WHO I AM

I was born in Brooklyn, New York to immigrants who came to America for a better life. With just a pinch of English on their tongues, I’m sure,
my parents did not foresee that their daughter, decades later, would write 100,000 words of this new tongue in the form of a book
and then become an award-winning author for literary fiction.
I say, only in America.
I do not have an aversion to a life of recluse. If I were called to it, I’d likely envision a whole new world and cocoon myself within its borders for at least a year past eternity. And nothing and I mean nothing, with the exception of a few slaps against the jaw, would revive me or turn me back to the unseemly here and now.

 

You probably couldn’t swear by it, but I’m in perfect health. Yet I don’t hear well. I don’t see well. I blame it all on the multitude of thoughts. I can’t help but sink deep into my other world far more frequently than my husband would like. So I’ll apologize to all of you far in advance, as you will need to repeat yourselves a thousand times before I fully decipher what you’ve said.

 

I was a storyteller since I was ten years old, if I recall correctly. But no one around me suspected a thing. I didn’t say much. I didn’t write much. It all remained hidden in the nook of my carefree mind.

 

When I wrote at times, for school assignments, I noticed my grades were higher than most. But no one thought to mention I had a knack.

 

Oh, how I wished they had; It would’ve saved me from semester after semester of biochemistry, calculus, and physics.

 

But I hold no grudge. I take full responsibility for my lack of self-awareness and I’m enormously grateful that clarity came finally, albeit twenty years later.

 

Since I also have a bad memory when it comes to dates, I recall faintly writing the first manuscript of Hosanna in 1997 or 1998. If it were not for boxes of archival treasures, I would not have known that it was actually fall of 1998 that I had a dream that inspired me and a story that captivated me for all but 18 years.
 
But it was an atrocious piece of work. I never did have formal, credential-building training in literature or writing for that matter. It’s all been gut instinct and self-teaching, I’m afraid. But good ol’ shame saved me one day and helped me bury the curse in a box. We should all be beholden to sanity and good common sense.

 

Since then, I labored in the field of education for about ten years until fate came and laid me off in 2008, prodding me to pull out the old manuscript, brush off cobwebs, hold my breath as I forced-read and rewrote the worse manuscript known to man.

 

Now, I was finally done. Well, I thought I was done.

 

After the second or third or tenth rewrite, I honestly believed Hosanna was perfect and ready for the world this time. But a deluge of rejections soon came and I had an earth ending epiphany—Hosanna wasn’t ready at all and it wouldn’t be ready for years to come. Looking back, I’m thankful to the Almighty for those rejections, since I was able to keep my good, hard-earned reputation unsullied.

 

I had no choice but stroke and knuckle my wounded heart until I built up the energy I’d need to resume the work. And since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about developing character, integrating a historical setting, and crafting the essence of my story. And I’ve also learned a thing or two about stretching the minikin of faith and patience I had beyond what I ever thought possible.

 

And so, on this day, I live, breathe, and cough up Atlanta pollen with my husband and son. And as my weak, slow-adjusting eyes remind me often, I’m well over ten years of age now. But I’m still that same tight-lipped storyteller I’ve always been. But this time, I figured I’d grow some sense and write it all down.