I fell in love with reading in the fourth grade, when I received my first of dozens of Baby Sitters’ Club books from my school’s scholastic book fair. Escaping into the world of Jesse, Mary Anne, Claudia, Mallory, Kristy, and Dawn, was a daily, hours-long activity for me. I saw myself in Mary Anne, the shy character, but wished I was Claudia, who was creative and eclectic. These were the only books I read for a long time, until they lead me to other children’s book series such as The Boxcar Children, R.L. Stine’s horror classic Goosebumps, and the American Girl doll series (my mom couldn’t afford to buy me the dolls, but I could still enjoy the books!). Aging out of these books, beginning in high school, my interest shifted to fiction and nonfiction books by and about African Americans. The neighborhood library was my main hangout, checking out at least three books at a time, and browsing the aisles until closing time. I had a huge interest in history, and even at a young age, I felt a responsibility to become knowledgeable about the history of Black people in this country. High school history class included very little information about Black people’s contribution to the existence of the United States, which frustrated me, so I took it upon myself to learn on my own.
My first time reading Vibe Magazine changed the game for me, in terms of what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up. Before Vibe, I read all the teen magazines, but Vibe combined my love of reading with music, and I was convinced that I needed to be a journalist so I could listen to music all day and write album reviews and attend concerts every night and write about the experience. I was so serious that I convinced my mom to pay for a weeklong writing workshop at a local college, and I replaced my bi-weekly paycheck at the library for a pay per article internship at the Indianapolis Recorder, the city’s African American newspaper.
Even though I gave up pursuing a music journalism career, in the last couple of years, I have rediscovered my love of writing, with the explosion of blogs and online news sites helping me along the way. The internet exposed me to so many intelligent and wonderful writers, inspiring me to start a couple of blogs, one where I wrote about social and political issues, and one where I wrote about women in hip hop. I have been fortunate to have a few pieces published by online news sites, and one of my goals this year is to strengthen my writing and editing skills and to establish a pattern of writing regularly, not only when inspiration hits or a news story angers me. The end goal is to get three paid freelance writing gigs this year, hopefully leading to additional income through freelance writing.