Discovering Sankofa in the Work

The Sankofa Symbol of the Akan people of Ghana.

In conversation with her web designer, Judy Edwards reflected on her process as an author in writing “TennyBoots!”:

“Writing commenced 7 months after Mama’s death. There were a few quick and furious Nervous Breakdowns and being pulled back from the edge more than once. Self doubt came up. Imposter Syndrome had me.

Who wants to read this? Why would anybody want to read this? Had to get past perfection. The holiday order happened and no one was saying anything. There were 3 days of making myself nuts wondering. When you hit send, you had done your best. Didn’t matter if they loved or hated it. Had to talk myself down.” The raving reviews are rolling in now, by the way.

Q: Is this Mama’s story or yours? More yours or hers?

“It is my story. I wanted to be the arbiter of what should be included. I used memoir as a genre because I could be that arbiter and present the voice of the overburdened and sometimes abused caregiver without silencing Mama’s voice. My fellow memoirist, from our group said, “There is an overlap with narratives of others. Your work belongs to you.”

The genius in Mama’s story revealed itself. Telling her story, her voice is so strong. No caregiver’s voice overpowering Mama’s voice. At some points, I am somebody else. There’s a delicate and sometimes momentous swinging back and forth when need be. And there are times when I just have to narrate – as antihero other times – as director of the production of the book. The Morrison inscription goes in every custom signed book. “I wrote the book I needed to read & I pray that you can find virtue in it. The book was and is a living breathing organism.”

Q: Judy, what’s next? What is this book really about for you?

There is a Larger Vision: This was always supposed to go beyond the book. Like the Bar Exam (Judy is a JD who passed her Bar Exam on the 1st try), the next step was the point. Sankofa again. Next step for Tennyboots: to give voice to overburdened and potentially abused caregiver. The statistics are bad for caregivers. Up to 70% die within a year of the person they cared for: 1) stress, 2) don’t have a voice.

Watch this space for more videos, reflections, newly crafted missives, and interviews with Author Judy Edwards of Knecting Dots Publisher. This is Judy Edward’s blog: “Sankofa – Go Back and Get It” and this is where the expounding work of “TennyBoots!” continues. Have you written the book you want to read?

In her next post, the revelation of Sankofa in the design of the book and a visiting Blue Jay point to the ancestors signing off on TennyBoots!