Through a referral, a series of clicks and an inquiry, I found the SMS UNovel company. This organization helps writers publish short books inexpensively. In some cases, a writer can do it with them for free. At first, I thought it was too good to be true. But upon examining the website further, I decided that it seemed legit. Six more questions and one contract later, I joined one of their projects as a co-author for a book entitled: The Day Racism Died.
Part of this company’s publishing style was to publish books in 30 days or less—which means that the writers must write even faster than that. My assignment? Write 20 pages in 2-3 days on the following topics:
1) Your experience with race
2) Racism in your home country
3) George Floyd's Death (what means to you)
4) Your Letter to George Floyd
I cooked up a masterpiece.
I was Minnie from The Help. I made shit taste like chocolate.
I finished by the deadline and served the dish to the editor via email. The two other writers submitted theirs as well. While he sampled our submissions over the weekend, the editor asked us to taste each other’s work. I gagged on the inside. The other two authors were white. I wasn’t looking forward to what they were going to serve (considering the theme). I expected shallowness with a side of microaggressions.
And they certainly lived down to my expectations: Their narratives were curiously bland combinations of liberalism, conceit, colorblindness, bleeding poppycock and victim-hood.
Anyway, life is full of surprises.
Imagine mine when the (Black American) editor wrote me, saying that I ought to model my dish after theirs.
Take the spices out?
*Nigerian Accent* Na wow o!
He basically claimed that I didn’t follow directions. He said that I didn’t properly address the first (my experience with race) and second prompts (racism in my home country).
I found this annoying for two reasons. 1) If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I find it annoying when (dull?) people can’t follow my writing just because I decided to lace it with a bit of symbolism, allegory or satire. 2) I followed the blasted recipe. All the ingredients he asked for were there! I didn’t feel that his mediocre palate was my fault. Besides, if he wanted cookie-cutter responses, then why didn’t just get more white chefs?
I carefully wrote back to him the following response to his review: 1) The instructions called for experiences, with no limitation to the type of experiences. I chose to talk about my emotional experiences with race—which is a fair interpretation. I asked him why this was not sufficient. 2) To his ignorant insinuation that the USA was not my home country, I replied that it was, and that I had explicitly stated so in my writing.
He wrote back: 1) That’s kind of not what we were after. We wanted you to tell specific “personal narratives”… 2) “My apologies. I was referring to your Nigerian background. If you don’t have anything to share on this demographic that is fine.”.
All he was doing was showing that he hadn’t carefully read my work. That irked me. I had given at least seven personal narratives. He missed them all.
And since when does an ethnic name mean that one’s ‘home country’ isn’t the USA?
And who said that I didn’t have anything to share about racism in Nigeria just because I didn’t? Furthermore, if he couldn’t even comprehend wtf I wrote on racism in the USA, how could he have comprehended racism in Nigeria???
Honestly! Where is his red nose?!
In any case, I’m off to write a “revised” version of my submission by Thursday. Allegedly, this book will be published as a paperback and/or e-book.
For my submission this time, there’ll be less seasoning.
However, feel free to purchase the book anyway if you would like to see how I still managed to put my foot in it. :)