Staying in My Lane & Minding My Business

Tumblr Post #21 (April 2018)

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with staying in your own little world. Nor do I believe that living under a rock is necessarily a bad thing if that’s your form of self-care. What do I do under my rock?  Snuggle under a blanket on my couch with a bottle of hard apple cider, eat a slice or two of Digiorno pizza, and laugh hysterically while watching Juno. There’s something comforting and freeing in the act of creating a space that allows me to be my most authentic self without worrying about how this rollercoaster of a political and social climate will affect my mood and stream of consciousness.

There’s no need to bring that with me into my space beneath my rock.

I love my rock.

I once read a critique of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple in which there was a complaint that her novel did not do a good job of including enough references to current events.

First of all, how dare you?

Secondly, there are surely enough books, fiction and nonfiction alike, that will satisfy one’s thirst for historical commentary. But what really struck me about this comment was this expectation that writers of fiction (and possibly of color, though I will leave that up for debate) should incorporate nonfictional, political and social references into the lives and stories of their characters. Walker’s novel is about a young woman coming of age in rural Georgia in the 1930s. As a black woman who also grew up in rural Georgia, I can attest to the fact that political and social moments hardly have any effect on daily life in that setting. Therefore, it doesn’t seem necessary to add politics into a story that can stand alone.

It isn’t necessary for me to include a Black Lives Matter reference when Angie Thomas has blessed us with The Hate You Give. My story doesn’t have to touch on Afrofuturism when Tomi Adeyemi is bringing the world to its knees with Children of Blood and Bone.

I know my lane.

And that lane is made of red Georgia clay, warmed by the heat of a late-Spring afternoon sun. Peace Creek Road: currently populated by two individuals—myself and Sage Anne Bennett—barefoot with the sand between our toes. But one day, I will invite others to walk with us. I will invite the world to walk with us. The walk may not be a newsworthy as a police shooting or as riveting as a six-million-dollar movie deal, but it will be a walk worth taking nonetheless.

One of solace and refuge. A means of escape. A trip back home when it seems nearly impossible to get away.

That is what I want this book to do to people. Of course, there’s conflict. Of course, there’s despair. But what great novel doesn’t have those key elements?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: there are already enough great writer in this world who can do a far better job of incorporating worldly events into their stories than I ever could. And the point that I choose not to do that should not be a critique of an otherwise worthy story. Peace Creek Road should be allowed to exist as its own sovereign entity in the fictional world because my hometown dirt road exists as such here in the real world. And if the world of fiction is any reflection of the real world, then I’d say that what I’m doing with my novel is absolutely, positively, without an ounce of a doubt, necessary.

And you can fight me on that one.

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