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The Art of Writing Should Be An Even Playing Field

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The art of writing should be an even playing field.

As it stands right now in early 2017, there is a logical debate going on between critics of the Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) and those who support it, believing it has a place for anyone pursuing a writing career. There are many articles for or against the MFA but as an objective viewer watching the debate from afar, does it really matter?

For example, I enrolled in an English creative writing class in college over thirty years ago which allowed you to write whatever you wish, only to face stern criticism as you read your piece in front of an unsatisfied professor and other students with writing experience not afraid to state their opinion. The first two short stories I submitted were met with less than a positive response. The first story was of my own creation, not written for the class. The somewhat ambiguous ending in their eyes prompted a lot of probing questions that did not live up to their standards. The second short story I wrote exclusively for the class was a bit more polished and grounded in reality but again, it was deeply scrutinized by the professor and classmates who did not found it appealing to their taste. While I submitted the first two short stories, one I wrote strictly for myself but wanted to share, I wrote another story I had finished a year prior as a personal creative venture. It was a literary project I wrote for myself. It was not meant for the class so when I read the first four pages of what I wrote in print as an eleven page tale, the reaction based on the tension I interjected between two of the main characters caught the ear of my professor who wanted to hear more. My classmates with a critical eye could not find anything to gripe about. I was pleased for once I wrote a satisfactory piece that I felt like writing and not because I wanted to give a good impression to my professor. With that third short story that is a short story I created for myself, it allowed me to move forward and write the short stories I felt like writing without the influence of my professor or critics. Could you imagine what would have happened if this same professor told me I needed a MFA to be a ‘serious writer’? If I were told that back in the 1980’s, I would have considered it but I feel a degree could not simply replace the hard work, time and dedication I put into creating the best work possible.

Besides, shouldn’t be the effort one puts into their writing that ultimately counts instead of obtaining a degree that a select few, including agents feel is a ticket to success? While this author is not against any aspiring writer working hard to obtain a MFA, those of us who stopped with only a Bachelor’s Degree or even writers without either one shouldn’t be judged on their lack of dedication, drive and motivation. It should be the individual writer’s decision on how far they wish to take their career and creative projects.

What I learned from that creative writing class is that there will always be critics, those who have reservations about your creative projects and those who will simply wish you nothing but failure because in their eyes you will never be good enough or talented enough to meet their standards. As long as you as a writer continue to believe in your stories, do your homework by retaining the literary knowledge to succeed and study other famous writers who have found their measure of success, you will also find the same whether you’ve earned a MFA or not.

Charles L. Chatmon
President, Chatmon’s Books

References:

How the Literary Class System has Impoverished Literature
Six Myths About the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts
Why Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A.

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

African American Poetry Celebration

 

AC Bilbrew April

Our co-owner and president of Chatmon’s Books, Charles L. Chatmon will participate in the annual African American Poetry Celebration, April 15 at 1:00pm. He will read selections from the upcoming anthology Storm Over South Central. (#StormOverSC)

Inside the newly renovated AC Bilbrew Library, Charles will join a host of other esteemed local poets sharing their works with the audience. It’s free to attend and all are welcome to join in this community event.

The AC Bilbrew Library is located at 150 E. El Segundo Blvd, L.A., CA 90061. The L.A. County Library’s website is http://colapublib.org.

The African American Poetry Celebration is hosted by the Black Resource Center.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Best Books List for December 2016

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Books! Books! Books! A wide selection of books is on your way by clicking on these links!

Most Popular Books Published In December 2016 – Goodreads
The best books of December 2016 – BookBrowse
Best science fiction and fantasy books this month – The Washington Post
The 10 Best Books of 2016 – The New York Times
Amazon’s Best Books of the Month: December 2016 | AbeBooks
73 Books of Interest to Readers of Black Literature Coming Out Soon – AALBC (Oct/Nov)

Since it’s the end of the year, here’s a list to help you stock up on any books you’ve missed:
These are the 20 best-selling books of the year
Best Books 2016: Publisher’s Weekly

The Chatmon’s Books staff wishes all of you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays or whatever feels appropriate to you. We wish you all the best in health and wealth for the new year ahead!

