The Birth of a Writer

2014 quickly draws to a close, and I hate to see it go. The departing year provided numerous opportunities for me. I studied abroad in France with one of my law school’s programs, and I reached the halfway point in my legal education. I began my tenure as the president of the LSU chapter of the National Black Law Students Association and observed the place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died. Perhaps most importantly, I discovered and nurtured my niche as a writer.

I have always considered myself to be an avid reader, but, prior to 2014, the concept of writing never existed for me outside of mandatory school assignments. My personal interest in the pen and pad started after I finished reading Michelle Alexander’s masterpiece in late 2013. For Dignity and Disgrace, I got the idea to take the concepts of The New Jim Crow and to fictionalize them in the form of a novel. The prose flowed from my writing utensil; save a few moments of writer’s block and more pressing commitments, I found the work to be naturally engaging and gratifying.

I believe that any artist should study and learn from those who precede him or her. Considering this philosophy, one of my favorite novelists is the eloquent Toni Morrison, and her writing style influences the manner in which I write. In addition to currently reading Paradise, I recently witnessed a display of her brilliance on one of the final episodes of The Colbert Report.

During the exchange, she admitted that she wrote her first novel when she was 39 years old. Once the point was raised, she laughed and conceded that such a move could be considered as the beginning of a mid-life crisis. After writing a few novels, such as The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved, the critically acclaimed author went on to receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Imagine if Ms. Morrison decided to keep her literary talents dormant? The vast canon of American literature would be missing a critical voice and a necessary perspective. She could have continued her tenure as a college professor without disturbing the security that the job provided for her and her children. She could have even continued editing the work of other writers. If she would have settled with the choice of comfort over passion, the world would not currently relish in the beauty of her captivating words.

I encourage anyone who is mulling over the idea of a new creative venture to take a leap of faith. Paint the picture. Sculpt the statue. Take the photograph. Write the 21st century version of the American Novel. There’s no telling where the project may lead. Additionally, on a globe driven by technology, there are myriad paths that one can utilize to share creative work. Take advantage of these resources and establish your rightful place in the field of your choice. The world needs your creativity, and you owe it to yourself to pursue your dreams.

Here’s to a prosperous new year!

Andrew Hairston

About andrewrhairston

Andrew Reginald Hairston is a civil rights attorney and writer based in Austin, TX. He is presently the School-to-Prison Pipeline Project Director of Texas Appleseed. Mr. Hairston is also the secretary of the board of Learn Together, Live Together - a school integration non-profit based in Washington, DC. He earned his law degree from Louisiana State University in May 2016, where he was a Faculty Scholar. During his time at LSU, he served as the President of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) from 2014 to 2015, as well as the 1L Representative of the organization from 2013 to 2014. While he was the president of LSU BLSA, he served as a member of the Law Center's Diversity Task Force. Mr. Hairston refined his commitment to racial justice work as a law student. He worked as a law clerk for the LSU Parole and Reentry Clinic, and he subsequently served as a student attorney for the LSU Juvenile Defense Clinic. As a third-year student, he was appointed to the Trial Advocacy Board, and he won the Dean's Cup Senior Appellate Challenge during his final semester at the LSU Law Center. Mr. Hairston received his bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Howard University. At Howard, he was actively involved in the Alternative Spring Break program. He worked as a site coordinator to develop and execute the initiative's first trip to Baltimore in the spring of 2013. From 2017 to 2019, Mr. Hairston served as a staff attorney at Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization in Washington, D.C. He began his legal career as the George N. Lindsay Fellow and Associate Counsel at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law from 2016 to 2017. He is licensed to practice law in Louisiana.
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4 Responses to The Birth of a Writer

  1. Karen Jackson Hairston says:

    You inspire me! God bless you Andrew R. Hairston!

  2. Sharon Moore says:

    Thanks for the inspiration to finish my own writings! May God continue to bless you, my friend!

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