Letting Duality Breathe

– Toni Morrison

Did you know the idea of My debut, Welcoming Mad Era came to me when I was pregnant with my youngest? It was 2015, I was in 1st trimester nausea, in bed, listening to MSNBC news. A psychiatrist was talking about the mental impact of police brutality on my people. It was after the Sandra Bland incident. Such a vibrant, complex woman. My tummy churned. Womanhood. Motherhood. A daughter brewing. What if it had been me?

The story came about piece by piece throughout months after that. Then it sat, a wimpy skeleton of a rough draft until quarantine 2020. 

Hands down, one of my favorite quotes of a review about my book is: “Madera takes the reader on a transformative personal journey that seamlessly juggles the ugliness and beauty of human nature.” 

We can only do so much agony. We can only do so much pain. Joy is essential. Many of us know this. In the quest of creating a story about a young woman seeking “justice,” I made sure I left room for the rest of life to breathe. The beauty to be, naturally. After all, dark tales pull at our heart when there are speckles of light. 

Always been an advocate of duality. Shoot, not only am I Gemini moon but I have three planets in both Aries and Libra – two Cardinal opposites of the zodiac. 

In 8th Grade I used to rewrite the infamous Walt Whitman quote over and over in my journals: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” In high school, I used to chew over the Christian dichotomy of Mary and Eve. I thought – why can’t it all exist together? Aren’t all humans both yin & yang? We are all capable of the beauty and the ugly, interchangeably, experiencing both in our minds on the same day, perhaps even pointed out within the same picture frame?

I live in this space. Knowing that the beauty always feels better but the ugly is so fucking necessary, even if it’s just to release. This is humanness. I think we screw ourselves over when we don’t accept this. We perch ourselves in unrealistic boxes hoping to get it “right”, instead of just being, and accepting the many layers of our entirety. Oughta be like breathing.

A Conscious Choice

Bump. Sever. Burn. Stump. Boil. Speed. Blunt.

When writing Welcoming Mad Era, I made a conscious choice to have the text feel “Martian”.

“What does that mean?”

Well, Mars energy is a fast one, it cuts and reacts, angers and intensifies, it simmers and is quite frankly, blunt. It chops. It punches. It races. It aggravates. It hurts.

Like the rhythm of the text, the short chapters aren’t on accident. I wanted to channel Mars in the writing as much as I channeled Mars through Madera. It can be an inquired taste, yes, just like the character, Madera. There are times I feel like I didn’t do it enough. Other times, I’m compelled to explain myself.