spec fiction
the KIS.list: August 2001


Vol. 3, Novel Writing

Femail Circle

I'm on a cyber-circle with a group of women from college. We're almost all writers. We talk about life and work and encourage each other to go beyond our comfort zones in lots of ways. Last summer, one member, upon return from Cave Canem challenged us all to write a poem a day for one week. We took the challenge and it was a giddy and fun experience. It was also really difficult. By the fourth day I was dry and I had to force myself to write a poem. But the group nature of the project forced me out of my "I'm-not-a-poet" attitude and made me write 5 poems in one week—5 more poems than I had written all year.

Fast forward to this year and I am quietly trying to convince myself it's time for me to start a new novel. I have a novel, 400+ pages of inspired musings, unfortunately it's not as tightly structured as it is well written. The responses I have received from agents and publishers have been encouraging. They like the content, but there is no through-line, no central kernel holding the book together. Basically, I got the goods, but not the right product. This is something I've had to face and make peace with over the past two years. I may be fidgeting and eager to get "out there" as a writer, but I don't have the product. I don't have a saleable novel, so I can either spend two more years complaining about how I can't get a break as a writer, or I can write something that works.

You might think the best thing to do is to fix my existing novel, how hard could that be? Immensely difficult. I wrote the original material over the course of 12 months abroad. I didn't know I was writing a novel. I just kept writing and writing and characters kept popping up and I wove them in. I ended up with a multi-generational fictional autobiography. The manuscript has so many characters and story lines, it's almost impossible to see what's going and what's coming. After that year of traveling and writing, I moved to New York to get my Masters in Publishing. A year and a half later, when I finished my degree, I quit my job and went to Brazil to work on my novel.

It's hard to write a first novel. Partly because you're not just developing a book-length world/story, you're also learning how to write a novel. My first novel-writing trip was a joke. My girlfriend traveled to Brazil to study textile design, I was going to write. She would leave in the morning to go to class and I'd be sitting in front of my laptop, bright-eyed and determined to write. She would come back from class and I would be in bed sleeping.

Two months into the three-month trip, I finally started pulling myself together and paying attention to the organizational needs of my novel. I decided to break up the novel into four sections and each section would have four chapters. So now I had a 16-chapter novel. I looked at the lengths of my chapters, some chapters were 28 pages long, some were 14. I decided to normalize them, make my chapters approximately 20 pages each. If it was anything less than 17, then I probably wasn't delving deep enough, if it was over 25, I was probably rambling on too far. This helped to give me a tight focus to edit around. Then I addressed the fact that the first half of the book was overdeveloped, the second of half of the book was virtually nonexistent. I had to figure out how to stop myself from constantly editing the beginning of the book and never reaching the end. So I wrote an outline, briefly describing each chapter. I thought about my writing schedule and decided to define how much time I'd spend on each chapter. I already knew I could write 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. So I decided I would work on a chapter a week. Whether I was writing or editing, I had to be done by Friday so that all the chapters would get the same amount of attention, and consequently be equally developed. By the time I figured all those logistics out, I was ready to write. Unfortunately, I had reached the end of month 3 and my money had run out.

Back in the U.S., all my coworkers wanted to know: did you do it? Did you write the great American novel? I learned to paint, I told them and showed them pictures of my paintings. I had a lot of fun, I told them, showing off my dark dark skin. It was somewhat embarrassing to admit that I had wasted three months. What I didn't know then, was that those three months set me up for every writing trip I have taken since. I now have clear parameters for achievement. I can either meet those parameters or slack off, but I have a definitive, objective, REALISTIC guide to measure my progress. Now that I had parameters and a process, I could see myself moving forward rather than simply spinning my wheels. Since that first trip, I've taken 3 three-month writing trips. Finally, I finished the novel in 2000.

My organizational techniques helped me reach my goal: to finish the novel, but I had to face the fact that the novel wasn't structurally sound, it wasn't whole. There can be so much more to writing a novel, than simply finishing it. Jack Womack, one of my instructors at Clarion, said you might have to throw out your first novel, you might have to throw our your second one, maybe even the third. But each novel you write teaches you about the craft, and by your fourth novel, you should know what you are doing.

