Another Author of the Month at MyShelf.Com
Author of the Month
Olga Samples Davis [May 2004]
Chosen by Lynda Lukow, MyShelf.Com
I had the pleasure of interviewing Olga Samples Davis, author of Things My Mama Told Me: The Wisdom That Shapes Our Lives, last month for MyShelf's Have You Heard?! column. In the following continuation of that interview, I asked her more about her life's journey, especially her path into the publishing world. I hope you find her words as inspiring as I have.
Lynda: You honored your mother by writing Things My Mama Told Me. How would you encourage others to honor the people who have positively affected their lives?
Olga: Everyone has the ability to honor another by telling their stories – by empowering others with the narratives of these role models and soul models. Documenting their stories in print is another way to give special consideration and credit. One can also honor these walking libraries of wealth with invitations to speak aloud their experiences.
Lynda: From the reflections in your latest work, it's easy to see you have followed your own advice and learned from the village around you. Do you think the loss of community affects today's children?
Olga: It is my belief that our children will suffer from not having that intoxicating oxygen of many loving and responsible mothers and fathers caring for them in a safe haven of community. Just like no one person can be everything for you, so it is with parents needing the help of others to keep their children on the right path.
Lynda: And that is so difficult in today's society. One of the stories that touched me deeply is the account of your bigoted professor. Your poise while dealing with him awed me.
Olga: I had a Mama who taught me to rise above negative situations -- to especially prove bigots to be wrong. Times of challenge are "wake-up-calls" to do better and pray harder.
Lynda: You have a beautiful, patient soul. Are there any situations that test your tolerance?
Olga: Oh yes! I am impatient with "joy-robbers"; I am even more impatient with myself when I when I allow them to linger too long in my life -- or when I can't outrun them!
Lynda: I love your positive outlook and the humor throughout Things My Mama Told Me. Is laughter is the best medicine?
Olga: Laughter is indeed a healing stream. I truly believe it becomes the best possible medicine when embraced by love!
Lynda: It's obvious you love sharing your words with others. How would you describe "writing"?
Olga: Writing has been a good friend to me: a guide, an emancipator, a counselor, a passion, a necessary means for washing dirt from the soul. I have always "created" freedom for myself through words and pictures.
I have also loved working with visual artists; over the years, they have graciously incorporated my work in their exhibits. Such collaborations force you to stretch yourself beyond imagination.
Lynda: Are you a disciplined writer?
Olga: After prayers, I give myself the gift of words. I write everyday and everywhere.
Lynda: Do you work on one project until it's completed or do you work on several undertakings simultaneously?
Olga: Often I work on several projects at one time. Things My Mama Told Me was different; I pushed aside everything that was not urgent to work on this manuscript.
Lynda: Would you care to share your observations on the publishing world? How much difficulty did you encounter getting your works published? How did you handle rejection slips?
Olga: I have learned so very much about myself and the publishing world through the birthing of Things My Mama Told Me. For the most part, I am a rather easygoing, laid back person who loves to create art at a relaxed pace. The publishing world is fast paced. When I signed on, I was challenged to create a new tune and tempo for myself -- to dance to a much livelier beat. It has been wonderful and exhausting at the same time.
As for works published, each time that I have had
that opportunity to see my work in print, it was truly God sent. Others
worked on my behalf. I am not sure if their belief in my work came from
one of the hundreds of readings or performances they may have witnessed,
our common caring of community, or our shared love of the word. I do know
that I have been blessed to be loved by a community of hearts. I am profoundly
And those rejection slips?...hooray for rejection slips! They are badges of honor that move you one step closer to your publishing goal. They are "encouragers" -- beckoning you to prove the nonbelievers wrong.
Lynda: Do you have any other words of wisdom for budding authors?
Olga: Read great books! Write your truths everyday! Speak your wondrous words to whomever you can, whenever you can, and wherever you can!
Most of all, volunteer your gift of words to your community. Be brave enough to joyfully share with the young and old, the forgotten and the disabled, the weak and the poor -- anyone who will listen. Every person and every group has a lesson to teach. Every second you write, read, and share brings you lovingly closer to your authentic voice.
Lynda: I read at your website that you now have the courage to think of yourself as an artist. Why do you believe that classification requires courage and how did you finally come to accept it?
Olga: I come from a background that honored all forms of art; nevertheless, I remember hearing more than a few times, "Art may make you happy, but it doesn't always pay the bills". Monetary responsibility was-- and is – a must in my family. That regular paycheck for a beginning artist is rare.
It took courage for me to rewrite that preliminary life script and honor the heart of who I am now -- and to fully believe that art will pay the bills.
My Mama Told Me
Between the covers of Things My Mama Told Me lay the most profound advice our generation can learn and share. The guidance is often tender, sometimes tough, but always loving. Ms. Davis addresses virtues such as, but not limited to truth, compassion, generosity, faith and integrity. Vices such as evil, pride and discrimination are handled honestly. The guidance on life events including parenting, education, marriage, death, grief and many more is excellent. Each topic is prefaced by an easy to remember adage, which is followed by a reflection that supports the wisdom.
Mamaisms: A word coined by author Olga Sample Davis to describe the mini-sermons imparted by her mother-and loving mothers everywhere. Ms. Davis should consider having posters of the adages printed; I'd decorate my house with the inspirations. I highly recommend this book to parents who seek validation that they're on the right path or need reminders of the important lessons their children must learn. I'd also recommend Things My Mama Told Me to people who, for whatever reason, never received the guidance of a loving elder. If we all heeded-and shared-Mama's counsel, a kinder world would be within our grasp.
2004's Honorary List