thing. It’s my calling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I wait for some feedback, I’ll get back into scriptwriting before NaNoWriMo happens.

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I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet. Recent social media campaigns are starting to pique people’s interest. I recently started a new writing job with another possible one on the horizon.

On the school front, the Fall semester has been quite a ride so far. Getting used to teaching online and new students have been an undertaking, to say the least. The effects of COVID-19 has impacted my students as well as fellow faculty in this early stage. If recent news and emails are anything to go by, these circumstances may be in place for a while.

As a Black male trying to enter the entertainment industry, many inspirational figures are working in front of and behind-the-scenes of Hollywood. Ava DuVernay. Ryan Coogler. Justin Simien. Geoffrey Fletcher. John Ridley. Spike Lee. John Singleton. Denzel Washington. Angela Bassett. Laurence Fishburne. Halle Berry. Will Smith. Martin Lawrence. Eddie Murphy. Chris Tucker. And these are just a few of many.

For me, Chadwick Boseman fell into that category. Hearing about his secret cancer diagnosis and untimely death helped me to come up with this week’s blog. Boseman was the true definition of a hero and survivor. Besides being an outstanding actor, Chad was an activist and humanitarian who gave his all to everyone and everything. He did everything in his power to provide entertainment for the masses in his final years. He got the chance to play some of history’s most iconic figures — Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall.

But his most impact role has to be T’Challa aka Black Panther. From the moment he appeared in Captain America: Civil War, he made a huge impression leaving audiences (including myself) wanting more. Then, Black Panther premiered in 2018. To say the movie was a moment is an understatement. Chad and that movie were a cultural shift that Hollywood big wigs are still trying to understand and replicate. He was an inspiration to millions especially for young Black boys who had only a few chances to see a Black superhero in full action (shout out to Blade and Spawn). Now, looking back, this amazing human being was creating escapism for the masses while facing the battle of his life.

The legacy he has left behind will last for decades to come. For me, there is only one T’Challa. So I say to my fellow South Carolinian Chadwick Boseman — may God bless you in your afterlife journey and that you are gone but never forgotten.

Read my 2018 Paste Magazine piece on Chadwick Boseman and the history-making Black Panther.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Consuming the Culture Part Deux

In the U.S., August has been designated as National Black Business Month. 2020 has been a mixed year for many small businesses as it began with an increase in new business before social unrest and COVID-19 set in.

Many businesses in the U.S. have had to shift their models, or even worse, shutter their doors. This revelation is even worse for Black-owned establishments and businesses as they are twice as likely to close permanently compared to their White counterparts.

So to offset the imbalance, I decided to highlight some well-known and up-and-coming Black-owned businesses.

Beauty and Fashion

The Folklore – shopthefolklore.com

A sustainable New York-based online store and showroom catering to the African diaspora specializing in clothing, accessories and housewares. The store allows consumers to support well-known and up-and-coming Black brands from across the world.

UjuuMedia – www.ujuumedia.com

The fashion brand functions as part blog- part online marketplace for emerging Black designers. The brand uses its influence not only to market and highlight designers across the African diaspora but the overall culture.

Safashe – www.instagram.com/safashe

A Virginia-based independent fashion brand specializing in high-fashion and dress design for a variety of clients. Its founder Sasha Williams is notable amongst the fashion world for creating Richmond Runway, which highlights up-and-coming Black designers.

Honey Pot – thehoneypot.co

An Atlanta-based health and wellness brand catering towards the African diaspora and feminine hygiene care. Creator and founder Bea Dixon created the company to help other Black women naturally deal with feminine issues.

Juvia’s Place – www.juviasplace.com

A Los Angeles-based beauty and makeup company catering to women of different shades and tones. The brand has built its recognition for drawing upon the colors and formulas influenced by African culture.

Scotch Porter – https://www.scotchporter.com/

A men’s skincare brand catering to men of all ethnicities with all-natural skincare and grooming products. The emerging brand has become a go-to grooming brand for Black men.

Finances

One United Bank – www.oneunited.com

This Boston-based financial institution is one of the few Black-owned banks still operating in the United States. The bank has advocated for financial literacy amongst the African-American community.

Industrial Bank – www.industrial-bank.com

As one of the oldest banks in the United States, the Washington, D.C.-based financial institution caters to the African American community – banking and lending. The Congressional Black Caucus has backed the bank when it comes to promoting ethical lending practices to Blacks.