Nalo Hopkinson's first novel, Midnight Robber, was actually published second. Midnight Robber was deemed unpublishable because the entire book was written in a created Caribbean dialect. Nalo had to go back and find a language pattern that both represented her created Caribbean dialect AND was relatively easy to decipher by the mainstream reading public. In the meantime, she wrote a simpler, more straightforward novel that received critical praise and opened the way for Midnight Robber. The notion of a novel as a place to develop your craft was mind-boggling to me. Doesn't one write a novel once they have it all together? Apparently not. I think one of the biggest mistakes I (and other writers) make is thinking in terms of "ends." After I write this novel, I will be an amazing writer and I'll just crank one amazing novel out after the other. Yet the reality is each novel, each story is a place to expand and grow and learn the craft. Any novel I write right now will be the best I have in me at the moment. But after it's published I will continue learning and growing as a writer and my next novel will reflect my new understanding of the craft. I will one day put my first novel out there, but only once I've figured out how to make it hold together. In the meantime, I'm ready to put something on the market.

Deciding to write a new novel brings up a lot of fears. I don't want to take another trip and come back with some "good material." The next time I return from a three/six month writing trip, I want to have a manuscript ready to send to publishers and agents. I know my odds of returning with a completed manuscript is much higher if I write a rough draft now, before I go away. So that my time away is spent rewriting, cutting away the fat, and bringing the novel to a higher level. With my trip fast approaching, that means I need to write a rough draft now.

I embark on my commitment super aware of my past failures. I have the utmost respect for those writers who wake up at 5 a.m. to work on their novels, then they get their family ready for school, go to work and edit their writing during the commute. I've tried waking up early in the morning, that just doesn't work. I'm too sleepy to focus, I start rationalizing how little time I have to get my work done, so I get back in bed and go to sleep. I've tried writing after work, but my brain is so exhausted and simultaneously on hyper drive that I have neither the energy, nor the focus to write at night.

I have friends who let their phone bills lapse in the name of their work. I have friends who will not/cannot work a 9-5. I admire them, but I've never been that type of an artist. I freelance, I have flexibility with my hours, but for all intents and purposes, I have a 9-5. Yet, the longer I write, the more aware I am of the costs of each of my decisions. I become more aware of how important it is for me to write ALL THE TIME. My time away is precious, I earned it by shirking certain luxuries, and that time to write can't be duplicated at home. So the urgency to produce grows every year. Without making a conscious decision, this urgency has been creeping up on me. Last week I woke up at 7:00 every day and committed an hour to working on an essay. I finished the essay in three days. In response to the demand: write every day, my response has always been, I don't want to pressure myself. Now the pressure is on. I have so much to gain by producing my work. The work that is just sitting here inside of me waiting to be written down.

Which brings me back to my online group and my need to write a novel. On our cybercircle, a member of the group was talking about how much she loved Zadie Smith's White Teeth and wistfully wondered why she hadn't written a novel yet. I smiled, thinking of all that had been swirling in my head about novel writing and e-mailed back: "announcing the 1st annual femail girl-you-better-write-your-novel season. Let's all write our novels, 4 pages a day, 5 days a week. 12 - 16 weeks. Let's have fun with it and not take it too seriously." So far three of the women have taken on the challenge. So we're going to do it together, 4 pages a day. Baby steps into literary fabulousness. What about you? Are you ready to take your writing/art/family/relationship/career to the next level?

Be well. Be love(d).

Kiini Ibura Salaam

For the record, I want to tell you all that I received a rejection this week. Though she couldn't use my story, the editor was very respectful and said she would be looking out for my books in the future. From her tone I could tell she was really saying: Girl, you is a writer, and if you even think about pretending this rejection is going to stand in the way of you and your future, I'll smack you upside your head. And, of course, she's right. I am a writer, no matter how many rejections I get. Or perhaps, because of how many rejections I get and keep moving forward, I will forever be a writer.

So I want to introduce a new section [the entire KIS.list is new I know, but...]. I'm going to share my acceptance and rejections with you. Not because I want to big myself up or because I want people to feel sorry for me, but because I want to give you all a clear idea of the amount of perseverance required to stay in print. A lot of my friends who are new writers take rejections to heart and some of them have even expressed surprise that I get rejections (uh, yeah, all the time). There are all kinds of reasons why an editor may reject your work. It could be that the piece isn't strong enough, or it could be that the piece didn't fit in with the scope of the collection. Maybe there wasn't enough space and the editor had to make a tough decision, or perhaps you got cut to make space for someone with a name who will help the product sell, or your piece was too long, or too profound, or too anything, but not necessarily "bad".

