Advice For Aspiring Black Writers, From Black Writers


It’s lit

In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called UNAPOLOGETIC. Every day, we’ll celebrate different aspects of black culture through profiles, interviews, roundtables, reviews, videos, and op-eds. #Blacklivesmatter and we hold that truth to be self-evident.

For any person of color trying to navigate a predominantly white space, things can get, well, lonely. But more than that, things can seem hopeless, especially for those starting out. When you don’t see people who look like you succeeding, it’s hard to picture yourself doing the same.  

Luckily, the publishing space is becoming browner. There are more and more black men and women authors putting out work that reflects their experiences, and getting the recognition they deserve for it.

To help those in need of a little push, we reached out to some of said authors and had them share what advice they’d give to aspiring black writers. The tidbits range from the practical (keep writing), to the political (use the written word to communicate with the oppressed).

Read their words, ahead.

Natashia Deon, author of Grace

"Write magic. Write the story you’d love to read but most of all, write the story you feel you must write because no one can do it like you can. Even on days you’re sure that’s a lie. Write as if no one has ever written on the subject before. The same is not identical. Learn the difference by reading, living, and traveling, even if that's just to the town next door. Discover the thing that only you, because of your life and experience, would know. Three people standing in the same room watching the same event will experience it differently. Show us why God put you in that room. Show us the piece of the puzzle that only you’re holding. Help humanity to understand itself better. We need your wisdom. But if you’re writing primarily to make money and not for the art, the significant responsibility, or the love, forget everything I’ve just said and simply do what’s been done well before and build a platform that’ll get you seen."

Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.



Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

"In the midst of chaos there's opportunity"

Following the travesty that was Fyre Festival, Ja Rule wants to take another stab at creating a music festival. Good luck getting that off the ground.

On Thursday, the rapper spoke to TMZ, where he revealed that he was planning to relaunch Icon, an app used to book entertainers, which is similar to Billy McFarland's Fyre app. He told the outlet that he wanted to create a festival similar to Fyre to support it.

"[Fyre Festival] is heartbreaking to me. It was something that I really, really wanted to be special and amazing, and it just didn't turn out that way, but in the midst of chaos there's opportunity, so I'm working on a lot of new things," he says. He then gets into the fact that he wants to form a music festival. "[Fyre] is the most iconic festival that never was... I have plans to create the iconic music festival, but you didn't hear it from me."

Ja Rule actually doesn't seem to think he is at all responsible for what came from Fyre Fest, claiming in a Twitter post that he was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, led astray." Even if that's his feeling, he should realize that anyone involved with Fyre shouldn't ever try their hand at music festivals again.