I’m writing this memoir because I’m a white woman who fell in love with and married an African-American man. I probably wouldn’t have realized how important exploring race was if I hadn’t fallen in love with Kyle (my husband).
As someone who is curious about people and constantly learning, I want to explore the world of my husband, his family, and their community.
I want to fit in with my new Southern, black, socially conservative, small-town, churchgoing family — me, an unchurched liberal white Pacific Northwesterner from a big city.
I’m never going to experience what they’ve experienced, but I want to understand their struggles, the effect of prejudice and discrimination in their lives, and even their styles of greeting, the ways they tease each other, how they dress for events — so I can enjoy and relax into Kyle’s community.
The more I adapt to their ways, the more I enjoy the way my inner being resonates with them. Plus, I love it when they tease me about being white!
I’m a lot happier than I used to be, I’m more comfortable around people who are different from me, I’m more open and friendly, I enjoy many cultural things that I didn’t know how to enjoy before. I want to share what I’ve learned with people like me, to make it easier for you to learn what I’ve learned and to enjoy all the new experiences that I enjoy.
How I Learned I was a Writer
I started writing when I was in grade school. I wrote short plays and I cajoled my classmates into rehearsing and performing two of them — but then they got tired of giving up recess to rehearse! When my plays were performed in front of the combined 4th grade class, with me in the lead, I enjoyed the hell out of myself.
Around 2009, I started working with a wonderful coach for creative entrepreneurs, Mari Geasair. I kept going back and forth between starting a mediation business and investing my time in writing plays. Finally Mari told me: “I think you really want to be a playwright. The idea keeps popping up, like a beach ball underwater.”
I jumped into playwriting deeply and professionally. Not only did I want to make art worth watching, I intended to learn everything I could about the market for plays and the business of being a playwright. My blog Playwright’s Muse explored and shared my research and insights into the field. I kept that blog from April 2011 to March 2015.
Now I have started my mediation business, Human Interop, which I enjoy.
This memoir came about because I go to a weekly writer’s group in a cafe. One of the women in the group was working a novel based on her growing-up years. After a while, the two writers who run the group pointed out she was really writing a memoir. And it smacked me upside the head: I have a memoir in me too.
At the time, I was writing a blog called “I’m Curious About People,” about my experiences and the people I observed as I went around Seattle and in my life. Some of that material is part of this memoir I’m working on, because I frequently blogged about race.
My Answers to Typical Author Reading Questions
- How do you come up with ideas?
Life is full of ideas. The thing about a memoir is that it is a story of a person’s life, not the whole story. Once you have a natural bounding, it’s easy to know what to write about. When I realized I wanted to write a memoir about my life as a white woman married to an African-American man and share what I’ve learned, then I knew what I’d have to be writing about.
- Do you write every day? What’s your process?
I write in longhand using a nib pen on homemade notebooks I put together using the backs of recycled paper that I’ve printed on, bound with binder rings. I also use dictation software. I write when I have time throughout the week. If I don’t write often enough, I go crazy; I feel emotionally stifled. In my writer’s group, we do timed writings in the style of Natalie Goldberg, and my stream of consciousness often brings up subjects to write about.
- Is everything you write true?
Yes. True to my memories and the documentation I have. I use pseudonyms if I can’t get ahold of the people I’m writing about so they can review what I write.
- Does your family read what you say about them? What do they think?
The first time I sent something to my in-laws for them to review, I was really nervous that they’d say, “No. Don’t write about us.” But they loved my piece “Meeting Kyle’s Parents” (which I’ll post as soon as my husband’s Aunt Jean reads it, cause she’s mentioned in it). My mother in law said they got a good laugh out of it. And they gave me their blessing to continue writing. My mom proofreads my writing, and she likes it.
The best way to get the most out of this blog is to read with curiosity, and post your thoughts and what you’re curious about.
I don’t allow hate speech or personal insults. Anyone who posts that sort of thing will be banned.
Other than that, post your questions, your observations, your curiosities.