What if the story that is medicine to me is medicine for someone else?

Hello friends! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to write throughout my debut year alongside the talented fellow Debs Lisa Braxton, Amy Klein, Kathleen West, and Karen Osborne.

Here’s some background on me:

I’m a first generation Jamaican American and I was born in the Midwest (Cincinnati, Ohio to be precise). I was a very anxious kid (ahem…and adult) and I learned to create universes in my head with stories. My very first love was reading and being transported by words. I love feeding my brain and every paragraph or chapter helped me understand the world and people better. (First favorite book, “The Ordinary Princess” by M. M. Kaye). Being a lifelong bookworm has definitely expanded my empathy for people unlike myself and my ability to solve problems creatively. I was teased in school for being so into reading, but I would never change the way my love of words and stories has shaped my life and character.

I am not a twin, but I have been fascinated by them, and wished I had one, from a young age. I was about six when I saw the Hailey Mills ‘The Parent Trap’ and around that time, my own parents got divorced. The belief was cemented that I could shape life to the way it should be if only I had an identical twin. (Spoiler alert: even twins have difficulty manifesting what they want). My debut novel, The Goddess Twins, is about *surprise* Caribbean American twins who live in Ohio. I can’t wait to share more details on the book and writing process in this blog.

I have worked in the fashion industry and definitely collected some wild adventures and scars along the way. Unfortunately, career burn out is very real, and when my very best friend brought me to Burning Man in 2014, I realized that what I wanted most in the world was to create the book that I had always wanted and needed as a child. I had been drawn towards fantasy stories, especially those with a female lead who has to discover her destiny in a new realm, but I felt frustrated with the lack of characters who looked or talked like me. Can’t black girls get magical powers and become their wildest dreams, too?

I wrote mostly as a form of therapy, a private practice to purge the feelings or words that didn’t have a place in my neatly constructed life. But once I went to my first Burn and saw the wild creations and felt how much they impacted me and how grateful I was for each artist’s voice, I came to a startling realization. What if the story that is medicine to me is medicine for someone else, too? I couldn’t be selfish with my art. I was a vessel for a story that the universe wanted to create, and by telling myself I wasn’t gifted enough to write a publishable novel, I was holding back a potential blessing to other people. That realization was the catalyst for me getting serious about my writing. I had to put myself to the challenge of producing something that was necessary, not just for me, but for others. And so, even though I didn’t have an MFA or an idea what a query was, I started writing in 2014, with a clear vision that I was going to figure it all out. I found a writing mentor, the wonderful Valerie Haynes Perry, and I kept at this story and these characters for the next four years.

My family is super excited about this transition into being a published author. My mom swears she knew I was a writer since forever, that my notes about deserving extra desert were so eloquent, she almost saved them. I, in fact, have a recording of me verbalizing the story of a picture book when I was like four, about a vacuum that comes to life around a little girl. My tiny voice is super animated as I describe the series of events. I have that same giddy feeling when I’m writing or performing a story. I am excited and exactly in the place the universe wants me to be, sharing feelings through words.

I’ll be posting every Thursday through next August. I am thrilled to be sharing the experience of launching my very first novel into the world. Thank you for being along for the ride, dear friends. It’s going to be excellent.

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Yodassa Williams is a powerful conjurer of black girl magic (70% Jedi, 30% Sith). A Jamaican American writer, speaker, and award winning performing storyteller, alumna of the VONA/Voices Travel Writing program and creator of the podcast ‘The Black Girl Magic Files’, Yodassa (Yoda) launched ‘Writers Emerging' in 2019, a wilderness writing retreat for women of color and non-binary people of color. In 2020, Yodassa's debut YA Fantasy, The Goddess Twins, will be published by Spark Press. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently resides in the Bay Area.

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