I am a creation of God first, and a black man second. I was raised my whole life in Christianity, having been baptized at the age of eleven. I was set on this path by my wonderful mother. My father, uncle, two aunts, and grandmother helped nudge me along in this walk with Christ. This is why my brother and I stayed in Maryland for the summer with my uncle’s family.
This one particular summer, my uncle took it upon himself to force us (11 children) to have homework so that we wouldn’t somehow lose our intelligence over video games and TV. When I first heard the order, I was irritated. What child in their right mind wants to do schoolwork on summer break?
We either had to do math problems, essays on something we read, draw, or write whatever we wanted to write. Writing whatever I wanted to write seemed more appealing to me rather than anything else. It opened the door to an infinite amount of possibilities I had never thought to think about before.
As I started to write my required page, in the basement of my uncle’s house, I found myself unable to convey all that I wanted to convey in just one page. My story was much longer than that. Therefore, I continued. The further and further I went, the more and more plot lines began to show. I had to stop myself after I had reached the third page. I didn’t know what came over me, but I was excited to see where this story would go.
Over the next few months, I spent many nights after school working on my story. What started out as a three-page story, slowly turned into 232 handwritten pages. My story began to have characters, backgrounds, futures, cultures, religions, and nations. It was becoming something official, and the more I wrote, the more I was intrigued about how it could all connect, and more importantly, end.
By 16, I was beginning to transfer my handwritten pages onto the computer. I had to keep up with the times. I was captivated by writing, often being called by my mother to come spend time with the family because I was too busy either acting out a scene or writing by myself. I didn’t realize how much time and attention it was consuming, but I was having fun.
It was also at this time that I began to realize that I had a talent for this. I was already getting A’s and B’s in my English classes. My teachers were encouraging me to take AP courses so that I could get college credit. Teachers don’t just say this for anybody, right? My teacher in my sophomore year also encouraged me to write a story for a competition. This is when I first started writing out backstories and history for the main story I was writing.
I remember staying up until midnight, trying to finish a 32-page story about two of the generals I had featured in my main story. I shamefully had my mother stay up until 3am or 4am editing the piece for me so that I could turn it in. She was angry with my procrastination suffice it to say, but I was happy. Though I did not win the competition, it was fun to think I was good enough to compete with other writers.
Fast forward to my senior year and it was time for me to make life decisions. Do I go to work, school, travel, work on an art, or what? Football had taken a front seat in my life, so my lack of time and energy made my writing take a backseat. A career in football was a dream of mine after watching players like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, and so many other Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday (Sorry, Houston. Texans didn’t exist yet).
Unfortunately, my football career was on the fast track to closing, as our team was about to have a winless season. The fact that I didn’t even start on a winless team showed me that football was not the dream for me. Not to mention I hated practice as well. But what was the career for me? Writing wasn’t obvious. There was no money in it, and growing up poor or broke wasn’t something I wanted. I weighed the scales between engineering and business.
At 17, I began to ask God what I should do with my life. We had already established a more solid relationship, and I was starting to experience vivid dreams, visions, and nightmares. One night, (and you can remember this) I had a dream or vision of me standing on a stage in a dark double-decker theater with a clear podium before me. I held something gold in my hand as I spoke to a crowd in the packed theater as if I was receiving an award. I could not see the people’s faces, but their silhouettes. There was a skinny microphone curving up to my mouth from the podium, which I had to lean down to in order to speak and be heard. There was a white, slightly blue spotlight shining down on me. This was the image I received before I woke.
When I woke, I heard the Lord say, “That’s going to be you one day.” It was not audible. I did not hear Him with my ears. However, I had no reason to believe that dream was any different than any other dream. I would not tell myself that I would be doing acceptance speeches in dark theaters. I hated public speaking. God spoke to me in my spirit.
After pondering on why God would tell me that, I couldn’t help but think about the Oscars. It had the same vibe as my dream. Grammy’s were for music, and I didn’t know what Golden Globes, Emmy’s, or Tony’s were for. It had to be the Oscar’s. Well, how could I get into the Oscar’s? I wasn’t an actor or director. It had to be because I was going to write something. Writers get awards, don’t they? Best movie of the year had to give some credit to writers, didn’t it? After going through all these thoughts, I decided God was talking about my writing, which I loved. I came to this decision a lot fast than it took you to read this paragraph by the way.
From that point, my path was set, and it was because of God that I took this career, despite the many stories of starving artists. I’m a firm believer in placing all your eggs in one basket if that basket if being presented to you by God. God wouldn’t set you up to fail. He wouldn’t ordain you to forever walk in fear of poverty.
As I continued, I saw more and more doors open to confirm it to be true. When I started looking for colleges to apply to, I found out that the University of Houston was a top 5 school for creative writing. What are the odds that the school in your very city is one of the greatest for what you’re going to pursue for a career? The door was opened.
I attended college, refusing to finish any of my work until I felt I had enough training to write a story well enough for publishers to consider it. Over the next five years, I spent many hours and projects working on my craft. I wrote in classes, between classes, at home, at work, at family gatherings, at bars, at church, and practically anywhere my mind sparked an idea. Thank God for the Notes app!
Fast forward to the end of college, and I was coming to another point where I had to make a major decision. My debt was ridiculously high, and it was going to take another $300 to see if I scored well enough on an application exam to get into the Masters/Doctorate Creative Writing Program at UH. The slavery of debt demoralized me. I didn’t want to continue adding to that debt when my only viable option with a Creative Writing degree was to become a teacher. Remember, I hate public speaking. Doing it consistently on a weekly basis throughout the year sounded miserable.
It was at this point that I decided to take my talents and go with God. He inspired me to this path, and practically all of my work was about Him. If He wanted it to succeed, He would make a way.
I spent the next seven years writing. Since that day, I’ve written three novels, three poetry anthologies, four movie scripts, well over 5,000 pages, well over 500 poems, and a few dozen short stories and essays. I’m currently working on another two movie scripts, two novels, and three poetry anthologies.
It has been a long journey, but I finally feel I am ready to submit my work consistently until I get published. Though I am tempted to feel I missed the wave on a lot of things, I know that the Author of all our stories has my back. So instead of trying to catch the wave, I intend to #BeTheWave God has called me to be.
Thanks for reading!