Yves Brown McClain: Literary Fierceness

Archive for the ‘Purpose’ Category

RIP, Wild Oats?

Posted by Dahlia on November 19, 2011

CEMETERY © D2xed | Dreamstime.com

So, I know I’ve been MIA for a while. (I see your eyes rolling and I hear you sarcastically mutter, “A while? You’ve been off the grid for about three months!”) Allow me to take a few moments to explain.

I’ve been having moments of personal reflection lately. And during this period, I wasn’t able to blog like I should. I felt that my direction was wrong, so I stopped rather than continue down the wrong path. In regards to my writing aspirations, I knew the talent was there, I tried to stay on top of industry knowledge, I set up my blog and social media accounts to build this platform. I even have a novel and novella under my belt. But it felt all my effort was for naught because every step forward I took, I got knocked back several. My novel’s release had been pushed back an embarrassing number of times. So, I took my issues to God and waited for an answer.

After some time, this is what was revealed to me about the novel:

“Be original. This story’s been told already.”

And I’m like, “Okay, but I’ve been working on this story for years! I’ve invested time and money on this novel. I have a cover for crying out loud. Do I just toss out all those years of work and go back to the drawing board?”

Again, “Be original.”

So, I thought about it further and I had to admit that my novel was feeling like a combo of a few of favorite TV shows: “Sex and the city”, “Girlfriends”, and “Single Ladies”.  I had identified chick-lit as the genre and my writing steered in that direction. So, if chick-lit isn’t my thing and all the themes that lie therein, then what should I be writing?

“Who said you had to be in a box? Be original.”

So what does it mean for the story “I” had deemed to be my breakout? I really don’t know. It hasn’t been revealed yet. But I recognize that “I” was trying to force it through.

As I continued to meditate, I realized that my proudest and most humbling moments are when something I’ve written has encouraged, motivated, empowered, or inspired someone. Perhaps with my novel, I have focused too much on the (mis)adventures of my MC, the jokes, the shoes, the drinking, and yes, the sex, instead of what the core of what the story was about. What initially motivated me to even write the story to begin with.  Healing a broken heart. Or, how do you mend a broken heart? (I know, that’s Al Green)

So, I find myself at an impasse. I can put this story in a vault, never to be seen or heard from again. Or just set it aside for awhile as I have a few other ideas that could not only entertain, but also do those aforementioned things and return to the story once it has been revealed how it shall be told. Or do I wait?

Decisions, decisions…but I think that just may have been my problem all this time. I felt the need to hurry and make a choice. So this time I won’t force it. I will be patient.

Posted in Books, Encouragement & Motivation, Purpose, Wild Oats, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Change the Game

Posted by Dahlia on July 28, 2011

Lately, I have been thinking of ways to expand my platform to get more readers. Like I mentioned before, I love the writers who follow me. Great relationships have been formed because of it, and while I know writers read, I really wanted to reach out to that reader that I’m writing for. And the majority of my posts haven’t been for the reader.

I subscribe to Kristen Lamb’s blog and get her updates in my email. For those who don’t know who this fabulous lady is, she is considered a social media expert. She has written a book titled We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and it’s all about platform building to attract a following of you guessed it, readers. Not even halfway (I was at about 22%) through her book, I saw that my strategy was wrong and I needed an overhaul of my blog. Simply put, with the imminent publication of my novella with a full novel to follow, I’ve got to change my game. However, I don’t want to lose the writers that have hopped on this journey with me. Supporting each other is
still important to me. At the same time, books generally don’t sell themselves,
especially if you’re going the independent route like I am. So, I’ve got to
reach my target audience and change the way I’ve been approaching social

So, here are the changes that I’m going to incorporate. **drumroll, please and thank you**

1. Blog title change

You may have already noticed this. I feel the new title is more inclusive of
not only this writing process but the content relevant to my genre and my style
of writing.

2. More frequent updates

No, I’m not going back to daily. I’m a writer who blogs, not a blogger who writes. I am pushing for three days a week. I want to dedicate my Wednesdays to my writer followers that have been hanging out with me since February. And since I like alliteration like that, Writer Wednesday is for you! Smooches!  :X

3. More reader friendly content

I write fiction. Specifically women’s fiction. Even more specifically chick-lit (and the occasional drama). My characters are predominantly African-American. So, my niche is African-American Chick Lit. So, I need to talk about things related to what someone reading African-American Chick Lit would read in a book: relationships (not just the romantic ones but the ones between parents and children, siblings, etc.), love, friendships, fashion, socializing, and maybe a little bit of drinking. Also included in this would be interviews from authors similar to me, book reviews of books in the same genre, etc.

4. A slight Twitter change

My original twitter handle was already ok. It was @ycbmcclain, but I felt
it was better to use my full professional name. It’s a part of branding. Unfortunately
@yvesbrownmcclain was too long, so I settled for @yvesbmcclain

I would HIGHLY recommend Kristen’s book to any writer trying to navigate the internet and all these social networking sites to engage readers. It can get overwhelming and time-consuming. The tips just make good common sense and can help you from spamming away your network. This is only the beginning of the revamp of my platform and I am very excited. You can get either the print or the electronic version. It’s so worth the investment in yourself, your brand, and your product.