Rejection is part of the life of a writer, it's part of life period. There will be rejections, there will be acceptances and in the face of it all, you have to keep doing your work. I apply for all kinds of things: publication, residencies, fellowships, grants. I've had good success with publications and no success with the rest. But I keep applying. Within the next few months I'll be applying to a fellowship I was rejected from three times (I thought that was a lot but people assure me that I gotta keep applying if I want to even pretend I really gave myself a chance), a grant I was rejected from twice (but I made it to the final rounds!) and a residency I was rejected from once. I'll find out in April if any of these things pan out. In the meantime, I have to keep writing, keep developing my craft and keep sending my work out for publication.

Now this is going to be skewed because I've already been writing and publishing for 10 years and I've already established some success, so I'm not starting out with the disadvantage of a new writer. I've just come back from a writer's workshop and just had something published (so there will be some successes unaccounted for) and over the years I've had about 100 rejections (so there will be some rejections unaccounted for), and I can't accurately remember them all. So, I'm going to start counting with the month of August and see how it builds from there.

: : : August 2001 - present : : :

Publications: 1
Grants/fellowships: 0
Residencies/workshops: 0

Publications: 0
Grants/fellowships: 0
Residencies/workshops: 0



Vol. 2, Radio and Readings

WBAI Radio Station
Wall Street, Manhattan

Before I went to Clarion (a six-week speculative fiction writing workshop), the New York Review of Science Fiction had a small crisis. Scott Westerfield had guest-edited a sci fi issue of Nerve magazine (a magazine about sex) and the NY Review of Science Fiction was hosting a reading from that issue. Problem was, no one who had contributed to the issue was available to read. So the director of the series Carol Cooper sent out an e-mail to a gaggle of people hoping someone would be able to come and read. Both Sheree Thomas (editor of Dark Matter) and I responded. We both remembered Carol's kindness in hosting the Dark Matter reading in February and were eager to assist. We ended up doing something of a radio drama in front of a crowd of folks. The first thing we read was an interview Scott had done with Samuel Delaney. Scott read his questions, Sheree read Samuel Delaney's responses, and I read excerpts of historical science fiction erotica chosen by Scott to illuminate his discussion with Delaney. It turned out to be a lot of fun. We also read some of the stories from the special issue of Nerve and I read an essay by Cecelia Tan.

Anyway, all of that to say, I ran into Jim Freund at the reading, he was taping the event for his weekly WBAI radio show Hour of the Wolf, a radio program he's been doing for yyyyyyeeeeeeeaaaaarrrrrrrrsssss about speculative fiction. Someone told him I was heading to Clarion, he invited me to come on his radio show to talk about the Clarion experience when I returned. We picked a day, he warned me about the early-ness of the hour: hour of the wolf!, and I said I'd see him upon my return.

The night before the radio show, Jim asked if I had any Clarion stories to read. I had 6 Clarion stories to choose from, but all of them were first drafts. During the two short weeks I had been home from Clarion, I hadn't even thought about working on them. Post-Clarion I wandered around New York like a zombie, driven only by dates with friends, the weekend of When Butterflies Kiss promotional activities, and the building of a web presence for myself.

"Well, what else do you have to read?," Jim asked. I walked around my house, looking at print outs, looking for books, and I couldn't find anything. "Well, Jim, I think I'm going to have to read from Dark Matter," I told him. "Well, worse things have happened," he said. And he started to explain to me why he was pushing me to read something new. He wants to give his listeners the opportunity to hear something they hadn't read before. Dark Matter has been out for at least a year now. Additionally, he's aware that a number of his listeners are blind, so he's adamant about presenting a full story or a stand-alone chapter, he's not fond of presenting excerpts.

As he was explaining all this to me, my gaze fell onto the cover of When Butterflies Kiss (a collaborative novel written by 10 different authors). "How speculative does the story need to be?" I ask Jim. "That's up to the author," he said. So I explained the When Butterflies Kiss project to him and told him how I originally wrote my chapter to be completely speculative, but how the writer who followed me turned it into a dream, so I had altered my chapter to keep the integrity of the novel. [I remember attending a Nalo Hopkinson reading for her anthology of fabulist fiction from the Caribbean entitled Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root. And she recalled how she asked for a speculative piece from a nonspeculative writer and he sent her a dream. And it was so well written, that she published it, but in the realm of science fiction and speculative fiction a dream is a big no-no. It's considered a cop-out.] Jim said no problem.

