If My Books Shall Die

jez-timms-unsplash

I read James Baldwin today

and realized I was carrying his bones

in the crooks of my arms,

and that if my books shall die,

then I have labored in vain.

 

I have swam through centuries

and ran years in someone else’s shoes,

I have climbed mountains

and crawled under valleys

only to bleed death.

I have wasted my time

carving obsession into paper

with invisible ink,

Words fallen like stars

on deaf ears.

 

If my books shall die,

then let me not be born.

Take me back to the safety

of my mother’s womb,

the privacy

of not yet existing

if my works have been in vain.

 

If my books shall die,

then I do not exist.

Not on the tops of your shelves,

or faced down on kitchen counters,

or underneath your children’s beds.

Honor me

in the palms of your hands

and not standing next to Grandmother’s old picture in the living room—

Grandmother is dead

and I do not wish to die.

 

Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors

On silver platters,

For I am feeding you

with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat…

I offer you

the best of me.

 

And when I am dead,

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance,

See my lips move

and witness passion soar from beyond the grave.

 

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life,

But if my books shall live…

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

Resurrect me

and carry

my bones.

Dear Author: Stop Giving Everything Away for Free if You are Trying to Run a Business

Booking

Not everyone doing well for themselves have “sold out.” Not everyone doing well for themselves are chasing the American dream. Not everyone doing well for themselves are seeking worldly success. These kinds of self-limiting beliefs will leave you stuck, broke, and dimming your light because, ya know, you don’t want people to think you are trying to get rich or die trying.

Stop giving everything away for free if you are trying to run a business.

I have a few free services I offer to authors to contribute to the writing community and my commitment to putting other writers on. (Author Interviews are one of them, and they are free. Click Here to learn how to sign up.) 

As an author, I feel it is my responsibility to do my part to help others. I genuinely believe in the saying, “do what you love, and the money will come,” so money has never (and will never) be my focus. My focus is on doing what I love while providing as much value as I can to others. I am passionate about writing, so it doesn’t feel like work, and I am happy to help no matter the circumstance. Besides my free services and tutorials, I also give away free chapters of books on this blog or my email list. 

But freebies must be kept to a minimum because I do run a business.

Would you work a 9-5 for free? Would it be more righteous for us to wait for a corporate promotion than to run our own business? Why is working for someone more admirable and respected than someone working for themselves?

While freebies are useful, keep them to a minimum. It’s okay (and I would even recommend it) to give stuff away for free now and again. How else will people get to sample your work? The problem is if everything you do is free, you are teaching your audience not to take you seriously, and they will get used to you doing everything free. Set a few things aside as freebies (maybe they get a free book when they sign up to your author newsletter) but charge your worth in other areas.

Advice is a consult and comes with a price, teaching is a service and comes with a price, and I am sorry, but no, all of my ebooks are not 99cents. This is not a game, I did not come to play, and neither should you. YOU are important. YOU are special, your work is exceptional, and in 2019 you deserve more.

  • Educate yourself to ensure that what you are charging for is valuable (research, research, research)
  • Charge your worth
  • Ask your clients to leave reviews. Reviews are like witnesses that your product/service is of good quality and worth the time / money investment.

This isn’t about money, but let’s stop acting like people don’t need money to live in this world. Let’s stop acting like your children don’t need to eat, your bills don’t need to be paid, and your books don’t need to be edited.

This is about knowing your worth and your value professionally. Financial literacy and management are the backbones of successful businesses. You don’t have to spend hours of blood, sweat, tears, and money, sacrificing your time and energy writing and doing all these AMAZING things so that you can give it away for free.

Not everything free is valuable. Paying for something of good quality creates more of a commitment to follow-through. When someone pays for something, they are more likely to listen to, watch, apply or read it. If they didn’t pay for it, they are more likely to put it off for a better time, and a better time may never come. I can’t tell you how many ebooks are on the Kindle that I got for free. I intend to read them all, but the ones I read first are the ones I paid for. That’s just real.

How serious are you about your writing? Either this is an expensive hobby or a writing business. You choose.


You Are Somebody

Someone gave birth to you. Pushed you out into the world like they knew you were somebody. Wrapped you in all the passion that led them here and anointed your body with a name fit for royalty. Do you know your name? Have you sought its meaning? Do you know your own somebodiness? And even though you made mistakes, consistently proving the universe wrong (like you aren’t worthy of this name), it is still yours. No matter how many times you fell, your somebodiness didn’t leave you. It was there all along, far before you were formed in your mother’s womb. And even when you were so depressed that you ain’t think you were fit to live, you did it. You did it because you are somebody. Your value does not fade just because you are a little scarred, a little blue. You are still somebody. We only work within the confines of how we perceive ourselves. We cannot be successful until we believe that we are truly worth it. We cannot be successful until we believe that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are still somebody.

“Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that your nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.” – MLK

YouTube: New Poem Added! Listen to “Cheap” #Poetry #SpokenWord

This started out as something I wrote for myself. It wasn’t necessarily a poem. But I decided to turn it into something for you as well. I rewrote it in third person instead of first person. Do not be cheap with yourself. Know your worth. Know your value. Be you. Love you.

Poet Spotlight – 2-Day Special: Grand Prize Winner | Jahkazia Richardson Part 1

This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! For the next two days, you’ll get to learn more about our grand prize winner.

Jahkazia reminded me that it’s never too late. How so? Because her poem came in exactly one minute to the deadline of this contest and won the entire competition. If she had thought, “maybe it’s too late,” then we would not get to meet and learn more about this beautiful soul. Let’s get into it.

