Category Archives: writing

Making Time for Writing: Walking Towards the Fear

It takes everything in me some days to sit down and write. We’ve all read it all before about successful writer’s habits, advice, routines, trying to glean some comfort in seeing that somebody went to bed really early or slept really late or drank 1000 cups of coffee in four hours before they, I don’t know, threw up all over their work and did it all again later.

But the thing that still grips me is the fear. The fear of exposure because as Nikita Lalwani blogged, all great stories are based in truth. It’s the exposures to me that draw me in. Seeing the weakness in characters allows me to be kinder with myself because that connection and tenderness is what allows me to be both tender and brutal with my characters.

But allowing myself to be myself in my writing is really the hardest thing. My self-censor has re-risen since moving to the UK from The States. Everything is double checked for tone, a lack of cultural similarities that makes jokes fall flat. Entendre has no mirror.

One thing the fear keeps me from is joining a writer’s workshop. Hell, showing my work to anyone in general, except my trusted few, ties me in knots and makes my writing sound like a robot wrote it. There’s that fear of exposing that I’m scared.

But when I’m tender with myself. Really let me say what I want, how I want to…it flows so beautifully. I can close my eyes and see the words, the space, the person, feel the mood.

I want us all to walk towards that fear. That discomfort leads to a joy.  Those of us who are writers, in the ‘cause I gotta’ category, we gotta do it. But I think that we all need some sort of support.

If you want to move past the fear, this website is the place to begin moving past your fear and grabbing hold to your passions. Share your stories with me, anonymously if you must. But share with me.

Prince Died


Prince died. I don’t even know what that means. I walked in the door and Ben was there, hugged me and I started weeping.


Prince is wrapped up in my burgeoning sexuality, concepts of love and romance, friendship, commitment, weirdness, boldness, confidence, blackness, integrity…plus a lot of stuff I don’t even know. Mommy started buying his albums in 1978 and I have no memory of musical life without him.


All of my friends growing up were Prince fiends. I always said that if I ever met him I’d shake his fingertips, then my uterus would fall out, then I’d die, then he’d touch me and I’d be resurrected. When I got older, Carl and I would use Prince lyrics as writing exercises. I have some stories based on The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, Forever in my Life, and If I Was Your Girlfriend. I wrote poems based on When 2 R N Love, a lot of poems in my teens to that as a matter of fact.


A lot of my childhood icons have died in a matter of months. I’d started writing about Vanity earlier, but got sidetracked by a barrage of celebrity deaths that I just muddled through. Vanity and Prince. My youthful loves.


When I’m about to do something scary and take a risk, I listen to Baby I’m A Star. Always will it’s my #1 theme song. I listened to it on my wedding day, every time I stepped on stage to tell a story it was my walking in strut music. Bad day: Baby I’m A Star. Good day: Baby I’m A Star. Indifference: Baby I’m A Star.


Money Don’t Matter 2nite. Got me through 2008-11.  I was singing it to Ben last week.


Me and my relationship with clothes and brocade fabrics bitches.

But it’s also about us facing our own mortality.

Demigod- it would be like if we were in ancient Greece and someone was like, oh, Apollo fell out of the sky today, or Dionysus died.  Died?!! Get the fuck out of here.


Latchkey kids were raised by Prince. He’s the nasty talking uncle you want, but you never saw that side of him, he was always sweet with you. Our parents were working but they were just meeting him too. But as adults who knew what he was talking about. But he taught me the word masturbate. I was 12. That learnt me quick. I don’t know if this hit gen x more or not…i don’t know. I know my mom is a mess. She’s the one who started all of this.  She was in her 20’s still when she met him. But we’re from chicago and come from a funk soul tradition. He’d opened for Rick James, so that’s the space


In mourning. I have a friend who recently lost her father, that’s real talk, but she reached out to me in my time of grief.


Prince is still dead. It still sucks balls generational gap filler. I’m 13 years older than my little sister. She was upset too, crying upset, and she’s pretty practical about this kind of stuff.


She doesn’t know a life w/o VCR’s, microwaves, remote controls.


8:28p on EasyJet- I don’t have too many more of these in me.


Arms of Orion in an airplane with dead Prince.


Growing up my best friend Dana and I would ask what our favorite love songs were. Hers was Stevies’ Always, fine choice, but mine was Adore.

He helped shape my concept of love and romance as well as sex.


I developed a strange romantic worldview. Because I listen to words. And his words gave me a view of men that were confident, vulnerable, sexy, sexual, thoughtful, sweet, smart, funny, cunning, witty, poetic, talented.


And the thing is the boys my age were like that then. Because the listened to him too. Black radio loved him, at least in Chicago they did. He created the space for them to have more dimensions to their masculinity.