So I hung up with Jim and called to order a cab pick-up for 4:15 A.M. Yes, that's right, A.M. The Hour of the Wolf runs from 5:00 A.M. to 7:00 A.M. Jim and I pulled up at the station at the same time. There were three people out front of WBAI, they had a candle, a radio tuned to WBAI and a big sign demanding that the station manager/director be relieved from her job. We've been out here for 24 hours, one of them proudly proclaimed. One of the protestors handed me a newspaper article about the protest. I'm not really into radio, so I can't really give any details of the problem. All I know is that the Pacifica Network, which is the most left (and perhaps only leftist) radio network, has been becoming more and more conservative. And the listeners, who are very involved, are protesting to make sure the radio station remains a voice of the people. Jim got involved in an intense discussion with them about the history of the station and some WBAI coup that Jim was involved in during the 70s.

At quarter to five, we went up to the radio station. After a brief tour of the premises, we went on the air. The radio host before us called himself the "resident redneck," his show centers around wrestling and hillbilly music. Jim began the show with some music, then I talked about Clarion, what the instructors were like, how the student body worked together. I followed that by reading Treasure the Savior, my chapter from When Butterflies Kiss.

While I was reading, Jim got up and left the broadcasting studio to check on some things. After he left, it was a little difficult for me to keep focused on my reading. It was my first time reading to no one and someone at the same time. If I'm reading out loud at home to no one, I can stop when I want, I can make little notes of things I want to change, and it doesn't really matter how many times my tongue gets tied. When I'm reading in front of an audience, I use them as a gauge for what's being communicated. I can tell by their body language, their faces, the energy, whether or not they understand what I'm saying. If I stumble and go back to repeat the words, I can tell immediately if I lost the audience or not. Well, when I stumbled on air, there were no faces to tell me, go ahead, we're still listening. It rapidly became a stream of words that I was reading aloud, but I couldn't really tell if those words made sense. My mind was wandering, and I became paranoid that the listeners couldn't follow the story.

We took a brief break during which Jim assured me the story made sense and he was able to follow along very well. (Jim had been listening from another room, whatever is on air is piped through the speakers at WBAI.) When we returned on air, Jim asked me about the development of the chapter. Not to spoil it for anyone, but there are two vicious dogs in my chapter. I explained to Jim how the first drafts of this chapter had more than thirty violent dogs and the editor and publisher were concerned that it would be too intense and too dark for the mainstream reader. They convinced me to pull it back and just use two dogs. Jim said, well the chapter is intense anyway. I agreed, and referred back to a conversation we were having at Clarion. Well, two conversations, one is sometimes writers go further than necessary to make a point or illustrate an emotion. I wanted thirty dogs, yet with two, the emotion and tenseness of the situation came through just as well.

The other conversation was about feasibility. Basically, everything in your story has to fit within the realm of reality you have set up. You don't ever want your reader to stop and think, "Can that really happen?" Once the reader is thinking about the mechanics of the story, they are no longer engaged in your world. You've lost them.

Even things that have happened in real life may seem implausible once you put them in fiction. The attacking dogs came from a real moment when I was sitting in a park in Cuba. A stray female dog was in heat and out of nowhere this pack of at least 14 dogs came and started attacking her. One by one the dogs would jump on her and start humping. It was horrible to see, they were basically gang raping her and there was nothing she could do. She fought and struggled but there were too many of them. Finally some people from the neighborhood came with sticks and ran the male dogs off. That scene impressed me and I promised myself I'd do something with it one day.

One listener called in questioning my decision to simplify and lighten the darkness of the chapter. He cited Stephen King, saying King is a mainstream writer and a bestseller, people aren't scared away by his books. I responded by talking about context. People expect to pick up Stephen King and be scared shitless. When Butterflies Kiss is a book about male/female relationships, the reader may or may not be prepared to face a pack of attack dogs in that kind of package.

Some of the callers were really funny. One of the callers called to complain about writers writing in the present tense. "Yeah, I read your story in Dark Matter and I noticed that you wrote it in the present tense. I really don't like the present tense, and I'm noticing more and more writers are doing it. Why did you use the present tense?" I explained that I thought present tense gave a sense of urgency and immediacy. As "At Life's Limits" is about this being spiraling out of control, at the mercy of her environment, I thought present tense would give the reader the best sense of what her experience was like. "Yeah," he said, "that's what a lot of writers say, but I just don't like it." "Well that's the beautiful thing about writing," I told him, "there's something for every taste."

The next caller asked for my phone number to arrange readings. I gave him my e-mail address. He told me he doesn't have e-mail. I referred him to the public library. He went on to ask me why I write. I said, "most writers write because they have to..." He cut me off to say he didn't ask about most writers, he asked about me. "Hold on," I told him, "I'm getting to that." One caller called to discuss Clarion. And another called to ask me if I'm from a city because he recognized the issues I talked about in my chapter from When Butterflies Kiss as a particular issue women have to deal with in cities.

The chapter opens with a woman being harassed by a man on the street. She gets out of the sticky situation by pretending to know the main character Dante and latching on to him to get away from her harasser. The woman and Dante have a whole conversation about sexual harassment on the street. I really appreciated that call because the sexual harassment issue is a big one in my life and the lives of many women I know. It's an international problem for women, and for years it was a big mind trip for me to just walk down the street. I don't think men understand the amount of mental pressure many women experience just trying to get from point a to point b. For some women, the streets are like the minefield of a war zone, men are mines to be avoided and negotiated. I was thrilled to hear that the issue caught someone's attention and got his wheels turning about the issue.

Participating in Hour of the Wolf was a lot of fun. This month, I'm working on an essay about the sexual harassment on the street issue, but that's another story.

Be well. Be love(d).

Kiini Ibura Salaam


Vol. 1, Life and Debt

The Screening Room
Downtown Manhattan

I don't read newspapers, watch the news or read books about various forms of oppression. I choose instead to grapple with the issues I confront daily on the street or in my travels, which are enough to occupy my mind, attention and compassion for extremely long stretches of time. I suppose as a traveler, a black person, and a lover of the Caribbean, my curiosity was piqued when I heard about Life and Debt, a documentary about how the social policies of the IMF, the World Bank and other international lending agencies have decimated the Jamaican farming economy and consequently destroyed the self-sufficiency of the entire country. Maybe, as 30 approaches, I'm growing into a woman who can look at the ugliness of the world and not be destroyed by what she sees.

A large part of the text of the film is excerpted from Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place—a slim volume about Antigua, the island country where Jamaica Kincaid was born. It is a testament to the power of Kincaid's writing and to the universality of financial imperialism that many of the most scathing observations of A Small Place can be transferred from Antigua to Jamaica without changing a word.

The film starts with a typical tourist arrival to Jamaica. It is so well documented that any tourist who has been there will recognize every step of the journey, from the deplaning, to the folk singers greeting you at the airport, to the money changers just on the other side of immigration and customs. Just a few months ago two friends and I took one of these trips to Jamaica. One of us was Jamaican, all three of us black. It was an uncomfortable feeling, sitting in the hotel shuttle with all the white tourists, the younger ones talking about drinking and partying, the older ones talking about their love for the country. I remember the drive through town, how we looked out at the crowded streets, how the Jamaicans on the street looked in on us. I felt misplaced and embarrassed. Though I have been to Jamaica and many Caribbean countries, I usually move incognito, appearing to be one of the natives, not set apart in a bus, advertising my foreign citizenship and financial status.

Early on, Life and Debt sets up a bunch of well conceived paradoxes between tourists entering Jamaica with just their driver's license and Jamaicans standing on a looooooong line to obtain visas; between the suitcases the tourist carry which go unsearched by Jamaican customs officials and the cardboard boxes of goods returning-Jamaicans carry home, which are cut open and every item examined by their country's customs officials; between the loose sexual dance Jamaican hotel staff teach tourists and the somber spiritual drumming of a nyabingi circle.

