A lot happened this year!
But first, welcome to my new website! If you’re a returning visitor, you will notice that this site is now exclusively about my creative endeavors as a writer, with a link to my photography. Anything related to my professional life or day job as a teacher is now located at www.rashiddarden.com. This site is now less cluttered and is more oriented to my books! I am so glad to have found a WordPress theme that is build with writers in mind. Now, when a new reader comes to my site, they will have more direct access to all my books.
Speaking of my life as an educator, you will see from old posts that I started a new job in July at a brand new competency based, project based, alternative high school. I left that job on Friday, December 1. On Monday, December 4, I began a new job as a GED Instructor. Why? Ask me when you see me at a book signing and I might spill the tea.
What I can say is that I feel incredibly blessed to have had three jobs this year and not to have been fired or laid off from any; to have friends at the previous jobs that love and respect me; and to be able to pay my bills. It goes without saying that I got into education to make a difference in the lives of young people, particularly “opportunity youth” who are returning to school. But I stay in this work because of wonderful coworkers whom I admire and love. Every job site has been different, but each has been amazing. I am looking forward to what magic happens at my current job.
But on to the writing.
My old job gave us a week off for Thanksgiving and my new job gave us two weeks off for Christmas. So for three nonconsecutive weeks, culminating on Christmas Day, I finally finished the first draft of my novel Yours in the Bond.
I am so happy.
Yours in the Bond is the story of Eustace Dailey, a Harvard grad working as a management consultant in Washington, DC. He is a member of Beta Chi Phi Fraternity (From Lazarus, Covenant, and Epiphany), and it is those relationships which sustain him while navigating his young adult life. His closest friend in the city is Jeremy Jacob Carter, also known as J.J., who is slightly older than him and pledged Beta across town at Boston University. Joining the fold as a graduate initiate is Miles Johnson. Later in the book we meet Ian Kenney, who pledged at Morehouse. Rounding out this circle of five is Adrian Collins, who you know from the aforementioned trilogy.
I’ve been warning my friends that while the original trilogy has a happy ending for the nice guys, there are probably no characters in YITB who are easy to root for. In fact, I enjoy saying they’re trash. But I feel comfortable calling them trash because of where they are in life: young and stupid on purpose. If you’re writing about college students, one might say that they make mistakes because they don’t know any better. So what’s the excuse for people who are older than that? Hopefully YITB will address that.
So the book is written and now the editing process begins. Don’t hold your breath, for release is not imminent. Birth of a Dark Nation went through seven or eight revisions before it was ready for publication, and I expect about the same for YITB. But I definitely think it will be worth it. I am super proud of this work and it meant a lot for me to push through years of delays and depression in order to bring it to you.
I learned a lot about myself as a writer this year, too. Books cannot be written if you do not prioritize writing. Now that I have family who has moved to Northampton County, North Carolina, I have a place where I can retreat when I need to write. And indeed, I need to write.
Right now, I really can’t write in the city like I used to. I have a lot of things that compete for my attention and they usually win, because they are attached to people. Work, service, fraternal commitments–those are things that I commit to because I enjoy them, yet they don’t bring me closer to my goals as a writer.
That means something has to give in 2018. My new job doesn’t require the emotional bandwidth that my previous two jobs did, and that’s a real blessing. I’ve been slowly minimizing my involvement in other endeavors, from dissolving a community service club I helped co-found two years ago, to chopping up some commitments in other orgs and delegating them out. To be honest, I feel really connected to Alpha right now. Alpha, work, and writing. With writing coming first above all.
But we’ll see. Keep me in prayer and I’ll pray for you all.
So Northampton County is my matrilineal homeland, and this year was the first time I’d visited in at least 25 years. It’s very quiet and rural here. Over the past few weeks, I’ve connected and reconnected with several family members, many of which I’ve had surprising connections with, such as one cousin being a fellow fraternity man (he is a Sigma).
I visited my mom’s hometown and even saw a church that my great-grandfather helped build, and my great-great-grandfather helped to organize.
I also saw cotton fields.
A whole lot of cotton fields.
In the process of finding tech savvy people in Northampton County, I discovered a company called Black Cotton. You know what? Just check their site out. I have fallen in love with them. Hopefully I can devote an entry to them in the future.
Although I have been quite productive down here in the country, I am cutting my trip short by a few days so I can go back home to DC, enjoy my own bed, and see some of my friends. The past two years have taught me to make time for friends, and I am putting that into action. Friend dates and brother time will be a priority for me in 2018. I’d be nowhere without the love and support of my friends, and face-to-face time goes a long way in nurturing those relationships.
Anyway folks, I’ve missed blogging but I can’t guarantee I’ll be doing it regularly. Just hang in there with me as I push these next few babies out and I promise you will not be disappointed.