Descendants Of Hagar, Dialect

I am often worried when people tell me they are going to read Descendants of Hagar. Mostly, because I’ve gotten feed back that the dialect is difficult to comprehend.  I’m always afraid readers will give up an opportunity to be completely submerged in a world, whose language aids in the hypnosis.

With that being said, I didn’t set out to write in dialect.  In my head, I heard the story in several rich dialects.  Miemay had the thickest accent being southern and illiterate  In fact, all the characters accents were far more complex before editing.

I changed over a hundred words.  I also made a lot of words uniformed.  Initially, depending on who was speaking and how I heard them in my head, the same word would sound different… so I would spell it accordingly.  After that, another friend who is also a writer and who speaks with a thick drawl read Descendants of Hagar.  I also made all of her suggested changes.

I said all that to note, whenever someone does read Descendants and surrenders I am grateful.

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Butch/Stud/Queer/Masculine-of-Center/Masculine Presenting Video Scheduled

I finally set a date to record a short video based on the responses from masculine presenting women during the initial research for “Descendants of Hagar.”

I have started to work towards meeting the deadline of Saturday, July, 11, 2015.  As a result, I’ve began reaching out to photographers, actors and local masculine presenting women I recruited to do the video.  All but one woman, who has become a friend of mine, I haven’t text or called since initially asking if they would participate in this project.  Looking back at previous exchanges via social media sites has been informative and affirming.

One, I didn’t realize two years had passed since I’d talk to some of them. I initially started planning for the video in August of 2013.   I guess, because “Descendants of Hagar,” was released in July of 2013.  It seems like just yesterday, when I was putting the final touches on Descendants and approving the publishing of the book.  After the book was released, there were so many other responsibilities, I hadn’t anticipated.  I am still learning about the business of writing for a living and marketing.  Going forward that may become my pattern, to release a book and then market it for a year then release another.

Since Descendants was released, I don’t feel I created the main character, Linny.  Linny has taken on a life of her own and has fans.  Linny is a living breathing person who readers are finding at different times and emailing me to tell me how she touches them or touched them…  It has been amazing to see how relevant Linny is to all women, gender presentation aside, in her complexity… I was actually afraid of a book club that hosted me because they were all straight black women in their 50’s…  St. Louis is very traditional, old fashion, racist and religious.  Still, even in that space they could identify with people trying to crush others with their expectations or being treated like children because we are women.

staceyriceSecond, reading messages I’ve shared between women on different social media sites regarding my research and intention to make a video based on it reminded me of my initial vision.  This is especially helpful, as I am currently fine tuning a script and/or poem… I go back and forth.  It might be both.

Third, reaching out to masculine presenting women supportive of and participating in the project brought me back to Downelink.  Being on Downelink and reading our exchanges reminded me how amazing social media and the internet is for giving us opportunities to connect.  I was also reminded of how small the world is.  As I was contacting people, I could see what friends we had in common and how we were are separated by just a few degrees.

On top of all that, while reading our dialog I was reminded of how there is an absence of masculine presenting women’s voices.  Or maybe I shouldn’t say their voices are absent, a lot of the books available are full of stereotypes.  Like Black people, masculine presenting women often go to be entertained and find broad generalizations and stereotypical characters masquerading as reflections of them.

Four, in the process of writing and asking for help I’m reminded of my own power.  I am reminded of the power of us all being gathered to create and address our community.  The way people have been responding to my request to come through for the day has been so much love… and light… I feel more enthused to keep pushing.  I feel obligated to complete this project just because so many women, again, are showing up to help me complete this work I believe is necessary.  I am grateful they feel it is necessary.

I want to initiate or join discussions about the differences between masculine and feminine presenting women, though many of us are all same sex loving.  I want to focus specifically on some of the challenges facing masculine presenting women, to reach some understandings and learn how to support them.  More importantly, I want to address a lot of stereotypes we as a community have… I want to explore the spectrum of their identities as well as their similarities.

I’d been out and dating women for ten years when I began the research to imagine Linny’s character.  Still, I had tons of assumptions and things I just didn’t know about masculine presenting women.  Like how they are often sexually harassed by straight identifying women in work environments, but don’t feel supported enough to report harassment.  I didn’t realize how intuitive and sensitive they are because they’re always evaluating how they are perceived.  I didn’t realize how many women feel threatened by them at work and make it the masculine presenting woman’s problem.  Over all, I learned a lot from their responses.  I am still learning.  My female gender presentation makes my life experience as a same sex loving woman completely different.

My goal is to tell one woman’s story in the project I’m working.  The goal of the video is to let several masculine presenting women share a myriad of experiences, perspectives and concerns.

I will be posting more updates and giving more information as the video shoot gets closer.  We’ve been discussing some remote videos.  We’ve also got to finalize the script and get a basic idea of how everything is going to flow.  Anyone in or around the St. Louis, Missouri area who is masculine presenting and would like to participate please drop me an email with your name and number.

