R.Y. Swint is my pen name. I've been writing since I was seven years old, wrote my first book when I was 11, published my first book when I was 42, and launched my publishing house, New Renaissance Ink, when I was 43. It's safe to say that I found my way into writing very early in life, and through life I've discovered that I am good at many things, but I was born to do this.
Writing lights my dark places and fills my empty spaces. It is my life's air and my heart's blood. It is every cliche that ever was about what it means to love. Whether the words flow easily, or are delivered through great pains, I stick with writing because I'm trying to be obedient to what I believe is God's purpose for me; and that is to give and receive energy and lifeblood through the people I reach with my words.
I respect and believe in the value of words. I mourn for wasted words like a barren woman for unborn children. In that revelation lay the discovery and execution of my purpose. How could I not embrace something as real to me as that?
A couple of months ago, after participating in an event called Blackbird Fly, in Staten Island, NY, I decided to put together a writing project, under the New Renaissance Ink
imprint to continue the momentum and the positive energy of that event. I'm calling it the Blackbird Fly Project
, and it will be the second annual project managed by the New Renaissance Ink "Let's Write for a Change" (LWC) Initiative
. The purpose is to not only inspire and mentor the young ladies, but to also give them a glimpse into how the writing and publishing business work. I had to extend the original 31 May 2012 deadline, though. I'm hoping to get a few more quality submissions by 31 August, so that we can possibly reach our target publication date of May 2013.The first project
, in 2011, was called the Up from Here Project
. If all goes according to plan, that project will launch a book in September of this year, and all proceeds will be donated to the Teaching for Change
organization in Washington, DC.This year, the Blackbird Fly Project is taking the LWC Initiative in a little different direction. I'm opening it up to young writers in the age ranges of 10-21 years old, and I'm paying each contributor an advance of $100, with a royalty of 40%, to be divided equally between the contributors.I'm really excited about it, but it's hard to gauge the level of enthusiasm from others is. Folks say they want change. They say they want opportunity. And yet, it feels like a constant struggle to get people to do stuff more than just talk about stuff. But, I'll keep plugging away, anyway. Here's hoping for more participation for the Blackbird Fly Project; but if not, maybe I can get the one contributor I have so far to consider writing and contributing more of her own work. If I can offer just one person an opportunity that she might not have had otherwise, then that's still a good thing.
Six days into the new year means I'm late with my gratuitous post of reflections and ponderings of the last year. Worse, I've tried to write this post 3 times over the last hour, and my connection keeps dropping. Worst, I'm too stubborn to rewrite it in a Word document so that I won't lose it again, just in case I run out of time before the NEXT inevitable dropped connection. This is some bullshit.
But, then, that's what I get for being late as hell and being stubborn. And have the nerve to be impatient. This is what happens to a writer with tons of ideas that she can't write down fast enough, and can't remember once those ideas have gotten tired of waiting to be put to good use and escaped her chaotic head space.
I've written some great stuff on here in the last three attempts, and lost it because of some fricken fracken computer glitchy nonsense, which, by the way, I pay way too much money to be going through. Now it's gone forever. Much like time itself. The gift that doesn't keep on giving.
It is a gift of opportunity and chances (like the chance I'm taking that this shit won't drop me again); of decisions and circumstances, often of my own making; of situations, often of my own choosing. It doesn't come wrapped in a nice shiny bow. And despite my best efforts, I cannot save it in a pretty little box or bottle for later.
As time passes, I'm passing right along with it. I get it. I got it years ago, but something about this time of year brings it back to the forefront of my mind. And I know I'm not the only one. I just posted my thoughts six days later. Time. Only less of it.
Time is borrowed, much like credit. Eventually it runs out.
I changed the name of this blog to "Write on Time" because all cliches about time are true. It slips into the future, waits for no man, heals all wounds...or so they tell me. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
That, and I think it's a pretty cool play on words.
Anyway, I plan to spend this year getting my publishing company, New Renaissance Ink, off the ground, and publishing at least two works this fall, one of which will be the Second Edition of The Other Side of 30; but gracious alive, it's a lot of work. I'm working with a few authors already, talking mostly, at this point; but I hope that one of their books will be among the two that I publish this year. I've also got two nonfiction pieces bouncing around in my head, and maybe even a YA novel, which is totally new territory for me. I believe I've got the ducks lined up (couldn't think of a time cliche for that one), and I'm trying to move deliberately, if a bit tentatively, just to increase my chances of producing the best possible work for my readers and for myself.
All that said, I'm still learning to build platforms, audiences, brand recognition and all of that stuff that only writers care about. From this point forward, I hope to deliver words on this screen that readers care about. I'm building it, readers. Please come.
One of my brain children is to create an experimental blog segment and discussion forum, through comments and/or messages, as a Subject Matter Expert on the Art of Being Single. After all, The Other Side of 30 is basically about the life of a single girl, Sebrina Cooper, that goes awry, to put it mildly.
Let's see. That makes the acronym SMEABS. Hmmmh. That needs work.
But if I don't know shit else, I know how to be single. And write. And having done both for so long, I've gotten better than pretty good at them.
Maybe I'm supposed to remind as many others as possible, that being single is a conscious choice, not a chronic condition. And that's it's not the end of the world. On the other side of 30, 40, or beyond. Well, I don't know anything much about beyond yet, but you get the point. Maybe this is how I build my platform and readership, but also help some people along the way. Sebrina Cooper should have had the benefit of a SMEABS.
