“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters.”
Welcome back to another episode of Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge. As you may notice, I have decided to go back to the traditional WQW for now. You can imagine my excitement when Colleen stated this was OK. If you can’t imagine it, below is my happy dance:
OK, to the point.
My inspiration today comes from James Baldwin:
“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”
― James Baldwin
I love Baldwin’s last line “Vomit the anguish Up”. At first I thought about struggle literally but then I thought about writing and combining the two. This got me thinking about the struggle of writing and struggles incorporated into writing. This lead me to Baldwin’s quote. It still has me pondering, but what I got out of it for now is how each artist, writer in this sense, have a responsibility to tell the truth and in so doing have the courage to speak whatever struggle that truth reveals. This struggle can be historical, personal, or emotional but at some point a writer has to dig deep. I think this is because good writing is about the struggle and how said struggle has been survived. It could be the villain’s survival, the heroes survival, or the writer him / herself. Why? Well, that’s real life. Struggle makes people strong. Where is the overcoming if not for the struggle?
“James Baldwin — the grandson of a slave — was born in Harlem in 1924. The oldest of nine children, he grew up in poverty, developing a troubled relationship with his strict, religious stepfather. As a child, he cast about for a way to escape his circumstances. As he recalls, “I knew I was black, of course, but I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind, or even if I could, but that was the only thing I had to use.” By the time he was fourteen, Baldwin was spending much of his time in libraries and had found his passion for writing.
During this early part of his life, he followed in his stepfather’s footsteps and became a preacher. Of those teen years, Baldwin recalled, “Those three years in the pulpit – I didn’t realize it then – that is what turned me into a writer, really, dealing with all that anguish and that despair and that beauty.” Many have noted the strong influence of the language of the church, the language of the Bible, on Baldwin’s style: its cadences and tone. Eager to move on, Baldwin knew that if he left the pulpit he must also leave home, so at eighteen he took a job working for the New Jersey railroad.
After working for a short while with the railroad, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village, where he worked for a number of years as a freelance writer, working primarily on book reviews. He caught the attention of the well-known novelist, Richard Wright – and though Baldwin had not yet finished a novel, Wright helped him secure a grant with which he could support himself as a writer. In 1948, at age 24, Baldwin left for Paris, where he hoped to find enough distance from the American society he grew up in to write about it.
After writing a number of pieces for various magazines, Baldwin went to a small village in Switzerland to finish his first novel. Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, was an autobiographical work about growing up in Harlem. The passion and depth with which he described the struggles of black Americans were unlike anything that had been written. Though not instantly recognized as such, Go Tell It on the Mountain has long been considered an American classic.”
That’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed this weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday Segment. Until next week, yall be great.
It also appears I have returned to a new challenge! Here are the new rules:
Each week we will include a theme for anyone who needs additional inspiration. You don’t have to follow our theme if you don’t want to. It is optional.
In fact, Ronovan and I will alternate each week with a themed prompt post written on Silver Threading. This will give you a different perspective weekly to keep your inspiration flowing. Make sure and join us. You never know what we will come up with!
So what do you do?
You select a quote that inspires you. Then, write a short piece of flash fiction or poetry to share with us all using the quote either in your story or as the title of your masterpiece. You can include photos, photo quotes, or anything else that helps to highlight your quote. – Colleen
My writer’s inspiration today comes from an unknown author. I have decided to include a poem with my quote:
and great hills
They tower above our heads
Like mothers to sons
The intimidating weight
To our youth
Like a father’s instruction
Heavy with discipline
Is the carved stone
The frightening rock
But it is true
We can move mountains
If we tried
If we faith-ed
One pebble at a time
One pen to a rhyme
One stuttering syllable
And leaking ink
We scatter stumbling blocks
Like children at play
There are no toys
No plastic dolls
Or wind up cars
And conquering mountains
This poem is based on a true story. A sista I know requested I write a poem based on her childhood. And after hearing her testimony, this is the result.
Silence lingers on every street corner of her heart
surrounded by the sounds of her own heartbeat
the only child
who knew that loneliness could be so loud?
Never remembering ever being a girl
womanhood emerging from her mother’s womb
responsibilities following her home wrapped in soft blankets and warm booties
yet infancy is kicked off too soon
and replaced with scavenger instincts
tearing away at empty cupboards
hope falling asleep like heroine nods
quickly replaced with the tears of a three year old
silence tearing away at the soft eardrums of a toddler’s pride
never remembering ever being a girl
Quick paces of little feet turned nine
gotta get the cigarettes on time
unknown eyes that are watching me
(at least somebody’s watching me)
careful now these little feet
having never been a girl
Twelve times twelve,
sadness in mommies cancer eyes
watch him do it and do it right
gotta give the medicine exactly right
the internal cries of that youthful voice (never really having been young)
somebody please tell me,
where is mommies tongue?
gotta carry cause mommies gone
will someone sing her daughters song?
The woman with the pink ribbons in her curls
the woman never having been a girl
Restaurants to wash myself
weed and drinks cause I watch myself
who cares for cute sinks when nothings left
seems like childhood just up and left
me sitting beside myself
empty benches now colored with the stench of my pain
smelly armpits reach out to beg for change
while relatives sit at home and count my change
whose willing to see this woman change?
Never having been a girl
Hustle proved its source of love
where does an instant woman find true love?
inside the arms of an abusive man she seeks her refuge from lazy hands
money giving light to dark places
apartment buildings giving substance to misplacement’s
where has it gone? My love? Where’s your part?
where oh where have you hidden my heart?
Numbers fade away like living water upon dirty dishes
this daughter of mine the result of these stitches
Entering the world as if she owns it!
Gotta hope another woman has not entered this world
praying my first child has the chance to at least,