Since the number of people interested in following my work has increased, I’ve decided it’s time to restate how I started out on this journey. I always felt I had something to share but I knew that my mental ramblings needed to be in a more concrete form so others might appreciate what I had to say.
I had been writing down personal events in the form of short stories for decades and about twenty years ago; I decided to put them into what I call a Time-Line. Strung together, they would form all of the important events in my life, from birth to the present. It only seemed to make sense to create a chronological recording system to give further order to my precious facts. The categories needed to perform this awesome task noted the dates of every job, schools attended, closest friends, favorite movies, music, places I've resided and every important event that I could remember and/or scrape together through friends and relatives. As this hobby grew, so did the sheets of papers that I was documenting the information on. I taped together sheets so that I could form a continuous time-line until finally, the running testament of my life stretched out to be about twenty pages long! Because this method finally became a folding nightmare, I knew that I had to find a better way to keep this information running.
During the late 1990's, I attempted to use my first computer (an IBM) as a way to keep up with my quest to permanently document my journey. To my disappointment and discouragement, after many hours, the five pages that I had so carefully typed, suddenly disappeared from the small screen. Not being a typist and at the time, not knowing what the word back-up meant, in frustration, I reverted back to my paper and pencil.
A few years later, my second attempt to try this again occurred with my then new Compaq computer. This annoying machine helped me to understand what the word crashed meant. I was able to print out the first ten pages of my life, but when the computer choked and finally stopped working, all of my hard work was again lost. If nothing else, I was learning what home computers of the day were capable of. Besides the occasional video game, I was not happy. Still determined, I finally got another literary companion (a Dell) but it was another two years before I got the guts to again attempt placing my over-whelming project into a machine that might either swallow up my information or die on the way to doing it.
I learned to use Microsoft Excel as a way of chronologically keeping up with all of the dates. I rejoiced when I discovered that I could even insert pictures along with the information to give a clearer picture of the memory that I was trying to preserve. As the information turned into longer stories and the pictures took over more and more space, I felt the need to expand and give more detail to the stories pass the Excel program.
By 2010, I decided to convert some form of the information into a self-published book. There was no way that I was going to write an auto-biography to throw out to the world, with all the rich, intimate details of my life so instead, I used a lot of my own experiences and either altered or added to them. After all, there is such a thing as writer's privilege. I still find it remarkable how a person can start out with one idea and then through what seems like inspiration, then be led down a path that you had no idea that you would be traveling. The feeling that accompanies inspired creativity is a story for another time though.
In terms of expertise to write the book, I figured that my growing up in Harlem, attending Music & Art High School (then in Harlem) and graduating from C.C.N.Y. (still in Harlem), gave me enough of a perspective to be able to speak authoritatively about my surroundings. After various drafts, I finally wrote my first book, Reflections of EL: In Search of Self. It’s about the first twenty or so years of my life, but with twists and turns included, of course.
Presently, I’m working on my fifth book and I’m doing my best to keep up with my blogs and four separate websites.
The purpose then, as it is now, is to continue to spread the joy of storytelling to all those who might be interested. I appreciate those that continue to come along for the ride and I promise to do my best to give you an interesting journey. See you next week, if not sooner.
I love my New York home. Its diversity inspires me. I would not for the world trade my multitude of experiences there.