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For a long time (many years) and to this day, whenever I listen to music, I don’t just hear the song. I always see something connected to it in my mind like a scene from a movie. I always see myself performing the song through singing and dance. Sometimes, it’s just dance, but usually it’s a hybrid. This must have to do with the fact that I started dancing at a young age and I connect almost every song I listen to with choreography. That was how I found music.

I didn’t have an Ipod or a cell phone I could listen to music on. The only thing I had was my Aaron Carter CD, the Bieber of my MUCH younger days. At first, it was the DVDs from old recitals at a place called Dance Xplosion. My favorite recital CD was actually titled Songs of Yesterday. I was dancing in the lates 1990’s and early 2000’s, so that’s why I can sing songs like ‘Simply Irresistible,’ Shai’s ‘If I Ever Fall in Love,’ or Outkasts “Hey Ya!” Those were the songs I locked in memory. My favorite part of the DVD was a medley of songs by an artist that I didn’t realize was an icon. My favorite part of the medley was the “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Yeah. Dance was how I found out about Michael Jackson’s music without even knowing his name. Other than that, I could only get creative by listening to the assorted lists of ringtones on my first phone, a sliding phone, in middle school.

Fast forward to college and I’m writing, actually writing a book with hopes of publishing. However, something was missing and it was movement. In Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry,” he writes about how teaching students to write poetry is difficult because they want to wrestle a meaning out of the thing, instead of enjoying the elusive in between nature of it. We’re to “walk inside the poem’s room/ and feel the walls for a light switch.” He wants us to “waterski/ across the surface of a poem/ waving at the author’s name on the shore.” It seems that he was on the cusp of saying that writers need to feel the in betweens of writings, the things that could not be captured by words, the things that had no perfect meaning for the analysis, or maybe did not even need to be so harshly analyzed. It seems that part of the problem was that the students he was referring to were slaves to the rhythm of a dichotomous relationship between the body and mind. It’s like what Christine Giancatarino says about imagining “a head for ‘thinking’ and arms for ‘writing’.” Yet, writing is a physical act and much of my early learning was physical as I told you that I started dancing in a studio at a young age. Much like Giancatarino said, I felt locked up behind my desk and chair in my classes after I stopped dancing, even if I wasn’t always consciously thinking about my imprisonment. Yet, Giancatarino argues that if we take our writing and embody it, then we can open new doors for ourselves.

So, I realized that movement was missing and I tried to compensate with Blogilates by Cassey Ho (which is great by the way) and trying to teach myself choreography. Yet, I am still writing. Then, I tried to allow myself to discover how I thought of my story. Much like how my listening to music manifested into a performance in my head, my stories have their own playlists with their own songs. I see the characters moving in space and I hear their voices. I realized that it was not just meant to be written, but performed. Then, I let myself doubt about the years I missed on dancing in a studio and what would happen if my book also became a performance, but I reflect on a Martha Graham quote. “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist…and it will be lost…It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Now we’re at the present and I’m 22 still writing my book and still planning on making it into a performance. Whenever the fear comes for me, I think about WildaBeast a dancer and choreographer who started learning at 18. I also think about Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variations” where I dance with freedom and no chains to hold me down in my fear of expectations.

List post!

Ok, so as a multipotentialite I have lots of interests and lots of journals, some with defined purposes and others a hodgepodge of everything. Here’s what you can do with your journal(s).

1. Brain dump – Write down whatever is on your mind. You don’t need to get specific with this journal’s purpose. It’s everything from that freaky dream you had yesterday to that essay you need to write for History class. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING.

2. Content creation bullet journal-Do you have a blog? Do you have a Youtube channel? Do you make any sort of content that you plan to post anywhere? Make yourself a journal for content ideas, timelines for the content project, and where you plan to post, and how you plan to market/share it.

3. Daily life bullet journal-Plot out your time and tasks so that you don’t run around like a chicken missing a head. That way, you know that you got a dentist appointment on Tuesday, you have Pilates this afternoon, and you got your list for what to get from the grocery store. All your day to day stuff that you need to remember and schedule would be great for this type of journal!