The tourist element was not essential to the message of the film, but it was hugely impactful. "This is you," those opening scenes said, "this is how you figure into this whole IMF, international racism, economic imperialism game." As I think about the scene where the customs officials are opening a Jamaican woman's boxes and rifling through her things, I remember my first experience with customs. I spent my junior year in the Dominican Republic. It was my first international trip, I was traveling alone and did not yet speak Spanish. I watched in horror as a Dominican customs official opened this Dominican woman's box of tampons and unwrapped one. As he played with it, I clenched up, suddenly terrified to pass through. But as it turns out, my American passport granted me immunity from such an invasive search. My foreign dollars, my tourist status earned me a bit of respect. As my father says, it is important to know how American privilege is achieved. The privilege we Americans (yes, even us black Americans) enjoy daily costs something. Life and Debt is about those costs.

When Jamaica sought and obtained an IMF loan in the early 70s during a fuel crisis, former-prime minister Michael Manley explains in the film, the IMF set about making regulations that limited how much of those funds could be spent on education and health, set the rate of interest the government was to charge farmers for farming loans, and, most importantly, demanded the erasure of all artificial trade laws. Jamaica's artificial trade law was that Jamaican farmers had the sole right to sell produce in the Jamaican markets. To the U.S., globalism means the right to sell its goods anywhere in the world. And any market closed to them is an untapped resource. Needless to say, a country on the scale of the U.S., with mechanized farming techniques can outprice a Jamaican farmer any day. So the entrance of U.S. produce on the Jamaican market means Jamaican farmers suddenly have no leverage to sell their produce at a profit. They certainly can't break into the U.S. market.

The ramifications of globalization just rippled out from there in an unrelenting and breathtaking manner. Powdered milk—the sale of which is apparently subsidized 120% in the U.S.—entered the Jamaican market at ridiculously cheap prices. Suddenly dairy farmers who had been supporting a healthy dairy market for over 20 years were unable to sell the milk they produced. Dairy cows have to be milked twice a day. What that means is, if no one comes to buy the milk, gallons and gallons of fresh milk are thrown out DAILY while the majority of the Jamaican population are drinking powdered milk. When the dairy farms are completely out of business, there will be no local competition for the imported foreign milk. The powdered milk producers will then be free to set their prices as high as they want and the dairy farms will be unable to rebuild the industry quickly enough to compete.

It goes on, from Tropicana and Dole, who control 85% of the WORLD banana sales, successfully pressuring the IMF to pressure Britain to break its exclusive banana trade agreement with Jamaica; to McDonald's putting a Jamaican Macdonalds—a restaurant of the same name which clearly sells Jamaican (not processed American) food—out of business because of "name infringement" and sells burgers to the country, but refuses to buy local meat and local food products. The list goes on with free zones [which I was introduced to as Zona Franca in Dominican Republic and my Panamanian friend recalls as Zona Libre in Panama] where U.S. and other foreign companies [Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Brothers, Hanes, etc.] set up factories and pay Jamaican women $30 A WEEK to sew the clothes that we are all wearing. These Free Zones are called "free" because the local governments have NO control over the practices and policies there. The companies pay nothing to the Jamaican government, their only responsibility is to pay the Jamaican citizens who work in their shops—yet they sometimes pack up and disappear without paying the workers for two weeks of work, they sometimes ship in workers from another country and pay them instead of the Jamaican workforce, AND they often charge the workers for health care, education funds, and various and sundry taxes that they neither give to the Jamaican government nor grant to the workers. This is straight up hustling. The kind of bad behavior, as Jamaica Kincaid calls it, that was supposedly dismantled with slavery.

The film must be seen. We must have an understanding of what our consumerism and whims are built on. I was inspired when I saw this film to go out and tell everyone about it. Its triumph was to break down complex financial intrigue into a clear and concise series of events that demonstrates why people riot when the price of gas goes up. It is because there is NO space to maneuvre. The essence of life within a whole country is sucked out of them. The U.S. is not satisfied with ghettos in its own country, but is intent on creating entire countries who exist to support the desires of corporations, who exist to feed U.S. domination of the world marketplace.

Life and Debt was powerful, thorough, and hard hitting. One of the things I rejoiced to see/hear in the film was the voice of the people driving the narrative. Rather than some bored, intellectual voiceover explaining the plight of "the people," the farmers broke down the situation complete with dates and side effects and far-reaching results. If you are a human being and you are currently breathing air, you need to check out Life and Debt.

Be well. Be love(d).

Kiini Ibura Salaam