Seven years I’ve been doing this and still, GIRL is my most talked about title. I was twenty-two when I first wrote that book. Young, reckless, lost, heartbroken, and so many other things. GIRL was a diary for me. It allowed me to create people in an alternate world who reminded me of people in my reality. I could tell the secrets of the people that crossed me and not get into trouble for it. I know that some writers say to write about things you don’t know about, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do at the time. I wanted to write something that represented who I was in my life at that moment. And who I was, was someone who was completely out of control.
I lived in a one bedroom, shotgun, duplex when I wrote GIRL. I literally had about three or four pieces of furniture and I used my stove to heat up my home in the winter. To me, life was good. My rent was $625.00 and my only utility was lights. I swear that house was held together with hot glue and paper clips but it was my space. I had a regular nine to five that gave me nights, weekends, and holidays off. Somehow between drinking too much, caring for the wrong woman, and a house full of friends, I found time to sit in the middle of my floor and write a book. I’ve been writing for a long time, but I’d never actually got to the end of anything. I just needed to get to the end. The very first character that I wrote was Snapps in the D in Drama. She was a compilation of the women I’d dated up-to-date. I’d actually written her story before I’d came up with a title for the book.
GIRL was supposed to be a traditional novel: 50,000 words and all that jazz, but I just could not get that much out in one character. There were too many voices in my head. I remember saying to myself, “I never finish anything.” I quit all the sports I played even though I was good at them, I quit on relationships, and I quit on projects that I always started. I just wanted to get one thing done. GIRL was it. I literally had a conversation with myself saying that the only way to get to the end was to not have an ending at all. If you have the original copy of GIRL, then you know that it had thirteen stories and each one ended with a cliffhanger. I called myself the Queen of cliffhangers. I wanted people to want more.
The title was born when I asked myself what did all the stories have in common. They had girls in common. Girls because I didn't see myself as a woman yet.
If I skate back a bit further, GIRL was never an idea at all. I started penning my life story on Myspace in my blog. I wanted to talk about it, to share it, to get it out of my head after all I’d been through. I had no idea that I’d build a following. People started coming at me left and right when I didn’t have a new part to my story posted. They wanted a book, a finished one. At that point, I knew that I was not ready. My life wasn’t over, so why was I writing my life story. The ending wouldn’t be good enough for me. At that moment, I turned strictly to fiction.
After I completed GIRL, I started shopping around for a publisher. I met a poet at a bar one night and she told me about a Publishing company that she and her husband owned. She gave me her information and told me to look her up and when I was ready to publish to contact her. In my first spare moment, I searched her on the web and what I saw was impressive. They promoted their artist well and even toured different countries. I wanted that to be me. I did submit my work, but I declined publishing with them because they wanted money upfront. I wasn’t that confident in my skills, nor was I wise enough to realize that investing in myself was the best thing that I could do in my life. I just didn't see myself forking over my $11.00 an hour for something that might fail.
I wasn’t sad about my decision, but I didn’t aggressively seek an alternate route either. The number one question I get is how I became a writer. I always answer the exact same way: “I didn’t choose writing, it chose me.” Everything that I chose to do in life lead me directly to my first publication. Hence the photo on the cover o myself and one of my good friends and sister (Thanks Reesie). My short story collection was collecting dust on a hard drive until a random promoter inboxed me on Myspace and told me that I should self-publish my book and allow him to throw me a release party. He’d read my work and loved it. The universe was not going to let me sit on my destiny. I asked him how to go about taking an independent route and he simply replied lulu.com. Within weeks, I published my first book. It was unedited, horribly formatted, missing a copyright page, and only ninety-one pages long, but it was mine. I’d never been more proud of myself. Before Publishing I dabbled in modeling and because of that short-lived career choice, I had the perfect cover.
Even though I hate that book now (lol) after extensive editing and formatting, it’s still my baby. It’s my best seller and the reason anybody knows my name. It’s the book that got me recognized in public and created a network of people who encouraged me to keep doing what I love. I even appreciate the bad reviews (which took me years). I’ve seen my growth from then until now. GIRL: A Story for Every Les Being.