4. Thought Blurbs-Maybe you have random thoughts that you would like to record. Maybe it’s for big project ideas like a comedy sketch or maybe you had an Oprah AHA moment. It could also be something weird, like “do regular dogs see police dogs and think ‘OH NO IT’S A COP!'” (can’t take credit for that. Thank the wonderful world of Pinterest.)

5. Your favorite things-This category could be combined into other journal types/uses or it could be a nice standaline. Make a mind map of your favorite movies, favorite childhood T.V. shows, favorite art supplies (with a mark sample for pens and such), favorite books, favorite Youtubers, etc.

6. Inspiration-Thsis could mean jotting down quotes from people you admire, pasting in stories or articles that put a bounce in your step, or whatever lifts you higher.

7. Vision board journaling-Maybe you have a lot of different future aspirations and you would like something to look to so that you can be reminded of those dreams. Paste in pictures or make drawings of the car that you want, the type of house that you would like, the state you want to move to, conventions you would like to go to, companies that interest you, the business(es) you want to build, the grade that you want for your finals etc. Still, a vision without a deadline is a dream, so for each of your desires make an action plan for how you are going to get there. The action plan could include dates to hit certain steps, people to contact, classes to take, or whatever taks you need to hit to get to your goal.

8. Comics-Maybe you have interesting story ideas and you want to see them come to life. It could be annoying everyday life shenanigans or an epic sci-fi adventure. Draw them out and post them to social media because you never know who’s day you are going to improve or don’t post them if that’s not your thing. If you do post them, do add a watermark to your work so that it’s more difficult for someone to tale credit for your work!

9. Online course notes-I’m enrolled in a few online courses that don’t even have to do with my undergraduate degree, but I need to keep notes for them all the same. I’m working on online business and writing courses and making notes for each of the modules and lessons is a great reference. I suggest you make things less difficult for yourself and take some notes!

10. Dream records-It could be that you are really int recording your dreams or the one that you had last night was really out there and you’re not sure if you should write a fantasy epic or talk to someone. (I had a dream of this nature and I have chosen to stow it away for a future story, maybe a fantasy epic. Not my current WIP though.) Either way, write those things down.

11. Sketchbook-Whether you want to doodle or go photorealistic, draw out the images floating in your mind. Don’t feel like you need to abide by any sketchbook rules you have been told either. You write in your sketchbook, streak color on the pages for no reason and draw over them, or whatevr else comes to mind.

12. Poems-It doesn’t matter if they make it into a collection of if they are just for your comfort, write down those thoughts or observations. You never know. One day you might look back and think “that’s actualy pretty good” or you’ll have a good laugh at some of them.

13. Songwriting-It doesn’t if it’s just the lyrics or if it’s just the chords. Shoot, you may not even know the chords, but if you’ve got the ear and heart to write a song, go ahead and write it down. You can worry about what that instrument is called later.

14. Movies/Shows to watch and reviews and fanart-You might be one timer or a repeat offender when it comes to you favorite movies, but keeping a record to look back could bring back fond memories. Maybe you are a wrier/storyteller yourself and you want to know how to hook viewers/readers just like your favorite movies do. Make a record of those things from the unconventional character flaws to the worldbuilding. It could be great for notes if you have a movie reveiw Youtube channel or blog! Also, fanart. Need I say more?

15. Books to read and reviews and fanart-Much like the movie journal idea, you could record favorite memories from the book, quotes, and make interesting fanart, as well. Also, if you are a storyteller, you can write down things that an author did that you really like and would want to include in stories that you are writing.

 

I am in my fourth year of college and soon to go into my fifth year because I have a lot of Senior projects going on. I thought that it would make sense to take an extra year to just focus on my Senior projects as opposed to running myself ragged to graduate Spring 2018. One of those projects is writing the first book in an African-inspired fantasy series. I have had the idea for this story since I was in middle school and now 22 year-old me is writing in hopes of publishing. However, I am starting to get to the point where I am doubting if I can do this and one of the biggest culprits behind that is the dreaded ACT II of my book.

I had a loose plot for my book before and my very first draft was horrible. How do I know?

  1. All first drafts are horrible.
  2. I started the first draft in middle school and finished it 1 or 2 years ago, meaning that my writing style went on a roller coaster ride.

