The old saying, Write what you know, has thankfully been put to rest and can now be ignored. Seriously, if we only wrote what we knew, no one would have written about dragons or sand worms or vampires or werewolves. That would be a serious failing in our literary worlds.
This is rather like being told all your life to floss your teeth every day at the very least. Now, suddenly, everyone is all maybe you don’t need to, we just don’t know. Well, then don’t write about flossing. Write about what you love.
I grew up very disappointed that I did not belong to a minority. The news in the sixties covered all the struggles of the blacks and the migrant workers and the Jews. The closest I came was being Catholic. Not much, but it gave me something to be upset about when people trash talked the pope.
So I looked into the research being done by other family members who were tracing our family trees. On my mom’s side, I am French Canadian with a possible sprinkling of Blackfoot Indian. Oh, wow! I am a Native American! Maybe 1/100ths of a percent, but much better than a religion that’s not even in the blood. And made sense when my mother often threatened to sell me to the Indians. On my dad’s side, Irish and Scottish. Not surprising as those family members are from the south, heavily settled by refugees from the isles.
Now comes the interesting thing that someday I might actually go looking for. A friend once looked at me and said, “You don’t have a white girl’s nose.” And my hair is very naturally curly. My fingers are browner right below the nails. You can see a distinct line on the edge of my hand where my skin changes from brown to pink. I have freckles.
Is there such a thing as race memory? When I was a young girl I got to stay at a beach house with family friends. The daughters of the family saw that I hadn’t brought a dolly with me, so they let me have their least favorite one to play with during my visit. The doll had dark brown skin and black curls. I fell in love with her at first sight.
My mom asked if I could have the doll when it was time to go home, but suddenly the girls would not part with it. No other similar doll could be found in my very segregated hometown. To this day, losing that baby doll haunts me in an odd way. Like a long-ago memory. Longer than from the time I actually experienced this.
So many African American stories, history, art, and families seem to hit a vulnerable place in my heart. Is it just because if the current state of unrest? Is it my deep belief that what happens to anyone of us on this planet happens to all of us? Or is there some drop of blood in my veins that remembers? Someday I’ll find out. Meanwhile, I will write what I love and what I long to be a part of.
Born and raised in Southern California, DL Hungerford began writing right about the time you would expect. She has worked as a child care provider, a cook, a caterer, a clerk, customer service operator, blackjack dealer, house cleaner, bird breeder, a case worker for local government, and a supervisor of case workers. She honed her writing skills through fanzines, epic letters, and minutes for various clubs. She also wrote newsletter submissions for clubs, as well as movie and book reviews.
DL loves the world of fiction, especially Regency England, but hopes to explore other horizons as time permits. She still lives in Southern California with her husband, a spoiled cat, a spoiled dog, and a flock of parrots and other birds.
She also writes under the pen name of Roxanna Haley. You can contact her through any of the various links below: