Why I Write
A few years ago, I had to write an essay in which I had to answer the question, “Why is writing important to your life?” It's a question I had to think deeply about because they expected no more than five pages, but surely more than one sentence. My response was a simple one, “I write to breathe.” Eventually, after some brainstorming and a little cajoling, I was able to expand upon that one sentence, but everything I wrote came back to that one sentence: “I write to breathe.”
I always found it hard to say aloud to people what I always felt in my soul: “I was born to write. God told me this is what I was to do with my life.” I didn't want people to think I thought I was ALL THAT or high on myself. So, I kept it to myself and diligently wrote, waiting for the day when the truth would come to light. Slowly, now, light trickles upon the truth though I am still on my journey to the full flooding of light.
Developing Into the Web was an illustration of that needing writing to breathe. Jovan and Cheyenne Parham, the main characters of ITW and the first book of the series, Death at the Double Inkwell, endeared themselves to me. Here, I had two characters that I could follow throughout the course of several books and watch them grow, learn, change, develop. In the midst of writing DDIW, I assumed it would be the only book about these women, but as soon as I wrote the final words, I knew there would be another. Their stories were not done, and I was the only one that could pen their stories and bring them to live.
At the end of the day, I know that my major goal in life is to tell stories, stories that cover an array of black experiences, stories that allow others to see a part of themselves and hopefully, to see a part of me reflected within the words. I write to smile, I write to cry, I write to laugh, I write to understand, but ultimately, I write to breathe. Without my words, without my ability to translate what bothers me, excites me, annoys me, hurts me, I'm not really sure how I would survive. Words are my truth, and the truth will set me free.
About The Author
Shonell Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, educator–everywoman. She
has published both creatively and academically–novels, short stories, essays, and textbooks.
She has had an essay of hers developed as part of a live theatre documentary production. In addition to her love of writing and what the future holds in her literary life, she is also an editor who loves helping writers hone their literary craft. Since 2001, she has edited for hundreds of writers who have gone on to pursue self-publishing careers and have been published within the traditional publishing arena. Her love for helping writers also moved her to begin writing articles and commentaries regarding the writing life and craft, and she publishes these articles on various websites. She is an educator, having taught English and mass communication courses in addition to fiction writing and other courses related to creative writing. And while taking part in all of those things, Shonell also finds the time to pursue her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University. Now a doctoral candidate, she is conducting research and writing her dissertation.
Those words rang in Jovan Parham’s mind as she danced around the ring, staring into the eyes of Derryck, her kickboxing trainer.
“Come on, Jo,” Derryck said while holding up his padded hands. “Pay attention. Jab left, cross right, jab right.”
“I’m doing it,” she said, her voice nearing a whine.
“You look lazy.” Derryck’s left hand made its way to Jovan’s headgear. She just managed to move, but heard the sound of his fist whizzing by her face. “I haven’t tagged your face in nearly four months.”
Jovan smiled and took two jabs to the side of Derryck’s face; the second one connected.
“And you didn’t get me this time either,” she replied.
The two continued to spar, sharing words and punches and kicks, but Jovan’s mind was still stuck on two words: take down.
She woke up in the middle of the night after a horrific nightmare, one she had almost every month since she moved into her new condo a year ago. The nightmare was always the same: she watching as a host of characters took part in killing her. She lay, shackled to a metal table, dressed in a white loose gown that had been ripped to shreds. Every few minutes, someone would come into the dimly lit room and cut her with a sharp, curved blade. No words were ever exchanged. She screamed with each flick of the blade, begged for her life, but it was all for naught. Cordell came in and took a chunk of her. As did his mother. As did his brother. Alisha took her share as well, as did Sarah, which broke Jovan’s heart more than Cordell wanting to kill her. She had thought Sarah was her best friend. Finding out she had slept with Cordell and carried his child tore at her heart. To know that even in her nightmares Sarah wanted to hurt her more nearly broke her.
