Jessica Smith Rewrites the Narrative of Self-Identity Using Love

I had come to learn about other writers and read some of their material, including Zora Neale Hurston, who spent lots of time in the town where I'm from, including teaching and writing, and it's also where she spent the last years of her life.

Writers aim to craft a story that their reader may not only enjoy but become immersed in it. Getting lost in the story is precisely what happened when I came across author Jessica Smith's lifestyle article in SwagHer Magazine. It was drawing, and so pure. It was evident the story she was writing was one with a message.

Intriguing, passionate, and powerful, we expected nothing less from her when the opportunity presented itself to sit down with a one on one, and she delivered.

TSW: Jessica, welcome to The Sassy Writer. It is so exciting to chat with you. I read your lifestyle piece in SwagHer Magazine and was thoroughly moved. Your work is raw, passionate, and filled with love. You are no rookie as your talent shines through immensely. What's your earliest writing memory?

JS: I remember when I was writing everything and on everything as a child! I would write prayers, my thoughts, songs, poems, doodles, everything! I had developed a love for reading, getting a new book to read from the library as often as possible, which prompted me to start writing at a very young age. I loved doing writing assignments, especially in English class.

Anytime I was tasked with reading (interesting and thought-provoking) literature and writing about it was a win-win to me.

I had come to learn about other writers and read some of their material, including Zora Neale Hurston, who spent lots of time in the town where I'm from, including teaching and writing, and it's also where she spent the last years of her life.

Writing, just like reading, even in elementary school (grade-school), became an escape for me. It was a way to be creative, see the world and life itself in a whole new way.

Having the ability to put your thoughts, feelings, perspective, and imagination on paper was powerful. And it still is.

TSW: Doesn't it amaze you how literal the saying, 'she walked this path, so I could too,' in connection of yourself and Zora Neale Hurston. So, basically, at some point in her life, she ventured into your hometown's spaces that you soon did the same. That is thought-provoking. Besides your love of reading and writing, and such rooted inspiration, do you have a muse?

JS: Not really. I'm a bit of a thinker, and everything offers some form of inspiration/motivation. Prayer is something that allows me to get a deeper understanding and knowledge about everything. It's more about gaining wisdom concerning everything and taking that wisdom, knowledge, and learning and applying it to the writing to promote encouragement, life, and love.

TSW: your wisdom is evident in you the way you speak as well as your writings. When talking about being a beacon of life, I can't help but ask how you wish to use your voice?

JS: I have been blessed with the understanding that our voices have power. More than what we may realize.

In using my voice, I pray to encourage, educate, and entertain. There is a space and need for all three. So, I pray and believe that when people read my writing or hear and see what I'm a part of, they will walk away feeling empowered and feel the love poured into every work I'm blessed to put my hands to do.

My voice should only promote life and love, goodness, and grace. And I want people to laugh and feel good along the way as we journey through the writing and works, as well. When people hear my voice either by reading my writing or hearing my voice audibly, I want them to feel like they matter -their concerns, hopes, prayers, joy, dreams, aspirations, love, thoughts, and overall being and existence matter. Because it does, and my voice has to be an instrument used to declare, proclaim, and decree it.

TSW: Going back to your lifestyle piece, without giving away too many details - and by the way, if anyone reading this interview has not had the opportunity to read it, I implore you to do so. But, back to the piece, you recalled a specific event while being out with your nieces and nephew. In the article, you describe your voice's calmness and make them aware of the reasons for your actions. How important, in your opinion, is self-identity/self-awareness as a child?

JS: It's very important. Your identity and views about the world are formed during childhood. During these impressionable years, you develop a sense of who you are and those around you.

Children must know their worth and importance, especially considering how people who look like them are portrayed in various forms of media outlets.

Adults are walking around right now, who were never told they are special, loved, wanted, or even liked. They were told the contrary, and now you have a broken child living on the inside of an adult frame, lost and confused, and hating themselves. And that's only because they don't know who they are.

Self-identity and self-awareness are very important in all age groups, especially in childhood. That's where it forms and take root.

TSW: How do you feel, as a writer, we can be more instrumental in promoting self-discovery regardless of the genre in which you write?

JS: Just by being authentic and celebrating our uniqueness. It's okay to be different, and it's okay to love yourself. Simply staying true to who you are, genuinely and wholly, is the best path to take.

And please do so, without offense, but with love, understanding, wisdom, and knowledge.

TSW: Your latest release, Elohim, Bless My Babies, focuses on your prayers for the coverings of the babies, the youth. What was the most challenging part of writing it?

JS: Writing the end was challenging, simply because I didn't want to use inappropriate wording or words that wouldn't be appropriate for the youth to read. Not meaning curse words, but abrasive or harsh words.

The part about letting go of certain things (listed in the book) to allow ourselves space and opportunity to see each other and love each other in a healthier and liberating way was a little challenging.

Just trying to keep it simple and light-hearted but still making the point was real work, but it all worked out in the end. Praise GOD!

TSW: Yes! Bringing the point home can be challenging but always necessary. Your fight to do so is faithful and worthy of being noted. How do you wish to be remembered?

JS: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

II Timothy 4:7

A faithful servant: humble and understanding; I want this to be reflected in everything I do. I pray to be remembered as a vessel used to pour love into, give laughter to, and bless everyone to know how truly important, powerful, and necessary they are to life and the world in which we live.

TSW: Are you planning to release a new title soon?

JS: Yes, there is something in the works right now that will be available soon. Stay tuned.

TSW: Staying tuned - we sure will! It has been such a pleasure chatting, and I look forward to doing so again soon. A TSW favorite-Fire Round! Care to join? Not hard at all. It's a game of this or that.

TSW: Movies or plays?

JS: Movies, but don't mind watching a play every now and then. Love the dialogue and interactions the cast makes with the audience. And I enjoy the realness of plays and how the audience participates with the cast.

TSW: Coffee or tea

JS: Water, lol.

TSW: Favorite book?

JS: That has to be a trick question, lol. Too many to name; no way to pick only one.

But I must give Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye an honorary mention. Powerful!

And Wrapped In Rainbows: An autobiography of Zora Neale Hurston. Very insightful.

Also, Carl Weber's books. Hilarious and suspenseful.

TSW: Haha! Always expect the unexpected in that fire round. But you aced it! How can you be reached?

JS: Facebook: Jus Jes

Instagram: jes_writ e

Twitter: @Jes_Write

YouTube: Talboutsum Jes