In this episode I share with you my tried and true hacks on organizing and keeping track of ideas and information for your book, my experience going to school for the first time at 35 years old, and the aftermath of appearing on Katie.
Hey, hey, hey. I’m Aziza Kibibi and this is Self Published episode 7.
In this episode I’m going to share with you my tried and true hacks on organizing and keeping track of ideas and information for your book, my experience going to school for the first time at 35 years old, and the aftermath of appearing on Katie. Yes, you’ll have to learn to take the good with the bad and get very comfortable with the mindset that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
But first I’d like to make you aware that following me on instagram and facebook will give you access to more ideas and information, as well as some good old fashioned entertainment. And subscribing to my youtube channel and my website adds some cherries and whipped cream to the entire dessert that is Aziza Kibibi. Just saying lol.
Ok, without further ado, please allow me to caress your eardrums and penetrate your mind with…
I have one more day in my fall semester at Essex County College. I'm anxious about my grade in my most challenging class; French. I also took African American History II, Biology 101 and Cinema appreciation to go towards fulfilling my communications degree. I'm thinking about things like maintaining my grade point average, and what am I going to do after I graduate. There was a time I never thought I'd have concerns like making it to class in the morning, or getting an assignment submitted on time. And here I am a full fledge college student.
I sit in class on some days, distracted by the young adults around me sighing out loud in complaint of the Professor's homework assignment. It was frustrating for the progression of my African American history class to be hindered by students that didn't appreciate the opportunity to get an education. There we were, watching a film on the sacrifices people made to improve the quality of the educational system, and the young people watching were uninterested! I just didn't get it. If they only knew what it was like to want to go to school, and not be allowed to.
My father homeschooled me until I was 11. Before he stopped teaching me, he promised that I would go to high-school. I looked forward to the day I'd walk through school doors and sit in a classroom with other students. Well, while under my father's rule, that day never came. By the time I was 14, my dad banned education among me and my siblings all together. Any teaching I did of my brothers and sisters, I did in secret. I had to worry about my father finding worksheets I created for my sisters to practice their handwriting. I got nervous any time he walked in on them reading a book. So when I watched a film in class on Fredrick Douglass, showing him sneaking around to learn to read, I became overwhelmed with emotion. That film and any others like it themed in slavery, connects to my life growing up on so many levels. Therefore it pains me to see others take the opportunity they have to get an education for granted.
Learning French gave me a better understanding of English. I've seen the inside of a frog up close and personal. I learned that the free school breakfast my kids eat in the morning, is thanks to a man named Heuy P. Newton; and instead of just watching a film, I can't help but analyze the editing, cinematography and Mise-en-Scene.
I didn't get the chance to walk through school doors and sit in a class room with other students until I was 35 years old. And most of the other students are my daughter's age. I may feel a little uncomfortable when one of these kids wants to give me attitude like I'm their peer, because I'm harshly reminded of my seniority over them. I've even had professors 8 years my junior which is a test in humility in itself. But I'm not embarrassed and I'm not ashamed because I'm using my opportunity to get an education for all it's worth. Better late than never, is what I say.
Food for thought (this time it's literal):
In January, 1969, the Free Breakfast for School Children Program was initiated at St. Augustine's Church in Oakland by the Black Panther Party. The Panthers would cook and serve food to the poor inner city youth of the area. Initially run out of a St. Augustine's Church in Oakland, the Program became so popular that by the end of the year, the Panthers set up kitchens in cities across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school.[1
It had been 5 days after the Katie show aired when I wrote that blog post. The day after, I was whisked away at 4am to appear on PIX 11 news. My email, social media and blog inboxes were overflowing with messages that to this day I still haven’t responded to all of them. Sidebar in sidebar: about two years later I found that facebook had folders within your message folder that held messages they screened. Omg, there were so many more offers for interviews that I missed. Whaaaa! Sigh. Oh well.
Where was I? Oh yeah, My inboxes were overflowing with messages, I watched the visitor counter on my blog change in coordination with the seconds on the clock. I think for 2013, you could almost say I went viral. And believe me, all of this was welcomed.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was the attention I got from guys at school. Many too young for me and some that probably violated school policies considering their position.
The semester was nearing it’s end so the inhabitants of the the campus halls started diminishing like leaves on trees during fall in Jersey. I had a couple of class finals left so I was among the remaining students and faculty ushering the semester out. On my way to one of my classes I noticed people staring, pointing and whispering to each other. At first I thought it was in my head then I realized, wait, they must have watched the Katie show.
I was waiting for the elevator when two young men walking by saw me doubled back to instead wait along side me. When we got on the elevator, they both told me they saw me on television. I responded politely, not really wanting to talk with strangers in a confined space, and focused on the blinking numbers above the door. But that didn’t stop one of them from asking me for my number and if I had a boyfriend. Thats only one awkward example. It gets worse.
