At Cambridge Common Writers, we’re always looking to showcase the many talented and accomplished alums who make up our community. In honor of Black History Month, we reached out to a few of our BIPOC authors to ask them about themselves and their writing lives.
LaWanda Dixon — Fiction, June ’18
LaWanda Dixon is an African American Writer, Poet, Mother, and all around Hard Worker from Boston, MA. A True Boston native and proud of where she derives from. LaWanda’s mother from Tampa, Florida, and father from Kingston, Jamaica give her all of her sweet and spice. LaWanda was born out of love. LaWanda is the single parent to a 10-year-old boy. She works full time as a Manufacturing Administrator ( AKA Document Lady), for a laboratory Diagnostics Company, Siemens-Healthineers. LaWanda is very well-rounded and educated. She holds one B.A. in visual arts, and two Masters Degrees in Management (MSM) and Creative Writing (MFA). LaWanda has a love for all things African and African American culture. She writes for her culture and is unapologetic about doing so. Her writing style is filled with AAVE, black anecdotes and culture. LaWanda has been writing since she could read, she always wanted to be an author. LaWanda is an inspiring novelist although she has not yet published any of her work. She plans to do so by the end of 2021.
What drew you to the Lesley MFA program and what take-aways did you have from it?
I was drawn to the MFA program because of the convenient schedule. I also was attracted to the way the curriculum was being taught. I took away so much from the program and my mentors. The experience was life-changing and eye-opening for me. I found out who I was as a writer, what style I wrote in, and that I had unique talents, and how to hone them. Each one of my mentors brought something different in me, but the two I commend the most were A.J. Verdelle — worked me to tears, and she pulled out all the stuff I was holding back — and Rachel Kadish, my last and final mentor, gave me courage. She solidified what I was about as a writer. She encouraged me to share and be heard. I am so grateful for that time, although it was tough. I miss it.
What is your writing process like? Do you have a particular routine or ritual to help you get into the writing zone?
I do not have a formal process. I write when the inspiration strikes me. I find that I write best when I am in a quiet environment and I can completely zone out. I love to write at my work desk at the end of the day.
What are some of your favorite books you’ve read in the past year?
Last year I read a few self-help books about finances and relationships, and bettering myself as an individual. I also read a few celebrity memoirs. I re-read some books I love as well. My ten-year-old son’s class had to read some work by Jason Reynolds, so my son and I read a couple of his books together.
- Mind Right, Life Right by Ash Cash
- Small Doses by Amanda Seales
- The Little Book of Big Lies by Tina Lifford
- Buck by MK Asante
- His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
- I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
- Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan
- Ghost by Jason Reynolds
- Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Why do you write and what do you like to write about the most?
I write because it has been something I love to do, since I was a child. I actually oftentimes dream about these people I do not know, and the dreams play out like a movie. Sometimes the characters from my stories come to me in dreams. I tend to write about black family, love and trials, or an African American person. I draw my stories from real life , or stories I have heard or been a part of.
Who are some of your writing inspirations?
Terry McMillan, Zora Neale Hurston, Sister Souljah, and Alice Walker.
If you could get coffee with any writer (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Zora Neale Hurston. I think she is amazing. She never let anything stop her from writing what she wanted, how she wanted. She stayed true to herself and her art, no matter what critics thought. I believe she wrote for people like me, and she was unapologetic about it. She didn’t make a lot of money, but she made a great impact.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that does not have to do with writing.
I am a Debutante. I know how to waltz and formally curtsy. I can set a table for a formal seven-course dinner. I love old black and white movies, and theatre. I am also starting a new business venture, and using my creative juices in another way…By using words and phrases on T-shirts and hoodies. I am very excited about this, and can’t wait to reveal what I have been working on.
What are you working on now? Is there anything we can promote?
Unfortunately, I haven’t been too attentive to my craft, although I think about it often. I haven’t put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard to write in a while. Before the pandemic I was writing about a 17-year-old African American teenager from Boston who is in trouble, and how he gets in and out of it. It is sort of a coming of age story. The piece is called “ Perpetrate a Lie.”