By Niama Williams
Writing keeps me sane and breathing calmly. Without poetry I would stumble at understanding and comprehending my world. The difficult things don’t make sense if I cannot think about them and then sit down and write what God says about them and sends over the transom. For me, poetry and prose are about listening; picking up the pen, or sending out a message, “I want to write about x" and waiting for God to send the words. When He does, whatever I am struggling with begins to make sense and ceases to terrify or humiliate. That is something for which I thank the heavens daily, and the angels routinely.
Without writing I’d be insane, debilitated. When asked if writing is for those trained to write or for anyone who has a story to tell, I answer that writing is for those that need it. I write to relieve the stress, uncertainties, fears and doubts of fellow survivors.
I tell my story, and the triumphs of my story, so that others will know that pain, any pain, is survivable and does not have to kill us. The Lord is there for us specifically during times of trial. On July 27th, 2010, I was faced with no place to live and no source of income. Today, September 2013, I have all of the information I need to launch a thriving business and a beautiful and spacious apartment large enough to hold workshops with furnishings classy enough to shoot videos for the business. If that isn’t God being there for me in time of trial, I don’t know what is!!! Be encouraged!!!
I tell the unvarnished truth so that others are helped and know that they are not alone. That is the one goal of my writing: to convince those suffering that they are not alone, that someone else has been through it before them and survived it, and that there is a silver lining, a reward, a good life awaiting those who persevere.
I began writing in fifth or sixth grade, and it took me almost 40 years to understand and accept that the voices I heard and the strong intuition that had always guided me were gifts/ESP and not insanity. Second sight, deep intuition, visions, angels, spirits, voices are all part of my experience, and knowing, profoundly, that these phenomena are signs of a gift, not insanity outright, adds another strong element to my work. When I write, there is always blood on the page and that is as it should be. If as an author I do not risk, what of value do I have to communicate?
My commitment to writing as a profession and vocation began in the late eighties when I worked as a library assistant at the University of California at Irvine. I knew then, as I militantly read Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, and Alice Walker at the Information Desk between helping patrons, that I wanted to create work my aunt the day worker could read and decipher and that would help her face the realities of her work and her life.
I believe in the commitment of the Black Arts Movement artists; that we as Black writers must create work that challenges our audience and equips them with the tools to face meeting Mr. Charlie, whatever color he may be, every day. Meet him and all that he represents, yet survive, thrive, achieve and change our conditions—for the better.
The personal is extremely relevant in my writing because how we meet the world, how we process what happens to us and the events and circumstances we create through our thoughts, plans, and feelings; how we deal with all of that I only understand and process through my writing. I write memoir and personal essay not because I think my life is so important; I write memoir because I have been through several rungs of hell, and I want to save others who are survivors some of the angst, mistakes, and calamities that I have endured. I want to show others one method of surviving and thriving; I want them to know they are not crazy to react, think or feel about something the way that they do, that someone else feels exactly the same way and she is rational.
Please take a look at my writing at http://www.blowing-up-barriers.com/Books-That-Save-Lives.html.