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Been a While

It’s been a while since our last post, but we wanted to check up with our fans to let them know we’re doing well. It’s been a busy year for us, with plans moving forward to present Storm Over South Central next year and other projects in the works we think you’ll enjoy.

In the meantime, keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d like to know what’s going on in your world as well, including the books you love to read.

  • The Chatmon’s Books Staff
 
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Posted by on December 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The NEW Chatmon’s Bookstore

14702421_1482662995083949_8454956293302010316_n.jpg Thanks to the fine folks at Facebook, we’ve just opened our new online store on their site.  Now you’ll be able to purchase books from us if you’re a user and discover the authors and books we’re helping to promote. Remember, Authors N Focus content is now exclusively shown at Chatmon’s Books, so we want to make sure you enjoy the best of up-and-coming authors by buying a book from us at our new Facebook store or continue to join us here on the blog for more.

Here’s the link to our Facebook page. We invite you to join us if you’re not on this site: https://www.facebook.com/ChatmonsBooks

Until then, take care and remember: #LiteratureUnlimited

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Freedom’s Journal Reports a Lynching

BOOKS

Note: you may boycott a director of a movie, but you cannot easily boycott a history as painful or as cruel as a certain people have endured for centuries.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, June 20, 1827

Horrid Occurance – Some time during the last week one of those outrageous transactions – and we really think, disgraceful to the character of civilized man, took place near the north east boundary line of Perry, adjoining Bibb and Autanga counties. The circumstances we are informed by a gentleman from that county are – That a Mr. McNeily having lost some clothing or some other property, of no great value, the slave of a neighboring planter was charged with the theft. McNeily in company with his brother, found the Negro driving his master’s wagon, they seized him, and either did or were about to chastise him, when the Negro stabbed McNeily so that he died in an hour afterwards; the Negro was taken before a Justice of the Peace, who after serious deliberation, waived his authority – perhaps through fear, as the crowd of persons from the above counties had collected to the number of seventy or eighty, near Mr. People’s (the justice) house. He acted as President of the mob, and put the vote, when it was decided he should be immediately executed by being burnt to death– then the sable culprit was led to a tree and tied to it, and a large quantity of pine knots collected and placed around him, and the fatal torch was applied to the pile, even against the remonstances of several gentlemen who were present; and the miserable being was in a short time consumed to ashes. An inquest was held over the remains and the Sherriff of Perry county, with a company of about twenty men, repaired to the neighborhood where this barbarous act took place, to secure those concerned, but with what success we have not heard, but we hope he will succeed in bringing the perpetrators of so highhanded a measure to account to their country for their conduct in this affair. This is the second Negro who has been thus put to death, without Judge or Jury in that county.

The following is from The Negro Heritage Library: The Winding Road to Freedom, Educational Heritage, Inc. (1965)

For more information about the Freedom Journal, please visit these websites:

Freedom’s Journal -Wisconsin Historical Society

Freedom’s Journal – PBS

Black Past.Org

Accessible Archives

BOOKS

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Black Writers Festival 2007 Personality Panel

The following was filmed at the 2007 Black Writers Festival at the Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles, California. Tammy Mac of KJLH Radio (102.3 FM on your dial) hosts a Personality Panel. The topic and discussion for the Adult Book Club is “Building Better Relationships”. Panelists for this discussion are: Rodney Allen Rippy, the late great Barbara Wright Sykes, Pearl Jr., Conney Williams and our very quiet President and co-owner, Charles L. Chatmon.

Black Writers Festival producer Maxine Jackson appears at the end. Many thanks to her for producing this literary event in the past.

This is an Empire Beat Magazine production. Parts 1 & 2 are shown below.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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