Sounds. Colors. Feelings--external and internal. The smell of a kitchen--anyone’s kitchen. When you read a book written by Toni Morrison--you hear it all. You see it all. You feel it all--in the heart and on the skin. We sometimes associate death with freedom--but anyone audacious enough to write with their own voice is already free.
I am a writer. But in my adult life, I’ve written under the disciplined (and disciplining) eyes of screenwriters. So many rules. Feedback in red ink or Times New Roman asking me “How will the audience see that they’re mad?” but also “Don’t direct.”
Who was my favorite screenwriter? I’ve put a few names in my back pocket to please the film folks I’ve crossed paths with. But every time I sit down to write anything--including a script, I think of Toni Morrison. It was as if she were the banker’s lamp in my brain that I so needed switched on, in order to feel what I was about to see on my screen. It was very automatic. And still is. Especially on this day.
I’d heard the news of Ms. Morrison’s passing this Tuesday morning like most others. I wasn’t in a place where I could sit down and think on it. I still haven’t sat down to digest it. But I knew that once I got home the first thing I was going to do was write. Because what else would a writer do upon finding out that Toni Morrison passed on?
I don’t want--nor do I need--to make this a post about how Toni Morrison inspires me and the world and all of that. I might save that for Twitter. I just want to tell Toni Morrison “Thank You” in a language that her storytelling family taught her, and that she altered for herself, and that she taught me, and that I have altered for myself. Ms. Morrison, as a creative Leo sun comforts us and lights your view of this earth you traveled; with the slow and brisk--yes, slow and brisk--movement of green Virginia leaves, convincing me to hush my brain so that my spirit can speak...I say Thank You.
You. You, Toni Morrison--a novelist and playwright--are my favorite screenwriter. And such a sentence tells everyone who reads this, who you were, and how your freedom, has freed me. Thank you for being, Toni Morrison. And thank you for sharing you, with us. Thank You.