The last person to come in was always Linda Hayes. And unlike the others, who were more like automatons, coming to do their robotic bidding, Linda had a sparkle in her eyes, a curl of her lip, an extra dig of her cut when she took her swipe of Jovan. She had hoped that her time at the altar during service that morning, where she begged God, begged him to remove the nightmares, might give her a night of respite, but it wasn’t to be. If she actually took time to think about it, she’d realize that her continuous thinking about the nightmares would only create more of them.
When she woke up last night from the nightmare, Jovan rushed to her office—a place that held warm, soft thoughts for her as it was the place where words took to life. She reached for the small blue bible she kept on the desk and rifled through the pages before landing her finger on Luke 10:19, I have given you authority …to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
The words brought her peace, but she had an even better way of using her authority to overcome her enemies. She took out a pad and pen, and spent a good hour creating a list of people she needed to take down.
Linda Hayes was at the top of that list. For going on two years, the Trés Chic head reporter-now executive producer had been relentless in her pursuit to find something bad to report about Jovan. Even after everyone else had put the murder of Jovan’s husband and the fallout of it behind them, Linda was determined to continue to bring up Jovan’s painful story: Cordell’s murder. Cordell’s affair with Alisha. Cordell’s affair with Sarah. The baby Sarah carried. The complex scheming and plotting that revealed Cordell’s drugged-out brother was supposed to kill Jovan but instead killed Cordell. Jovan’s reaching out to Mark, Sarah’s husband, in a time of need and the subsequent relationship that continued long after Cordell was buried. The justice (though not peace) that was brought to Jovan and her family.
In all parts of the world, Jovan’s soap opera of a life had come and gone as new, crazier stories unfolded. But in Baltimore, where she and her twin Cheyenne were deemed stars for their bestselling-authors status and their charities, Jovan’s story continued to live—mostly thanks to Linda Hayes.
And somehow, she had managed to overcome her anger at Linda and this ferocious, tenacious need Linda had to break her down.
But then yesterday arrived, and Jovan became undone.
She had tried to go about her day. She went to a speaking engagement for her solo inspirational non-fiction, Picking up the Pieces, a book that detailed the story of her life with Cordell and the aftermath. She met with Cheyenne to work on the outline of their next mystery, Vanishing Keys. She even got ready to meet Mark for a dinner date down at the Inner Harbor. Not once did anyone in her inner circle mention the significance of the day: the second anniversary of Cordell’s death. They knew it wasn’t needed. They knew Jovan would have stayed up the entire night prior, still crying over the loss, still angry over the betrayal, still unsteady on what to do with her life. She was still fragile from the coming and going of Cordell’s birthday nearly three weeks ago. She had spent that day in quiet reflection, wondering why, yet again, she couldn’t find out about Cordell’s lies before anyone had to die. She still felt like an idiot over believing Sarah was her friend. She had spent hours talking to Sarah, telling her about the decline in her marriage—never realizing that her supposed friend was sleeping with her husband.
Any normal person, knowing what she’d been through, would have given Jovan this day to grieve, to feel, to think in her own personal space.
But not Linda Hayes.
Jovan had expected to hear from her. After all, she saw commercials regarding Linda’s anniversary special. Linda had her assistant call her earlier in the month, trying to get her to talk about Cordell on the day of his birthday. Jovan had told her to “Go read Picking up the Pieces if you’re so damn interested in learning what I’m willing to say about Cordell. Other than that, leave me the hell alone, Miss Hayes.”
It was only a matter of time that Linda would call her again, trying to get some comment to use for her latest special.
Linda’s assistant called. Six, seven, eight times. Every time, Jovan would hang up.
On the ninth time, as she slipped her feet into her black stilettos, Jovan finally relented.
She picked up the phone and yelled, “Let me speak to Linda.” She quickly raced into the office and picked up her digital recorder, turning it on and setting her phone on speakerphone. Linda came on to the phone, her voice warm and soft as she said, “I’m so sorry for your loss, Jovan.”
“If you’re so sorry, why are you harassing me? Obviously, I have nothing to say to you.”