Thanks for having my back

It’s a blessing when, as a writer, you have a support system. It’s great to have a circle of writers, where we can support one another–after all, a winner is someone who also helps others win. To all those out there who call themselves “aspiring writers,” guess what? Once you write, you are a writer, following your passion and continually honing your craft.

It’s even better when your support system includes your family of origin. I have a large extended family who is proud of me and my skill as an author today. One member of my family in particular was there for me from the very beginning: my father.

I am grateful for a vivid imagination, but from him I inherited my offbeat sense of humor, which shows up in my novels. Short stories came out of my ears growing up–or should I say, flew from my mind to a pen/pencil to paper. Receiving a commendation in a state writing contest at 14 was a big deal for me, and he was proud.

When I took the plunge to start a novel in my late 30s, he was the one who encouraged me to become a storyteller. As one who read as much as he did, he was my biggest fan and my biggest critic. He was the one who instilled in me, “Never give up.” If you had the gall to say that African Americans don’t read, you would be on the receiving end of a look that could induce hypothermia.

He passed away eight years ago, but his legacy and his memory are strong in our family. I wish he could be here to see the fruits of my labor and the fruits of my success. I wish we could have our philosophical talks. I wish I could see him light up again whenever his grandson entered a room. Then again, he is here, in my heart, and I can honor his memory by paying it forward.

My brothas and sistahs who are poets and authors, it’s up to us to support each other, to make a positive difference by sharing our stories. There is no limit to what we can create with our unique literary voices and experiences.

May you have someone who has your back, like Dad had mine. One of my cousins looked around one day and wondered, “Where are all the elders?” It was then we realized that they are us.

When you have an opportunity, find a way to pay it forward. Believe in dreams and never give up.

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