Currently, the video shoot is set for July 11, 2015.  It is an all day project because we have to take all the shots we need in this one day.

Below is the initial post, I made on Downelink in August of 2013 right after “Descendants of Hagar” was released.  This example still holds true.

studdieGreetings,

I’m Nik Nicholson, the author of “Descendants of Hagar;” a two-book series about a masculine presenting woman coming to terms with her gender. I am currently working on the sequel which is currently titled, “Daughter of Zion.”

I am shooting a short video here in St. Louis and am in need of a few attractive masculine types to read a script based on answers from my research. If you, or someone you know, fits this description please pass this message along. The video will be shot in late September or sometime in October.

As mentioned above, the script is inspired by answers from my research of masculine women.

The scene below is an example of what you might be asked to say:
Woman #1 “I am tired of reading books where the masculine woman is over sexualized.”
Woman #2 “I’m tired of us being flat characters; where our whole life is based on being romantically involved.”
Woman #1 “We are either pimps or this sorry-type dude trying to get a girl who doesn’t want us. She’s always the naïve, virginal and goal oriented girl next door while we’re always a complicated mess. That is, if we even have a story.”
Woman #3 “We’re drug dealers and whores. LOL!”
Woman #2 “We’re misogynists. We’re slightly abusive. But that’s not it at all. I have tons of respect for women. It breaks my heart when someone is talking crazy to a woman or trying to push her around.”
Woman #3 “If anything I have some strong captain save-a-hoe tendencies.”
Woman #1 “I hate when they make us super aggressive, or just reckless. I think a lot about my approach. How a woman might perceive me. Is she actually into women? How will my actions affect other areas of my life, especially If she works with me, or is in some other place I frequent.”
Woman #3 “The truth is I don’t even hit on woman, especially at work. Usually women are dropping hints and hitting on me. I’ve had women bring me food at work, straight women at that. I am not saying I can’t be aggressive, but on a daily basis I am a lot more restrained than the characters I’m reading.”

Woman #2 “My main focus is survival and becoming a provider.  More than I think about dating I’m thinking about how I can sustain myself. I’m thinking about how I can remain independent.  When I was coming up, I was having issues with my family and I knew I would be out of the house… My main focus was becoming independent, not finding a woman.”

Thank you for reading this message, I hope you will join me. If you are interested let me know and I will keep you posted. I anticipate that the shoot would take us a couple of hours to complete.

Love is life, live.
Nik

P.S.  If there are any questions are concerns feel free to email me at niknicholson@ymail.com

Touring St Louis Missouri

I took a tour of St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday May 9, 2015.  I’ve never actually toured a city I lived in.  I use to live in Vegas, and on a lot of occasions friends came in to town to see shows I hadn’t seen.  I usually wasn’t interested but that doesn’t mean the shows weren’t great.  There was always something going on in Vegas.  I did go to Lakemead and Hoover Dam.  I felt like I had a good grasp on the history.

St. Louis is  a city I know very little about.  For the tour I expected to go to the Arch.  Maybe they would talk about the history of commerce along the Mississippi. As a writer, I’ve fallen in love with St. Louis’ library system.I am in the library a few times a month.  I also go to programs there or just go there to write in a different space.  Plus, the libraries here are over a hundred years old.

Then there all these people from here: Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Scott Joplin, Cedric The Entertainer, Dick Gregory, Maya Angelou and so on.  I expected to possibly go to historical sites related to people who put St. Louis on the map.

The tour was very different.  We went to see all the black neighborhoods that were leveled for “development.”  We looked at one black community leveled for the expansion of the airport recently.  We went to the memorial of a child killed in the middle of the city, walking distances from Wash U, by wild dogs as he was playing on a play ground in a park.  We toured towns that were poor remnants of what they use to be.  We discussed “medical deserts.”  We discussed how the life expectancy in some areas were less than that of Bangladesh.  While a few miles away people lived 20 years longer.

I am still, processing so much information.  I feel that even in trying to write this blog and just get it off my chest there are so many layers I couldn’t grasp it all.  I’ve learned about systematic racism and experienced some facets of it.  However, to see all ways Missouri and St. Louis has consistently destroyed black communities is not only heart breaking and eye opening… It’s hard to believe it’s still happening as I write.  As I am writing this blog a city called Kinloch has Stop signs and paved roads in what looks like a forest because the homes have been destroyed.  All the people have moved away… There are no businesses unless you want to count churches.  One of the churches gave their last service last Sunday.

The question is what do we do? There is so much going on in the world where do we get into the ocean? Do we affect the tide?

Beautiful Words to Describe Darkskin

beautiful-skin

Dark Skinned Woman 1 Her skin isn’t chocolate. Maybe midnight. The way the light hits her skin, she is obsidian in the flesh.

Over the past few evenings, I’ve been using this writing group of about 20K writers to help me reach resolutions as I’m editing.  Yes, this group is as amazing as it sounds.  I was thanking God that I’d found them.  So when I started to write a scene with a dark skinned woman, I wanted to use an uncommon beautiful description.  As a result, I went to my favorite group and asked, what are some beautiful things I can use to describe dark skin.

