Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Power of Words Part I
Those of you who have read my popular, debut novel Heads or Tails? Geminis Don't Choose, listened to my interviews or promotional videos know that I am not candid about my incarceration. The reason is simple- I will not allow it to be my personal Scarlett Letter. However, until yesterday, I never really understood the impact the release of my novel and personal success, meant to others who have been both directly and indirectly effected by incarceration.
I was invited to speak on a panel at the world famous Riverside Church, about the struggles faced by women returning home from prison. The goal was to raise awareness about the dynamic needs and resources needed to help this particular population. At the end of the event I met some very interesting people, some of which were in attendance out of mere curiosity. To my surprise many of these people thanked me for the inspiration and hope I unknowingly represent. Their praise was not only appreciated, but eye opening. I do many paid speaking engagements while promoting my book, so speaking in public forums comes naturally. However, I have never felt so purposeful or humbled. An older gentlemen said, ‘I would have never guessed that you were in prison.’ We engaged in a dialogue where he felt comfortable to admit his own ignorant preconceived notions about currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, that the event helped to dispel. He and I exchanged email addresses and today continued our dialogue. It turns out, he is a journalist from a newspaper in Nebraska.
I have stated several times that I do not plan to live in the shadows of my incarceration, will not denounce it, but I will not allow it to define me as a person. But the event made me realize I need to do more to help dispel the stigma and ignorance that others will not freely admit to having. I also need to work harder to spread the word to all the talented people I left behind those walls to hone their talents, and return to society and utilize them, so they too can have a successful transition. Every day of the past year and a half of my release has been eventful, and filled with promise. Learning yesterday that my novel represents more than words on paper, gave me a redefined sense of purpose. Not only am I a writer to provide entertainment and enjoyment for my readers, I am here to provide encouragement to an under-served and often forgotten population of people equally as talented.
Until the next time, I wish you good health and happy spirits,