One of the best and most intimidating things a debut author can hear is, "When is the next one coming out?"
This is especially nerve wracking for me, because Love Changes took so long for me to write and publish. I began writing this version of Love Changes in August of 2001. I now realize that in writing Love Changes, the words began to flow once I stopped being so uptight and just relaxed and enjoyed the process. Once I allowed myself to just have fun with it, writing was playtime and not a chore.
Chocolate Love, is the sequel to Love Changes told from Romell’s perspective. He is a layered character, suave and vain yet insecure, flirtatious but insincere, passionate but self-centered, both materialistic and generous, compassionate yet consuming, brilliant, driven. On top of all that, he’s a big ol’ baby, but it is joy to write him and watch him grow. I had been intimidated by the process because I have never been a black man in my life. So I had been questioning whether or not I could capture the male psyche effectively and with empathy. Can I pull this off?
For now, I am just going to have fun with it. I am not going to worry about how good it is or how good it is not. For now, I just give myself full permission to write a bad draft. No second guessing. It’s CRUNCH-TIME. No judgments. For now.
INTRO TO CHOCOLATE LOVE: MY NAME IS ROMELL ULYSSES GOODWIN. NOW, WHERE do I begin? For starters, what went on at my mom’s first doctor visit, I really can’t say. I was there, but I only remember everything up to a certain point. There was a reason for that. Hospitals, I associate them with death and disease. Whenever I think of clinics: malpractice. That clinic was in a hospital. Why not see a doctor in private practice? Why have a procedure done in a clinic instead of the ideal: a nice, cozy, office suite with some magazines in the corner? My mom didn’t have that option. Thank her HMO.
The odor was like Listerine, antiseptic and over-whelming. When I wasn’t holding my breath, I was using it to warm my hands. I’ve heard the excuses as to why they keep it so cold, but spare me. If low temperatures keep germs down, why have I always caught my colds in winter? Whoever controlled the thermostat in this place was obviously hell-bent on making this experience as un-pleasant as possible. Even assuming the unlikely, that cold could somehow, in fact, kill germs, why would it still be necessary to “sanitize” with industrial cleaning agents powerful enough to singe nose hair? And another thing, nurses now wear scrubs. Those look like pajamas. Whose idea was that? If I ever see a petition to reinstate the short white dresses from back in the day, I’ll be John Hancock. All this was going through my mind, but I kept my litany of complaints to myself. However, they were necessary when my alternative was to torture myself with worst-case scenarios. My mom sat quietly on the examination table, her hospital gown “opened to the front.”