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A Writer’s Prayer for 2021

As we inch towards New Year’s Day, we get to leave the mess that was 2020. Some of 2020 may filter over to 2021, but next year will not only my year but your year as well. As writers and creatives, we all need a little help to get through the next year. So, here’s a prayer for writers from The Steve Laube Agency:

As I sit before this keyboard, my desire is to honor you and give great glory to your name. May the words I type be acceptable to you.

As I sit and write today, I think about all the other things I should be doing and I wonder why you gave me this desire to write. Clear my mind and heart so what I write can be used by you.

Your creativity is endless, timeless, boundless and downright amazing. While I run out of ideas, you never do. You are God and I am not, but take my words as an offering of praise.

Hopefully, this helps you to make your 2021 a bright and fruitful one.

Support These Creators of Color for Christmas!

With the holiday season in full swing, now’s the time to get into the giving spirit! So, here are some you need to get into before the year is over.

Angelica Marie – Filmmaker and Podcast Host

Elizabeth Evers – Young Adult Author

Jasmyne-Nicole Walker – Writer

Jaleesa Mitchell – Young Adult Author and Educator

Ananya Vahal – Writer and Educator

Carlos F. Perez – Comics Artist, Illustrator and Educator

David Heredia – Animator, Illustrator and Entrepreneur

Sasha Williams – Fashion Designer and Artist

KK Nixon – Artist and Illustrator

Lauren Small – Writer

Kelsi Jackson – Artist and Illustrator

Tani Andrews – Manga Artist and Writer

Cdeeq – Animator and Filmmaker

Allyssa Lewis – Animation Professional and Consultant and Creator of “My Animation Life”

Tehniyat Shaikh – Animator

Vinod Krishnan – Animator and Visual Development Artist

Ryan Adkins – Animator and Author

Abdiel Vallejo – Writer

Dominique S. Johnson – Novelist and Educator

Devin Ki’elle – Filmmaker and Entrepreneur

Nikki Igbo – Writer and Editor

Daniel Flores – Multidisciplinary Artist, Entrepreneur and Creator of “Art is King”

Pivoting and Growing During Trying Times

2020 has been a year of change for me (as well as many others). This year, I decided to put my career as a creative first. I wanted to turn my love and passion into a business. Unfortunately, I decided to pivot and grow in a year where chaos and uncertainty started to dictate the rules. But this year shown me what I’m really capable of.

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For me, I pivoted before the pandemic. Working a dead-end nine-to-five was killing my creativity as I tried carving out my career. I needed a change. The change was necessary as my workplace became toxic to me – physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you feel like the only adult in the room, and you’re not management – it’s a problem.

My change started taking shape in 2019, as I gained more and more traction in freelance writing. My moment came when I became an assistant professor. I found my way out of the retail rat race. I could finally breathe and be my person away from the public.

I do admit I struggled for a few months as the economy took a downturn. But eventually, things started to fall in place as contract work started to pick up and my business became official. At this point, I have found a sense of happiness.

I have to admit that sometimes it can be overwhelming and daunting being a self-employed artist. While the work is varied, I feel from time to time that my personal life is suffering as my workaholic ways take over. As I gain more and more traction in my career, my time has become more precious. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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With so much work ahead of me, I feel like Christmas break will be the perfect time to do some personal work. As 2020 draws to a close, I hope to find more time for me. There are many things I want to write.

When it comes to my position as a professor, the finish line for Fall 2020 is just days away. But it will be more of the same as Spring 2020; I’m teaching online once more. Like every school year, there were the usual ups and downs before the pandemic took it to another level. Here’s to hoping 2021 is a better year for everyone all around!


Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Mixed Feelings Over a Creative Future

As 2020 barrels toward an unpredictable ending, being a Black writer has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Angry. Sad. Anxious. Joyous. Depressing. Exciting. Frustrating. But recent developments have been made me hesitantly optimistic.

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My creativity as a writer has been tested so many times this year. For me, 2020 was supposed to be my year, but God has other plans (not only for me but the world in general). I’ve witnessed Black body after Black body become viral sensations as the American mainstream finally recognized (not accepted) how racist the US truly is. So many times, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration and angry. I tried to write about it, but my mind and spirit wouldn’t let me. It was too tiring to use my words to educate or express my thoughts on the Black American experience.

Along with America finally (if only superficially) addressing racism, COVID-19 decided no one was going to have any fun in the first year of this new decade. Again, my thoughts and feelings couldn’t come together to speak on the fun destroyer. I experienced an overwhelming depression that led me to channel my feelings into overeating. Despite being an introvert, I found lockdown to be isolating and anxiety-filled as this pandemic brought this never-ending cycle of openings and shut downs. I’ve been isolated from my family for months with social media and phone calls being the only form of contact. Despite writing for months, I’ve felt no motivation to tend to my personal writing. I hope to change that in the near future.

