Writing Samples

Here are samples from some of my favorite published writings. I occasionally write for Digital Journal, and more articles can be found at: http://www.digitaljournal.com/user/868714/news.

Diversity in your fiction? Yes you can (and probably should)
Published by Write Magazine

As a black writer, is it possible for me to create
subtle, nuanced, believable white characters?
And if I did, would I receive the same kind of
acceptance as, say, Kathryn Stockett, a white
woman whose bestselling first novel set in the
early 1960s was primarily from the point of view
of Southern black domestic workers?

My answer to all these questions is “yes”. Yes, you can create characters from races and culture other than your own. Yes, you can find acceptance for works featuring those characters. But the path may not be straight and smooth. Even Stockett encountered difficulties — her book was rejected by some 60 literary agents before one agreed to send it out to publishers. Regardless, her book’s eventual success proves that in the West, the only hurdle to writing an in depth work featuring characters from another race or culture is the author’s willingness to do the research and bravely interact with members of that community with an open mind.

But still, I want you to keep in mind something very important. There will always be differences between writing from the perspective of your culture, and writing about that culture or race as, for want of a better term, an outsider. What’s the main difference? I think it’s probably nuance. If you’ve never experienced racism, how could you write about the small details? How could you fully understand the real emotional impact?

A Different Kind of Kendrik Lamar – Album Review
Published by Digital Journal

But the Great America Songbook wasn't jazz until Ella touched it. Jazz was a genre of mostly Black innovators, that challenged traditional composition convention. They created their own scale structures, and musical languages. Many lost their burlesque licenses, and unable to play in venues like the Cotton Club, these musicians found refuge and fans in places like San Francisco's Fillmore District. For a certain generation, jazz was the music of rebellion. Jazz musicians often crossed paths with beatniks. It's at such crossroads that beat poetry, and the amalgamation of music and poetry became a prominent part of US music history.

In some moments Kendrick borrows directly from this lineage, his pacing, meter, delivery and theme sound more like a member of the Last Poets is performing than a modern day rapper. In others, he is the quintessential rapper.

Creative Writing as Martial Art? Part 2 – Blog Post/Opinionated Editorial
Published by Open Book Toronto

Step one is acknowledging that writing is a martial art. Words have power. To this day, in many countries the first people executed in times of war are poets. In the West this may be lost, but we have the power to move masses. Creative literature can be used in defence – a rebuttal to false allegations. We all know the writing of Hurricane Carter. Writing can attack. There's apparently a well known book of Canadian literature in which a betrayed poetess outlines the real life betrayal of her poet partner. Slow literature, which may be brief, meanders within the details of the journey. It's all there.

If we all acknowledge our writing as a part of our martial way we can respect the power of each word and then perfect it. This is why reading is the most important thing that a writer does. Why many of us were encouraged to memorize poems in our youth. Such behaviour is akin to practising kata. Reading is free. Go to a library, borrow books from friends, find a quiet corner in a book store; if you consider yourself a writer this is the most important thing you will do. What you read is important as well. Only read junk for study. Have a list of classic and contemporary writers that you are always seeking. Go as wide as possible. If that means reading Japanese manga for inspiration, then read manga. Take as many positive things you can find, from as many fields of writing you can imagine. And then, throw away the bad lessons.