Awoye Capital – www.awoyecapital.com

This New York-based financial advising firm urging financial investment in the Black community. The firm has built its reputation for creating financial plans tailored to each client.

Food

Michele Food Inc. – michelefoods.com

An Illinois-based food company specializing in gourmet syrups. The product started as a family recipe passed down through founder Michele Hoskin’s family from her great-great-great-grandmother.

Slutty Vegan – sluttyveganatl.com

An Atlanta-based restaurant chain and food truck specializing in vegan fast-casual. The vegan food chain is best known for its take on the famous Impossible Burger.

This is It BBQ and Seafood – thisisitbbq.com

An Atlanta-based all-you-can-eat restaurant chain specializing in barbeque and seafood. Along with barbeque and seafood, it offers veggie options for practicing vegans.

CamiCakes – www.camicakes.com

An Atlanta-based franchised bakery chain offering a variety of confectionary treats. The bakery is best known for its specialty-flavored gourmet cupcakes.

Atlanta Breakfast Club – atlantabreakfastclub.com

This Atlanta staple serves up brunch at a reasonable price. Besides the traditional breakfast offerings, it offers breakfast and lunch alternatives with a Southern twist.

Media

Blavity – blavityinc.com

A multimedia online company caters to showing and acknowledging Black Millennials. The company has its hands in everything from news media to tech to travel with an appeal to the African diaspora.

Atlanta Blackstar – atlantablackstar.com

This Atlanta-based media company focuses on narrative aimed at Black America. Within the last year, the publication set its sights on entering the video sector.

UrbanOne – urban1.com

Founded in 1979 as Radio One, the multimedia conglomerate has been the premier outlet for Black media in the U.S. The media giant has expanded into television, advertising, and the digital space within the last decade.

kweliTV – www.kweli.tv

A streaming platform dedicated to highlighting and uplifting content created by those of the African diaspora worldwide. The streamer is currently available through Amazon Fire, AppleTV, Chromecast, and many more.

D’Art Shtajio – dartshtajio.com

Founded in 2016 by brothers Arthell and Darnell Isom, the Tokyo-based animation studio focuses on bringing much-needed diversity into anime. The studio has been on fire lately due to its collaborations with music artists Sturgill Simpson and The Weeknd.

Books

Eso Won Books – www.esowonbookstore.com

Based in Los Angeles, this Black-owned bookstore deals with a book selection specializing in African American history. The store spotlights both independent and well-known Black authors.

For Keeps Books – www.forkeepsbooks.com

The online bookstore offers classic and rare Black literature for bibliophiles. The online store showcases work from Alice Walker, Margaret Mead, Toni Morrison and many more Black writing luminaries.

Tech

Shine – join.shinetext.com

Created by Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, the tech app specializes in aiding BIPOC with dealing with anxiety and stress to connect with mental health experts. The app taps into the underserved and marginalized members of society.

Dollaride – www.dollaride.com

Created by Sulaiman “Su” Sanni, the mobile app aides underserved communities in finding affordable rides in the New York area. The app helps users to get around the city with their Dollar vans.

Hopefully, these examples of Black excellence show what the African diaspora can achieve when left it our own devices.

Watch this space as I return to document my writing journey.

Growing and Moving

As an artist, the act of art is all about shifting and growing as one continues to evolve. This year has proven to me that growth and change are necessary when it comes to purpose and dedication.

As a writer, I’ve noticed more and more that my writing needs a purposeful end goal. As evident by some of my recent posts, something has awakened in me when it comes to raising awareness. I feel my job as an artist is to spotlight both the good and bad of the world through storytelling. Writing those pieces on microaggression fulfilled me in a way that I only feel when writing my screenplays. I have to admit only a few news pieces have made me feel that way in recent months. This realization has created somewhat of a crossroads for me.

I highlighted in a past post about the current situation I’m dealing with a current contract job. That job has tested me not only as a writer but as a loyal employee. I took a break to reassess some things, but I feel I may be coming to the end of the road for me. But I’ll reveal my decision at a later date.

I know as an artist my evolution is an ongoing process that will never end. I once heard at a conference that creatives face a career shift every ten years. I’m actually in the midst of mine right now.

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

In regards to purpose, I’ve taken a mini-break from my screenwriting as I contemplate the direction of going forward with some of my work. Writing Losing Valarie has been a roller coaster as I constantly go back and forth about the direction of the story. Lately, I’ve been mulling over some ways to make it more current and update given its target audience. With technology playing a big role in the plot, I’ve tossed around some ideas about my teenage characters and its usage.

