I’ve been cocooned for many months writing my memoir. The venture began over a decade ago when I first put it out into the ether that I wanted to, had to write a pentagonia (five part series) of memoirs. I had to share the story of this girl, raised in Bushwick by two moms long before the lifestyle was discussed in the mainstream, other than to curl lips in disgust and rail about how unnatural it is. I had to share how it felt to be raised by a mentally ill parent. I had to share the story of how and why I left my mother’s home when I was thirteen and never returned. I had to share what happened to me in boarding school, when I realized that I was “the other,” the time a lit cigarette was thrown from a passing truck at me and my St. Lucian friend, followed by the words, “Nigg*s, go home.” I had to share how I ended up with a drug dealer for six years while a student at Columbia University, and how as a result of that relationship, I emotionally incarcerated myself for more than ten years in a desperate attempt to protect my heart (of course I ended up doing more damage to myself than anyone could.) But it’s in the writing that you realize all these things, and that’s what the past decade+ of writing has helped me see. It wasn’t until I went to VONA in 2009 that I really started believing that my stories do indeed matter and should be, need to be heard. In a word, VONA gave me permission.
There was a time when I resisted the stories that cracked my spine, bent me over into impossible positions. I’m not that limber. There is no human who is. It’s why it’s taken me over a decade to work through this first memoir. I was on my knees; now I’m on my tippy toes showing the world how tall 5 feet 2 inches can be.
In January, after feeling stuck because I couldn’t find the thread in the dozens of stories, something shook loose after a grueling, what-are-you-afraid-of-kind-of conversation. I realized that this book is about my relationship with my mother and what happened that I left at 13. Once I had that, I went in because I’m from the school of: the only way out is in. I knew the first story and I knew the last. I gathered those I had in the middle and started filling in the gaps. And that is why and how today I am now compiling the stories that surfaced in my nightly ritual writing process.
I can feel the book in my hands. I can see the chapters. I can feel my fingers caressing it. I can see the epigraph and the quotes that start the chapters. I can see it all, for the first time in this years-long memoir process, I can finally see the first of the pentagonia.
And now I have an opportunity to have a master writer work through the book with me, help me see where it is strong and where it is weak, help me see the book in its entirety. The thing is, as a teaching artist who quit her job two years ago to work with urban youth, I cannot afford to go to VONA on my current income. I need help. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from memoir, it’s that I have to humble myself and learn to ask for help and accept it when I need it. So I need it now. And so, I’m asking that you help me raise $2000 to attend VONA.
The fees include $700 for the residency + $650 for housing + airfare (which last time I checked was about $550) and all the particulars like cab fare and luggage fees.
What do you get?
I’ll gladly share an excerpt of my memoir along with a public recognition (unless you choose to remain anonymous, of course) of your help.
You can also help by sharing with your friends, family, network, etc.
Thank you for helping me live this dream!
Here’s the link to the fundraising page: http://www.indiegogo.com/p/107961?a=142311. Please share. 🙂