I feel like I'm a New Yorker to the bone. But there is a lot of the South in me. I know there is a lot of the South in my mannerisms. There's a lot of the South in my expectations of other people and how people treat each other. There's a lot of the South in the way I speak, but it could never be home.
I remember my mother would get upset with me 'cause she said I walked like my dad. But I think it was more like, there's something about you that's not quite ladylike and femme. And then when I got older - once I came out, my mom and grandma were horrified and just kind of like, where did we go wrong?
I am not my sister. Words from the books curl around each other make little sense until I read them again and again, the story settling into memory. Too slow my teacher says. Read Faster. Too babyish, the teacher says. Read older. But I don't want to read faster or older or any way else that might make the story disappear too quickly from where it's settling inside my brain, slowly becoming a part of me. A story I will remember long after I've read it for the second, third, tenth, hundredth time.
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In the summer I have this friend who I am closest to, and sometimes, in the winter, I long to call her up and say, come here and live with me, in this cold place. But we are summer friends. There is a rule it seems, that summer friends don't get together in the wintertime. Now, sitting here, waiting for her, I realize that I have never seen her in a winter coat, and for some reason that makes me sadder than anything else in the world.
You're writing, you're coasting, and you're thinking, 'This is the best thing I've ever written, and it's coming so easily, and these characters are so great.' You put it aside for whatever reason, and you open it up a week later and the characters have turned to cardboard and the book has completely fallen apart, " she says. "That's the moment of truth for every writer: Can I go on from here and make this book into something? I think it separates the writers from the nonwriters. And I think it's the reason a lot of people have that unfinished manuscript around the house, that albatross.
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I think in terms of being a New Yorker, as my friends would say, I don't take a lot of mess. I have no tolerance for people who are not thinking deeply about things. I have no tolerance for the kind of small talk that people need to fill silence. And I have no tolerance for people just not being a part of the world and being in it and trying to change it.
I wouldn't mind the early autumn if you came home today I'd tell you how much I miss you and know I'd be okay. It's funny how we never know exactly how our life will go It's funny how a dream can fade with the break of day. Time can't erase the memory and time can't bring you home Last Summer was a part of me and now a part is gone. ""Margaret
As a child in South Carolina, I spent summers like so many children - sitting on my grandparents' back porch with my siblings, spitting watermelon seeds into the garden or, even worse, swallowing them and trembling as my older brother and sister spoke of the vine that was probably already growing in my belly.
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My family is big, complicated, and beautiful - and keeps me smiling and whole. It's so important to have family, whether it's biological family, good friends, foster families, or a group of aunties who are raising you. The idea of feeling isolated is scary to me - to walk through the world alone would be heartbreaking.
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'Brown Girl Dreaming' was a book I had a lot of doubts about - mainly, would this story be meaningful to anyone besides me? My editor, Nancy Paulsen, kept assuring me, but there were moments when I was in a really sad place with the story for so many reasons. It wasn't an easy book to write - emotionally, physically, or creatively.
The strength of my mother is something I didn't pay attention to for so long. Here she was, this single mom, who was part of the Great Migration, who was part of a Jim Crow south, who said, 'I'm getting my kids out of here. I'm creating opportunities for these young people by any means necessary.'
As a person of color, as a woman, as a body moving through this particular space in time, I realize the streets of New York tell the story of resistance, an African-American history of brilliance and beauty that, even in its most brutal moments, did not - could not - kill our resilient and powerful spirit.
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Who are you without your girls? I truly believe that. Who are you without the people who help you make sense of the misogyny, the racism, the economic struggle, all of it? You need those people saying you're a good mom, a great writer. You're a great dresser. You cook well. Whatever the beauty is that you need to hear.