The hangup for my other series Brothas has been incorporating the parents more into the story while drawing from my real life. As my parents (more specifically my mother) were an integral part of my childhood, I feel incorporating a good moral base and relatable stories are essential.

As I continue to rewrite and restructure both shows, I’m still reaching out for more feedback on my scripts.

Soon, I’ll be hopping back into my unknown pilot. I want to do one or two more pass-throughs before I feel it is ready for feedback. With that said, it really is all about grinding it out to I get it right.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet.

The final countdown to the start of school has begun. The set-up for my Fall courses is pretty much set as next Monday inches closer and closer. Despite looking forward to teaching on campus, I’m preparing to teach my students online. From my perspective, I feel the school year will be vastly different from last year. COVID-19 has thrown the educational system for a loop just like every other industry.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Focusing and Refocusing

Rewriting brings about something many writers never speak on – focusing or re-focusing your work to deal with issues from the writing process.

Getting a clear focus is something I’ve been contemplating. For Losing Valarie, the revising and editing process has brought forth issues dealing with the continuity and a defined plot. The plot has always been secondary to my characters, but now, I see the two go hand-in-hand to make for the best story. Continuity has become another issue for me as I try to keep my story from verging from its original course. The latest revision requires me to fine-tune some key elements while adding some more contemporary elements for my teenage characters. This comes after getting some much-needed feedback. I’m still seeking more outside advice to make things better.

crop artist with new sketchpad in park
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Along with Losing Valarie, I received some much-needed feedback on Brothas from a fellow writer. It was nice to hear from a mother’s perspective as the show deals with two little boys. My script revisions deal with addressing some areas of continuity and plot. At the core of the series, I deal with a loving family. Making the parents a bigger part of the story is something I’m working on. Again like Losing Valarie, I’m still seeking feedback on the story.

I’m still in the process of working on my unknown pilot. I want to do one or two more pass-throughs before I feel it is ready for feedback. With that said, it really is all about grinding it out to I get it right.

busy young african american man with dreadlocks working on laptop in street cafe
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet.

With the start of school days away, I’m in the deal of setting up for the Fall semester as plans continue to evolve and change during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite looking forward to teaching on campus, I’m preparing to teach my students online. From my perspective, I feel the school year will be vastly different from last year. I can feel the landscape shifting on so many levels.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Working Through Microaggressions Part 2

Working a regular nine-to-five has shown me what in-your-face microaggression looks like, but remote work comes with its own set of tense moments and heated words.

Although I have only been freelancing professionally for a year or so, I’ve been working on my own since 2011. Like my situation at the paint store, I’ve experienced a form of aggression (and to some extent grooming) from one of my first freelance jobs. I came upon this animation job through my alma mater’s job board. Looking back now I should have been a little wary of the situation given the job board’s track record. I remember talking to the company’s founder and going over the project. Having been burned once before, I went into the situation expecting an ordinary freelance job. I spent a few months working on this industrial video with satisfactory results. The job took a turn when I was offered a full-time position. At first, I enjoyed the prospect, but things soon soured as the founder wanted me to do things outside my skillset. My biggest warning sign came when a young lady interning for the company suddenly quit. She emailed me afterward with some frightening accounts of her time there. But by this point, I saw the writing on the wall. He started to overreach when it came to not only my work life but my personal life as well. To make things once, I had dragged my brother into the situation (something I still feel bad about till this day).  Looking back now, I could see the grooming that was taking place. Isolation was definitely the next step in his plan. After some time, we got out of that situation, which was a blessing given the company closed down a year later.

man working using a laptop

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

But before that experience, I dealt with a fellow Black creative who took advantage of my naivety as a recent graduate. This position came days before my undergrad graduation. I was super excited about getting my name in the credits of an animated production. Like my previous account, I found this on my alma mater’s job board (see the pattern). Quickly, my dream job became a nightmare as I spent months going back and forth with this client over the direction and aesthetic of the project. One of my pet peeves as a freelancer are clients who give me “creative freedom” with stipulations developing in the process. The whole back-and-forth led to an email filled with anger, gaslighting, and condescension. It led to self-doubt and anger about my animation skills to bubble to the surface. My anger turned to motivation as I finished the project with simple animation and went on my way (with only half of the funds promised). The saddest part for me was that I never quite recovered from that experience.

