When author Pearl Cleage’s made a recent appearance at the Oxon Hill Library she did more than promote her new book—she wanted to inspire those in attendance to live their lives to the fullest. Cleage came to Prince George’s County to participate in a “Meet the Author” literary event presented by the Prince George’s County […]
When author Pearl Cleage’s made a recent appearance at the Oxon Hill Library she did more than promote her new book—she wanted to inspire those in attendance to live their lives to the fullest.
Cleage came to Prince George’s County to participate in a “Meet the Author” literary event presented by the Prince George’s County Library System and Mahogany Books to promote her new book”Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons and Love Affairs” is more than just a inspires its readers to live their best lives.
Cleage is a popular playwright a best-selling author with an Oprah Book Club pick with multiple awards to her credit.
In the tradition of successful writers such as Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, and Maya Angelou, Cleage’s self-portrait raises women’s confessional writing to the level of fine literature.
Cleage kicked off the literary event with an excerpt from the first chapter in her book.
“As best I can recall, the two decades between 1970 and 1990 were pretty action-packed,” Cleage said, referring to her book’s subtitle.
“I know for a fact that I left college, moved to Atlanta, got married, finished college, got a job, had a baby, quit a job, wrote a book, helped elect a mayor, quit another job, got divorced, lived by my wits, became an artist, had a play produced, had my heart broken, mended it, found my honor, found my smile, realized I was a lot stronger than I had thought I was. A lot wilder, too, but all that came much farther up the road.”
Prince George’s County-resident Marita Golden moderated the event. An award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer in her own right, Golden also is a distinguished teacher of writing and co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, a national organization that serves as a resource center for African-American writers.
Cleage’s conversations with Golden focused on journaling and the art of juggling marriage, motherhood and politics while working to become a successful writer.
“I find (journals) to be very helpful when you’re moving from one state to another, when you’re trying to figure out something new that is driving you crazy, because you can go back and check, and see your own progress,” Cleage said. “When you feel like you’re not making any progress, you can go back and say, ‘Wow! Two years ago I didn’t understand this at all.’ Now I do.”
“You can also see the parts where you’re deluding yourself; where you’re pretending something,” Cleage said. “Part of what I think is very important about journals and what I hope comes across in this book is that it’s absolutely necessary for us to learn how to tell the truth. Oftentimes we learn that first by telling the truth to ourselves and then it gets easier to tell it to other people. We live in a time when lying has become such an accepted part of our realities.”
Cleage said her journals have not changed over the years, but her questions are different.
“Keeping a journal is very much like meditation for me. It’s a time everyday where you do something that’s just for you. Where you do something that allows you to reach deeper into yourself and see what’s going on there.
“For me as a writer, things are not real until I put them on paper. I have to do it. I don’t know why that is. I think I’ve always known that I was a writer. But after I finish a big project, I’m always saying to myself, ‘okay I’m exhausted. I’m not going to write anything for six months.’ And, that lasts for about three weeks. If I’m not writing, I have a very different way of moving through the world. Writing clarifies things for me. It helps me understand why I do what I do and helps me do whatever it is I think is important better.”