Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why am I writing this blog?

I love reading. Some of my earliest memories involve reading. I can remember when I was 10 or 11 I would get together with a girlfriend and we would be together all weekend, but each engrossed in our own books. At various times in my life I have read more, or less, but never have books been far from my bedside or living room chair. The love for reading has translated itself into a love for the written word -- including writing and teaching. My first book was a labor of love, a partnership with my former boss. The genesis of the book was his and the ideas were his, while the writing was mine. Now I'm attempting to write my own book -- my ideas, my passion, my heartbeat. Folks ask me why I would choose to write about the daughter of a slave who lived 200 years ago. Equiano captured my mind and heart when I read his memoir for the first time. I often wonder what it was like for his daughter, Joanna Vassa, growing up as a biracial girl in England in the early 1800s, an orphan by the age of 2, with no family members on her father's side around (they were all in Africa) and few on her mother's side. What would it have been like for her to grow up and make her way in the world -- neither black nor white, neither English nor African, yet both.

So for a few years now I have been working out a plot, and writing a draft, and now it is beginning to take some shape. The rough outline I have written in pencil on posterboard is tacked to my wall near the computer, and the scenes are growing, the timeline is filling in, and the characters are forming. As I began to write about Joanna, another plot line appeared in my mind. Whatever happened to Equiano's sister, with whom he was kidnapped? Nothing is known about her except that she was kidnapped with Equiano -- not even her name. So to me she is now Oluchukwu, and ended up in Charles Town, South Carolina, as a slave. Her story, completely fictional, has taken over my imagination, and almost seems to be writing itself.

So now I'm blogging. It's a way for me to give shape to my thoughts on writing, reading and teaching, and share the experience with like-minded folks. Will I keep it up? Who knows? This is only my first blog!

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