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Posts tagged Gregory Hedgepeth
[PLAYLIST] Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 5
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 5 is a playlist I created because I like to play music when I smoke in the shower. I cut the lights low, turn the music up and let all the stress of the day melt away. Most of these songs have been played ad nauseam over the past year or so, and although theres no single cohesive theme among them, once you spark your lighter and let the music take you away, I think you’ll immediately get the vibe.

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Solo — “Heaven”

My grandmother was recently moved into a facility to help treat her dementia. When I was younger, she overheard me playing “Heaven” and it became the only song I’ve ever introduced her to. It’s such a beautiful song and it always makes me think about her when I hear it. It’s a shame they didn’t put out more music. I also think it’s kinda funny that a singing group would call themselves Solo.
 

Miguel — “Adorn”

If you used to follow me on Tumblr back in the day, you already know why I included this—but if you didn’t, it’s because this song is my motherfucking shit. Miguel is one of my favorite musicians and this was one of the first joints I remember playing on a continuous loop for hours at a time.
 

Freddie Gibbs — “Palmolive” (feat. Pusha T & Killer Mike)

How can you not love a Pusha verse that starts with “Real bars are the ill bars/these scars are the only real proof they couldn’t kill gods/my coke hand is still sketchin’ out my memoirs/what I did to door panels on them Windstars...” That whole Bandana album is hard, but this is one of the standouts. One day, people will stop sleeping on the homie Gibbs.
 

Westside Gunn — “Sensational Sherri”

So I was super-late on the Griselda wave, but I’ve been listening to them pretty much nonstop for the last couple months. Westside Gunn’s ‘Flygod Is An Awesome God’ album has probably gotten more play than most of the others and this song is a big reason why. The instrumentals, the wrestling clips, the gun talk. I love all that shit. If this is your first foray, peep “Thousand Shot Mac” and “Lakers vs Rockets” too.
 

Rick James — “Mary Jane”

I don’t know why it took me so long to include this classic. Besides the obvious reference, the first time I remember hearing this song was on the movie Friday, one of my favorite films of all time (I’m fairly certain I can still recite it by heart). If I have to explain why this is the perfect song to start off the joint or why it’s one of my favorites, this probably isn’t the playlist for you.
 

Listen to the playlist below or simply click the link.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

Vital Narrative Press Is Five Years Old!
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 
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I can’t believe I’m about to say this… we are officially five years old! It feels like it was just yesterday when I decided I was tired of sleeping on my grandmother’s couch, waiting for destiny to fall in my lap.

In 2014, despite all the obstacles that stood in front of me, I took a leap of faith and decided I was going to start Vital Narrative based on what I already knew about the publishing industry with the little bit of money I had from my last job in customer service. I told myself I’d just have to learn everything else on the way down. It’s taken twice as long to learn what I figured I needed to know and I’ve spent way more money than I ever expected — but it’s all been worth it. Just about every waking moment not devoted to my wife and daughter are focused on this talented roster of authors and the blood, sweat and tears they pour into their work. 

The things I’ve learned about the industry pale in comparison to what I’ve learned about myself as a person. It takes a lot of resolve to run a business and to be constantly evolving from your mistakes. Every day, I learn something I can apply in some capacity and that’s honestly one of the most rewarding parts about running the company I sought out to create.

I’ve always been a writer, so I wanted this to be more writer-centric than other publishing companies. It’s why our authors earn 50% royalties as opposed to the 8% they can earn at mainstream publishers. It’s why I want the authors to have so much input on how this company runs and it’s also why I think we’ve managed to survive.

Some of you have been supporting us the entire five years, giving me all the motivation I needed to keep going during those days when I wanted to quit. I can't even keep up with the number of times I got a message from someone telling me how much they appreciate what we're doing or getting a referral from someone who has purchased from us. Those are the kinds of debts I can never repay.

By far though, I’ve grown so much as an editor, a writer and a businessman because of our authors. They are the ones who deserve mountains of praise in gold, because they are always working hard to ensure this company becomes a success. If there's one thing I can admit to loving more than anything else, it's sitting face-to-face and discussing their work with them, helping them mold their stories into the best versions of themselves — nothing compares to that feeling.

