Peace and Blessings Loved Ones! I am Jontae Grace, and this is my writing process. I would like to thank Necole Ryse for Sharing the Blog Hop with me! Although I write nonfiction, I am an avid fiction reader and a fan of good writing first. I discovered Necole’s work through WordPress, and she has grown to be a mentor on my journey to publication. I have preordered her debut novel “The Legacy”, and you should too!
With that said, let’s get started…
What are you currently writing?
I have completed the manuscript for my debut publication, titled “Young Black Male: Selected Essays on Love”. It is a collection of essays designed to empower the reader to take control of their romantic relationships. In today’s landscape, the audience’s attention span is shorter than a Goldfish’s. So I’ve assembled a collection of short, digestible essays that you can complete during toilet time. Don’t lie: you do the majority of your reading there.
I write relationship-based content by theme: gender roles, infidelity, compatibility and the like. My technique focuses on behaviors rather than the people who perform them. I have learned that every situation is unisex: men and women experience the same issues, on different sides of the coin. So I try to avoid he/she pronouns and focus more on you, I and them. It removes the ‘gender war’ element, allowing us to focus on what we need to do collectively, rather than one side or the other.
What makes your work different?
I’m not one of those pie-in-the-sky relationship writers. I don’t solve the problem before the conclusion paragraph; I often end with a question. I live in the grey area – writing pain, frustration, confusion and setbacks as often as triumph, success, happiness and unicorns. My goal is not to be ‘correct’, but to prod you to search for your own truth. You are the question, and the answer.
I get personal with my readers; when you read my work, you are having a convo with that close friend who is revealing everything about themselves – good and bad. I have shared my experiences with drugs, homelessness, failures as a father and a lover, and how relationships can be affected by the gauntlet of life. Stuff that the average relationship writer won’t share because they paint themselves as the authority. I am a student, merely trying to share what I uncover, as we progress in our journey in life. I’m tryna figure it out just like you.
Why do you write what you do?
Have you ever had a heated discussion, and afterward you thought of the things you should have said to make your argument stronger? Well, I’m THAT guy: I speak slow, but there is a lot going on upstairs.
I began writing about relationships in college. Having gone to a PWI (Predominantly White Institution), I noticed that the few black people on campus had a difficult time meeting and mating. We used to sit around in Black Student Union meetings and argue about who was responsible for the disconnect, why the girls chased the athletes, why the black guys chased white girls, and other irrelevancies on campus.
During these discussions, I was never quick enough to contribute anything good, so I would go home and write my opinions, and post them. And one evening I noticed that I was writing on a Friday night, when I should have been out playing beer pong. It was then that I knew that this was not an idle hobby meant to win over a black coed. I felt a deeper purpose, and the rest is history.
I view my work as a form of social activism. A strong society is made up of strong communities, which are made of strong families, which in turn are composed of strong relationships. Thus, I am dedicating myself to strengthening the quality of our relationships, which will benefit our people. Kinda deep, huh? It has to be. It affects people’s lives.
What is your writing process?
Before I begin writing, I find a song that matches the mood of the topic. Sometimes it is angry, disrespectful, clutch-your-pearls rap. Or Drakey soul music, or Dr. Dre instrumentals. Once I find the right song, I put it on repeat to catch the vibe.
I begin writing in longhand, and all of my essays begin with a one-liner. I summarize my main point in one sentence. Then I go on to write one sentence for each of my supporting paragraphs. Once I have five or so sentences, I have the skeleton of an essay. From there, I begin to flesh out content, skipping back and forth between sections. I have never written from introduction to conclusion. In fact, I usually write like I have sex: from the back.
I’m not one of those writers who can crank out 3000-5000 words per day. Perhaps it is my style, or due to the genre I write, but I get between 250 and 500 words on a good day. I think about my sentences for so long that they usually come out in the same form you read them. I’ve never been big on revisions, which will haunt me as I enter the editing stage next month.
If you have the time, I encourage you to check out any one of the 70 essays on this site. The average visitor reads 3.5 essays, and I hope that you will find something that will empower you. My publishing goal is to have a paperback on the back of your toilet by the end of the year.
Next up is the talented, opinionated Ashleigh Atwell! A brilliant writer with a keen analysis of current events and important issues of our time, she can be found on Ashleigh, Not Ashley. Feminazi who? (Kidding. Don’t taze me, bro). Also, check out writer, life coach and spiritual truth-seeker Patia Braithwaite! Her understanding of life has lit the way during many of my dark periods. Check out her site Men, Myself and God, you won’t come away empty-handed.