Sunday, November 25, 2012


Throughout our nation's history, racially and ethnically diverse people have shared their gifts through writing prose, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, that captured their thoughts and often, the experiences of their people. For this post, I wanted to take our discussion deeper into the actual life of a contemporary African American writer. I came across this young man a month or so ago, checked out his blog and thought he'd be a great one to talk about 'his life as a writer'. His children's chapter books are catching on like wildfire across the country and his career is just picking up speed. I anticipate that we will hear more from him in years to come. Marquin is what many may call a 'late bloomer'...early or late- I believe that his story is of interest as we continue to encourage and nurture the gifts of all young people around the world.

‘As I think about my writing life, sometimes I feel like I stepped back, looked at my talents, and chose to be a writer in order to share my gift with the world’
– marquin parks, 2012

A Writer’s Life by Marquin Parks

An early morning following a sleepless night
All from loving to write
Watching and reflecting on life’s moments of darkness and light
All from loving to write
Setbacks and triumphs on an unpredictable plight
All from loving to write
Hermit life, road trips, and cross country flights
All from loving to write
Sacrifice, lazy days, carefree, and trying with all my might
All from loving to write
Building relationships, providing experiences that motivate, while sharing insight
All from loving to write
Wrinkles Wallace, Shark Knuckle Omelets, and a massive food fight
All from loving to write
The lows of rejection and losing, to red carpet and tuxedo heights
All from loving to write
Self-doubt and seeing readers smile with delight
All from loving to write

I can see with my eyes closed. I hear voices. I hear words. I hear phrases that make people laugh, learn, argue and get frustrated. I hear full conversations. They take place in hallways as small groups of people walk past in blobs or lines. They talk in grocery stores as kids look like zombies when it is close to midnight. I hear them in classrooms, in the form of teacher voices, echoing instructions off bulletin boards. I listen to them on the radio, through podcasts, and television shows. Artists write about them and speak them over instrumentals. I admit, I’m nosey at times, so I overhear them in restaurants and coffee shops when people are whispering and have the volume turned up a little too loud on their phones. Obviously, some of these conversations are going on in the world in which I live. However, the majority of the conversations I use for my writing occur inside my head. That’s where I can see with my eyes closed. And, it is my job to see these events. It is my job to remember conversations, add to them, and write portions of them down to share with people. I’m a writer, and I love my job.

Two of the most important factors in my writing are my ability to notice and to negotiate. My ability to notice little things like movements, sayings, patterns, and nuances of people helps me to recreate those types of events in my mind with the characters I’m bringing to life. I have to notice what people are doing in the real world in order to help with the personalities and customs of my characters. My ability to negotiate is what brings the story from my mind, to the computer, and later, to the rest of the world. I must know if the audience will believe in and become attached to my characters. Part of the negotiation process involves listening to my characters and comparing their actions to events that I’ve noticed in the real world. And, I have to present real-world obstacles to my characters in order to determine how they would handle these situations. It is through that negotiation that I find the voice of each character and the events that will shape the book.

Writing, for me, is the easy part. Finding sacred writing time and focusing on writing in one book was always difficult for me. Up until 2011, I would usually write when I was frustrated or happy. While participating in the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, I learned how to set aside time (usually late at night) to write. In addition, at the EMWP, I began to understand that working on multiple books at the same time allowed me to use my writing moods more effectively because I could use the realness of my emotions to help convey those portions of the book from an authentic perspective.

As I think about my writing life, sometimes I feel like I stepped back, looked at my talents, and chose to be a writer in order to share my gift with the world. At other times, I feel like the words, characters, and stories chose me because they felt I could get to know them and share them with the world. While I am not sure which of the two is more accurate, I have fully accepted the fact that I’m a writer, and I love my job.

-Marquin Parks Author/Teacher

Marquin Parks (MA) is an educator in Farmington, Michigan.  After his participation in the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, he became a Teacher Consultant of the National Writing Project.  Marquin has provided articles, consultation and public speaking services to classrooms ranging from elementary schools and major universities to independent non-traditional learning environments.  His first children's chapter book, Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School, finished in the top four in the 2009 Michigan Elementary Middle School Principals Association's Authors contest and has recently been published.  You can find the latest information on his writing at  Marquin lives with his wife, son, and dog in Southeastern Michigan. 

Interested in sharing your story here on this blogspot? Please contact me at