"I'm a Black writer." GUEST-GUEST Blog
"I'm a Black writer."
By Denene Millner
Three more hours to go, and I’ll hear the bus rush down the street, signaling that my time is… up. The giggly girls will tumble up the brick stairs, backpacks askew, twists flying, serving up juicy kisses and demanding sweet treats—Golden Oreos, strawberries, and peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches (folded, not cut, in half). That’s what they’ll want—that, and my undivided attention. There will be no more time for my other babies—the characters in my books.
The clock ticks.
I am struggling.
Full of doubt.
And wondering, yet again, why I don’t just give this writing thing up and get a real job somewhere—like Starbucks or the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority. I could make lattes or collect dollars, and stop thinking about words already.
And why not?
I’ve got 12 books with my name on them, including my latest, Hotlanta, the first in a three-book series I’ve written with my co-author, Mitzi Miller, and three more books on the way. I’ve also written for an eclectic mix of magazines—from Essence to Parenting to Money to Men’s Fitness—during a writing career that’s spanned more than two decades. Yet today, I’m feeling like my job as an African-American author is one of the most thankless, underappreciated, low-paying jobs on the planet.What’s got me in a tizzy? A prominent book editor’s quote in a recent newspaper article, saying that black authors who’ve had a successful book or two don’t have the right to expect long careers as writers.
My first response? Anger.
My second: What gives her the right?
My third: Resignation.
Maybe I should just go on down to Starbucks. Because clearly, there’s just no respect for what we African-American writers do. We’re being left behind, hung out to dry—devalued. By publishers with editors who feel comfortable saying publicly that black writers should find another way to pay the bills, no matter their passion or past successes…
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