But the past few weeks have taken the cake. Between the clusterfuck known as the presidential election and an unexpected car accident, I have been having a hard time. Watching this country be divided between red and blue, Black and White, and men and women has been surprising yet typical after the election. Seeing the Orange Man defeated after four years of nonsense was bittersweet. Part of me was joyous to return to a bit of normalcy while the other part of me knew udder chaos was bond to break out. The social media meltdowns were better than primetime television.

On the other end, my car accident left me with mental, emotional, and physical pain I will have to deal with you a while. Despite having an attorney and an orthopedist, the process hasn’t been easy. I still have to deal with things that out of my control. My frustration and annoyance has been on an all-time high.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Despite all this turmoil, my creativity has never stopped. My mind is constantly filled with ideas of pieces I want to write. Hopefully, my plans for the rest of the year will pan out. Screenwriting is definitely in my sight as I plan on revising quite a bit over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Working on Valarie, Brothas, and the untitled action adventure will be my main focus before 2020 ends. I feel inspired to work on a piece or two (one fiction and one nonfiction). I will see more coming from me in 2021.

Since taking my break, my freelance work has increased as more and more contract work continues to come in. While it can be overwhelming at times, I won’t want it any other way. I love being busy. I might even have even more work around the corner if some connections work out.

On the school front, the Fall semester is coming to an uncertain close. Dealing with COVID-19’s impact on education has made everyone involved feeling overwhelmed, despondent, and anxious. If recent news and emails are anything to go by, these circumstances won’t be going away any time soon. Hopefully, by Fall 2021, school will have dealt with the “new normal.”

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Getting Afrofuturistic Spirit for Halloween

Halloween is usually a time of outrageous parties, terrifying haunted houses, and mountains of miniature candies. But given our current circumstance, many of those activities has either been scaled down, shifted to online, or completely eliminated.

This doesn’t mean people are throwing aside the spookiest day of the year. For many, this will be the first time they’ve socialized with anyone in months. Plus, everyone will be in costumes and masks – so a win win.

Whether it is face-to-face or virtually, this year ditch the scary or sexy route and delve into Afrofuturism. You can tap into the Black experience while playing with sci-fi and fantasy.

I decided to highlight some content across all media for some Afrofuturistic inspiration.

Books

The Broken Earth series (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky) by N.K. Jemisin

This Hugo Award-winning series follows Black women across multiple generations as they try to survive the “Fifth Season” after geological cataclysms.

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

This children’s sci-fi novel follows the children of Chief of Security General Matsika – Tendai, Rita, and Kuda – as they try to escape their kidnappers in 2194 Zimbabwe.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

A blend of Afro-Caribbean culture and magical realism, this novel see Ti-Jeanne, a single mother, trying to find herself and reconnect with her heritage in a dystopian downtown Toronto.

Lilith’s Blood collection (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) by Octavia Butler

Based on Butler’s own experiences with racism, the trilogy follows a war survivor Lilith as she is torn between breeding with an alien race to survive in a dystopian future, or fight to save the human race.

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

Delaney’s stream-of-consciousness debut follows “The Kid” on a road trip through the city of Bellona as he tries to remember his past in a post-apocalyptic U.S.

Television and Film

Sorry to Bother You

Set in an alternative universe, a young Black telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) must adopt a white accent to succeed. He eventually becomes torn between success and standing up for what is right.

Black Panther

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to assume the throne of Wakanda. He faces challenges from the outside world including his cousin Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan).

Blade

Blade (Wesley Snipes), a Dhampir, joins his mentor Abraham Whistler and hematologist Karen Jenson as they fight against vampires led by vicious Deacon Frost.

Star Trek: Discovery

The latest TV installment of the historic franchise follows the crew of the USS Discovery across a series of adventures with Sonequa Martin-Green as series lead Michael Burnham.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) fights against crime and corruption in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen with his super strength and unbreakable skin.

Music

Janelle Monae

The multi-talented entertainer and her alter ego cyborg Cindi Mayweather explored a dystopian future of prejudice and oppression through a series of prolific albums. Check out The ArchAndroid and Electric Lady for more insight and listening pleasure.

SBTRKT

The English DJ created tribal-like dance and pop music while wearing modern interpretations of African masks. Check out his work with Sampha.

Missy Elliott

The hip-hop innovator used her visuals to explore the styles and concepts of Afrofuturism from her cover art to music videos. This has only been heightened by her stage productions and lyrics. Check out her videos and performances for more.

FKA Twigs

The singer-songwriter is known for blending genres such as R&B, avant-garde pop, and trip hop to create a unique, futuristic sound along with out-of-the-box visuals and performances. Check out her work such as EP1, EP2, and Magdalene.

Ras G

The deceased producer and DJ played with sci-fi and fantasy themes through his music production and his album titles. Check out his work such as Brotha from Another Planet and Back to the Planet.

