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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Writers Prayer

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love Beyonce. And JLo.

I relate to their 24 hour hustle because, as a kid, I watched both my parents work literally 20 hour days -- constantly -- toward their goals. (The immigrant hustle by necessity is a tireless one.) Instead of playing "house" when I was younger, I played "Restaurant" or "Modeling Agency" where I was always the owner of the company, taking calls and making decisions. And as an adult I thrive on multiple projects and hard work. Peak performance has been more important to me than sleep and sometimes my health; this philosophy encapsulated in a line of copy I wrote as a copywriter for a NikeWomen desktop wallpaper a few years ago: "Give the Performance of a Lifetime -- Every Time."

As I've gotten older, I've thought about what that line actually means and I realize that part of performing at your peak is conserving your energy -- long distance runner style -- i.e finding balance. So this summer, I sought my equiliibrium by taking a break of sorts from promoting Powder Necklace, and hit the beach when the weather permitted, hung with my friends, watched too many hours of reality TV, and just slept. A lot!

Of course, I shoehorned a lot of work in between. Outside of my day job, I've been contributing articles for JET Magazine and The Atlanta Post, and working on completing my second novel. I have over 500 pages that follow two complicated women from 1962 to present day in Ghana. It needs so much work, and cutting; I wish I could do it all tonight, but, alas, I must conserve my energy.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a poem with you that I started writing literally in a dream. The Saturday night/Sunday morning Hurricane Irene howled outside my window, I dreamt I was prepping to perform at an open mic and wrote the first line of the poem below. I call it "The Writers Prayer" because I pray that I never lose these inspired moments which I believe to be blessings straight from God.

The Writers Prayer

I stick a pen in my chest so I write from the heart
Splat dat on the screen before the editing part
Tap tap on the keys, till I find the right start
Most hours, most days, it's slower than BART

I stick a pen in my throat, s'why I'm not good at verbal
When I speak sometimes, s'like I swallowed the gerbil
That treadmills in my mind
I'm talking in circles
Get to the point.
"Madam, 50 cedis to Circle."

I stick a pen in my hand, it's a weapon of war
Slash, gash, bloodlet,
Apply tourniquet to sore
Then: "Father, may I do it some more?"
("Father, God, thank you.
May I do it some more?")

A pen's stuck in my brain, and it writes in my dreams:
"Wake up, bitch.
You need to tighten that scene.
Slash, gash; mop it up
Yup, wipe that shit clean."

It's a mighty pen, or should I say a laptop?
Fuck around, go ahead and make me miss my train stop.
The Murphy's of Flow: it only starts when I have to stop
Keep it real though
Sometimes it starts and I tell it stop
After my show, then I try to coax it back
Sometimes it comes,
Sometimes it won't call me back.

There's a pen in my eyes, and one in my ears
Both act as a filter to what I see & hear.

These chow pens, and sometimes I can't find one
Digging in my garbage bag till I have to ask for one
"Stranger, Crazy, Miss, can you spare one?"
Paper Mate, please, or a BIC or a Castell
If I must, though I hate,
I'll deal with a fountain
Whatever it takes to facilitate
Little nuggets of wise from the pen in my eyes
Labored pieces of art from the pen in my heart
Necessary surgery
by the scalpel in hand
and the pen in my brain
Serious op'ration
right there on the F train

Then the pen in my hoarse has to cooperate
Eloquent, smooth just like a candidate.
Stump, fly, sell, sell
Don't check your baggage
Damn, heavy as hell

Why do I bother?
S'not even a question.
There's a pen in my heart
hand, brain, and my throat.
If none of them wrote I'd find one that did
Laptop, blackberry, frosty window, kid

Since I was a child hiding at functions
Like Sam,
didn't know I had to answer the unction:
"Lord, Here I am."

Long before the agent "No"s began
Sister Barbara, Mr Hinksmon,
and of course Acquah English
I raise my "hend" not my "haand" to
Thad Z in Freshman English,
Mr. Gifford,
Mr. Mamiya,
Moore and Villmoare,
Constance Berkley,
And Sidney.
Davison, Diann,
Mr. Longman...
Silhouette and Harlequin.

There are pens in my... you know
And now there's one on Facebook
Another twies to tweet things that'll make you take a second look

Wherever the pen
Product's subject to the Spirit
Can I--will I be a conduit?
Sans inSpiration
It's just not legitimate

So like Moses did with the staff in
his hand
I throw my pens down
(Whether Mac or PC, or plastic and ink)
And watch the magic begin.