Posted in Announcements, Marketing & Promoting, Publishing, Purpose, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The 15 year identity moratorium

Posted by Dahlia on November 24, 2010

Marcia states that a person in identity moratorium is when “the person actively searches out various possibilities to find a truly solid adult path.” It is considered a “mature way style of constructing an identity.” Other definitions are somewhat more off-putting. Wikipedia defines Identity Moratorium, as “the status of individuals who are in the midst of a crisis but whose commitments are either absent or are only vaguely defined.” However, both definitions are valid. A person in this status is seeking out various opportunities in an attempt to find their true self and because of it, cannot truly commit to any one thing. I know this from first hand experience.
The search for my identity started in the 11th grade. I had been participating in a pre-engineering program since the 6th grade, taking Saturday courses to stimulate interest in the field. I was in the first day of a drafting class when I realized that I didn’t want to be an engineer. In that moment, the identity moratorium began.
By the time I graduated high school, I had settled on accounting. I figured becoming a CPA was the best thing to do because I had always been good in math. However, one semester into my freshman year, I had a change of heart. I took inventory of what I was good at. I changed my major to information systems. I like technology and could pick it up easily, so it seemed like a good fit. I did well in my courses, but even as I progressed, I couldn’t fully get in to it.
When senior year rolled around, I was unhappy with the choice I had made. However, I was attending school on scholarship and changing my major, yet again, at this point in college would’ve prolonged my stay into a fifth year. In my extracurricular activities, I had put together several events. I enjoyed it, but the closest major to event planning was hospitality management. I talked to my counselor about my options and when she told me I could just add a hospitality course and not change my major, I was relieved. I would still graduate on time with a business degree, so I had the foundation to transition into event planning.
I spent the next three years after graduating college working in marketing and communications. There was some event planning involved, but it was mostly writing, which has always been a natural ability for me. After three and a half years, I had been job eliminated twice. Dealing with unemployment forced me to take another look at what my next move would be. I went into business, creating custom invitations. Though I had picked up a few clients in the first few months, the money I was making with it wasn’t enough to sustain my home and I took on a few part time jobs while still trying to figure out what my identity was. I was still interviewing for marketing positions, but the economy had just begun to downturn and it became nearly impossible to find another marketing  job.
On impulse, I responded to a job posting for flight attendants. I figured, it’s different, a bit out of the box, and I found it fascinating. My job as a flight attendant lasted over eighteen months, until I had my son. At that point, I no longer wanted the lifestyle of a flight attendant – the constant travel and being away from home. So, I resigned and decided to return to school and find a new job.
I walked into a technical training school just wanting to pick up a few materials. I had no idea that I would be intrigued by the medical field and before long, I had signed up for courses in medical assisting. It was a steady and growing field and a precursor to nursing. I breezed through my courses, discovered I really liked venipuncture, and became excited at the prospect of becoming a registered nurse. It was actually a need to fill a prerequisite for nursing that I took a developmental psychology class.
However, there was one thing that was always around through all of my career changes and transitions. It was writing. It was something I enjoyed as a child and I had always gone back to it in my free time. This year, I decided to self-publish a novel I had been working on since I graduated from college. As I started the process of publishing, I came to realize just how much passionate I was and still am about writing. I began to envision my book on shelves, going on a book tour, working on the next novel. It can be considered an epiphany, but I call it a “Come to Jesus” moment. Nursing, while an incredible career choice, wasn’t for me. Through all of my experience, I had always been a writer. Writing is what I do. It is part of who I am. It’s what makes me the most happy. This is my life path – I am an author.
Looking back on my choices, my moratorium was a search to find my true self. I’m unsure if this holds true for anyone else in this status, but my true path had always been there, but I had been afraid to follow that road. Because it is challenging – it may be one of the most brutal career choices there is because of the heavy competition and the high likelihood of rejection. But fiction writing, like any other art form, is a career of passion. You do it because you love it and it wouldn’t be right to do anything else. I had spent fifteen years trying to do everything else, and it was never a good fit. Therefore, I have finally begun the transition out of the moratorium into Marcia’s fourth status, identity achievement. My adult life’s direction has been decided, and though the path ahead will have its challenges, I know through all of my experience in moratorium, that it is the road I should be travelling.

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Write the vision

Posted by Dahlia on November 11, 2010

 Then the LORD answered me and said: “ Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

— Habakkuk 2: 2-3

In my twitter timeline, I came across a retweet of a woman whose username was @writethevision. Immediately upon seeing her name, I recalled the next part of the bible verse, “…and make it plain…” Suffice it to say, Habakkuk has been on my heart all day. It made me think about my own vision, to become a published author and the steps I have taken to “make it plain”. By establishing this blog, getting on twitter, setting up a Facebook fanpage, announcing to my friends, family, and virtual associates that writing is my vision.

Then there is the part that says “wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” This is the part that has been my challenge lately. The perseverance, the “stick-to-it-ness”, if you will. The faith is there. I see this book in publication, I have always envisioned it. However, faith without works is dead. I know this, but I’ve allowed a lot of obstacles (many self-imposed) to get in the way, allowed myself to become bogged down with the minutiae of it all (marketing, layouts, timing, publishing, reviews, galleys, websites, etc.). It has taken me several years to get a manuscript that I am happy with, and that is partly due to the fact that I’ve strayed from the vision many times, but I keep coming back. Now, I’m ready to keep at it, no matter what.

So, what is so different now? I’m older. I’m more mature. Maybe a bit wiser even. It could be I’m at the point where not only do I want to dream it, I want to do it. Be it. Take my vision and run as far as I can with it. I realize I dream big, who doesn’t? My vision extends far beyond this first novel. What good are those big dreams if the effort isn’t put into making them real, putting it on the tablets, running with it, sticking to it, having the patience, staying faithful, and allowing it manifest? Many people miss their season this way.

So, here is the challenge to anyone with a vision that reads this. Do exactly what the verse says – write it down, take the appropriate steps for the vision to come to pass, and no matter how hard the road ahead gets, keep at it, remain faithful, for “it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

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