One Simple Question
Sorors of Delta Sigma Theta, San Antonio, Texas Alumnae Chapter asked me to answer one simple question: To explain why I wrote Wings to Fly, a novel, that I was at their event to share.
But to answer the question, I had to go back to 1985, when I sat in the pews of a small church with two aisles on Hoover Avenue in South Central Los Angeles. The church was Faithful Central Bible Church (FCBC), pastored by Dr. Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, and it would, eventually, grow into a mega church under Bishop Ulmer’s anointing.
To answer the question, I had to go back to the seven years that I sat in FCBC’s pews, being guided by Bishop Ulmer, studying the word, and asking God to unleash my purpose and anointing. At the time, I was clueless about what I should do with the creative passion I felt so deeply hidden inside.
So, my short answer to my Sorors’ question was that I wrote Wings because God said I should write, but then I had to explain.
That when you ask God for seven long years (That’s how long I had asked.) to reveal why you’re born and what you should do with your life, amazing things will happen. My first instruction was to always SHOUT (Shine, Have Hope, Overcome, Use God’s Power and Testify ) with my life. This message came from my Big mama. Then, without instructions, I was guided to sit down at a computer and to write.
And when I sat down, a story unleashed in me about four women named Emma, Marla, Joan (all attorneys), and their Stylist Extraordinaire, Shelly. The first book that poured out of me in six months, without an outline, was On Edge, a novel, and when I typed “The End,” I knew that I was not done, although I had never written a creative thing in my life.
The second book, Just Gotta Shout, would be my story of following God’s lead after that 7-year prayer session. And the final book, Wings to fly, continues with the characters from On Edge. They are Women In Need of Growing Stronger (WINGS), as they face the chaos of the world during their time: Materialism, Cultural Decay, and Racial Divides (hmm, just like today). Although all three books would be revealed in one Hallelujah moment, it would take many years for the body of work to manifest.
My first play, SHOUT, was based on characters from On Edge and Wings to Fly, and I penned an e-Book, edited by best-selling professional editors, entitled: SHOUT! Lessons of Hope for Tough Times. I used the cover from the play SHOUT because God likes us to get the most out of his ideas.
I was represented by a best-selling literary agent after I wrote Wings to Fly, and she instructed me to revise and re-write and assigned a professional editor to work with me. During this time, my Mom, who was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, was battling breast cancer, as she had done for the past 32 years. I was her “Go To” girl, and we lived together during this time.
One day while at my mother’s chemo treatment, her IV popped out and the purplish chemo fluid spilled all over the manuscript that I was revising. I had worked for weeks and could no longer see my revisions. My mother looked at me a long while. She then quietly directed me to clean up the mess, and to carry on. And so, I did.
As I looked out at my Sorors, I could feel the tears swelling in my eyes, as I tried to answer that one simple question. Many years have passed since that hallelujah moment. Like so many other people, I’ve weathered the storms. I’ve smiled in the face of rejection. I’ve bounced back after betrayals. I recovered after the mother of all recessions. I’ve sat next to frenemies and politely nodded as they looked forward to my demise. I’ve buried my mother, my grandmother, two grandfathers, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, my cousin, and my niece on my husband’s side.
I’ve raised three sons, to avoid the deadly traps set out for Black men, and I’ve supported my oldest son, who is Autistic. I’ve remained with their dad, my college sweetheart, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, committed to death do us part. I’ve SHOUTED for homeless women, juvenile girls, and women in transition. In the end, I’ve done what my Mommy, Dr., Soror Georgia Mae, instructed me to do in that Chemo treatment facility at UCLA Medical Center. I’ve cleaned up the spills in my life and in the lives of others.
Since the day of the spill, I’ve written and produced several plays, was a MFA Playwright Fellow at the University of California where I wrote a thesis play that’s being considered at a theater in London. I wrote two television pilot scripts, a feature, and am screening a short film, Out of Bounds, that I wrote, directed and produced this weekend. I share all of this, not to brag, but to clearly express, “It’s been a long journey,” filled with so many ups and downs, that sometimes I’ve had to, simply, rest on the journey.
As I looked out at the 100 or so Sorors and Sisters in San Antonio at the Delta Authors on Tour, San Antonio event this past Saturday, I saw my Mom’s face in each of them. They were so beautiful. So graceful, so kind, and so eloquently dressed in hints of crimson and cream.
As I answered that simple question, my voice cracked, and I became teary eyed.
Like my Mom, my Sorors inspire me to Carry On no matter what, I thought as I read the very last line of Wings to Fly:
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
No matter what we face in life and how long the journey takes, He’s an on-time God.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Sorors of the San Antonio Alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. And I send a special thank you to Soror Diane Hester, who planned every detail with perfection, to Soror Charlotte Gregory, a sweet, kind Soror, who took me back and forth to the airport, to my sweet Soror who helped me as I signed books, to the Sorors who joined us for dinner, and to the esteemed Soror Authors, who let me stand among them.
I desperately needed to be reminded, at this very moment in life, that we women of Delta Sigma Theta have wings and can fly.
P.S. to see the other books mentioned here, go to https://memekellyinspires.com/books-4/ & https://memekellyinspires.com/ebooks-3/
And please join me at the next screening of the Out of Bounds short Film. Click here:
The last screening at Raleigh Studios, the poster for which is below, was loads of fun.
Out of Bounds is a 12-minute inspiring short film about an African American Professor of Literature, married to a retired NBA player, who must choose between a Black Students Matter (BSM) Movement, and her allegiance to her son, an NCAA Basketball star at her University.