Fast forward to 2018 where I interned for a well-known pop culture magazine. Like many internships, the experience had its ups and downs. I happened to be the only Black person and one of two BIPOC in the entire office. But one moment stood out to me and shown how even “allies” can show glimmers on unexpected aggression. To put everything in focus, I did overstep my bounds as an intern in promising a feature without checking with the publication. But the next thing that happened wasn’t warranted and was more of a power move than a teachable moment. I told my supervising editor about my talk with the PR for an unknown band. This led to a back-and-forth in a Slack chat where I admitted to my fault. I thought it was resolved as the band got the feature, but it wasn’t. Later on, I received an email meant as both a dressing-down and a vent session. I remembered reading the email and getting agitated and annoyed at the same. I mean if you’re going to come at somebody make sure your grammar and spelling are on point. In true Aquarius fashion, I dismissed it as another angry “White privilege” moment and went on about my day.

 

In summer 2019, I accepted a contract position with a well-known web publication. I admit to accepting the position more out of desperation for a job rather than journalistic integrity and money. That being said I enjoyed my time there for the most part. During my time there, I experienced various degrees of microaggression and gaslighting. During my tenure, I was one of a few BIPOC writers creating content for them with only one BIPOC editor. Having a carousel of editors with different approaches to writing led to some moments of doubt and questions about my skills as a writer. On more than one occasion, I have had side conversations that verged on condescending and demeaning towards my efforts to improve. What made the situation worse is that it was always the same three editors – two White and one BIPOC – always seemed to have a problem with me and my writing. Most of it dealt with insignificant components I was barely getting paid for. The White female editor has always been a little nasty towards me for some reason. But the later conversations were filled with everything from condescending “bro” talk about my writing to accusations of plagiarism. The amount of time and effort I put in my work didn’t yield significant returns for me. On top of the fact, that in an act of “performative activism” the lead editors tried to incentivize writers to help find BIPOC writers AFTER the Black Lives Matter movement began gaining momentum. At the moment, I’m at a crossroads when it comes to that position. 

These experiences taught me what to do and not do when comes to treating your employees more like flesh-and-blood humans rather than bricks in the wall. I still have not let others’ negativity taint my perspective about being a freelancer.

Next week is back to business as usual as I return tracking my writing journey.

 

 

Working Through Microaggressions Part 1

Having worked since I was age 16, I have dealt with my fair share of passive-aggressive and not-so-passive-aggressive actions and words towards me when it comes to being a Black male in predominately White spaces.

In my first job as a Summer worker for a local government organization, I experienced my first microaggression. At the time, the word wasn’t commonplace, and I didn’t realize what was happening. I had worked for the organization for two Summers at this point and had gained a great rapport with the staff (or so I thought). I remember the day the aggression attacked. It was a slow day at the office. I had been placed in charge of helping to create this coloring book for the organization since my artistic skills were known. I was doing some research for the book and ended up taking a typical internet spiral. Unfortunately, at that moment, one of my superiors (who happened to be White) caught me in the midst of it. Instead of just calling me out and admonishing for my actions, she decided to unleash her inner “Karen” on me fueled as hurtful words came flooding from her mouth. She then grabbed me from my chair and drug me to my supervisor. Then, she proceeded to tell him what happened and said to “do something with him [me].” My supervisor (also Black) talked to me and put me on a few menial tasks. Every time I think about that moment, I still think about that scared 17-year-old afraid for his future and his standing as “one of the good ones.”

man working using a laptop

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Fast forward to a 21-year-old college dropout wandering aimlessly trying to find himself. After battling through a year-long bout with depression, I finally found my footing as an adult by getting my first “real” job at my local hospital. To say that job shaped both good and bad work habits would be an understatement. Doing the same mundane tasks on a daily basis can wear on your soul. But the one thing I never really experience in plain sight was the harsh words and aggressive actions of my White co-workers and department heads. That was until one fateful day when our computer system decided to go down, and my department was forced to do everything manually. At this point, the new delivery system had only been in place for two or three months. So being the type-A personality I am, I took over and started handing out orders to our assembly line. In the midst of this, I still had my usual paper load to do before the night over. But we maintained a pace like a relay team at the state-wide track meet as I handed out orders while my co-workers went back and forth.