I've pretty much mastered being single, and all without the benefit of heavy medication or restraining orders. I've kept my hair and most of my sanity. That takes finesse. Skill. Okay, less skill and more life experience. And a lot of perspective. A dash of good genes, sure. Of course, a good portion of grace and gummi bears.
I mean, there has to be a really good reason for my being over 40, never been married, no kids, well-educated, pretty, and having dropped into and avoided more than my fair share of emotional pitfalls. But on the other side of all that, I have built a pretty comfortable life, maintained a steady career, and I'm living the drama-free life to which we all (at least say that we) aspire.
Just maybe being a SMEABS (Trying to get the name to grow on me) is part of my purpose, sharing lessons and experiences.
Anyway, if you or someone you know may benefit from some perspective and life experience, please tune in here often. We'll see how this thing pans out.
Whatever I do with the time I have left in this year and the rest of my life, I want to contribute something to making someone else's situations or circumstances better, their decisions are little more informed, and maybe their chances a little less risky. *Sigh*
Opportunity, here I come knocking.
There is more to come. I will be more active on this blog. That's not a resolution. It's a lifestyle change. ;)
I'm so happy to have the contest concluded. It was fun receiving all of th entries, but whew! Lots of brain cells used on that one. Who knew?
I did my best to have all the winner information posted by 15 June, but life and work got in the way again. That damned road march didn't help. My knees are still pissed at me. Lord, come on retirement. Come on, end of deployment. Geez Louise!
But even with a few days being late with the winners' announcement, I still have enough time to finish putting together a good project. But wow! Doing it all within a few months seems a daunting task.
I still hope I'll get more contributions for the book from others. I have enough of my own thoughts and ideas and imagery to put in it, but I think it would be an even better product with contributions from different sources. But we'll see.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but I'm already thinking about how to put together the same or similar project for next year. Always thinking.
Please visit my publishing website at www.newrenaissanceink.com
for more details on this year's project and the progress.
Sometimes, thoughts pop into my head about titles for books, stories or chapters. I figure that since I'm starting my new publishing company, New Renaissance Ink, maybe some of those titles might come in handy. I've decided to start jotting them down as they come to me and see where they lead.
Of course, these are just thoughts of titles and how they came to me. It doesn't necessarily mean that the finished books, chapters or stories will have anything to do with how I came up with the titles.
8 May 2011 (I'm on Afghnistan time):
Severely Compromised (the way I feel when people post stupid stuff on my feed that makes me want to hide, block or delete them)
Ugly Baby (my mom said I was a really ugly baby when I was born, but my aunt Linda took me out and showed me off anyway)
Glass Houses (idea for a short story about people who judge but forget where home is)
Woman to Woman (idea for a short-short story about a person's confrontation with herself, maybe one of those monologue thingies)
Pickled Pig Feet (just came to me, not sure why)
Love's Daughter (a possibly story about my grandma as a young woman, back in the days when she was cuttin' up; her mother's nickname was Love)
I Am Not Your Mother (a letter to my unborn children)
Letters from Afghanistan (a list of reasons not to put a loaded weapon in your mouth and pull the trigger)
Tomorrow, 1 April 2011, marks the beginning of a new creative content contest I'm sponsoring. The contest will run through 31 May 2011. It's called "Let's Write for a Change." I'm trying to get writers and artists to come forward and contribute to a book project that I'd like to put together for charity, but the wheels have been slow in turning, so far. But hey, at least the wheels are turning.
Last year, I introduced the idea of a project called "Up from Here," which sought contributions of all creative forms for this book. I guess the catch was (and may still be) that I plan to donate all (if any) proceeds from the sale of the book to charity, specifically a non-profit organization called Teaching for Change, based in Washington, DC. Folks don't seem to be as generous as I'd hoped with their gifts. Or maybe they're suddenly shy. Or maybe their time and best efforts are just committed elsewhere.
I pitched it (then and now) as a collaborative effort from a wealth of talent that has yet to be discovered, recognized or fully appreciated. Trust me when I say that my blogging and writing experiences over the past few years have exposed me to quite a large pool of talent. Something that if we parlayed it just right, we might increase our credibility and visibility as up and coming artists and writers, all while making a positive difference in our collective human conditions by lending ourselves to the upward movement we all seek through continued and better education and more empowerment for our youths, families and communities.
There were a few contributions last year, but due to my PCS move and soon-after deployment, I wasn't able to really screen them as I would have liked. I hope they will resubmit, but we'll see. Not even sure if those would have made my critical eye's cut, but at least some folks came forward to support the project.
Frankly, I'm baffled. I know so many talented people, and yet, I can't seem to get their interest. I just don't get it. Altruism aside, something like this could put a bunch of unknowns on somebody's Best Sellers list, and who knows where that could lead, right? So much for a master's degree in Project Management. *Sigh.*
Anyway, I've revisited the idea and put a different spin on it. I offered money to contributors who win the contest: $1,000 for 1st prize in short-short story, $500 for first prize in poetry, $200 for first prize in creative imagery (photos, drawings, paintings), and another $1,000 for cover art. Plus, some other smaller prizes for 2nd place winners. We'll see if anyone bites this time. My thought is that the prize money that will be awarded is easily comparable to, if not more than most of us will likely make with our first book. Seems like a good deal to me. If it weren't my contest, I would enter it.