Because I was born intersex, but not diagnosed at the time of my birth; I had an extremely inauspicious and disconcerting childhood. I was so different from the other children at my school, and in the congregation I grew up in. I was a precocious child, but it really didn’t matter because when you grew up poor, no one ever really notices you, let alone any gifts or talents you might possess. Growing up poor, living in Niagara Falls, New York and being African American, in the early ’80s wasn’t at all unusual; however, back then there weren’t many special programs specifically designed to assist disadvantaged African American children, in an effort to help them to grow to be successful adults. Back in the early ’80s, when I was growing up, I wasn’t aware of any successful writing professionals; recruiting young talented, African American aspiring writers.
As a kid, I was never presented the opportunity to take my God given talent to the next level. I didn’t have a teacher, counselor or an older relative who encouraged me to engender my desire to become a writer. I wish there had been a writer who I could have looked up to, who looked like me, from the small town where I grew up. As a child, I wish I had known that my dream of becoming a writer, and helping others become writers was possible. Growing up, I wasn’t encouraged to seek higher education; my parents did however, teach me the most important thing in life, to love God.
I grew up in a Christian home and I was taught Christian values at a very early age. I was taught to love God with my whole mind, body and soul. My parents wanted to shield me from the other children at school who weren’t being taught to love God, and to be a good neighbor, by their parents. My parents didn’t want me to spend excessive amounts of my free time associating with the other kids at school who weren’t being taught wholesome family and moral values in fear that their independent from God, self governing attitude might adversely affect me. My parent’s greatest fear was that I might abandon the spiritual, bible based beliefs they worked so hard to inculcate in me. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to participate in many recreational activities with the other children at school, especially if they were recreational activities prohibited in the Bible, i.e.,- celebrating pagan holidays, premarital sex, smoking cigarettes etc. My parents were creative in providing me and my other sibling with wholesome recreational activities that didn’t conflict with our bible based spiritual beliefs, e.g., – fishing, roller-skating, bowling, pizza and movie night, etc.
As a kid, I was extremely active in my congregation. I joined the Theocratic Ministry School when I was about eight years old. The ministry school taught me how to become a better reader and writer. The ministry school also taught me how to help other people learn about God and His promises for the future. I was given bible reading and writing assignments by the ministry school teacher. I was given at least a month to prepare my reading and writing assignments. I was then assigned a date to publically present my bible reading and writing assignment to the congregation. My secular schoolwork, combined with the bible reading and writing assignments I was given in the congregation; fueled my passion to become a writer at an early age.
Early on when I was a kid, I wasn’t the best speller. Because my spelling skills were not strong, at times it was challenging to incorporate new vocabulary in my writing. Even though I faced this challenge, I didn’t allow it to prevent me from continuing my writing journey. Back in the ’80s there was no such thing as Google; instead we learned how to use the dictionary. I had a special relationship with the dictionary, and well, I guess you could say it became my best friend. I would try and sound a word out, I didn’t know how to spell, and then I would to try to spell the word phonetically to the best of my ability. I would then reference the dictionary to ensure I had a clear understanding of a word’s definition. Afterward, I would try and memorize the correct spelling of the word. This self teaching mechanism, helped me tremendously.
In my free time after I completed my chores, my homework and bible study, I would always write. When I was in Mrs. Myers fourth grade class at Harry F. Abate elementary school, I began writing my first play. I was thrilled that I could create any character I wanted. I could choose any name or gender I wanted my characters to be. When writing, I was able to create characters that were wealthy, cynical, convivial, and jocose. Whatever personality I desired my characters to espouse, I could create as the author. I felt so free whenever I was writing, and it didn’t matter whether my family was poor or rich; writing bestowed me the unique opportunity to create whatever world, whatever universe, whatever circumstances my young inquisitive, creative mind could fathom. As a kid, writing felt so organic for me. Everyone is good at something. Discovering your God given talent, nurturing it, and the ability to use it to help others was my ultimate goal.
After I graduated from high school in the summer of June 1996, I began writing my first book, titled: Emotionally Scarred, which was later published in 2005. I’ve continued my writing journey since.
I’ve had an extremely tumultuous life being born with a unique medical condition, erroneously viewed as a lifestyle choice by society at large. I’m determined however, not to allow my perplexing circumstances to rob my joy of writing. Everyday I remind myself that I’m not a victim, but instead, I’m a survivor. Writing has been a cathartic, useful tool that has helped me remain somewhat balanced and centered in this chaotic, topsy-turvy world we all live in. When I’m suffering from extended bouts of severe depression, praying to God, asking for his strength; relying on Him and focusing on my writing has helped me cope. Over the years, I’ve written several books and blog articles that have been published. I have had the distinct privilege of having my literary work registered with the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
In 2018, I founded and started a nonprofit online writing workshop “dfoww” (Daphany’s Free Online Writing Workshop). The purpose of this online writing workshop is to provide writing support to marginalized, disenfranchised people and or their communities. I want to help people through my writing workshops improve their reading and writing skills, so that they will be equipped with the necessary lifelong skills to effectively communicate.
While there are many online writing workshops available to assist beginner writers and those learning English as a second language; my online writing workshop is unique in that our teaching style is coming from the perspective of individuals who have been marginalized, over looked and discriminated against their entire life. I know first-hand what it feels like to be born a minority and intersex female. I know exactly what it feels like to be poor and misunderstood. I know what it feels like to wish someone would give you an opportunity. I also understand what it feels like to need help, but lack a support system. My online writing workshop offers fun learning, one on one interaction with our team of staff, and all of our online writing workshops are free.
As an imperfect human trying my hardest to obey God and live a Christian life, daily, I have to stay focused by always putting God and spiritual matters first in my life. Whenever I go outside and see all the beautiful tress, the birds, and then look up toward the sky; I’m reminded that my writing talent is a gift from God above.
Daily writing exercises and memorizing the basic rules of grammar, has enabled me to write with clarity and help others learn to write well. There’s no such thing as a perfect writer; however, you can be a good writer with practice. As a writer you never stop growing. I’m always fueling my passion to continue writing, by learning and discovering fresh new ideas along my journey.
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