Starting Over: My journey as a writer

Maya Angelou Reading Still I Rise

Reading Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise made me want to be a poet at 14. I wrote silly poems, kept in a 3-ring binder, and read them to anyone who listened. By the time I started college, at 18, majoring in English (Poetry, Creative Writing, or Journalism) wasn’t an option. Computer Science was an option. Why I don’t know? I knew how to surf the web so I guess I thought Computer Science was the perfect major. Intro to Computer Science was the class I dropped fastest in college. The class was taught by an African man with a thick accent. For the first twenty minutes of class I thought he was teaching Swahili. After class I tried to read the book. It was like reading a foreign language. Circuits. Performing simple calculations. Systems. Programming. Those words were Swahili, meaningless to me. I went into panic mode. What major do I choose now? I chose Psychology. Psychology equals research and writing. I had papers due every week. My earliest lessons in “how-to write” came from my psychology instructors. One lesson that has always stayed with me is “Give Them What They Need” or make every word deliberate and on purpose.

Le film TV, réalisé par M. Mugler

Copyright rsepulveda

It wasn’t until after graduating from college that I thought about writing as a potential career. I was living in Ann Arbor, working at a library, submerging myself in reading “good fiction” and “good authors.” Shelving books one day on the third floor I discovered the “How To Write” section. I pulled one off the bookshelf. Two years later I started writing The Taste of Scars.

A “good job” moved me from Ann Arbor to Jacksonville. I got the opportunity to teach part-time at a career college and slowly walked away from the “good job.” A year in I was promoted to full-time and never went back to the “good job.”

Fast forward a year. My boss and I at the career college got into a heated argument. She told me she was changing my position from full-time to part-time. I told her thanks but no thanks and verbally submitted my two weeks notice. Not even two hours later I was unemployed. Since that day (up until March 2011) I devoted almost every waking hour to editing my book. I started to see life differently. Every hour I was at work, doing work that didn’t make me happy, I lost an hour to do what really made me happy, writing.

To all the high school seniors graduating this year. Don’t major in computer science because you think it’ll pay the bills. Major in life. Found out what really makes you happy. I took me a long time to figure that out.

Recommended Reading:

I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsBiographies & Memoirs by Ethnicity & Nationality)

Gather Together in My NameAfrican-American & Black Biographies & Memoirs)

Nikon D3100 14.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom LensDigital SLRs)

Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething’s Guide to Seeking AdventureHealth, Mind & Body Books)

Work Your Way Around the World: A Fresh and Fully Up-to-Date Guide for the Modern Working TravellerJob Hunting & Career Guides)

Read the poem that changed my life below.

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.



Filed under poetry, The Written Word

4 responses to “Starting Over: My journey as a writer

  1. InnerDialect

    great read. Loved this. Thank you !!! Do visit my page ..

    • Victor Yates, writer

      Thanks for the comment. I have neglected my blog for a while now. I’ve been working on edits of my book and taken on a demanding job. Thanks for reading and I will check out your blog as well. Have a beautiful day.

  2. This amazing blog, “Starting Over: My journey as a writer | victor yates” indicates the fact that you truly understand what you r speaking about!

    I personally completely am in agreement. Thanks a lot

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