For some people, writing is just something to do - for others, it is a way of life. Today’s Woman to Watch hails from London, England. She is a creative writer and author who is passionate about generating healthy dialogue around the plight of the international black community.
Please introduce yourself…
My name is Serena. I’m a 31-year-old wife and mother of two. I am a writer of poetry and fiction and a parenting / cultural blogger.
Tell us about your work…
Serena: I currently run a website called The Village. It’s an online community of writers who come together to share their views and experiences on a number of issues affecting black parents and the black community in general.
As well as running / writing for The Village, I also use writing as a more creative outlet. I’ve been writing poetry and fiction since the age of 7 and I have recently finished my first crime novel called The Hype, which follows two detectives as they search for a missing gang member.
Why did you decide to start The Village and why do you think it is important?
Serena: I am a black female who was born and raised in south London. Growing up I faced a number of challenges – roadblocks too – based solely on my heritage. But my parents were, and still are, amazing teachers and role models. They instilled great cultural pride in me, and equipped me with the tools to deal with whatever life may throw at me. I am inspired and led by them in all that I do.
I believe that instilling those same values in the current and next generations is essential and that’s what led me to create The Village. It’s also what inspires my creative writing ventures; I think that sometimes young people are misunderstood – or completely unheard – and I hope that, even in the world of fiction, I can make people more aware of the way things really are.
What impact, if any, does The Village have on women?
Serena: A big one… I hope! My husband is the father of my youngest, but not my oldest, meaning I spent some time as a single mother. I know what it’s like to need the support and encouragement, the advice and reassurance, that a network such as The Village can provide. It’s a place for people to come together, women especially, to give each other the virtual support that we all need at times. It really does take a village!
What has been the most rewarding part of your work and what are you most proud of?
Serena: I love writing and I do it because I enjoy it, more than anything else. But writing can be lonely and intimidating at times, especially in the world of blogging, because you’re usually sharing something personal within your words. For me the most rewarding part is all the positive feedback The Village has received. It’s so good to know that others have been where we’ve been (the other contributors and I), or that they have taken something positive and constructive away from what we’ve written. The Village is working – that’s a great feeling!
What has been most challenging about your work?
Serena: Getting other writers to give up their time. Everyone who contributes to The Village has their own personal blog to look after, not to mention their offline lives. The Village is only as good as its content and it’s disheartening at times when nobody has written for a while. I so desperately want to keep The Village going and it can be very difficult at times. I won’t let that stop me though – I really do believe in The Village and I know that it can and will only get better.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“Nothing changes if nothing changes”
Serena: I say it to myself every time I have an important decision to make. We can get so set in our ways that we sometimes lose our motivation, lose sight of our goals. Change can be daunting but remembering the power of change helps me to keep fighting the good fight.
Who are your greatest influences?
Serena: My parents without a doubt. As I said before, they’re amazing people and the best parents I could have asked for. I owe them so much. They inspire me endlessly.
What would you like for your legacy to be?
Serena: Wow, that’s a tough one! Ideally, I would like to continue the work of the greats and keep pushing society forward in terms of equality. I would love to inspire the next generation of children within the black community to push through and reach for the stars. I would love to teach them that they’re capable of incredible things, with no exceptions.
Having said all of that I am under no illusion about my abilities; I’m only one person, after all. I would settle for just inspiring my own children, the way that my parents inspired me. If I succeed, as I hope to, in raising a strong black man and a strong black woman, I would be happy – overjoyed – for my children to be my legacy.
What’s next for you and/or The Village?
Serena: I want to continue to build The Village, to bring in more writers and more readers. I want the online community to grow exponentially. And offline, I am looking at getting into youth and community work in order to carry the ‘it takes a village’ ethos into the real world. And of course, there are more books on the way; I have just started on my second novel called Cracks, which will hopefully to be finished later in 2014.
Is there someplace online where readers can connect with you and follow your work?
Serena: Absolutely. The Village can be found at http://ittakesthisvillage.com, and the majority of my work and updates can be found at http://serenamalcolm.com You can also follow us / me on Twitter: @villageittakes / @spiralledrose.
All other social media links can be found on the two websites mentioned above. I love to connect with people, so feel free to get in touch at any time.