Recently, I posted a link on Facebook to a New York Magazine article that ranks New York’s top 50 most livable neighborhoods. Harlem–my beautiful, lovely, charming, eclectic Harlem–is ranked dead last. I love NYMag to itty bitty pieces, but they were all types of wrong for that one. One of my FB friends (a cousin actually) suggested that I use the power of one to begin a new Harlem Renaissance. A contemporary cadre of Zoras, Langstons, Alains, Jeans and others?
I told him that I think the second or third/fourth/fifth Harlem Renaissance is well underway. (Not that the Harlem Renaissance could ever really be duplicated. It occupies a unique place in history.) I live in walking distance to some AMAZING writers, painters and other artists. Perhaps I’ll devote another post to shouting out all those folks. And as far as political activism and the other non-artsy stuff that shapes a community, there’s plenty of that too. For now, I’m just happy to be here to document it all via the articles I write for various publications. Once I get a novel on a bookshelf, I’ll be adding more concretely to Harlem’s artistic community.
The whole Harlem Renaissance thing though made me think about my relationship to writing. When I interviewed a fellow Harlem writer a couple weeks ago, he talked about how although he loves writing, sometimes he hates writing. I totally understand that!
Writing keeps me sane and I don’t know what I would do without it, but it really is the last thing I want to do on some days. Sometimes words just don’t come easily. Sometimes edits are the bane of my existence. Sometimes I get tired of chasing down a quote. Just the other day was one of those hellish days for me, but in the end, the good days far outweigh the bad.
Whether I’m sitting in my home office, quietly tapping away in a library or brazenly people-watching in a Wi-fi equipped cafe, Harlem is my muse.