The Summer Part is Over, but Writing for Freedom Continues
The color of freedom

“I shall not die without knowing the color of freedom.” My favorite quote at the Museu do Aljube, site of the former Aljube prison, Lisbon, Portugal.

 

My Writing-For-Freedom Summer has come to an end. I learned under instructors I would like to take back to Rutgers with me, meditated on what it means to be a writer of color who doesn’t want to work in obscurity forever, took my first trip to Europe, and met an editor who wants to publish my work. I’ve written new material (some of which has already been published – check this out), and when UPS finally delivers the manuscripts and comments I shipped to myself from VONA in Miami, I’ll revise some previous drafts.

Me, performing at the Disquiet student open mic. Afterward, more than one person wanted to know where that essay is published. It's not, but I'm working on it.

Me, performing at the Disquiet student open mic. Afterward, more than one person wanted to know where that essay is published. It’s not, but I’m working on it.

I’m proud of myself for taking a big risk this summer–artistically, emotionally (throwing myself into unfamiliar spaces with people I don’t know), physically (4 weeks of travel is hard, really hard), and financially. I wanted to do three writing workshops in three different cities and two different countries, in a row, no breaks, and despite not needing the credit to graduate from a program for which my tuition is already paid because I received merit assistance to all three programs, and because I wanted to gain different perspectives on my work, to build my post-MFA writing community, and to receive feedback on early drafts of my thesis. I did all of that successfully–and I met people from coast to coast and on different continents who have challenged and affirmed me as a writer, performer, and (potential) teacher.

Again, I’m proud of myself, but I’ll be honest: I’m disappointed in my GoFundMe fundraising total and in other efforts I made to raise money. I had a job interview via Skype while I was at Sarah Lawrence. The job description made jump out of my desk chair and squeal it was so dreamy to me. I didn’t get the job. I was hired by a temp agency to work the DNC. They’ve only given me 25 hours when I expected 50. I sent handwritten fundraising letters to people in Louisville who I know are committed arts patrons. Only one responded, and that was to say he thought about helping me, but decided not to. And I haven’t heard anything yet from any of the 9 scholarship funds I applied to.

Over the past four weeks, writers who teach at top institutions, who run MFA programs, who have won awards, and who are like me—still in the designated student mode, still hoping to be read by more than a few—tell me I’m doing significant work and that I have the combination of talent and tenacity needed to maintain a successful career as a writer. I believe them. Thanks again to those of you who have shown, in one way or another, you believe it, too.

Though I said I would end my fundraising campaign on Monday, July 18th, when I returned to the states (which turned out to be Tuesday, July 19th, because British Airways evidently has a new booking system that doesn’t work, and also, they gave me someone else’s boarding pass, then thought I was a terrorist and sent me to passenger purgatory for a while), I’m keeping the campaign up for one more weekend. I will delete it on Monday, July 25, 2016. Any last-minute support is appreciated, and after that, the donation tab will remain in the left sidebar.

Se Cathedral interior

Interior, Se Cathedral, Lisbon, Portugal, and maybe the subject of a future book

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