The most surprising thing I've learned is that five years goes by PRETTY DAMN FAST. It still feels like we’re just getting started with the work we want to do here, because there’s honestly so much left to do and so many barriers left to break. We can't do any of this without you — I hope you continue on this journey with us.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

[PLAYLIST] Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 4
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 4 is a playlist I created because I like to play music when I smoke in the shower. I cut the lights low, turn the music up and let all the stress of the day melt away. Most of these songs have been played ad nauseam over the past year or so, and although theres no single cohesive theme among them, once you spark your lighter and let the music take you away, I think you’ll immediately get the vibe.

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Dr. Dre  — “The Next Episode” (feat. Snoop Dogg)

When I first started curating this playlist, I already knew what I wanted the first and last song to be. As soon as I hear the beginning of the instrumental, it instantly puts me in the right state of mind. Not to mention Nate Dogg ends it perfectly with his “Heeyyyy-ay-aaayyy, smoke weed everyday!” crooning.
 

Rick Ross — “Elvis Presley Blvd.” (feat. Project Pat)

My wife works pretty close to Elvis Presley and when she was still pregnant with Lamb, we stopped by the Krispy Kreme there to get doughnuts and for some reason this song always reminds me of that. Even though I’m not a Memphis native, this joint always makes me feel like I grew up here.
 

Lauryn Hill — “Nothing Even Matters” (feat. D’Angelo)

This is one of the most criminally underrated love songs of all time. Lauryn and D’Angelo were a match made in heaven on this one and I don’t understand how it doesn’t get more recognition from others.
 

Dennis Edwards — “Don’t Look Any Further” (feat. Siedah Garrett)

It’s really hard for me to listen to this song without laughing because I either imagine Dennis Edwards giving the Bobby Brown face at the beginning of the video or the colonizer parody floating around the Internet, but this song still goes hard. Not to mention it perfectly sets up “Hit Em Up” next in the queue, which is one of my favorite diss records of all time.
 

Petey Pablo — “Raise Up”

As a North Carolina native (and Raleigh specifically), I HAD to include this jawn. It reminds me so much of high school, because it’s one of those things I look back on with a mild sense of embarrassment — but only because of how enthusiastic I was about it back in the day. You couldn’t tell me shit when this came on the radio or the video played on BET. It will always hold a special place in my heart even though I can admit to not having heard it in years. I knew it would be the perfect song to end on.
 

Listen to the playlist below or simply click the link.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

[PLAYLIST] Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 3
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 3 is a playlist I created because I like to play music when I smoke in the shower. I cut the lights low, turn the music up and let all the stress of the day melt away. Most of these songs have been played ad nauseam over the past year or so, and although theres no single cohesive theme among them, once you spark your lighter and let the music take you away, I think you’ll immediately get the vibe.

Songs For People Who Smoke 3 Cover.png
 

Little Brother  — “Slow It Down”

Phonte spit one of my favorite lines of all time on this jawn: “I want a girl when I want a girl. And when I don’t want a girl, I want a girl who understands that. And that’s some hard shit to explain to a woman that’s in love with you...” My wife actually hates that lyric, but to me it really encapsulates what I ran into quite a bit when I was single. Sometimes, you like a girl but not enough to make a commitment — not because there’s anything wrong with her, but because a relationship isn’t what you’re looking for. It’s a line that I’ve always thought was underrated (mostly because Phonte is underrated in general), but it’s just a small part of what makes this song so great.
 

Ray J — “Wait A Minute” (feat. Lil’ Kim)

I know some folks kinda think of Ray J as a joke at this point in his career (or maybe they’ve always thought that), but I think it’s silly to underestimate someone worth $6 million. If you asked a hundred people about his most popular hit, most of them would probably pick ‘One Wish.’ But this is his best song IMO. Shoutout to OG Lil’ Kim rapping on the feature and The Neptunes on production.
 

Lauryn Hill — “Ex-Factor”

Is there any song about a past relationship that’s more relevant than this one? I mean, does the significance even need to be explained? It’s just one of those songs that’s hauntingly beautiful and I’m afraid the pain in Lauryn’s voice will forever be etched in my mind.
 

TWENTY88 — “Deja Vu”

One day last summer, I played this song about 100 times in a row. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Jhene Aiko and Big Sean need to make songs together forever, because there’s something about their music that just makes sense. This is another one of those relationship songs that I believe we can all relate to.
 

