In the Tradition of Men in My Blood

Tumblr Post #5 (May 2016)

Yes, it’s a Lemonade reference. Sue me.

But I found it quite a fitting and finally witty title for today’s post. But this entry has more to do with the men in my life and less with the traditions, good or bad, that they uphold. As with the rest of Black America, I have been awestruck by the immense social moment that is, was, and will forever be Lemonade, Beyoncé’s second visual album; excuse me, visual masterpiece. As I watched the story unfold before my eyes, again and again and again, I found myself critically examining every aspect of my life, including my relationships with all of the male figures in my family: my father, step-father, grandfathers, cousins, uncles, etc. And as I did so, I realized that I do not want to emulate any of their personalities for the main male character in this novel.

It’s really hard for me to say that because most of the women in this novel are either various versions of myself or emulations of actual women in my life. The women in this story are so relatable; and I assume that makes sense given that they are based loosely around myself. So what’s different about the men? It’s not like I have negative views about them or their character…no matter how questionable their actions may be. But although I have male family members who each have their own personality, as a whole, my experience with Black men exist as a monolith inside my head; my overall view of them is limited to a couple characteristics that I do not necessarily want associated with my main man.

Trying to create a male character who’s personality has no frame of reference in my own life…that’s the hard part. To the men in my family, I love you all dearly! I just don’t want my main man in this novel to be like you.

No shade, I promise.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the type of man that I hope to portray in this novel is unlike any that I’ve had the pleasure of growing up with or having an actual in-person encounter with. He’s complicated and so is this pickle that I’ve found myself engulfed in. I somehow have to find a way to walk the fine line of figuratively birthing someone who in no way reflects the personalities of any of the male figures in my life. And now that I think about it, I don’t even know if that’s a possible task. Perhaps it’s impossible for me to really portray a male figure, no matter how different from the men in my life, without incorporating at least a tiny aspect of their personality into him.

am writing from experience after all. And if I am to be true to this craft, then that means using that experience to create and develop every character, no matter how complex or seemingly unique I want her or him to be.

My main man is being formally introduced in chapter 4. We’ll see how this goes.

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