I remember waiting with a tape to try to get Erotic City recorded from WGCI when morning radio host Bob Wall was suspended for playing the whole thing.


Then as a teenager, he did the Batman soundtrack. The first one. w/ the Scandalous Sex Suite, him and Kim Basinger!! Whoa! (And then the rumour that she bought him a town in like South Dakota or something…ask the innerwebs…) By then I was fully ready to have sex and now that I had the soundtrack…almost all Prince sung and the ones I received as flowers.


Did I lose my virginity to Prince? Probs. I remember the boy and the music a lot of moany, gravely, breathy business.


In college, I broke up with my 1st & only college boyfriend at the same time I got my first CD player. First CD I bought was The Box Set. I hadn’t heard some of those songs since my mom had boxed up her records.


I’d taken 2 actual albums 2 college (cause I started with my double cassette player with a record player that I’d gotten for my 16th BD and was already obsolete I digress).

The roots soundtrack & Vanity 6 (I can’t even on Vanity, though in brief, she was jolt to the kind of woman I was supposed to become vs. the kind I wanted to be.)


[Nothing Compares 2 U {full disclosure, so was Bitch Ass Nigga-Onyx} my friends wold pass notes with the lyrics to Pink Cashmere on them. We were all obsessed. And had come from all over the country as Black kids to The Mecca and found each other.


Prince, Howard…sex, love, unity, pride, 17 Days, Pink Cashmere, Erotic City on CD!!! Diamonds & Pearls, STROLLIN’! I LOVE STROLLIN’!!! Strollin’ just made me tear up on a flight to Spain.


So here I am today, living in England & hear the terrible news. I guess I haven’t been quite right since. It was too much public. As public as I am about him, I needed a minute. It’s taken me days to write this when it should take me weeks. I need the amount of time it takes for Jet to come out at least. The space.


I am Violet the Organ Grinder, will die but I won’t go away.


Here’s a church, here’s a steeple, here’s a muthafucka that I’ve got to blow away.

Here’s my chance to cure the ills of the people, but not until I make this muthafucka pay. Oooh baby, I count the days.


Great day in the morning, my choir sings a pretty song.

Everyday I’m wit yo ass is another day wasted I swear is a day 2 long.


Countin’- like Frankie Beverley w/o Maze, I’m countin’ muthafucka I count the days.


That got me through tough freelance jobs.


When I was a kid, my mom got drunk. Drank too much at a wedding on the Northside and was driving us home south. She was throwing up out of the car at stop lights then flew down Lake Shore Drive. There’s a curve that if you take too fast you’re a goner, I didn’t know it then but do now, and it’s terrifying to think she did that. As we got closer to home Let’s Go Crazy came on the radio and I blasted it along with the air conditioner (it was summer). The song stayed on until we pulled in front of our apt building. I rarely remember that. I think I wrote a story about it as well, then put it out of my mind. I knew she loved the song so we sang loud and stayed alive. The next day she had no recollection of what had happened. First blackout. A year later she was in rehab. Thank God for Prince, she said.


My mom said it felt like a member of the family died. Gutted was the word she used and in 40 years, I’ve never heard her use that word, and both of her parents are dead. But I guess that’s what all of this is about. There’s not a significant event in my life be it grief or joy that he wasn’t there with me in song & spirit.





Because our families are Black History Month.

as i’m reflecting on my age and the age i live in, this picture always comes to mind. it’s me, my mom, my grandma, my great grandma, and my great-great grandma. these women sacrificed and lived with secrets, lies, and shames so i could exist. they gave me a sense of unconditional love that it’s taken me until recently to understand isn’t universal. we weren’t rich but they gave me a richness in character that comes from a pride that they didn’t always have. they also gave me hangups that i can now see were necessary for their existence that aren’t necessary for mine. but i needed them to know what i don’t want. they instilled in me a love and respect for education, but not just the book sense, for learning about the world and a belief that anything and everything is possible. they were proud of me but let me know that my excellence wasn’t an anomaly, it was what was expected of me. to whom much is given much is required. this from women who picked cotton. who came north for better lives and carved them out. who loved men who, while not always physical faithful, were fiercely loyal and loved them implicitly. and they were not victims. they were these fierce creatures who loved hard, drank hard, smoked, fought and raised a strange crop of progeny.

My Grandpa, his mom, me, my great grandpa's mom, great grandma, great granddad

My Grandpa, his mom, me, my great grandpa’s mom, great grandma, great granddad


Gentrification Blues #3

This weekend was hot. It was the official beginning of summer. I barely left my house. When I did I was again confronted with the changes in my neighborhood. It’s like the rats on a ship or roaches in the dark metaphor. Into the blinding sunlight and mildly scorching heat came the ghostly bodies of my new neighbors. Mouth dryingly pale and still without manners. It’s going to be a fun summer. I love sitting on the stairs of the library, now known as my office, and having to stare down the Park Sloper with the baby crying because it’s hot and mommy can’t take it in the library SCREAMING like that to cool it off or leave because she’s got a great spot to get some sun on her legs.