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes — “I Miss You”

I’m a huge, huge, HUGE fan of this song. I mean, how many of us had to beg for their lady back after we inevitably fucked up? Even still, while I can admit relating to the outro on more than one occasion, I still think it’s wild the song goes on for about seven minutes before he asks about his son’s whereabouts — I’d assume that would be brought up a little quicker. A sign of the times, I guess. Even still, this is another classic breakup song.
 

Listen to the playlist below or simply click the link.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

[PLAYLIST] Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 2
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower 2 is a playlist I created because I like to play music when I smoke in the shower. I cut the lights low, turn the music up and let all the stress of the day melt away. Most of these songs have been played ad nauseam over the past year or so, and although theres no single cohesive theme among them, once you spark your lighter and let the music take you away, I think you’ll immediately get the vibe.

Songs For People Who Smoke 2 Cover.png
 

Todd Rundgren — “Hello It’s Me”

I’m a huge fan of ‘That 70s Show’ and I’ve probably watched every episode about a hundred times. During the first episode, the gang goes to a Todd Rungren concert in Eric’s Vista Cruiser and end up having to exchange a muffler for two tickets. It’s one of my favorites, but I always slept on the actual music, thinking it was just an old song by some white guy. One night when I was smoking, I actually paid attention for once and discovered that shit actually slaps though.
 

Nas — “If I Ruled the World” (feat. Lauryn Hill)

Nas was the first rapper I ever fucked with heavy. In fact, this was the first rap song I ever memorized from beginning to end. I actually wrote all lyrics out and listened to it over and over until I could recite it without any mistakes. When I got older and started writing, it became the first song I’d play before starting an outline for a new story because it always put me in a contemplative state. I mean, as I began world-building, I would just ask myself: what WOULD you do if you ruled the world?
 

Kendrick Lamar — “Kush & Corinthians” (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)

I actually wrote a script for a series called “Kush & Corinthians” about two brothers who live completely opposite lives until one finds God — I still need to put that out. Anyway, Kendrick snapped on this jawn, and there aren’t nearly not enough people who know how talented BJ the Chicago Kid is. This is another song that really puts me in a creative state of mind.
 

Kanye West — “Devil in a Blue Dress” (feat. Rick Ross)

I know we’re not fucking with Kanye at the moment because of the “slavery is a choice” comment, but this is arguably his best song. The production is A-1 and I still get hype every time Ross spits ”when it come to tools... fool, I’m a Pep Boy!”
 

Lupe Fiasco — “Mural“

Niggas forget how dope Lupe is because he goes over our heads sometimes (well, a lot of the time). This joint doesn’t even have a hook. It’s just nine minutes of him rocking over spectacular production. TETSUO & YOUTH dropped like four years ago and it still feels like I’m discovering new metaphors in this joint, because of how dense his lines are.
 

Listen to the playlist below or simply click the link.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

Darlene P. Campos’ Latest Novel is a Love Letter to Everyone Suffering With Anxiety
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Writers are notorious for having mental health issues, most likely because we’re always in our own heads, constantly obsessing over the worlds, characters and scenarios we have created. Here at Vital Narrative, we are no different as a number of us advocate for and suffer with our own mental health issues, myself included.

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As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, I felt it was important to share my experience reading Heaven Isn’t Me, the third novel from Darlene P. Campos. After completing my first read, I couldn’t deny how at ease I felt. There was such a calm in my spirit, because I felt seen and understood. In fact, it felt like she wrote it specifically for me. The story revolves around a 14-year-old girl named Elysian who discovers she is suffering with anxiety. The most poignant part of the narrative deals with the many stigmas surrounding mental health diseases in the form of Elysian’s family, who perceive it to be “all in her head.”

I started to read the anxiety pamphlets. They said the condition was common and it wasn’t anything to feel ashamed about at all. The typical symptoms were worrying, panic attacks, endless fears, trouble sleeping, and a lot more. t wasn’t me being weird. None of the emotions or attacks were my fault. It was anxiety. I had finally found the answer to what was wrong with me, and for some reason, knowing the answer made me feel normal.
— Elysian Lecaro, HEAVEN ISN'T ME

I was about 25 before I began to discuss my mental health issues openly, and since then, I’ve been a champion of others revealing theirs, because I see the impact and empowerment that comes with realizing you aren’t alone. These afflictions convince us that there’s no one else struggling with the same thing, even though we know it isn’t true. That’s why it’s important that we stay vigilant about treating these issues, but also help rid the world of the stigmas that come with them. 

