Chopping It Up
Chopping it up with Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie
In June, Shonda Rhimes tweeted this:
For some, this may have been their first introduction to Luvvie Ajayi, also known as Awesomely Luvvie. But, for those of us in the know, we’ve been watching Luvvie since she launched her blog ten years ago. Since 2006, she’s been dishing up cultural critiques, serving wisdom with plenty of wit, and serving the community through her non-profit, “The Red Pump Project” that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.
Now, Luvvie, whose website tagline says, “Writer. Digital Strategist. Speaker. Red Pump Rocker,” can add author to that list. Her first book, “I’m Judging You,” is coming out on September 13, and we can’t wait to read it!
Check out what Luvvie has to say about her book, what she learned about herself as a writer, and her recent big chop:
As you know, this is a hair blog, so I’m going to ask about your new hairdo first. What made you decide to cut your hair?
I felt like it was time for a change. It wasn’t even too of a laborious decision — I just felt like changing it up. I felt that I was at a different point in my life, and my locs, which I loved and still love, served me well, and I wanted something new.
On Facebook, you mentioned that after you cut your hair that so many things began happening for you, such as speaking at the White House twice. Shonda Rhimes even made a tweet about finally seeing you “arrive.” What do you think it is about the act of a woman cutting her hair that seems to signify to the universe that “I’m ready”?
It might just be the release of energy. I think that cutting your hair is a symbol of fresh starts, and I feel like it kind of resets you, it resets your energy; it makes you feel a little bit more bold, and maybe all of that just kind of invites new things into your space.
So, out of all the awesome things you’ve been doing this year, one of the biggest things happening is the release of your first book! Did you always plan to write a book, or was this something new?
I kind of knew at one point that I would write a book because when you’ve been blogging for so long, your natural next step is to write something you can print. When you’ve been writing words on the internet for a long time, there’s something about seeing your words on paper.
You are super-versatile with the number of topics you write about — everything from Scandal recaps to more serious commentary on race and politics. How did you land on the idea of “The Do Better Manual?”
So, I knew I was going to write a book; I just didn’t know what kind of book I was going to write for a long time. I talk about a lot of topics, and I can go in a lot of different directions. I wasn’t sure which one I should do first.
When I got the idea for the book, this book, “I’m Judging You,” I realized I could talk about all of that. I could do a series of essays; I didn’t have to choose one to focus on. That gave me the freedom to have fun with it, to explore and to create a book that felt like a conversation piece.
So, you said your book is a series of essays. What are some of the topics you’ll go over in your book?
It goes from tackling tough topics like racism and feminism and politics to talking about really light ones and really funny ones like “Why can’t Nigerians ever be on time?” And, things on people who are making really bad relationship decisions and you have to shake your head at them.
I really wanted people who read my blog to read my book and say, “Oh my God, this is like her blog on steroids!” People who have read it so far have said, “This is so true to you.” This book is all new content, but they’ll recognize me on paper because you’ll be like, “This is exactly what I would expect from Luvvie.”
I would imagine that writing a book is very different than writing a blog. What is the book writing process like?
Writing books intimidates people, and people are like “I could never write a book,” and I’m like, “You can!” You just have to look at it as like you’re climbing a series of hills and each chapter is a hill. I think it’s doable. Break it down into chunks, outlining and creating a proposal, so you know already what you’re going to be doing. Write exactly what you want to accomplish.
I ended up writing my book in five months, across six countries, and four continents. I was writing this book while seeing the world, and for me, it was important to travel and not let it stop my show. So, I might spend all day sightseeing, and I get to my hotel and spend two hours knocking out a chapter.
People always say, “I don’t know if I’m going to have time to write a book.” But, you’re never going to have the perfect time. You have to create space in the world you live in. It might mean one hour a day, 30 minutes a day, it might mean two hours, but you just have to figure out when to sit down and let the words flow.
When I saw the title of your book, it reminded me of the Maya Angelou quote: “When you know better, you do better.” What do you think keeps people from actually taking the steps to better themselves?
Everyone is a creature of habit. It’s hard changing habits. So, it’s like when you smoke, and you know you’re not supposed to smoke. Still, it’s like, “Dang, I know better, but it’s a habit that I can’t get rid of.”
What is the main takeaway you hope readers get from your book?
I’m hoping they’ll really understand that we just have to be better people. I’m hoping people will read this and say, “We can definitely do something to leave this world better than we found it.”
Grab Luvvie’s book wherever books are sold, and be on the lookout for a review next month!