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!