In college and graduate school, Jewell Parker Rhodes never encountered a single reading assignment or exercise that featured a person of color. Now she has made it her mission to rectify the situation, gathering advice and inspiring tips tailored for African Americans seeking to express their life experiences. Comprehensive and totally energizing, the African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction bursts with supportive topics such as:
Jewell Parker Rhodes presents another, genre-specific guide for writers, The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction, and this one puts more emphasis on the process of writing not, however, at the expense of valuable publishing know-how. For the first three-quarters of the book, alongside excerpts and suggestions from Maya Angelou, Edwidge Danticat, James McBride and other luminaries, Rhodes, former director of Arizona State University's graduate-level creative writing program, intersperses writing exercises with writerly insight into issues like "Finding Your Voice,""Gathering Ideas" and "Turning Points and Revelations." The last section, which concentrates on publishing, discusses the "explosion of...bestselling African American talents" in the last 20-odd years; it also talks specifically about finding an agent and lists dozens of resources. African-American writers seeking inspiration and practical advice will appreciate this warm, thoughtful guide. ( On-sale: Dec. 26) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction by Jewell Parker
FINDING YOUR VOICE
Whether it's the first time, the hundredth or the thousandth time, give yourself permission to speak, to write your heart and soul down on paper.
Always believe--there is no better voice than your own unique voice. No better story than the one you need to write.
Select a journal--a three-ring binder, a legal pad, a leather-bound blank book, whatever's most comfortable for you. This journal is your life line to writing more effectively and productively. Select a special pen--a felt tip, roller ball, fountain pen, or a profusion of rainbow gels. Journal writing should be a tactile experience, alive with the joy of your hand moving across the page, of leaving colored markings that speak about your self and the world at large.
On page one, write:
I Am (your name)
I Believe in Myself
I Have Something to Say
When you feel doubtful about your voice, reread the first page of your journal. Remind yourself that this journal is your song, your celebration of how you observe and experience the world. It is your private practice field. You'll collect ideas and feelings, but you'll explore how best to express them--how best to sing your song, speak your mind, and say what needs to be said!
A journal is for shouts and whispers, cries and laughter. It is never a place for silence. With each sentence you write in your journal, you affirm and improve your voice, the power of your words.
Just as musicians play scales to strengthen their rhythm and tone, to limber their fingers, hands, and mouths, so, too, a writer must practice the basics of writing prose. Observation, clarity, description, voice, sentence structure, and rhythm are all essential skills that require continual practice.
Don't try to do the following exercises all at once. Take time between exercises to experience, observe, reflect, and revise. If you're struggling with an exercise, repeat it. Move on when you feel your writing is improving. By doing the exercises in this book, you'll be allowed to make mistakes and to explore thoughts and feelings. After practicing these exercises, when you do sit down to write an essay or book, you'll be much better prepared to succeed.