The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘#WeNeedDiverseBooks

One of my writing joys in 2020 was producing a monthly column on creativity for the Chatham County Line. It’s always been a strong publication and great community resource, but under the recent leadership of Randy Voller and Lesley Landis it has flourished. The layout and design is fantastic.

In the summer, I began a three part series about how publishing and writing will change during this decade. The last installment of the series spotlights diversity and is now available. Documenting the ugly things about publishing and its lack of diversity was painful. For a while I had writer’s block (which is atypical for me) because I had to relive and remember the ways I’ve been affected by the cumulative effects of multiple ‘isms’ in publishing’s history. In the end, I found a way to strike a balance between talking about the structural obstacles and point to the tentative positive direction of change. That felt like a win as it gives the average reader a way to understand the issues without overwhelming them. And, I took some of the most charged parts of my experience out to explore in a future long-form essay, so that’s a win, too. Writing always leads to more writing!

You can read it (and parts 1 & 2) on the updated website. I look forward to writing more columns this year. And, if you’ve got a topic you’d like to see me explore, please let me know!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Writing and Publishing in the 2020s-Part 3

Coming of age in the 1970s and 1980s, I never read a commercial novel that featured a character that was anything like me: African American, female, wickedly smart, urban, and geeky. The children’s and young adult market was dominated by white heroes, white heroines and white authors. If I came across an African American character, they were typically described by the color of their skin (in contrast to white characters who were never described by skin tone) and simplistically rendered. They functioned as a sidekick, devoid of cultural experiences that connected them to the rich kaleidoscope of African American life. It wasn’t until college (!) that I discovered commercial (and literary) novels that reflected some of my life experiences back to me. This was a result of two factors. One was the success of small independent presses begun by second wave feminists that published new work by a diversity of women writers. The second was that by the mid-1980s traditional publishing briefly opened up to a few African American female writers, including Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor.

Read the rest here

January has started off well for my writing.

File this under the category: Believe in your work. As creators, I believe we have to pursue a variety of storytelling modes that are available to us. I’ve started to enter my published work into contests that help pitch the work and get it adapted for film and TV. Nussia, my novelette published in 2017 by Book Smugglers just made it to the quarter finals in the ScreenCraft Contest (Cinematic Short Story Competition)!

I love the cover that Book Smugglers had commissioned for Nussia.

They chose about 200 people from over 1,200 submissions. Here’s my logline: “In this sci-fi psychological dark/horror story, Lindsay, an African American girl “wins” an extraterrestrial in a national contest only to find her family’s life upended. It’s E.T. meets Fatal Attraction.” It’s set in NYC in the 1970s. Wouldn’t you want to see that story told? Please send me good vibes so that I advance to the next round. And, bookmark this contest for your future entries (they have contests for published and unpublished work, plays, etc.).

Screencraft Contests.

If interested, you can read Nussia for free here

Dianna L. Gunn – one of the other authors in The Novella Initiative by The Book Smugglers – is hosting me on her blog today! We chat about the inspiration behind Reenu-You, the rise of novellas, and how publishing must change to support diverse voices.

This week, I’m sharing some recent posts and articles that I’ve found interesting and provocative. They, of course, have to do with my twin passions- writing and creativity. Enjoy!

250 words vs. 500 words a day

So, I’ve been writing quite a bit about the Magic Spreadsheet and the transformational effects of writing 250 words a day. Speculative fiction writer Jamie Todd Rubin has a slightly different take on what target word count works and shares his wisdom on the power of writing 500 words a day. He’s on a streak of writing 373 consecutive days straight (!) and gives excellent tips about how to keep going. I love his idea of having an “emergency scene” as a stash for the times he needs it the most. Check out his post ‘How I Kept a 373-DayProductivity Streak Unbroken’.

Do you need a writing app?

I’m a professor and the semester has started. I know that I will have to adapt my creative writing schedule to accommodate being back in the classroom and juggling various research projects. At this time of year, I’m always open to anything that will help keep me on track. I have discovered the world of writing apps! And, it is quite a world. These writing apps can help you with story structure, organization of files, and idea generation. Below are two excellent posts on writing apps. You might want to try one out to add to your writer’s toolkit.

‘The Best Apps for Any Kind of Writing

’12 Best iPad Writing Apps and Other Tools’


Diversity in publishing is an important topic. NPR did a story this week looking at the Twitter activism of a group of writers (#WeNeedDiverseBooks), that began as a conversation to raise awareness about the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The NPR story delves deeply into the structural issues that contribute to the lack of diversity in most aspects of the publishing industry. It’s a sobering piece.

Move around and get creative!

I had the distinct pleasure of conducting a creativity workshop this week for local United Way leaders. They were a lively audience. One of the participants, Chris Holleman sent me his blog post about the importance of moving to stimulate creativity (especially in the workplace). Thanks Chris!

‘Walking Meetings and Creativity’


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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