|My second grade teacher was a family friend named "Gwen," although
her name was the more generally spelled, "Gwendolyn." In
the mid-1980s I visited the city in South Carolina that was
the inspiration for my first novel. At my former teacher's
home as we spoke I said, "I don't know where I get this
idea that I want to write. Gwendolyn Anderson, author of Profiles
of Black Folks in Anderson County South Carolina and Coauthor
of The Legacy of Black Pioneers said, "You always wanted
to write". She remembered what for me had become dormant
during decades of immersion in school, family and career.
Only at a high school class reunion, when the program for that
momentous day was presented, was I reminded that classmates
had asked me to write
words for our class song-to the music of "Sweet Lelani"
In 1975 a Skokie, Illinois neighbor called to say, "I hear you like
to write. I'm starting a newspaper and want you to do a column Until 1981 "Smarts
and Dums," was a monthly opportunity to comment on observations of
everything from family to world events. Opportunity to continue the column
accompanied me through another independent newspaper and to North Carolina
in the early 1990s. Poetry,
stories and continual revisions of Growing Up Nigger Rich, second completed
novel and a third in process continued.
GUNR, as the novel is known in shorthand, was written, not to "be
famous" as a friend exclaimed, but to share perceptions, observations
and thoughts from an experience that will, I hope, resonate within readers.