I woke up on Sunday morning early for whatever reason considering my kidz spent the night with their father so I really should have at least stayed in bed until the Indianapolis Colts football game come on (4:15 in the afternoon). Instead I wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:06 in the morning! It was worth it because when I turned on the tv Black Enterprise was on and author Terry McMillan was being interviewed about her latest work, past writing experiences among other things. One thing she touched base on that I’ve been saying for the longest is how street ‘literature’ is garbage. Ok, she didn’t use those exact words but I summed it up in a nice package, lol.
To put it in my own words STREET LIT IS DEAD! It’s not even worthy enough for me to spell out the word literature! Real shit. Ms. McMillan said that it’s not necessarily about the poor editing, although I think that is enough to just throw the damn book across the room, but she said it’s more about the content and how a lot of these writers are feeding into all of the stereotypes that past black authors and artists have worked so hard to squash. I’m not trying to say that we should eliminate that side of ourselves because a real writer, etc can only write what’s real to them, however there is a difference between painting a picture with your words about the grimy, gritty, violent life that we are surrounded by 24/7 and doing it so passionately that someone from Bangladesh who have never been around black people will feel where you coming from and driving a bus thru the hood one time and trying to pull off a believable storyline. You just can’t do that, not if you want to continue to stay alive in this industry. Because news flash boo-boos you can’t get rich just off of writing. Yes you see a couple of writers that got this big mega-deal and look like they landed it flawlessly overnight – eeeehhhhh! Wrong! That only happens once in a blue moon. Since I’ve been really paying attention to the bestsellers list in all genres of fiction, I’m not a professional I don’t know everything but I do know that street lit has a very long way from being consistent on the New York Times Bestsellers list. First you have to get over the bad editing! I can’t afford an editor so right now I have to swallow and ingest editing books from the library. But if you have your own publishing company that has been in the game for a minute, especially if you have set the trend for other black people to come out you can afford an editor as a matter of fact you can afford a real good one. Having consistent misspelled words, margins all over the place, punctuation is nine levels of hotmessness, really? I don’t want to consistently see these easily noticeable mistakes cause if I see it one of yall should have saw that before it was put to print! Yes Terry McMillan has had maybe one mistake in her book, or Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, hell even Stieg Larsson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) but their editor, agent, and publisher will make sure that they fine comb their work regardless on whether or not that writer is an experienced writer or a beginner!
Step your game up! Now that we are getting noticed for our writing talents and we are getting a little bit bigger section in the book stores we need to expand and make stuff that all black people can relate to that will spill out into mainstream (not sell-out, but increase popularity and money). Hell a lot of them already look at us as hoodlums, thugs, violent people, unintelligent beings that are not capable of writing about nothing else but gangs, drugs, and fucking. Lets get on their level. But Talia, I’m writing for myself and my people fuck them other people! That’s the most stupid thing I have heard you say. Anyone who will turn down an opportunity to expand their craft and make more money as well as exposure because they want to strictly focus on their people minds well get another job because you are going to fall right into rhythm with all the other wack ass street lit writers.
So I challenge you writers out there who are with a publisher who only promotes street lit and don’t wanna expand a little, step out of your box for a minute and see what happens. Otherwise I will see you on the way to the top of my glass ceiling dreams!
Peace and luv!