Apparently, there will be days that I choose not to work on my thesis...this is one of those days. But, I do realize that I think about additions to my writing and possible ideas for my writing everyday. Today, a quote from Audre Lorde's essay "Eye to Eye" made me think about why I chose to write my thesis and an additional direction to take my thesis in. The quote is as follows:"Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself."(Lorde, Sister Outsider)The reasoning behind my thesis was to initially intrigue women to find a common ground and a sense of harmony in the writing that led me to my declaration of feminism. When I first read many of the words of bell hooks I realized that we had a lot in common. For example, her mother was very distant mentally from her as a child and my mother was distant physically. Initially, this distance leads to the same feelings of sadness and solitude. While bell hooks learned early to find comfort in her writing and no longer seemed to feel alone, I only recently became familiar with the cathartic abilities of writing. By writing I would really love to get to the point where I find solace in my solitude. I would like to feel comforted and warm when I am alone because I able to think and write, and just be me. I realize that this is a point I wish to reach so that nothing "I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me" like my loneliness. See I was sad when I was lonely, and that was in a way diminishing all that I was or I am to become because one never knows who they truly are unless they can be that way when they are alone. I realize that their are black girls and black women everywhere who yearn to find a common place to go where people do not judge them. I found this place within the narratives of the lives of Audre Lorde and bell hooks. Their writing for me is the chisel that reminds me of our sameness.
The answer is YES! So, after reading Lisa's blog-post I couldn't help but smile continuously because of the similarities in our process. In fact, a few weeks ago I suggested to myself and others that on May 4th I would begin walking, eating healthier (which might be a stretch because I'm a veggie anyway), and enlightening my mind in a spiritual manner through mindful meditation. Writing is a process, which is holistic. It seems impossible to fully delve into the writing process without actually being mentally and physically fit. Besides, my whole topic focuses on the use of autobiography as a consciousness raising and rhetorical tool. Consciousness means politically, socially, economically, psychically, and mentally being aware of ones surroundings, the oppressions that lurk within them, and one's own position in those surroundings. I believe that once my life is filled with healthy choices, it is only then that I can dare speak to others about being conscientious. But, because I must write now as a requirement for a degree I must do these things simultaneously. Essentially, my own enlightenment is more important and urgent than completing a third degree, but I love to write so they go hand in hand.
My goal is to ultimately feel healthy and mentally wealthy like the phenomenal Alice Walker who shares that for her writing, talking, and sharing her words were at one time a struggle, but there was a point when she felt that "talking in this way-and seeing by their faces and responses that I was getting through-seemed entirely miraculous . As miraculous as writing." I continuously think about the writing of Alice Walker, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde when I write not only because I am writing about them, but also because they were once where I am..feeling the same feeling. They have inspired women like me, just as I hope to do for other women. I am reminded that they strive for enlightenment pretty much everyday because our growth is never ending. This is why my goal is to treat this writing process as a cathartic tool that will help me while simultaneously helping others.
"When life descends from the pit/I must become my own candle/Willingly burning myself/To light up the darkness/ Around me. -Alice Walker
I was told by my mentor Heather Neff that writing is a state of mind. You get into a mode and you just write. I was also told by a friend, Evita that it is when we find solace in solitude that we write and think the best. This is fine except for the fact that when I read and write the ideas come at a speed of like 100 miles per hour. That being said, I do have 10 pages and must add at least five more to do this first chapter justice. I have not even covered the historical background of black women writing autobiography. The goal is to finish the chapter by December 2009, but at this rate I will be done some time in August 2010...not acceptable. So, today...I will add the historical background to what I have thus far. For, without this history there would be no autobiography...and no such thing as black feminism because there would be no narrative of such a movement. In this background I plan to learn something new and share something new the next time I write to you. I am sure my research today will foster enlightenment in some way, shape or form. I plan to transgress just a little by the time darkness falls. Wish me luck;0
"Words invite us to transgress-to move beyond the world of the ordinary." (bell hooks)
So, I have decided to document my thesis writing process. Hopefully, it will make it much easier and make me a better writer. My thesis is an attempt to show how the autobiographical writings of bell hooks and Audre Lorde can be utilized as a form of consciousness raising rhetoric for black women. There are so many parts and I actually completed a tentative first chapter on the general politics of autobiographical writing, and how hooks and Lorde fit in or, well, don't.
Why? I chose to write on this topic because the autobiographical writings of bell hooks was how I actually got into the whole feminism thing. Her story or stories has helped me attempt to deal with some of the things in my own life, like being bullied as a child, teenager, and semi-adult. My final hope for the entire thesis is to ultimately heal the wounds and mend some of the voids, which exist in my life by dissecting the writings of hooks and Lorde; while also creating a rhetoric that other black women and women of color in general can use to do the same. Wish me luck and here I go.
Audre told me my silence would not protect me, so I have chosen to speak.;)
I would like to officially say that I wish there were black-owned cafes or coffee-shops in my area, which is Northwest Detroit. This is simply because I would love to hang there all day and just write, breathe, and then write again. I would also love if my dollars went towards the upliftment of my own community. Unfortunately, there are none so I am forced to go to places in Royal Oak, Allen Park, and Hamtramck to do what I do best. This is unfortunate for two reasons...it is too far and I feel that I simply do not belong. Maybe I wouldn't need a black-owned cafe if people were more open to diversity. What is an utopia to some is a place of torture for others. Quite frankly, you can not be creative when hate and misunderstanding are lurking in the air.