Nariscis Lott, “Weepin’ Willa”

Her book is a collection of stories on her family, her relationships, living with Scoliosis and much much more. A must read interview.

B. Seed :wwilla Writer and author Nariscia Lott, thank you for being on bright seed blog. Your work, Weepin’ Willa; i say work cause even though you classify it as “short stories” and it is, there is so much more here than that. The title, “Weepin’ Willa”, the spelling. How did you come up with the title?

Nariscia : Writing “Weepin’ Willa…” was most definitely work! I chose to call it a collection of short stories because it’s so random – the things I chose to talk about and the order in which the stories spilled out onto the pages. I have always been fascinated by words and how people use them…and how people pronounce them regardless of the spelling. I don’t know why. When I write, I’m painting a picture with the words. I’m trying to engage all of the reader’s senses. I want you to hear my voice or the voice of my characters…that means I have to write things the way they would actually sound. I want you to feel as though you were there and witnessed this (story) happen.

B. Seed : You write that “I have dreamed of this moment all my life”. I take it that you have always wanted to write, or when did you first know this?

Nariscia : I always wanted to be a writer. That’s been my dream since…well, all my life! I’ve always had a vivid imagination. My grandfather told me that I was gonna do great things. I always thought that would be through my writing.

B. Seed : I read that you attended Tougaloo College, a pretty historical place whose President, Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan, has authored some works herself. Is this where you honed your writing skills? how instrumental was Tougaloo in you development?

Nariscia : College had nothing to do with my writing…but my time there did help me to decide what I didn’t want to do with my life. My family is filled with creative energy. Almost everybody is a singer, dancer, orator, visual artist, actor, and/or comedian. One day, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “A writer.” She said, “I know you like to write…and you’re really good…but that’s just a hobby. How do you want to make a living?” She said I was smart enough to be an engineer, so I should be an engineer. So…I was going to be an engineer.

I spent a great deal of time plotting my “escape” from Mississippi, and I thought college would be my way out. I was all set to go to Texas Southern. When my acceptance letter came, my mom delivered a heartbreaking wake-up call to me: “You ain’t going out-of-state!” So, I chose to go to Tougaloo. I was there for a total of 3.5 years…but I didn’t graduate. After Mama died, my foundation had a devastating crack in it. My focus…well, I don’t know if I had a focus, except to just keep breathing. Hate to sound so dramatic, but that’s the only way I know how to explain it at the moment.

B. Seed : This book is a window into almost your entire life and your most important relationships: your mother, and her untimely death, the men in your life, and your recollection of scoliosis as a young girl and certain limitations. You even had thoughts of suicide, but here you are today. How did/do you cope with these feelings? was there any therapy involved?

Nariscia : The “Weepin’ Willa…” series (there will be at least two more in the near future!) is faction. There’re a lot of truths in there but my imagination is my writing partner.

I live with scoliosis (and all that comes with it) every day. Of course, I’ve suffered from depression on occasions and I’ve thought about suicide. Hell, I’ve even wished for death a time or two. But there’s no coming back from that shit. So, it’s not an option that I would seriously consider. I’m too stubborn to give up and give in like that – the gift and the curse.

No. No therapy…although, I probably should have sought grief counseling back then. How did I cope? I honestly can’t tell you. There are chunks of time missing from my memory during the first 2 years after her death. I think I was on auto-pilot. I survived.

In this moment, as I’m “talking” to you, I’m doing well! I try to stay busy…got a screenplay that I’m working on and hope to film soon. I’m also working on “Weepin’ Willa: My Brother’s Keeper” (tentative title) that I hope to publish before year’s end. And then, there’s dreamSpeak…

Things could always be better, but I have no complaints today.

