Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grit, interviews and the day after meeting my fiction Editor

I've decided to upload some of my own drawings from my older children's story, 'Ridley Sinclair and the Fae' or 'Ridley Sinclair and the Book of the Fae'.

Why after months of having these pictures have I decided to share them now? It has a lot to do with my fantastic Editor and friend, Naomi Antony who has supported, encouraged and challenged me since I first brought my paper offerings to her.

Yesterday we spoke about the very latest draft I had given her and even though I was terrified she wouldn't like the changes I had made- the complete opposite was true. She loved it. Not the 'I'm pretending to be happy for you so you don't do anything silly', but the very simple, honest love that comes with no frills but an incredible amount of truth. She could see exactly what I was doing and how I was going about it. She understood the characters I had made and the pace on which they were taking us on this journey. She got that this was not a fantastical tale of magic, but a drama about family, loss, secrets, forests, the world around us and the people that lie therein. I knew she got this when she brought up how the book should be marketed.

I can't over emphasise how gratifying it is to be at this stage at long last. To be talking to a professional editor, getting feedback, making use of it and holding a near complete and ready manuscript in my hands.

Ridley has been with me for years-my invisible boy and I can not wait to introduce him to so many others. To have them sit at the kitchen table in Eyrely Woods Farm and listen to Grandee chatter or Liam whistle and spot Ridley sneaking off on his bike to go and meet Imogen and crack the mysterious book he has been given.

And so the work must go on. Hopefully before this year closes it will be in someone's hands who can turn my word document into a bound book that will sit open on laps, tucked under pillows, held under arms and loved like an old friend.

Besides that goodness, I have an interview today for a teacher training course-argh. My right eye is playing up due to two waves of grit being blown into it whilst standing at bus stops last night. I now feel like my entire eye is turning into a sty.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


To think I've been to Morocco and back and the first thing I want to write about is my hair. Ah well, I'll come back to that dusty Med-African nation when I've uploaded some pictures.

I recently took out my weave, which I had put in to protect my hair from the harsh winter elements and to 'grow' my hair. It's funny just how dramatically a hairstyle can change not only your face but how people perceive you.

And indeed having shoulder length hair and a thick fringe, which allowed me to people stare unrestrained was fun after the scalp burning tightness had subsided but it was never going to be forever.

I have now returned to my natural tresses- those woolly, fuzzy, tightly packed, very dark brown curls and it seems to be causing all kinds of flutter - literally. I have stood cramped on the bendy 29 bus and watched people stare and then suddenly try to avert their eyes, which always look a cross between perplexed and embarrassed. I have had Rastafarian men smile proudly at me as they scan the roundness of my gravity defying hair and other beautiful brown women with glossy weaves of all shapes and sizes glance back and forth at me.

I spoke to my younger sister last night (she loves to wear her Afro a lot of the time) and she summarised it quite simply: "You can't wear your hair in an Afro without making a statement. It's always seen as political". Sadly, she's right.

What I feel like yelling at every staring eye is that this is my hair, plain and simple. These are the honest, stubborn, fragile and so delicate curls that spring out of my scalp regardless of what I try to do to cover them up. These are the curls that if I'm honest I love the feel of when I'm shampooing my hair and moisturising my scalp (something I earnestly missed with the weave-which really feels like a basket on ones head). These are the curls that are for goodness sake-just hair.

I said to my husband yesterday (who's the biggest fan of my Afro and nearly cried when I packed it away for three months under the as-said hair basket) that perhaps we Afro hair bearers have done ourselves a disservice in hiding our natural hair to don long hair that we borrow. Perhaps if we had more confidence and let it sink in deep that our hair grows towards the sun and not down our necks and backs (unless brushed quite enthusiastically or with the help of some darling straighteners) and showed the world the wonderful array of our hair it would be the norm and not some form of public transport entertainment or amusement.

That said brown women change, plait, weave, relax, straighten, bond, crimp, dye, curl, perm and comb their hair into hundreds of styles for just as many reasons and I respect that. But I am beginning to feel it is increasingly sad that so few of our colleagues know what our hair really looks like.

Besides all the health implications and strains such styles can put on our hair I think it's the feeling that Afro hair isn't pretty enough to display. For besides artists, musicians and writers, who else really gets out their Mandela combs? And let's not even open the can about the City's barely covert feelings towards this cloud like hair.

I don't think I'm trying to be political wearing my hair out, I'm trying to be good to it. To let it see the sun, feel oxygen, taste water and oils, fragrance the rooms around it and allow it to just be.