Introducing Jahkazia Richardson

Jahkazia Richardson

Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia which translates to Goddess of the land) is a slam poet hailed from Durham, NC. She studied Clinical Psychology at William Peace University and will be continuing her vocational path in Art and expressive therapy next fall. She appreciates going to live shows in the area as well as trying different recipes from all over the world. Currently, she is an insurance agent in ‘Bull City’ where she teaches clients how to protect their financial assets.

Welcome Jahkazia! So nice to meet you beautiful. We almost didn’t get to witness your beautiful writing and voice. Please, tell us what inspired your poem.

Jahkazia: In my darkest moments, I saw myself as a victim for a long time, and I always had a pretty negative outlook on life. When things got cleared up, I truly felt more powerful than I have ever felt before. My inspiration for my piece was a deep reflection of my overall growth and healing journey as well as wanting to honor my ancestors in their struggle to find their own power also.

Beautiful.

We’re going to stop here because tomorrow we will go a bit deeper into the mind of Ms. Richardson. For now, let’s get into this poem!

What if I Knew My Worth?

Copyright©Jahkazia Richardson

Thunder thighs was my name growing up,

Thunder that cracked like the whip on the back of my ancestors

Too bad I didn’t have their strength

Head hung low and shallow

my back hunched and broken.

How did I get here?

Words that cut deep into my skin like razors,

But I didn’t let anyone see me bleed

Times that I would cut into my own self

with the perpetuation of my thoughts

Lies that I would tell the little girl inside myself

Cut – excise the light from their eyes

Until darkness became my reality

Pain my reality

Depression my reality

Shujaa – warrior

That’s me.

Ripped out, open, and beaten.

Boom, boom, boom, I’m an African drum

Don’t let them see you break

Don’t let them see you bleed

Wrap them like the bastard’s child away and out of sight

Until the blood began to drip through

Until the universe can no longer ignore my cry

Cry likenegro spirituals echoing through the Earth and waking up the light

Somehow there was refuge in my brokenness

Deep in the soul of my being,

I awakened

Like sunrise

Up I came from the waters and introduced my light

Shujaa – warrior

Shujaa – strength

That’s me powerful with my pen and I write:

“Thunder thighs was my name growing up,

I hear thunder that cracked like the whip on the back of my ancestors

Passed down like tales they used to speak,

I now know that power

I am worthy. I am warrior.”

From Yecheilyah…

Whew. That’s some powerful stuff. I highlighted some of the lyrics that really spoke to me. What did I like about this poem and why did I think it was worthy of the win?

Self-love is a journey and a journey is called that because you never know what you will find. It’s not always about being where you want to be but the journey. It’s about the process and all of the challenges and emotions that come along with it and the willpower to endure those challenges and to overcome those emotions.

This piece embodied the personal touch that all of the poems had. It was set-apart in that it told the story of how one person went from self-hatred to self-love in a deeply honest way. This is not just someone who had conquered the demon of self-hatred, but someone who had fought it and could show that fight in words. Someone who had gone through the journey and had fought to reclaim that power. This is a fight we’ve all had and this poem showcased that process. You get to see someone who did not just suddenly arrive but who evolved and endured the way we all do when we are coming home to ourselves. At some point, we have all asked ourselves, “What if I knew My Worth?”

Very well done.


 

Be Sure to Follow Jahkazia Online!

IG: @chamelaninaire 

Facebook: Jahkazia Richardson

Tomorrow, we will be asking Ms. Richardson some more questions and learning more about her as a person with an extensive introduction interview. You don’t want to miss this. Stay glued.


Missed our other poet spotlights? Please be sure to show our winners some love:

Click Here for Kiyana Blount

Click Here for Nia Elise

Click Here for Nailah Shami

Cheap

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

You will not shy away from the sun. Your melanin is a gift, do not fear a darker complexion. You will not tuck your stomach in for pictures. Work it off or show it proudly. You will not hide your smile from laughter. Let the joy crawl its way out of your throat and seep its way from behind your teeth. You will not ignore your gut when it hurricanes its wrath. Listen to it moan of unpleasant vibes and wait for it to prophesy your next steps. Wear discernment like a cape and superwoman/man yourself to the next step. You will turn not a blind eye to boundaries transgressed. Let the world know when it’s in danger of tainting your integrity, of shattering your kindness, of disrespecting your soul. Do what makes you happy without regard to how that happiness looks to others. You are a diamond undiscovered, a masterpiece unknown, a treasure to be dug up and valued. A precious stone. You are a rarity, something to be searched for. Something to be honored. A bumblebee may be the smallest among the fly, but her honey is the sweetest thing. You will be honey. And you will treat others as you are. You will be to others as sweet as honey. A diamond undiscovered, a masterpiece, a treasure. Treat those who love you like treasures and turn away from those who do not. You will not be meat. You will not be snack. You will not be feasted upon by those without palettes and cannot taste. Do not rob yourself by forcing friendships. Do not force connections. Do not smother them into loving you. Love liberates. Love them into freedom. But do not lower the price of your worth. A mountain does not become small for those who refuse to climb. They will climb or they can remain on the ground. You are search-worthy.  Drink humility like water and taste its fruits on your tongue but do not clip your wings. Do not be cheap with yourself.

Remembering Martin and Maya

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred; only love can do that.”  – Martin Luther King Jr., 1/15/29 – 4/4/68

Martin’s Top 10 Rules for Success

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou, 4/4/28 – 5/28/14

Angelou’s Top 10 Rules for Success