Expanding the Definition of a Writer

Every once in awhile, I have to redefine certain aspects of my life. Being a writer comes with its ebbs and flows when it comes to career and specialties. Being a freelancer and business owner magnifies those aspects even more. Even at this early stage in my career, I feel the need to redefine how the world sees me as a creative.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

The pandemic made many workers — freelancers and salaried alike — rethink how, when, and where would they earn a living. This all happened after I had decided to pivot from a dead-end track in customer service to become a full-fledged freelancer. It was scary for a moment but a bright side emerged on the horizon.

Like many freelancers, I have struggled to maintain and obtain work as the economy took a downturn. It was hard for a while as I started having second thoughts about going independent. But after a few months, things started to fall in place as I not only got more contract jobs but finally took the step to make my business official. Now, I can finally work myself without all the trials and tribulations associated with my old jobs.

Practicing various styles and directions have given me a sense of freedom I never had working a traditional job. I finally feel free from trying to elevate someone else without appreciation or reward given my way. Like any type of work, freelancing has its ups and downs. Now, I finally have the chance to work at my own pace and select what I pour my energy into. Work has been slow but steadily picking up over the past few weeks.

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Along with my work, I decided to write my thoughts and feelings as a way to help me cope with the outside chaos. This blog has been my outlet. I’ve managed consistently to write about my journey for months (with some breaks in between). This blog has been my safe haven as I figured out how to deal with this unexpected event like everyone else.

While this blog and my contract work have taken up my time, I’m slowly finding my way back to screenwriting. November is NaNoWriMo, and I plan to use that time to my full advantage. Thanksgiving and Christmas break will give me ample time to work on some ideas as well as fine-tune others. Over the past few months, I have allowed myself to try on many hats as a writer — and it’s been worth it.

When it comes to my professor’s job, things have been a little easier lately as I become more and more comfortable with eLearning. After midterms, I can finally see the finish line for this semester. There are only a few projects and two tests left for the course. The pandemic has made things somewhat difficult for both faculty and students. Let’s hope 2021 is a better year for everyone all around!


Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Working Hard for Me

As a writer, sometimes, juggling all the facets can be tiresome. The more I forge my path, the more life ebbs and flows. Being a freelancer and business owner can be daunting and rewarding. I feel my world is opening up while slightly swallowing me at the same time.

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Working as a copywriter and journalist has been satisfying and trying at various points. I love the work and using my craft to help someone else – it’s so rewarding. But in the same breath, I’ve found balancing multiple opportunities to be somewhat exhausting especially when it comes to my other responsibilities. I hope my other potential gig relieves the situation rather than adding to it.

Like I mentioned before, my other two clients have been a little MIA so we’ll see where those opportunities go given the COVID-19 situation.

I see screenwriting in my near future. I hope to block out the next month or so to dedicate myself to writing more. I hope to start shopping for an agent or manager within the next year or so. While I wait on feedback from my first two projects, I hope to start revising and rewriting my action-adventure screenplay by late October/early November. I hope to finally tackle my personal piece by year’s end.

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Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

When it comes to my professor job, I’ve finally made peace with teaching online and the highs and lows that come with it. I’ve learned how to not only communicate better with my students but with other faculty as well. I still miss interacting and communicating with students, faculty and staff one-on-one. I hope in the future to walk around campus – outside and COVID-free.

But I don’t see the pandemic subsiding any time soon. I was hoping to teach on campus next semester but my assignment says otherwise. Let’s hope 2021 is a better year for everyone all around!


Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Grinding for My Art

Being a freelancer can be trying at times – the constant grind of hooping from job to job can be draining . But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love working for myself and all the freedoms (and challenges) that comes with it.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

As I stated in my last post, I’ve spent the past few weeks jumping into the copywriting field. It has its stressful moments, but I enjoy using my storytelling capabilities to improve a company’s online presence and outreach. I feel like I’m finally using my gift for good. Speaking of good, I’ll have another announcement later this week pertaining to the gig I mentioned last (check out my socials). I still hope to carry on my journalistic work a I still look for a position where I can speak on contemporary issues through a Black lens. Hopefully, the demon known as COVID-19 will lose its grip in the future so I can hear from my other clients.

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Within the next month or two, I plan to put on my screenwriter hat again. I’m still waiting on some feedback from one or two beta readers. I want to begin the rewriting process by the time Nanowrimo comes around. Before that happens, I hope to start rewriting my action-adventure screenplay while i wait on my beta readers.

On the school front, I made it through my first online test of the semester (YAY!). I’m finally coming to the realization that I’m facing a huge learning curve when it comes to teaching online. Being an introvert, teaching online seemed like the best option during a pandemic. But I’m slowly starting to realize I actually miss communicating with my students one-on-one. I feel as if sometimes things get lost in translation online compared to face-to-face interaction. The pandemic is really taking a toll on the education system (some good, some bad, and some disastrous). On the bright side, I received my assignment for next Spring semester. Let’s hope 2021 is a better year for everyone all around!


Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

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.

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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.

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