Initially, the writers used all the words I could imagine.  Chocolate, cinnamon, mocha, ebony, coffee and so on.

Then a white women posted, “POC hate being described with food.”

A male POC, said he refers to himself as caramel and is giving me permission to refer to all people of color by food. Which I accepted laughing and in good spirits.

The white woman actually went to war with him, saying that he can’t give permission for all people of color.

Of course he can, he shot back, because he’s arrogant like that…

I thought the conversation was funny, until another white woman came on the post and said just say they are dark skinned and move on.  Then followed that comment with, skin color couldn’t be that important to the plot and then questioned my ability to write.

At this point I’m frustrated and kind of lost.  One, I don’t understand how a request for other descriptive words becomes all these long diatribes from white  people on how to treat black people.  Especially since I’m a black person.

Second, someone has of course and which I always expect in a group this large… said I can use steaming excrement or shit to describe the person.  It’s so expected it goes almost unnoticed. I must admit I’m a little sad that someone thought it was ok to describe someone’s skin as such… when I specifically asked for beautiful things and words.  I think it’s racist. But he goes on commenting on the rest of the discussion as if he isn’t racist.

This woman is considered dark skinned but she is not as dark as the first woman. I want to express the differences.

This woman is considered dark skinned but she is not as dark as the first woman. I want to express the differences.

Some how I began defending my need to discuss color.  I am then asked by one of the white women, because my profile picture is a poem not a photo, if I’m black?  I mean, now they are all posed to call me a white racist for wanting to describe a dark skinned person beautifully.

In the process, I am being thrown websites.  If White Characters Were Described Like People of Color In Literature

I thought the link was funny, but also irrelevant.  Showing me how it’s bad to describe white people as food to validate not describing black people’s skin tones is like… advising me to eat the seeds out of an apple the way I would a pomegranate.   Yeah, they are both fruit… and most apples are red.. But there are green apples, yellow apples and candy apples.  You couldn’t candy an entire pomegranate… I guess you could, but it’d be nasty.

My point is, because white skin is the standard of beauty more options to describe it exist.  When I go look for make-up, the make-up marketed towards black women is: almond, roasted almond, deep caramel, honey, golden honey… while the make-up pitched at white women is tan, nude, tawny, beige, deep beige.  I mean, nude is not the color of my skin naked.  My point being… What is my point?  That I simply asked for writers to give me some uncommon descriptive words to describe dark skin and then had to defend why I even needed to mention skin.

Dark Skinned Woman 3

Dark Skinned Woman 3

Oh, and then people started to go into how skin isn’t important.  How it isn’t necessary to discuss what hue a person is.  For some reason, I feel like writing characters without descriptions is a form of erasing difference.  I think difference is beautiful.  I think people are beautiful in all the ways they are.  I don’t think pretending or writing everyone as invisible and minimizing each other’s features makes for better writing.  I also think it’s privilege not to understand how skin tone affects POC.  I think it is privilege not to know about colorism.  I also think it’s ignorance that would say, race and color doesn’t matter as we march, protest and riot as black people are killed.  Black lives matter wouldn’t even be a slogan if skin didn’t matter.

Someone said, you shouldn’t mention skin if it doesn’t have anything to do with your plot. If you are a POC in America your skin is how the plot thickens.  Whether you are rich and driving in your own neighborhood, the police pull you over because to them your skin says you don’t belong.  If you are in a crowded store, the clerk watches you because to them your skin tells them you are most likely to steal.  When you are articulate, accomplished and confident people are amazed.  Because they think people with your skin shouldn’t be able to speak proper English or know the things you know.  Sometimes people are offended, intimidated and afraid when you are intelligent because they expect you to bow, shuck and jive because of your skin.  When you go in for a job they will offer you less money and be put off if you ask for what you deserve.  They may even not hire you, because your skin tells them you are not worth what they would pay your white counter part.  Race and skin color are still very much an issue.  I’m annoyed that so many people wanted to argue it wasn’t and that I should write omitting skin.

Dark Skinned Woman 4

Dark Skinned Woman 4

I needed to get all this off my chest. I don’t have any anecdotes.  I am really upset how uninformed people are. More importantly, how arrogant and sure they can be  in their lack of wisdom.  I always have higher expectations for other writers and artists in general.  I always felt writing and regularly being creative is such a spiritual thing it requires you to be more mindful.  I expect us as artist to sit with our stuff more.  I was really hurt, I guess by the responses.  I mean, I was insulted and attacked for not wanting to be invisible.  Can you imagine, someone telling you it is not important to see yourself in your own work?  It’s just crazy.

I did receive some really great descriptive words and a website I’m going to explore after I post this blog.

Writing with Color

Love and Light

PS: Oh and if there were some errors, spelling or otherwise, I treat this blog as my journal.  I am not critical of how it is I express whatever is on my heart.