I knew I needed help, but as much of a multipontentialite that I am,  I did not have time to shove a third major or second minor onto my academic plate. Still, I needed help, so I scoured different blog posts with tips and tricks on how to format your novel, do worldbuilding, and all that jazz. However, I hadn’t found anything that was cohesive enough for me. Don’t get me wrong. I found a lot of great tips and articles. I have a board on Pinterest specifically for writing help and encouragement.

However, I still needed some kind of guide and that’s when I came across Tomi Adeyemi. This girl became a fast hero of mine in fall 2017 when I found her writing course. She was offering a free pre-course on plotting a book that you recieve links to via email. Then, you make a decisison to buy the whole class or not and I am so glad that I decided to purchase the whole class. I would not have gotten as far as I did if I did not take Tomi’s class. If you don’t have time to fit writing courses into you current studies and you really want to invest in your plotting skills, I would recommend that you take her course. It’s a go at your own pace type of thing and you purchase it with one payment. You also have access to the course forever with no recurring fees and there’s a Facebook group of people that are also signed up for the course that feel your plotting pain!😅

Zooming back to the present, I am at the beginning of Act II and trying to build a convincing world. One thing I have been doing is studying other people’s fictional worlds. Some of these include the worlds of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series and most recently Tomi Adayemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. I also found this free wonderful worldbuilding guide from Sara Ridley who runs the website Life of A Storyteller. As I’m writing, I’m answering all the questions so that I have a thorough sense of how my world functions. I’m still writing Act II and am trying to remind myself that I am shoveling sand into a pile and that I can build castles later or I could say that this story is geode that I haven’t cracked open yet. Even if you don’t end up signing up for Page Turning Plot from Tomi Adayemi–which I REALLY recommend–, I recommed that you invest in your writing, whether that means purchasing a seat for an online course, checking out a book in the library, or scouring Pinterest boards for links to helpful articles and blog posts. The struggle is real and I have to keep telling you and I that we can do this! (Also, it doesn’t matter  if you’re writing high fantasy or a research paper for second period, we all need a little encouragment!) 😁 Happy writing!

*BOOK AND MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD*

As a creator of color, I thought that Black Panther would have hit me the hardest as being a highlight of my year seeing an all black cast, but there was something special about Ava Duvernay’s interpretaion of A Wrinkle in Time. I saw myself more in a Wrinkle in Time than I did in Black Panther. I suppose that is because Ava showed people how to live in the present, while Black Panther showed people what can be imagined and can come to fruition. Read More

SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

I’ll be discussing Black Panther as a storyteller aspiring to get my own work out in the public. I hope you enjoy it! It was actually hard to sit down and capture my thoughts about Black Panther and how it made me feel. There is no word or phrase that could capture the light that I felt in me. Y’all I wanted to cry when I left the theater…and also run and skip through a sunny meadow. Also, where’s my passport? I’m bouncing to Wakanda!

Wakanda


In the midst of writing my own story, I have been getting discouraged because I am currently in the midst of Act II where I am moving between locations and really trying to make the reader believe in the world that I am building around my characters. Black Panther was particularly refreshing because of that worldbuilding. It’s not like viewers were given the grand tour of Wakanda, but it was believable and extraordinary enough that I’m literally upset that I can’t pack up and move. My hope as a creator is to give a frame for interesting settings, in the same way, meaning that I describe it enough while leaving room for the viewer to fill in nitpicky details. What I mean is Ryan Coogler didn’t go through absolutely everything in Wakanda as if I were getting a traveler’s guide or a history book. The crew decided that they would give viewers a taste that was good enough to encourage the viewers to imagine the rest of the buffet, so to speak.

The Women


Hot. Damn.

That is all. Just kidding.

Excuse my language, but I have no better words for how amazing it was to see so many different types of female characters in the film. The fact that each of the women in the film had the agency to be who they wanted to be, rather than be forced into a role that didn’t feel right or genuine for them. I’m all for women who want to be warriors just as much as I’m all for women who want to be traditionally girly. The thing that makes me happy is that fact that the women in the film had the right to choose and you could see how they were satisfied and excelled in the roles in the Wakandan society because of that. The Dora Milaje was fierce.

