A few months back, I had the opportunity to meet with Keyaira Kelly, a staff writer from HelloBeautiful.com and fellow magical black girl. She gave me the opportunity to talk about my blog, online dating, and a chance to have raw conversations about finding love in the big city. If you’re not familiar, you’re dumb late guys. Hellobeautiful.com is an online platform for breaking news, political commentary, social issues, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle for women of color. I love that the site is written for black girls, by black girls. I had the chance to meet the staff, and I was delighted to meet so many intelligent, energetic, talented women dedicated to delivering dynamic content to women like me. Be sure to check it out, and read my interview with Keyaira on her writing, her bomb ass book, and how she got started in the writing biz.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I know it sounds cliché, but my imagination as a child knew no bounds. I used to cry when I didn’t know how to read or write because I couldn’t communicate what was in my head properly. Of course, adult realism led me to pursue sales & marketing post college—the idea of ‘never making money as a writer’ left me feeling daunted, so I opted for a ‘safe’ career. After three layoffs (so much for ’safe’), I finally made the decision to pursue writing full time in 2015. Haven’t looked back since.
What inspired you to write a book?
Growing up Christian, I felt there wasn’t really a safe place for sexuality and spirituality to merge for Black women. As I grew into my femininity, I wanted to find a way to speak about these topics in a raw, unapologetic, honest way. I wanted women to read the collection of poetry and see their own thoughts reflected. I live by the slogan ‘let us be naked in our storytelling, so no one will be ashamed.’
Tell me about your book?
I Wish My Mango Would Ripen
is a collection of poetry catering to the Black female experience. It details how we navigate our sexual relationships, our friendships, and our familial relations. I also wanted to depict the important relationship between the divine feminine, nature, and God. We are so held by all the forces that keep the earth orbiting around the sun. I wanted women to tap into their own power, even within their vulnerable moments, and I hope this collection of work helps them to realize that might within themselves.
Who are some of your favorite writers? Why?
Maya Angelou is the GOAT, of course. She mastered language and flow in a way that I haven’t read in any other author. Nayyirah Waheed and Warsan Shire are two of my favorite new poets. I respect and appreciate their honest approach to the Black woman experience. I love work that makes me sit in my skin a little more comfortably because I realize I’m not alone in my thoughts and feelings.
Where do you currently work?
I work for HelloBeautiful.com as staff writer and producer.
What do you love the most about being a writer?
I never have to lie about how I’m feeling. (You betta SAY that!)
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Sometimes you have to do it for free until someone can pay you. [!]
Leave corporate America and tutor or be a waiter/host—you need work that pays you but you don’t have to dedicate all your mental space to.
Be honest and raw—the world doesn’t need any more pretty little stories.
Well said, K. Ya’ll can follow her on IG and Twitter at @keyairakelly