Fall 2021 | S. Erin Batiste Reads "As a Black Woman, Not Writing" – MQR Sound
After Anne Boyer
As a Black woman, when I am not writing I am not writing a memoir. I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are written by white women. I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are for white women who’ve overcome compelling odds and adolescent trauma. I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are written by white women on roads to redemption.
I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are for discontented white women who lose themselves in domesticity and middle class malaise, depression, vanilla grade anxiety disorder, opioid addictions—who, then go on to nurse said selves, gallivanting on new age destination vacations and big ticket bucket list luxury curated retreats—funded by their zero percent interest American Express credit cards, frequent flyer miles, and big advances on their future bestselling book-to-box office memoirs. I am not writing a memoir about the nuances of writing memoirs under crushing capitalism.
I am not writing a memoir about my casual encounters with the kaleidoscope of mysterious rugged bearded men bearing bad tattoos and seductive accents during my far-flung adventures overseas. I am not writing a memoir about all the famous male poets who tried to fuck me. Most of them failed anyway.
As a Black woman, when I am not writing I am not writing a raw, tragic but timely breakout debut with blurbs from tenured professors and award-winning authors. The memoir that I am not writing will not be lauded as a harrowing account, nor an unflinching, inspired, in-your-face, fierce and triumphant retelling chock-full of perfectly timed hilarity, wit, and sass. My fresh unapologetic perspective will not expand my platform or connect my work with a wider readership. The provocative page turning memoir that I am not writing will not score Oprah’s Book Club endorsement or receive any critically acclaimed reviews.
I will not have a say-so, nod, nor final sign-off on casting the relatable but slightly more attractive actress who will land the starring role of the glossier memoired me. I will not collect screenwriter’s credits, adaptation credits, producer credits, or director credits: my name not etched in cursive, gracing the backside of a crew chair. I will not be permitted to visit the set, not provided a trailer adjacent to the cast, not allowed to hobnob and rub elbows while partaking in craft services, eating extravagant catering amongst the C-list supporting roles and starving extras. No one will indulge me in the memoir that I am not writing.
I will not be flown out worldwide to appear at festival premieres, not greenlit to film feel good morning segments on network talk shows. I will not dispense any positively charged soliloquies to in-studio audiences. No high vibrational click baitable sound bytes like “transparent acceptance” and “radical empathy” shall escape elusively from my lips and perforate pre-recorded or live air
I will not be booked for TED Talks, commentaries, or keynotes, not guest feature with hot takes on wildly popular pop culture podcasts, not even given the opportunity to dole out cheeky contemporary experiences from my online column turned viral vlog. Not one soul will deep dive into my ethos, morning pages, writing practice, or craft for the memoir that I am not writing.
As a Black woman, when I am not writing I am not writing a memoir about the writing of memoirs and accessibility of who gets to write one and why and why not. I am not writing a memoir condemning exclusionary memoirs. I am not writing a memoir about my own lack of agency and overall representation in the memoir genre. I am not writing a scathing second memoir exposing the glaring disparities and dark sides of the publishing industry, and subsequent backlash and blacklisting from my first memoir that I am not writing.
I am not an urgent and necessary voice who needs to be heard now more than ever. The memoir that I am not writing does not transcend anything. I am not writing about the time I took a 14-month, 13-country, 33-city extended trip back when I’d turned thirty, and my job ended and my lease ended and my relationship ended and my grandma died and I almost died too, from grief, so I sold everything I’d owned and bought plane tickets. I still refer to that era as my “happy-nervous breakdown.” I did not find myself.
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