There’s no question about it and I admire the non-withholding nature of their inner warriors as well as their strong patriotism in defending the nation and the king. Nakia does not necessarily fit into the Dora Milaje’s framework because she is not so much of a traditionalist. She goes off as a spy to do a lone wolf exploration of the world and she even helps T’Challa realize the disparities in the world outside of Wakanda. She has the idea of making a bridge between Wakanda and the rest of the world. Shuri is a kid genius who is not afraid to shine in the lab and Wakanda is not afraid to let her. This freedom and agency could teach the rest of us about how people have to shine in their own way. The only thing we can do is either shun them and silence or nurture them and encourage their true colors. It’s like if you have a seed that you plant and it grows to be an apple tree rather than the orange tree you were expecting it to be. Are you going to preen and chop down the tree until it turns to an orange tree or are you going to cherish it’s unexpected ability to provide you with apples? Wakanda’s telling us to get down with those apples. Or oranges. Or flowers. Whatever is in you.

Who’s the Villain and who’s the Hero? T’Challa and/or Killmonger?


 

Beyond worldbuilding, the characterization and character development in this movie was very compelling and thought-provoking. I was particularly fascinated with Killmonger because it seems like it is easy to identify him on the surface as a villain, but he makes viewers and even T’challa uncomfortable because there is truth to his suffering and anger. The movie showed the parallels and intersections between T’challa and Killmonger, but their experiences in the Ancestral Plain were very telling. When T’chala goes to the Ancestral Plain, he is a grown man facing his murdered father with no boundaries or barriers. When Killmonger goes to the Ancestral Plain, he is initially a little boy, the same lost little boy who lost his father at the hands of the people from the land that his father spoke so fondly about. Killmonger’s childhood self is also conditioned and this is evident when his father says, “No tears for me?” and Killmonger’s child self-responds, “Everybody dies. That’s just life around here.” Since we imagine Black Panther in a present-day aspect, it is easy to imagine how over policing and loss of life in the African American community made Killmonger face more death than any child should see. Part of Killmonger’s issue is that for all the violence and killing he does as a grown man, he is still that little boy who lost his father and felt disowned by his people.

His solution is to do what was done to him as a black kid from Oakland and as a disowned Wakandan. He really does want better for people of color, but he is so caught up in his rage that he will not let go of his “by whatever means necessary” policy. All those complications make Killmonger interesting because it’s not just a case of “oh, he is the villain and take him down.” He makes you uncomfortable because he has some truths and he is so misguided that you just wish he had some sort of redemption beyond the recognition that you could see in his eyes when T’challa struck him with a spear.

 

T’challa’s discomfort speaks volumes too. Even during the Black Panther discussion at the Appollo, Chadwick Boseman spoke about how T’Challa is not totally clean as a hero and could even be considered an enemy. He said that T’challa had “a vibranium spoon in his mouth,” meaning that while Wakanda is great and life’s pretty good, they have had their backs turned on people around the world. The isolation policy can be understood for fear of being exploited for the resources and not wanting to drain Wakanda with major conflicts, much like the rest of the countries in Africa. However, T’challa realizes that while Wakanda has protected itself, there is a discomfort that comes upon him when he thinks about the suffering and conflict in the rest of the world. A symbol of that is Killmonger because he had to directly deal with the effects of Western Imperialism, while T’Challa was born into a higher caste so to speak and privilege. This also speaks to a bigger idea of when certain people who reach goals do not take the time to reach back to the people behind them to help bring them along. Rather, they shun the people behind them because they believe in the mentality of “I have my thing. Oh, you don’t? Sorry, not helping you because I got what I want.”

black panther

I suppose the thing that saves T’Challa is that Killmonger forces him to connect with the racial and imperialistic suffering that he missed out on. In that way, Killmonger also has some heroic qualities to him. Although Killmonger did not live, T’Challa bears the weight of his ancestors sins so to speak and he decides to open up Wakanda to the world so that he can change the course of life for people outside of Wakanda, which is symbolized by the kid that T’Challa speaks to at the end of the movie in Oakland.

There are so many more things I could talk about with this movie, but these were real standout topics to me as a storyteller. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be waiting on my Okoye Pop Funko. Also, what did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments below.

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