Member Spotlight: Brenda Black

What type of writing do you do?

I write inspirational articles, that have appeared in Christian magazines and journals. My audience is mainly women of color, and more recently, I’ve focused on interests of single women. I have also written for other’s blogs, but have yet to start a blog of my own.

What inspired you to begin writing?

I speak fairly frequently at my church, and at other events. Yet, until very recently, I would not have referred to myself as a writer or speaker. Yet, no matter how small the platform, a writer is someone who writes, and a speaker is someone who speaks. I guess I may have imagined a certain quota I needed to qualify for these titles.  Maybe I was fearful that if I called myself a speaker or a writer, someone would ask me how many TED talks I had delivered, or how many New York Times bestsellers had I written.

The Bible admonishes to despise not small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.  So even those articles I wrote for my high school and college newspapers, and the two magazine feature articles I wrote for an undergraduate class—these all are part of my small beginnings.

As an instructor of college writing and literature, I prodded my students to develop their thoughts in writing and aim for publication. “You ought to publish” was my mantra for others, while I surreptitiously excluded myself. I preferred the role of the consummate proofreader and editor.

It has only been in the last year or so that I have accepted that God expects me to be a responsible steward of everything that He has given me. That includes getting serious about writing.

It’s much easier for me to promote others than to take on the responsibilities of actually producing something myself. Yet as I pray and study what God says about fruitfulness, it becomes clear that He expects me to be a producer—not just a consumer of what others write.

I love to read good writing. I love authors who have what I refer to as an anointing on what they write. Their writing makes my spirit sing. I get excited, motivated, encouraged—inspired. And that’s the kind of writing I believe God is calling me to do.

Who are your favorite authors and why? What are you reading now?

My favorite authors are those from the Harlem Renaissance, like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, and Jessie Fauset. It’s hard to fathom how African Americans, so soon after slavery, could blossom and produce such noteworthy contributions to American literature and culture.

These literary contributions capture and depict the amazing strength and dignity of black people, in America and abroad, as they endured and transcended slavery and a multiplicity of injustices.

Right now, I’m reading Lysa Terkeurst. For my money, no one does a better job of modeling practical Christianity for the 2lst century woman. She’s authentic. She’s transparent. She’s true to God’s Word. She makes herself so vulnerable, baring her soul to her readers. Her writing represents a true sacrifice.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

What is your writing dream?  What are you working on now?

My dream is to chronicle the lives of my foremothers, through four generations, ending with my own memoir.  Lalita Tademy’s Cane River  confirmed the feasibility of what I want to write—the lifestories of my mother, grandmother, great-grand-mother, and great great grandmother, who was full Cherokee.

I’m currently writing my memoirs, memories of my life—just as they come to mind, in no recognizable pattern or order. I’ll leave the task of organizing for a later time, or for somebody else.

What would you like most to share with other Christian writers?    

 I would share with other Christian writers, Moses’ plea to God in Exodus 33:15: Then Moses said to Him, “if Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

What this verse says to me is that, if we are to have any chance of success in representing Christ in our writing, we had better be sure we have Christ, His Presence, His Anointing with us. Yet, let’s not forget His challenge to us that if we present the sacrifice, He will provide the Fire. We have to give God something to work with, something for Him to bless. This requires the 3 D’s, direction from God, devotion to our craft, plus discipline of our time and energies. I believe that when throughout the process, we pray for God’s guidance and blessing on our writing efforts, He will prepare the hearts of our readers, and the fire will happen.

Brenda Black

Brenda Black taught college writing and literature for 34 years. As a Navy spouse for twenty-seven years,she counseled wives and championed support networks for Navy families challenged by the sailor’s sea duty. Now in retirement, she ministers at her church as an elder, overseeing activities to encourage connection and support among women. Her outreach ministry includes mentoring innercity youth and teen moms. She also speaks and presents workshops at churches, conferences, and retreats.

She is married to Barry Black, Chaplain of the US Senate, and they reside in northern Virginia. The Blacks have three adult sons.

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