Darlene’s novel is going to save a lot of lives. When you consider that even though anxiety and depression are treatable, but 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment (according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report), it becomes clear that this novel could serve as the caveat that drives teenagers and adolescents to seek treatment and not fear that which ails them. Despite the fact that the dialogue about mental health is finally coming to the forefront of mainstream media, we must remain attentive and sympathetic to the needs of those currently dealing with these illnesses.

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When I asked Darlene about what led her to craft this novel, she said:

Around the time I started thinking of an idea for my third novel, I was having the worst panic attacks, depression, and anxiety episodes of my entire life. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 19 or 20, but as a younger adult, I noticed I would worry about almost everything and I would catastrophize all the time like ‘If I don’t find a date to the dance, I’m going to die alone,’ etc. So, I knew I needed to write the book I needed when I was younger. HEAVEN ISN’T ME is fiction, but there are real-life scenes sprinkled throughout, especially Elysian’s anxiety attacks. Those are the same attacks I had when I was her age. My mission with this novel is to let young people know that it’s okay to seek professional help.
— Darlene P. Campos

If I had come across these words as an adolescent, life would’ve been so much easier to navigate and I wouldn’t have spent so many years trying to hide myself and my affliction. Words can’t express how grateful I am for Darlene and her novel, which I’m sure will help ease the minds of us who feel alone, different or flawed as we cope with anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, substance abuse and the plethora of disorders stemming from mental health illnesses. I’m proud to say Heaven Isn’t Me will release through Vital Narrative Press later this year.

 

Take a sneak peek at part of the cover below.

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To my fellow mental health sufferers, continue to stay strong and seek help when you need to. If you are a young person in need of mental health resources, visit the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

[PLAYLIST] Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Songs For People Who Smoke in the Shower is a playlist I created because I like to play music when I smoke in the shower. I cut the lights low, turn the music up and let all the stress of the day melt away. All these songs have been played ad nauseam over the past year or so, and although theres no single cohesive theme among them, once you spark your lighter and let the music take you away, I think you’ll immediately get the vibe.

Songs For People Who Smoke Cover.png
 

Nipsey Hussle — “Blue Laces 2”

Even before he passed, I knew this would be the first song on the playlist because I’ve played it like a thousand times. This has always been my second favorite Nipsey joint (“4 in the Morning” still reigns supreme) and from the very beginning of the song, it just gets me in the right headspace. RIP Nip. 
 

Ari Lennox — “GOAT”

When I heard she was dropping her debut album, I had to double take, because I could’ve sworn she already had one - her 2016 EP ‘PHO’ still gets major play and “GOAT” is def my go to joint. “Shea Butter Baby” with J. Cole also goes hard and I hope it ends up being her breakthrough hit, because her music has been dope for a minute.
 

Freddie Gibbs — “Triple Threat”

Surprisingly, my daughter lights up whenever she hears this song, so every time I hear it, I automatically think of her. More than that though, I played this album more than anything last year, so I had to include it here.
 

Little Brother — “The Pressure”

I may be the last holdout for one more LB album, but the production on this (and pretty much every Little Brother track) is so incredible and always reminds me of being back in North Carolina. Not to mention, Phonte goes the fuck off on this joint.
 

OutKast — “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”

If I ever get serious about completing this spoken word album, I have to feature this instrumental at some point. I’ve always wanted to spit something dope over this. If you can’t smoke one and vibe out to this joint, I don’t know what else to tell you.
 

Listen to the playlist below or simply click the link.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

Tuesdays Aren’t Just For Tacos Anymore
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 
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Back when I started Vital Narrative, I wanted to buck several trends such as providing authors with a bigger royalty share, being transparent about processes and contracts, among other things. I also designated release days for Fridays, because (if I’m being honest) it just made more sense to me at the time.

However, as we continue to evolve as a company, I’ve changed my mind on a few things in lieu of being a little more traditional. I still believe in transparency and giving authors four times the average royalty share. But release days on Fridays? Ehhhhh

Traditional release days for books are on Tuesdays, mostly because the NYT bestseller list is based on sales from Tuesday to Monday and then tallied on Wednesday, which is when the list is actually compiled.


