Being an author comes with its challenges. As those of us who are choosing to do National Novel Writer’s Month are finding out, putting it all together is no easy task. Polite on Society reached out to Eartha Watts-Hicks, author of Love Changes for her perspective on mastering the craft of writing and all that goes into it.
POS: You have been an independent author. Tell us what that is like.
EWH: I took my first writing classes when I was about eleven years old. I studied poetry and journal writing. I started writing songs (a long-time hobby) when I was around thirteen, so my brain almost automatically cues in to rhyme patterns. In 2001, I started writing Love Changes, believing that I could “teach myself” how to write fiction by checking out library books and complete said novel in three months time. That didn’t happen. Three years later, I took my first writing workshop at the Frederic Douglas Creative Arts Center here in New York. I completed my first draft a little over a year later. The merit of the first draft won me acceptance into quite a few competitive writing programs and in some cases, I was awarded scholarships. These organizations were instrumental in helping me to develop as a writer. But all along my journey, I bugged friends and family with pages of my working drafts. It was their encouragement, urging, and especially all those who bugged me “for the rest of it” that kept me going. Because really, I always had a vision for the work, but the process was exhausting and the whole concept seemed impossible.
I am now a fiction fellow through the Center for Black Literature and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. I am also a member of the Harlem Writers Guild. I recently won the award for literary in fiction from the N.Y.C.H.A. branch of the NAACP and was named NAACP New York literacy ambassador.
POS: What does “Love Changes” bring to the literary scene?
EWH: Love Changes is anomaly. It is urban, literary, message based fiction, which infuses, prose, poetry and music, while incorporating a host of literary devices. And, while this novel is self-published, I quote lyrics from popular songs with permission. My initial goal was to write “positive” books. But I’ve learned that in aiming for “positive,” my work takes on so many layers. There are elements to it that are spiritual, developmental, professional, how-to tips and tricks, mathematical, musical, poetic, as I try to emulate who “we’ were in my generation—brown, brilliant, aspiring, proud, despite our insecurities. And I laid it all out as best I could.
POS: Can you tell us about the QBR reading you had recently?
EWH: That was phenomenal and so were Max Rodriguez and the QBR team. It took place in a designated “Reading Corner” at Military Park in Newark, NJ, which is absolutely gorgeous now that it has been renovated. The reading itself was actually filmed by a member of the QBR team, Glen Campbell.