After being stopped in the halls over the course of the day with thumbs up, hug requests and behests for pictures from men and women of different ages, I’d gotten used to it and was better prepared for the days ahead. But nothing could prepare me for what happened the following day.
Wrapping up their grading for the semester, professors could be found in campus passageways more often than any other time during the semester.
I appreciated the silent nods and smiles of encouragement from much of the faculty as I went about my study day. But one smile didn't stop at the creased lines framing a pair of lips. In fact, belonging to a gentlemen which looked to be in his winter years, one smile stopped me completely and introduced himself as an English professor. He offered to buy me coffee to congratulate me on my poise and presentation on the Katie show. Innocent enough right? My class wasn't for another 20 minutes so I didn't see any reason to decline.
We chatted about my book, how he would help with editing and ideas on getting it published. We exchanged numbers, I agreed to send him my manuscript draft, It was all good and I took my leave to head to my final.
I sent the professor my draft as soon as I got home. Eager to get feedback from someone who seemed well read and actually taught writing, I was more than happy when I got a call from him confirming that he read 4 chapters and would like to meet as soon as possible to discuss further steps. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Instead of meeting at the school like I expected, he asked if we could meet at a diner. Okay I guess. And we met a few days later.
During this “meeting” I learned everything from how this man grew up, to how much money he was getting in social security. Which was really curious to me. Why would he be telling me about his income?
Then he started going on about him being lonely and wanting a companion. I politely listened telling myself to respect my elders. But when I tried to get back on to the subject of my book, the professor evaded the topic like it was a Jehovah’s witness. Next thing I knew this man was telling me how I would be perfect as his girlfriend and I wouldn’t have to have sex very often. I almost spit out my coffee and nearly choked on it calling for the check.
At 32 chapters and 418 pages, it’s safe to say my book Unashamed a life tainted volumes 1 and 2 was an ambitious undertaking. And compiling and organizing over 30 years of memories and experiences in a creative presentation took a lot of… well…organizing. I had to come up with ways to track changes, structure the story line and finally construct an ending that made sense.
I can go on about techniques from how to narrow down a subject matter for an essay, to story boarding for a book trailer. And I will throughout continued episodes. Because it’ll definitely take more than one episode to go over all of them.
But for now I have three major tips that are key to organizing a big literary project.
Aside from some obvious basics like turning on auto save in your word processor, most word processors today have the ability to track edits. I used Mac Pages to write my book, and it has a tool that allows you to to go back to previous versions of your document. Whatever you use, become familiar with this tool and make notes in your calendar the days you make a major change. You never know. 2 weeks from now you could realize that your first idea was better.
When my manuscript was at 300 pages and I received some feedback from Todd Komarnicki, the writer of Sully starring Tom Hanks and Perfect Stranger with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, I turned my manuscript inside out. I changed the tense from past to present. I got rid of 2 whole chapters. And I also structured it into volumes which meant I had to write two endings. It was so difficult to keep up with all of these changes. I saved different versions for each major changes and I also had to format my book differently for digital publishing as apposed to print publishing. So, yes there are also different copies for that as well. All these versions on my laptop got kind of confusing.
So tip number 2. Get an external hard drive, thumb drive or memory card and save the different versions on it. You’ll have a backup of the versions before you made major changes, and you wont get yourself mixed up between them and the project you’re working on. This also helps with ideas for repurposing your original work. I share more about how to do that in a future episode.
And finally tip 3:
Computers stop working (knock on wood), hard drives wont mount, and memory cards get lost. Though we all would like to put our faith in these tools without fear or worry, the fact is everything is fallible. Or maybe you aren't in the position to invest in these extra tools or are waiting until it gets shipped to you. Well until then, email your work to yourself. Sure it’s similar to saving it to the cloud, which you can surely do, but emailing it to yourself not only gives you a saved version of your work, its a form of copyright because there’s a time stamp on it.
The moral of the story, you want to avoid the possibility of losing your work literally or to so someone else, and you could very well change your mind about changing your mind. Having backups not only protects you and your work, but being able to look back on how you’ve grown is invaluable to the process.
Hey you, thank you so much for listening to my shameless journey on becoming a self made author. The fact that the subject matter of my book is not commonly palatable make it a great case study. You can say that it’s extreme position on the spectrum of literary subject matter exasperated many challenges that a writer may face. That business with the professor offering help and trying to get something from I wasn’t willing to give in return is only one crazy example of what I contended with. I still find it curious how my openness about the abuse I suffered evoked the most primal natures of males.
If you have any theories, do let me in on them by shooting me a note on my website or my social media platforms. I’m Aziza Kibibi everywhere and as usual, links are in the show notes.
And in that note, until next time, bel blessed for you are a blessing.