It is 6:33 A.M. on my 33rd birthday. I’ve been awake for an hour, reading Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes. (I apologize in advance if my voice gets Shonda-y here. I absorb writing voices that way sometimes.) Anyway, it is my birthday and I am reading The Year of Yes and thinking about the free Starbucks beverage I will enjoy when the rest of the world wakes up and basking in the glow of accomplishment.
In case you haven’t heard: ya girl wrote a book.
Let me say that again: I, Skinny Black Girl–pen name Robyn Louis–wrote a motherfucking book.
I kept it under wraps. I didn’t want to be saddled with expectation. I had years of material to sort through. This time last year, I had a draft of a memoir full of my old posts: the stuff about depression, the anxiety, the suicide attempt, the quarterlife crises, the feminism, the randomly funny moments, and the boys.
How did I sequence it? Themed chapters? Chronological order? Did I turn my twisty-turny (Okay. That was def Shonda. Sorry.) years into a neat linear tale? At one point, the essays were in alphabetical order by title because I didn’t want linear. As comfortable as I am with telling my story, I hate the idea of people reading between lines for “facts” I don’t wish to give them. Confusing the timeline felt safe.
The draft was trash. I abandoned it for six months.
When I re-approached the material, I got rid of everything that didn’t sing to me. What remained was leaner, cleaner. This, I could work with. I edited and edited and re-edited. It needed something–something else. I couldn’t put my finger on what…
A second voice. A foreword, by a dear friend and a trusted, mighty pen. I tapped La from Liquor, Loans and Love. When I read her first draft–a voice outside my head, confirming that I’d indeed put together a book (a good book)–it was real.
Now it’s out in the world. For my 33rd birthday.
I’ve tasted completion and one sample won’t be enough.
Hey, guys. I’m a real life ass writer. I can’t think of a better gift.