Terry McMillan, author of Who Asked You, Waiting to Exhale, and other fiction and non-fiction books, spoke about her work to a rapt audience in Northern Colorado this February. As a black woman, McMillan writes stories based on African American characters, as well as some of her personal experiences.
Born in Michigan, McMillan has traveled around the country teaching English, and sharing her work and insights. She encourages young people to learn about the culture around them, and discover themselves through writing.
After the talk, I had a chance to sit down with Mcmillan:
“We don’t even know what defines us,” she explained, “Sometimes it’s gender, race, religion, but I like to think that as a human being, I am a work in progress. My beliefs and opinions have changed from what they were when I was in college. When you’re younger, people tell you what to believe, but then as you grow up, you develop your own beliefs. You reject things and you evolve.”
McMillan explained that in America, there is a mix of cultures from around the world, and people feel alienated in their own homes. She encourages all students, whether they are from America or another country, to use writing as a way to find their own voice. “You can be free, and writing can do that for you. Stop writing to impress. Write what you hear, and write how you see it. Your ‘otherness’ is yours.”