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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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