I still believe in transparency and giving authors four times the average royalty share.
— Gregory Hedgepeth

That being said, our release dates will now be set on Tuesdays to align with traditional publishing days, beginning with Small Nights Gospel, which will release on Tuesday, February 19th.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

Writers Asking Writers Questions | Gregory Hedgepeth & Danielle Elaine
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

Last year, we created of series of in-house interviews called Authors Interviewing Authors, where our roster traded conversations in an attempt to get to know one another as well as provide some intimate insights into the life of a writer. This year, we expanded on our series, aptly renaming it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a six-week series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers.


The previous interviews from our WAWQ series are linked below.


What is the first book that made you cry?

A: I believe the first book that made me cry was Kite Runner. I remember most vividly how that book took me through so many emotions. I loved it. I still do and recommend it. It was a lot for me. Very eye opening. I find pain so poetic.

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What is your writing kryptonite?

A: My writing kryptonite would definitely be deadlines. Even deadlines I give myself, I can never seem to keep. I’ve learned a lot about myself lately, and one thing that keeps coming up is fear. I’ve been running from myself, and doing “the work” for so long out of fear. Now, my challenge is pushing past the fear, running straight to the things I’ve been running from and commit to myself and that work.

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

A: Sadly, I’m not friends with any other authors. I have friends who are creatives in other ways, we keep each other motivated by being honest with one another about our work, and ideas. We are honest about our kryptonites. Being vulnerable is truly an inspiring gift. People always ask me for advice when they want to start writing, and I always say just write. Get the words out and worry about perfect later. I live by this and Im always asking my friends to double check and edit things for me. Some writers I am inspired by push me to stretch my creativity, take my writing form, depth and vulnerability in my writing to another level. I just want to make a last impact on at least one person. I want at least one person to read my work and feel something.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

A: If I could tell my younger writing self anything, it would be start now. I would tell myself don’t wait, and there is nothing to fear, however I don’t think my story would be as good if I hadn’t made some of the mistakes I made to get where I am today.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

A: Publishing my first two books independently did not change my writing process, only my desire to solely do it alone. Independent marketing is hard. That saying about family and friends joining the bandwagon last is very true.

 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A: LOL!!! Far too many!

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

A: Yes, my novel details many experiences people would never believe. I am excited to see what people will decipher as true and fiction.

 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

A: I would give up anything to become a better writer. I would give up fear and definitely procrastination. I’m not sure what the timeline for most writers is like, but I always feel like I’m off.

 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

A: The most difficult part of my artistic process would be consistency and balance. Once I start writing, I take off and I’m on a roll. That’s a place I’d like to live in daily, even when I am not actively creating. Life has been such a rollercoaster, trying to pursue my passion, be a good mom, and find stability as an adult, I tend to get bogged down by it all which makes it difficult to get artsy at the end of the day.

 

Does your family support your career as a writer?

A: Yes and no. It’s the typical scenario: when I’m doing good they are all for it - but when I’m not, I need to “grow up”, “be realistic” etc.

 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

A: Yes, I believe in writer’s block, I had it for a very long time. I think it is a subconscious unwillingness to produce for whatever reason that may vary person to person. There have been many times I wanted so badly to write, but for one reason or another I just couldn’t find the words.

 

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

A: My only advice is just get the words out. Don’t worry about writing rules and being perfect. That will come later. If you just get your words out, as you think and feel them, the process becomes less daunting. Also, there’s never a need to compare yourself. You would not have been given the gift or inspired creatively if you were not meant to write. You’d have the desire to do something else if there wasn't room at the writers table for you too. Don't compare yourself to others, and don't critique yourself until it’s time to edit.

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When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A: There was never an “aha!” moment - it was just something I always felt and knew about myself. I have always written, because I felt stifled communicating my emotions any other way. I had always wanted to be a published author, but never took my writing careers serious until I found out I was pregnant and decided to be a mom. I knew I couldn’t tell my daughter she could be and do anything, and have her believe me without having anything to show for my own dreams manifesting.

 

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

A: I have two projects in the works: one major and one a little less major (but not minor, lol). The latter is Fire Affirmations for Dope Women in Transition, a compilation of affirmations I have written over time, to preach to myself in hard times to push through and inspire myself. It’s for women and moms of all kinds creating space for us to be light with ourselves, to be vulnerable, to push through and execute our vision in spite of things seemingly crumbling around us. The major MAJOR project I’ve been working on for years now is A Minister’s Child, which may end up being titled Spratt Street. It is a novel based on my life and the wild things I’ve experienced. There will be tons of truth and many exaggerations as well. A Minister’s Child is an obvious title, because that is what I am. Spratt Street is part of the street address of the shelter I stayed in recently. I was there almost a year, way longer than I intended - but as you can imagine, there were some characters in there!