At one point, one of my superiors came in to see how things were going. We continued our conversation while I continued doing my work. I thought I was mastering the art of multi-tasking but apparently not. After having a day off, I came to work the next day and was informed of an unannounced meeting. Unbeknownst to me, I was in huge trouble for just doing my job while Black. Thank god for one of my co-workers having a conscience and telling me what the meeting was really about. Apparently, my superior decided to have a “Karen” moment and tell my area manager that I ignored her while trying to keep my department from going into further chaos. I went through all the emotions – confusion, anxiousness, shock, and anger – as I received this news. I was so blindsided as my supervisor (who happened to Black) seemed worried more about his job rather than protecting his employees. Eventually, the meeting was canceled due to management realizing it was silly and unnecessary. That day changed my perspective on my job as my hatred towards the place intensified. My relationship with my supervisor and department manager was never the same again.

toxic

The next “Karen” encounter occurred while working at an eatery known for its “clean eating.” Now for months, I had tolerated the broken promises and the toxic ghetto-soap-opera-of-the-week atmosphere without complaint. The entire time I worked there my school schedule was a problem. I tolerated it because I needed a stable part-time job while working towards my Master’s. The one thing that always bothered was my subpar inappropriate manager with a nasty disposition. On more than one occasion, she pulled me to the side and told me things no manager should ever tell an employee. But the final straw for me came on one of my class days. I had my schedule planned out where it finally didn’t interfere with my work. On this particular day, I had agreed to take a co-worker home, which was no problem since she lived across the street. As time inched closer and closer to my class starting, I decided to take some initiative by walking over to my manager so I could close my register and be on my way. Upon seeing me in her vision, she shoed me away as if I was one of her children. To top it off, she had a grimace on her face while sipping on the place’s diabetes-inducing lemonade. Like the previous episode, a flood of emotions washed over me as I walked away. I was flabbergasted, uneasy, and astonished by this woman’s callous behavior. As a result, a few weeks later, I announced I found another job. I had tolerated that place for long enough. 

As a Black man, you would think that your own wouldn’t go against you, but sometimes, the worst microaggressions come from your skin folk and other minorities. I worked for a major paint retailer for years, becoming the subject of many microaggressions and outbursts from those with privilege and many without. But a key moment changed not only my outlook on the workplace but how power dynamics can corrupt the powerless. At my final location as a humble employee, my entire time there was filled with unspoken tension and jealousy as the older Black assistant and the Latino manager seemed thrown off by my ambition and drive for things outside of the job. After one too many times of nonchalant, gaslighting behavior, I came into work one day in a bad mood. I decided to not speak to either one of them out of fear I would explode on the spot. Apparently, my disposition didn’t sit well with my manager. Instead of confronting me like an adult, he decided to recruit my assistant manager into some intimidation tact meant to shake me. I took every ounce of my being to not go off on both of them. I knew at that moment I had to make a change in my life. Within the next month, I got my position as a part-time professor, and haven’t looked back since.

All these episodes taught me how to guard my spirit and energy against those focused on with ill-intentions. Despite my standoffishness, I still have not let others’ prejudices taint me from seeing the light in most humans.

Tune in next week for more on my microaggression experiences as a freelancer, and continue to watch this space for more on my writing journey.

 

 

The Art of Re-writing

As a screenwriter, many times I’ve been told that the real write begins with the rewriting and revising process.

Rewriting can sometimes be daunting for me as I begin the process of reworking and revising these works I’ve spent years on. For Losing Valarie, the revising and editing process has been going on for years as I constantly come back to it to see if there are any new approaches or ideas I can apply. Going from an hour-long live-action drama to a half-hour animated dramedy has been a gift and a curse for me. In this latest revision, I have been trying to interject some more humor while ramping up the intensity given these are teenage characters. I have re-written and re-written this work so many times at this point I need to start reaching out to outside sources for some real feedback.

crop artist with new sketchpad in park

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Much like Losing Valarie, Brothas has been a labor of love for years as I try to translate scenarios from my own experience into a more streamlined kid-friendly series. I have continued to be insular with my work as I fine-tune my work. Again like Losing Valarie, I am at the point where I want some outsiders to see my work.

While those two may be ready for others to read, I’m still working on my unknown pilot. I want to do one or two more pass-throughs before I feel it is ready. With so much, it really is all about grinding it out to I get it right.

busy young african american man with dreadlocks working on laptop in street cafe

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Aside from forging my own path, screenwriting competitions are still in my front view. Even though, there is some trepidation as many require an entry fee. I have to decide whether I need to pay my bills or enter this contest. Hopefully, these next round of entries will yield some results.

