From Co-Chair Gaylloyd Sissón’s Desk
Hello. As an African-American Writers’ Alliance member, I’m excited about writing the first blog for the AAWA Community. Blogging enables AAWA to promote its members’ work to the billions of people who use the internet about essential topics relevant to the writing audience and prospective members. Blogs are the new business cards; they are to writing professionals in the 2000s what a business card was in the 1990s.
I’ll start by telling you a little about my author journey, how I got involved with AAWA and what AAWA’s goals are. In elementary school in the 50s, I began keeping a journal. I wrote mostly about what confused me about myself. It became personal, and I didn’t want anyone else to read it, but one day a friend asked me about something I’d written. I was upset she’d read it and changed my format to writing poems that I sometimes shared with friends and family.
Fast forward to 1986. Having sold my Canadian computer service business, I became a resident of Seattle’s Mt. Baker neighborhood with my new wife. I taught at South Shore and Aki Kurose middle schools for 20 years. I began the first draft of my debut novel, Down the Road a Piece, in 2010, the year I retired from Seattle Public Schools. It’s an autobiographical account of a naïve thirteen-year-old boy on a 1957 road trip with his large family. He traveled through overtly racist sections of the United States, then back to his home in California.
In 2014, a Douglass-Truth librarian told me about AAWA, and I soon attended my first meeting. I wanted to get African-American perspectives on my novel. After completing the manuscript, I began studying the publishing business. Like the protagonist in my story, the information I’ve gathered has been an eye-opener.
In an early response to COVID-19 pandemic challenges, AAWA’s Leadership Council created virtual spaces for writer-members and friends to connect online. We updated our website (www.aawa-seattle.org) to inform audiences about Black authors and their work.
AAWA’s future includes a strong presence among other writing organizations such as the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) and Port Townsend Writers. Members offer workshops, critique groups, writing classes, writer’s conferences, and forums to assist authors in reaching their personal goals.
I invite AAWA members to contribute blogs with their writing experiences, working with other writers, querying agents, publishers, contracts, scams to avoid, and any other topic of interest to readers. If you are interested, email email@example.com, leave a message and put the word blog in the subject line. We hope to help inspire you to write your stories, plays, poems, essays, fantasies, children’s books, and anything else you find soul-liberating.
Thank you for your support.
AAWA Leadership Council Co-Chair