Rewriting: I am currently drafting my third novel and know that I face the more difficult part ahead—the rewrite. After I develop characters and plot , do all the research to give the story its details and setting, and lay out the scenes in a table, I write the story. That’s the fun part. Additionally, in writing my novels, I’ve changed genres from satire to thriller and now to young adult, so I’ve had to study my new audiences to do the writing. When I’m “done” writing, I know I face endless rewriting and editing—like a diamond cutter chipping away at a rough rock, trying to bring to the surface the gem that’s hidden inside and working to make something of universal value.
I’ve just been invited to join a group of authors to do a presentation entitled “Rewriting the UU Narrative: Where We Went Wrong” at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Charlotte, NC. Mark Morrison-Reed has just published his book Darkening the Doorways and will be doing this presentation with the help of individuals who contributed chapters to the book. I wrote the chapter about Don Speed Smith Goodloe. He was the first principal at Bowie (MD) State University when it was a normal school and the first African American graduate of Meadville Seminary (Unitarian). It was while doing research on Goodloe that I stumbled upon a reference to a lynching. This sent me on my journey to learn about the early part of the 20th century and the country’s downturn in race relations—increased segregation, white domination, and lynchings (referred to as the nadir of American race relations by James Loewen and other scholars). My journey culminated in writing the thriller novel Well Considered, incorporating the history I had learned along the way. Mark Morrison-Reed’s Darkening the Doorways adds another historical perspective for Unitarian Universalists.
My wife and I are currently reading Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation by Rawn James, Jr. This is a fascinating book and leads one to ask, “Why didn’t I know that? Why were we not told?” We heard this same kind of questioning from other audience members some weeks ago when Clarence Lusane talked about his book The Black History of the White House at Busboys and Poets, U Street corridor, sponsored by the Teaching for Change bookstore. The James book also came from a Busboys and Poets presentation. Why didn’t I know the history in these books? Because scholars and authors are constantly struggling over a rewrite of American history, not as a revisionist effort, but simply because there is so much information that was hidden due to prevailing attitudes and so much that is being discovered that was never known before. We must all be part of this rewrite no matter how difficult the process.