So here I am sitting alone listening to my iPod scribbling furiously on the stupid story I’ve been hacking away at, I mean writing, for like 2 years now…. “Sorry, what? No, no one’s sitting there.” What could I say? No one was sitting there. I wasn’t prepared to act crazy and have imaginary friends. So down she sits and my table’s perfectly placed for two ways to get sun and put the baby under the umbrella. The screaming baby. The baby screaming so loud that my Erik Satie makes my head hurt and hands shake cause it’s too loud and grating. I stare at the mother who apologizes profusely, but what am I supposed to say? “I accept your apology, but it would be better if you took your SCREAMING MONKEY home.”

She started doing all the things mothers do to make their children shut up, to no avail. I start shifting. I’m already hot and uncomfortable and writing outside and feel weird. How do I describe how I felt with the future sitting there raising hell and a mother who kinda didn’t give a shit. (Now, let me say that I have friends with kids and I know it’s a tough job and adults don’t want to be cooped up with kids all day. But I also know that that’s why I don’t have kids and really resent being subjected to other peoples problems.)

I guess it’s just that I’m seeing something more and more that disturbs me about this neighborhood I love so much. Too many babies. When I’m dictator, I’m putting a moratorium on procreating in Prospect Heights. Go to Queens to fuck up your kids.


This website seems to have bit the dust, but here’s the poem:

Poor People

Living in tin shacks

Gathering water from filthy ditches

But we want to sell each other

Forgetting the pain

Being hustlers and pimps

It’s cool

But it wasn’t so cool when

Your ancestors lost each other

Living Jay-Z dreams and Ja- Rule fantasies

Feeding the intricate network of lies

Necessary to complete the project they began

With the building of inner city townships

For the capitalist pigs

Skarfing down the bacon of industrialism

While being fed a steady stream of unrealities

Made true by the glowing idiot box

Which enlightens our spirits to the depths

Of which are yet to be seen

But we believe the executioner’s tale

Of life

A life that he hasn’t lived and we need to believe him

Because he has power

Power we have never imagined

And if we can share that power

Then maybe our growling stomachs

Won’t keep us up at night

Or our children’s cries won’t hurt as deeply

Because the box tells us that there is no more hunger

So we can’t be hungry

We’re just lazy

Because all we did is wash other peoples




And children

And suckle babies that don’t look like us

And then travel an eternity back to our babies

With their big eyes


Their noisy guts


Obvious indictments of our laziness

With their dirty cloths and rotting teeth

If I worked harder, then this wouldn’t happen

If my mother and her mother and her mother

Worked harder

My babies would look like the babies I

See in the box

Those babies are fat and laughing

Why don’t my babies laugh

She never thinks

Her baby has never heard her laugh

Her baby doesn’t understand such a concept

She doesn’t understand that glowing box

She just knows that her belly aches constantly

And the one person she loves more than anything

Never kisses her

Hugs her

Touches her

Only sleeps

And leaves

She might not understand the glowing box

But she already knows sadness.

IKR Author | Charity Thomas



Look, I’ve been avoiding all this Tiger Woods business until I read a really great blog about it today on the heels of talking about “important” news stories I’d missed the last couple of weeks with my kid sister. While I had to google Adam Lambert (I don’t Idol), I knew that Tiger’d been in a car accident.Megalomaniacal me said “nobody cares when I hurt myself” so I ignored it.

Then I started hearing about affairs, mistresses coming out of the woodwork, the wife chasing him with golf clubs and smashing windows. That’s interesting, but no. I’m going to remain on my moral high ground and continue to ignore. I’ve lived through enough sex scandals to know that unless someone’s been living under the bed in a dog collar, it’s just fodder.

I told The Kid last night that if one of the mistresses was named Darshawnqa with long airbrushed nails and hair sculpture- then I’d be interested. But this morning I read this from one of my favorite blogs and I paused (and laughed at the video). But only long enough to write this post.

In conclusion, he’s 33 years old and been playing professional golf since he was a teen. He hasn’t had a life. Leave him alone. Who cares. Now I’m part of the problem, but enough is enough already. He likes pussy. Let him be. He’s not the first or last professional athlete to cheat. I think the over arching statement of pro athletes should be that they’re going to cheat on their spouses. The ones that don’t- they’re the exceptions. If I went from town to town with women throwing themselves at me- I’d probably be too tired to even play whatever game I’m getting paid for.