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Scuse Me While I Nanowrimo (With Apologies to Jimi Hendrix)

Dialogue haze all in my brain
Lately things don't seem the same
Packed my laptop, gotta go
Scuse me while I Nanowrimo . . .

(Adapted from the lyrics to Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix)

There are a ton of things I could blog about today:

*Why I think Sen. Dianne Feinstein has gone nucking futs by voting to confirm Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Mississippi Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

*Sen. John McCain's failure to respond adequately to a South Carolinian's entreaty, "How do we beat the b(*&^?" (in reference to Sen. Hillary Clinton)

* What's your mojo dance?

* Why I'm not feeling Hillary Clinton. Two words: Lani Guinier

* Why my political contributions are the kiss of death (Harold Ford, anyone?)

But I can't. I'm too busy doing Nanowrimo.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month (, is a writing competition in which the only thing you win is the satisfaction of completion. The objective is simple: 50,000 words in thirty days starting November 1. If you finish, you win. That simple. The goal of the kind folks at the Office of Letters and Light, which sponsors Nanowrimo, is to get every aspiring writer started on that novel they've been kicking around for, say, nine years or so (at least in my case).

I even planned my Thanksgiving holiday around Nanowrimo. I'm at 40,000+ words, and I'm determined to finish in the name of the late Bebe Moore Campbell, author of several novels and a contributing editor to Essence magazine. She died last year of a brain tumor, and she was very encouraging to African American writers.

My novel is about an African American woman attorney who moves from California to teach law in Mississippi. It deals with race, class, and and whole lot of other issues. And I'm having an absolute ball writing it. If I had known I was going to have this much fun, I would have plunked my behind in my chair and started writing in earnest a long time ago.

Even BMNB has gotten into it, sending me off to Starbucks with my laptop and money for coffee and having dinner ready when I get home. He's a gem, I tell you.

So, to borrow from Jimi Hendrix: Scuse me while I Nanowrimo.

And next year, I encourage you to do the same.

Below is an excerpt of "Happier Than A Runaway Slave," where my protagonist, Angela, is surveying the scene after the moving van which was supposed to move her belongings has rolled down the hill and crushed her car.

Happy Nanowrimo!

I stood staring at the scene, somewhat in shock. Gary came from behind and slipped his arm around my waist. I leaned my head on his shoulder.

"Maybe this is a sign, dearest. Maybe I'm not supposed to go. Mom's getting worse, Pru offered my a raise and I turned it down, no one wants me to go . . . . " The tears started rolling down my cheeks. The stress of packing up the last seven years of my life was starting to get to me. I had spent the last week visiting friends and saying goodbye to all my Piedmont Avenue haunts -- Zati's Restaurant, the Piedmont Avenue Yoga Studio, Piedmont Springs (for hot tubbing), Piedmont Spa (for massages), the bookstore, the theater. As much as I pretended that I was ready to move forward, I wasn't. Gary knew that, despite my many moves, I didn't handle change well.

"I want you to go."

"What?" I lifted my head and stared at his cheek. He kept staring forward.

"I want you to go," he repeated, staring forward.

"Uh, why, may I ask?"

"Because I want you to see what we could have if you were open to the possibility."

Aw, sh*&. Here we go again.

"Pray tell, what could we have and how am I going to see that in Mississippi?"

Gary turned and placed his hands squarely on my shoulders. He looked me dead in the eye.

"Anj, you say you want marriage, family, a stable life. But everything you've ever done works against that. You work these jobs with insane hours, you run through men like water, dismissing them as "not this enough" or "not that enough," and you've lived in more places than anyone I know. The sad thing is that you're surrounded by people who do the same damn thing, willing to move across the country for a two thousand dollar promotion and thinking that approval from The Man is the end-all and be-all. Black Southerners don't live like that. I can bet you dollars to doughnuts that, to the extent that Mississippi is like Texas, you're going to meet more black folks who have been happily married since the age of eighteen than anyplace else in the United States. Why? Because we put God, family and marriage first. The other sh** you keep running behind -- law firm diversity, job satisfaction, leading black organizations -- that sh** comes in second for us, if at all.

"What Black Southerners know that you California black folks don't is that if you're not at peace with God and your home life ain't right, none of this other sh** matters. At the end of the day, you always have to come home and you always have to account to your Maker. You don't even come home to the same place year after year, much less the same man. You need to be surrounded by people who do."


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