Whether you are a writer who’s already on your 3rd or 4th novel or a novice who’s still getting their feet wet in the big wide world of literature, it’s vital to your overall growth and evolution as a writer, on both the artistic and business side of literary composition, to find and interact with supportive groups consisting of other like-talented individuals.
In my early writing years, I had the chance to be a part of several writing groups, and I noticed there were a lack of black writers in attendance at most of their meetings. Not only that, I learned there was a correlation, in regards to subject matter and writing style, regarding how many black writers were or weren’t in attendance.
When I attended slam poetry and spoken word get-together-s, though, there were droves of black literary artists but very few in others, like the ones the YA writing group I was in would host.
Long story short, I begin to wonder if black writers felt their work wouldn’t be respected and honored if they wrote a certain way and about certain topics, outside of the stereotypical fashion of subject matter and techniques of how black writers are supposed to write and what they’re supposed to write about (https://goo.gl/QMo6bt), and I begin to wonder if that is why they weren’t in attendance.
I also began to wonder if they weren’t being invited, because the leaders of these groups didn’t feel that what these black wordsmiths in our community were writing about was considered “real” literary art to them. I noticed that the type of writing crowd I saw at the spoken word events was not the type to attend other types of groups I was a part of, and vice versa.
So, I started my own writing group to give writers of every kind, whatever their style or preference of subject matter was, an environment to facilitate their own unique growth in the artistry.
But, my main focus with this group is to provide black writers with a supportive writing family–one that encourages them to further explore the different styles and techniques of expression of the literary universe, which they, as an individual artist, feel the natural urge and preference to express.
In addition, the focus of W.R.T. is to promote our black literary forefathers and foremothers, which were/are largely not mentioned or taught about in the school system, and to remind black writers that we are the thinkers, the philosophers, the intellectuals, the documenters, and the brilliant wordsmiths of America history, too. Because, at the meetings in the groups I was formerly a part of, this was the type of praise and validation I heard white people extending to each other.
But, rarely are black writers told we are at the same level of sophistication, in regards to the quality of our English composition, when such a notion couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Thank you to the wonderfully talented Nai Brown (https://goo.gl/YZy7VU) for having this much-needed discussion with me.