Pearl Cleage: Things I Should Have Told My Daughter

There are books that have golden nuggets in them. Pearl Cleage’s, Things I Should Have Told My Daughter, published by Atria books (a division of Simon & Schuster) in 2014 has two golden nuggets I want to mention.

From page 41 in her memoir, she writes, “It is so important to be conscious even when it makes you realize how much negative stuff you have enjoyed all your life until you realized it was all anti you.”

It’s the anti you that catches me as a reader, and as a writer. How much is truly anti you? Quite a bit. As a woman, there is a lot of anti female things that are hurled usually from men, but from women as well.

This excerpt, which is from Ms. Cleage’s December 14, 1973 entry, was speaking of rape, and a particular Flip Wilson sketch on the subject, which was tasteless in what it implied about women.

Going with that anti you idea, how much do you experience is anti you? That’s something to further explore as a writer, and how she/he could craft an anti you story. Think of all the anti you sentiment that is happening in the news today. As a matter of fact, I think that’s what I would title the story or article: Anti You.

The other excerpt is from September 8, 1979 from page 145. Ms. Cleage writes, “When he was young, Bob Dylan sang about things outside. Now he sings about the things inside. Inside is scarier.”

Aaah inside, going inside to your psyche, or inside of another’s can be an intriguing fright, although insightful, the find can be twisted, complicated and wrought with conflicting emotions and motives. Think of some of your favorite characters in books, movies, TV shows, and people you know in your life.

It’s not as simple as it seems, which is what a writer wants to tap into…delving into characterization, and how, exactly, to mold that character into a believable being with thoughts, feelings and intentions that makes a reader want to understand, and to know more about the person inside.

And it’s the inside that can be the strongest anti you, you may ever experience.