Has anyone out there written a book? Neither had I until now. I’ve already told you I’m a voracious reader and would rather be in Barnes and Nobel than Neiman Marcus. However, as a new author, I realize I have been disrespectful to some books. I have casually picked them up and put them down with nary a glance. Front cover didn’t compel me. Back cover was disinteresting. Color wasn’t to my liking. Tiny little criticisms like a thousand knife pricks bleeding all over the author’s heart.
That’s what I think now, with my memoir hitting the shelves in September— now that I’ve sweated over every word, every comma, every sentence. Now that I’ve agonized over the back cover and those humbling endorsements. Now that I’ve suffered over the controversy of the front cover. Writing a book is not easy. When authors equate it to giving birth, they aren’t kidding. There’s the lengthy pregnancy. (Mine was seven years.) Then there is the delivery that entails all those critical details of the baby’s layette… I mean, cover. Finally, there is the raising of the child; in other words, the marketing and sales. After all this, will anyone buy it?
I’m particularly interested in that part. Not because I will be rolling in dough, but because all of my proceeds go to pay restitution to the investors of my former company. People invested in me and they lost that investment. I like the idea of payback. I also like the idea of starting a conversation in this country about who and why we incarcerate and for how long. Recently, after 13 years behind bars for trying to break into a church kitchen to find something to eat, a man who became an example of California’s three-strikes law was ordered freed from prison. Gregory Taylor’s sentence was amended by Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza to eight years already served and the 47-year-old, who was sentenced in 1997 to 25 years to life, will soon be free.
When California passed the three-strikes law, I don’t think anyone thought about the cost to tax payers, never mind the cost to people like Gregory Taylor. California estimates the cost to incarcerate an inmate at $47,000 annually. Multiply that by 13 and Mr. Taylor’s incarceration cost taxpayers $611,000. Are you SERIOUS? On whose economic balance sheet does that make any sense whatsoever? Obviously, this is not about the crime. This is about the big business of locking people up and feeding the infrastructure that supports the prison industrial complex. Why have we come to that in America?
My book, my baby, The Slumber Party from Hell, is a snapshot into the world of a woman’s prison. It is not like the movies and the book is not an autobiography. It’s not about the crime. It’s about how I found my passion in the midst of humiliation, abuse, and loneliness. It’s about a gift. It’s about celebrating life because, despite the odds, I am alive. and I am so grateful.
What’s your celebration story?