Best Laid Plans was just released today and I’m a little apprehensive because I invested a lot of work into this and am worried it’s going to phenomenally fail despite my best efforts and planning this time around. Anywho, here’s how I got to writing this story and how it got to you.
The initial working title of Best Laid Plans was One of the Lucky Ones. When I first started it in Spetember of 2017, Spring’s “favorite word” or her “catchphrase,” so to speak, was going to be “lucky” or some variation thereof. It was going to be a lot of her seeing other people around her get the things she wanted despite all her efforts and her sum of what appeared to be their blessings was going to be “lucky.” And since she thought herself to have bad luck, at least in the area of romance and relationships, the story started out with her deciding to hell with things to do with luck and out of her control, getting pregnant from an artificial insemenation, and then meeting Bilal.
The story would then explore where is the fine line between being grateful for what you have but wanting more and just being flat out ungrateful while not realizing that sometimes the people that you think got what you wanted are really in a worse position because of it. I wanted to explore how you can be grateful for what you have, be grateful for who you are, be grateful for where you are in the moment but also be allowed to experience disappointment with what you have and who you are and where you are in the moment without being ungrateful.
I wanted to explore that because I was at a time in my life where I was very disappointed with my lot in life at the time and people were telling me to be grateful and have faith, but no one could tell me how to reconcile that with the ambitious go-getter that I was. Because things don’t always work out the way you think they will.
I got through five chapters of that story in September 2017 and realized I was failing phenomenaly at exploring the nuances I wanted to. Spring was coming across as more of a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum that things didn’t go her way than this nuanced woman who was enjoying life but just wanted to mine more out of it. I realized I just wasn’t ready to write that story. So I saved it in a file to get to later and continued studying for my LSAT, and after that, continued working on the All the Things Series. For some reason, even though I don’t have a lot in common with him, Rafael’s story was easier for me to write.
Fast-forward to the beginning of 2019 and what a world of a difference a year and some change makes. A lot happened. I’ve gone to law school; lived by myself for a while; realize that I’m only two and a half years from thirty which is a lot closer than three and a half years; my body’s changing again as I come into the curves of a woman and I go from what was more pearshaped to what is definitely an hourglass figure; and I understand more what a single woman like Spring, who has learned to be by herself and take care of herself and is what a lot of people would deem “successful” while at the same time wanting companionship, would think like. That fine line between, yes I’m an independent woman, yes I can take care of myself, but sometimes I don’t want to and I want to find someone physically there I can trust to be dependent on all the time.
So I wrote Spring’s story. And it’s very different from its original inception. It’s still a story of gratitude and how you deal with disappointment, but it’s also a story of hope and faith. Of a black woman who really wants something but won’t settle for less because she’s not here for the bullshit. But because she’s never been here for the bullshit, she’s not sure whether when something that looks good comes along is full of bs and too good to be true or the real deal and just flawed like everyone is. And well, you know, read the book to see how she explores that.
But after writing this better more fleshed out story, her initial gimmick didn’t work well with this newly defined tone and thus, neither did the title of One of the Lucky Ones. And before I could commision a cover, I needed a title.
So after staring at the document for way too long and trying to figure out what the heck the title of this story was, I did what I always do when I have writer’s block. I took a step back. I closed my laptop, and I said the following prayer: God, You’re the one who gave me the idea; You’re the one who helped me flesh it out; You’re the one who, for some reason, wanted me to write this story; so please, give me the title because I don’t have a damn clue what it is.
And then I went to bed because it was late, and I was tired and I probably needed to get up for school the next morning. And while in bed by myself and hugging my pillow, I got a little lonely and went through one of my I really want a man in my life moments and someone to cuddle up with and a I was a little horny–Come on. Don’t trip. Wanting sex isn’t just for guys and just because you’re trying to hold out to marriage doesn’t mean hormones don’t bodyslam you sometimes.
Anyway I wondered if I did something wrong to not deserve that or if it’s not in the cards for me and because it seemed like people who supposedly did everything “wrong” somehow got all the best things. You know, part and parcel of the self-pity party.
Then I thought to myself that sometimes it has nothing to do with anything you do. Just sometimes despite your best laid plans, things don’t work out the way you want them to or thought they might. Half sleep, I instantly opened my eyes and knew that was title of Spring’s story. And when you get inspiration like that, you put it to paper immediately. So I grabbbed my phone from where it was plugged, pulled up the document, crossed out One of the Lucky Ones, and put Best Laid Plans right at the top. I also looked up the entire phrase those words came from, and I got the title to the sequel, Gone Awry.
Writing this story caused me to do a lot of self-reflection. I mean more self reflection than I was already doing as I inch closer to 30, and I start witnessing the decisions my peers made around their very early twenties start to unravel and cause havoc in their lives.
I don’t think I would have been able to write Spring’s story if my life had gone any different than the way it did. My head would have been in a different place. I would have been worried about other things. I wouldn’t have been asking myself those nuanced philisophical questions because I wouldn’t have had a reason to ask them. It wouldn’t have felt as authentic. And if I had pushed through writing it in fall 2017 rather than winter 2019, I wouldn’t have had the time to let my emotions settle and witness and experience things that informed the telling of this story.
And now I’m halfway through writing Gone Awry and starting to wonder what life will inspire me to write next because I got nothing on deck after this. I don’t even know if I have another story in me to tell. Then again, I’ve been saying that for seventeen years, and I always get an idea eventually.