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet.

While I continue to focus on writing, I’ll be concentrating on my professor’s job as I prepare for next Fall semester as we deal with this ongoing pandemic. I prepare to teach my students online instead of in the classroom.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Pushing the Narrative

As the world faces some difficult choices in an age of social and societal changes, writing is now more important than ever 

As I mentioned last week, I now have an outlet to make my creative dreams come true as a content creator through Patreon. I’ve been stockpiling scripts for some years now I plan to finally do something with them. Making animated content for the marginalized and underserved is all about the long game for me. I love to experiment with genres such as children’s programming, action-adventure, slice-of-life, and teen dramedy, just to name a few. As a Black screenwriter, I want people across multiple generations to be able to enjoy the medium for decades to come.

crop artist with new sketchpad in park

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

As seen on my website, my two main projects – Brothas and Losing Valarie – have been in the works for years. They both came from a need that wasn’t being met. The teen dramedy Losing Valarie has festered in my mind for years under different names and concepts before becoming an Election-meets-Mean Girls-meets-Scandal hybrid – with a Black female lead, of course. Brothas was born from the void left by shows like The Backyardigans and Little Bill. As a children’s show, the series is inspired by my own life as it follows two Black brothers and their family living an average life filled with imaginative adventures.

I still have one or two more projects I want to write pilots for by the end of the year. One revisits a Disney-esque story from my undergrad studies while the other is an action-adventure series centered on two brothers (see a theme here) as they take up crimefighting to find their missing parents. Along with animation, there’s also a live-action musical series I have played around in my head (it may stay live-action or turn into adult animation?). Only time will tell with that one.

busy young african american man with dreadlocks working on laptop in street cafe

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Aside from forging my own path, I’m still entering screenwriting competitions as a way to get my work out there. I’ve worked on my spec script a little more to help smooth out dialogue issues and timing. Hopefully, these next round of entries will yield some results.

While I continue to focus on writing, I make some necessary adjustments to my course for this coming Fall semester. Within the next week or so, I’ll be concentrating on creating the best course for my students as we deal with this ongoing pandemic.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Using My Words for Change

I’m a firm believer in being the change you want to see. You can’t complain if you don’t have a solution to the problem, and for me, my solution is using my words.

When I say “using my words,” I mean putting pen to pad (or in most cases, fingers to keyboard) to create the change I want to see. For many years, I have written about the lack of representation on film and television (especially in animation). As I mentioned in a previous post, I am moving forward to forge my own path as a content creator. I have scripts, designs, story bibles, and so much more ready to go, and I’m tired of waiting. So I decided to create a Patreon page to help me fund my work. I want to be able to recruit other creators of color (especially Black ones) to help make animated content for the marginalized and underserved. In order to do that, I need funds to help me fund my projects and pay people properly, and that’s where Patreon comes into play. 

With the masses clamoring for film and television that represents them, I think about the little boy in South Carolina who only saw sprinkles of himself here and there when it came to animated shows. I’ve had certain ideas floating around my head for years with some of those can be seen on this website (check my “Multimedia Art” menu for more). I want to do comedies, dramas, action-adventure, mystery, sci-fi and so much more. I feel animation is the best medium for that with Hollywood turning to it in the face of COVID-19. For me, this is the perfect time to strike.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

While I seek independence for my creativity, I am looking for other opportunities as a writer to highlight my talents. I am tweaking the spec script I wrote a month ago in preparation for an upcoming writing fellowship as well as some other writing competitions. Letting it rest for a while has really given me some clarity into what works and what doesn’t. Giving my work some time to breathe usually helps me and it in the long run. Every script helps me to hone my craft as a writer just like this blog.

My personal writing is still coming together while my professional writing is starting to pick up again. The pandemic put a stop to my freelance work for a while, but I’m now getting some offers. I have some clients starting to reach out again. Some new opportunities didn’t pan out, but I’m still grinding to expand my client base.

architectural photography of brown and gray house

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

While I continue to focus on writing, I am getting ready for the next school year as I prepare to teach two classes in August. COVID-19 had caused some necessary adjustments to make the campus safe for students, faculty, and staff. So my syllabus and coursework will have to reflect that. Within the next week or so, I will concentrate on creating the best course for the Fall semester.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

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