Where I Write: Yvonne Battle-Felton

It’s nearly 10 AM. I have just finished a breakfast of my five-a-day: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Outlook, and Instagram. I’m on number five of fifteen tabs. These tabs are the results of my search for good news: a Google search of fellowships, open submissions, funding calls, and full-time jobs. I read, skim, bookmark, or close them. As I close each tab I make a tick on my mental checklist. I like to start my day with a clean slate; or at least with all the Windows on my laptop closed.

In my head, I work Monday-Friday from 10 AM-3 PM. My writing day is scheduled around ‘momming’. Because it’s also scheduled around teaching part-time, the reality is that I write when I can. When I can’t write, I’m thinking about it. Writing is more than taking pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It’s visualizing the ways characters move across the page; imagining interactions, conversations, and gestures; exploring beginnings and endings. Writing is visual, physical, emotional, and auditory. For me, it means I talk out loud when I write.

It also means I tend to write from home. I write out loud; sometimes saying words and phrases before I type them. I read them out loud once I commit to them and again as I delete them. I write with the lights off, the curtains drawn, and the windows closed. Minimizing distractions helps me to tumble into the words I’m creating. But I write like I live. In a world plump with distractions like car horns, distant bass, children laughing, the quick click of heels against the pavement. I am easily distracted by storylines, endings, and what ifs.

It’s 11 AM. I’m writing a story that began as a question in my head: what could lead to the next revolution? It’s a story of motherhood, technology, identity, family, survival, advocacy, community, and endings. It explores themes of racism and state violence and what happens when we are all equally uncomfortable. It’s 2PM and I’m emotionally exhausted. The protagonist’s son has been murdered. I’m mourning. I save my file and open another one. I’m also writing stories of women my age pursuing (and finding) their happily ever after. These are stories of women over 40 dating in an age of apps and virtual honesty.

I am often distracted by endings and so I explore, create, and write them.