 

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

A: The most surprising thing is how much I’ve been through, how much I’ve endured. My resilience and strength. When you’re going through tough time after tough time after tough time, you kind of keep your head down until you clear each rough patch. To look back at it all on a macro level while writing make it profound to see that I am still intact, peaceful, and happy after it all.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

How To Write A First Draft
 

BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH

 

When I was in the eighth grade, I fell hopelessly in love with a girl who sat two rows in front of me. She always spoke in a way that let me know she read books outside of school like I did. And because I knew how smart she was, I realized I couldn't approach her just any old way - I wanted to show my intelligence and poise as well. Or at the very least, I knew I needed to say hello without melting into my desk.

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So, I went over what I was going to say in my head for days. I knew I wanted to work in that I read a lot and had started writing my own stuff, but then I thought she might ask to read some of it and that terrified me. So I kicked that idea from my mental Rolodex and decided to start from scratch.

Days turned into weeks until I finally put my foot down. I told myself I was going to say hello and ask for her phone number. I arrived early for first period and to my surprise, she was sitting alone, digging for something inside her backpack. I didn't think it would leave a good first impression to startle her by appearing suddenly when she was sitting alone in a room (plus, I still needed another moment to gather my thoughts). I walked into the nearest bathroom to wash my hands and took a few deep breaths. I told myself I would just say hello and go from there. It had only been about two minutes, but I already felt a lot more relaxed going into the conversation the second time around. I left out of the bathroom and walked back in to see her surrounded by three of her friends, chatting happily about some television show I had never heard of. Feeling like I'd lost my chance, I decided not to interrupt and walked past towards my desk. There was plenty of time left in the day, so I still had time to ask.

Second period was gym, so after I dressed out, she walked into the gymnasium with a good friend of mine. They were laughing and having a great time, which wasn't a total surprise because my friend was just as witty and interesting as I was. But I didn't want to disturb their conversation, so I just settled in my mind that I'd just go up to her at lunch. It made the most sense - the gymnasium wasn't the best setting for an intimate conversation and people were more social during a meal anyway.

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But at lunch, she was nowhere to be found. I searched both exits and the courtyard to see if maybe she'd decided to eat outside, but still nothing. I didn't want to ask around and give off the suspicion that I was looking for her, but I wasn't sure what else to do. We had been near each other all morning and now that I was finally ready to ask for her number, she had disappeared. I decided to drown my sorrows in chocolate milk and a cardboard pepperoni pizza from the school cafeteria while I mulled over what to do next.

By the end of the day, every attempt at courting this young woman had been met with opposition and disappearances. Just 45 minutes remained in the day and I was determined to make them count. Time crawled by as the teacher lectured for the first twenty minutes, but then sped up as we were spread out into groups, inevitably setting me clear across the room from my muse. Before I knew it, there were just sixty seconds left in the day and it was now or never.

I told myself I could still catch her once the bell rang. At least if she said no, I could just run out of there and hop on the schoolbus.

The bell rang, I grabbed my bag and sprinted towards her desk, but an obstruction in a Yankees hat blocked the aisle and I couldn't fight my way though. Why did this keep happening?! By the time he moved out of the way, I checked her desk and she was already gone - I had lost her forever.

Or at least until tomorrow when I told myself I would arrive early again and make another attempt at attempting to ask.

But as you can probably guess, that didn't happen.

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And that's how most people write first drafts. They have all the best intentions and tell themselves that one day they're going to sit down and ask that girl for her phone number. Or ask that girl to the prom. Or ask that guy on a date, but they never muster up the courage to actually stand up and say what they have to say.

In order to write a first draft, you simply have to put the words on the page. Don't worry about making everything sound perfect - that's what editing is for. Don't obsess over trying to find two hours to write everyday. Or even writing everyday. Start with ten minutes every Friday during your last break at work. And then just go from there.

The conditions are never going to be perfect. You're never going to find the perfect notebook or the perfect pen. You don't need a brand new computer first. You don't have to wait until next year. Use what you have and do what you can.

If you want to write to a book, you have to write a first draft. And to write a first draft, all you have to do is write.


Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.