B. Seed : Cocoa Brown’s Inside Voice. Is this your blog? tell me about your involvement with that.

Nariscia : *blush* Guilty as charged! Yes, that is my blog. It started out as a way to keep writing. Just as an athlete must practice regularly, a writer must write. It’s really a journal where I share WAY too much with the world. It’s funny…I don’t write there as much as I used to. I kinda feel like there’s not much more to say. And I’ve lost the protection of anonymity, so I hesitate to say certain things…which defies the logic behind starting the damn thing. But from time-to-time, I still go there and overshare or express my opinion on something. I don’t think Cocoa will ever, completely, go away. She is the essence of who I am.

B. Seed : I see a review of Fantasia’s music on the blog. Is she a favorite of yours? do you identify or connect in some way with some of her songs, more so than other singers you like? Heard any of my tunes?

Nariscia : LOL! Was that a shameless plug? Why no, I haven’t heard any of your tunes yet. But I’d be happy to listen and do a review. Just let me know…

Fantasia is definitely one of my faves! I love her voice (when she’s not hollering) and I love that she’s an individual. You know what I mean? I don’t get that she’s trying to be like this singer or that one…she’s just Tasia, and I dig that. MINT CONDITION, Lauryn Hill, Common, Bilal, Brownstone, Xscape, Erykah Badu, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, India.Arie, Musiq Soulchild, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Chris Brown, Lil Kim, NWA, B.I.G., Jay-Z, Mos Def/Yasin Bey, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, Stevie Wonder, Teena Marie, Anita Baker, Angela Winbush, Lalah Hathaway, The Isley Bros., Prince, Michael Jackson (circa “Off The Wall”), Jessie J, Adele, Chrisette Michele, Sha Sha Jones (Look her up on Youtube!), and so many others. I’m a fan of creativity. I’m a fan of raw talent. I’m a fan of real music. I miss the 80’s and 90’s music! Now, there’s a lot of garbage on the radio and on tv.

B. Seed : On the blog, one article asks the questions, “Can quitting make you happy (again)? … at least, make it easier for you to … just … breave? Do you see this as being a coping mechanism for you now or in the future?

Nariscia : Oh. I wrote that post one day when I was feeling extremely frustrated. About what…I don’t recall. All my life, people have said how much they admire my independent spirit. But I don’t always see it that way. I don’t think they realize how hard it is. Sometimes, I wish I could be a little less independent. Sometimes, I wish I could just fall back and let someone else drive. But I’m not built that way. And it can be frustrating at times because I can’t do it, all. That’s why I say my stubbornness/independence is the gift and the curse. That’s why I sometimes wonder if it’s easier to give up on things/people…because refusing to can be absolutely exhausting at times.

B. Seed : Was Weepin’ Willa, in some ways, written for your mother who for a long time you were mad at for “leaving you”?

Nariscia : My chest sticks out just a little further when people pick up on that! The common thread throughout WW is my mom and our relationship. She made me the person I am, and I could never thank her enough. Even before her death, I felt as though the least I could do was take her with me on the rest of my journey. She is a very relevant part of my life. I don’t do anything without, first, considering how she would feel about it because, no matter how old I get, I will always be Jessie’s lil girl.

I know I’ve used it before, but “mad” isn’t the right word to describe it. She was a fighter and I know she would never choose to leave…not like that. That’s just the pain talkin’. I’m actually very thankful that she didn’t suffer.

B. Seed : People tend to view good works as an emotional, learning experience. What would you like readers to learn from Weepin’ Willa, if anything?

Nariscia : I’m supposed to write. I can’t explain it any other way. When I wrote WW, I had no solid plan, really. And I had no idea how people would receive it. I just knew I wanted my first book to be a compilation of the pieces of me. Oh, and I knew I wanted to self-publish. It took me a month of Sundays just to write Chapter 1. And then, the rest flowed. Then, it sat on a shelf for years because I felt so naked. I was concerned that my pain would be perceived as weakness…because that was how I thought of it. And I thought my writing style was too hard to follow because I break most of the rules of writing. But to my surprise, people seem to be inspired. That’s more than I could have ever asked for.

B. Seed : Anything you would like to say to our visitors?

Nariscia : I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to those who have supported me. This is only the beginning…

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