Time capsules and query trenches

There is a time capsule in my elementary school library.

It’s an eye sore, really. Suspended from wires that have thinned through the ages; a silver bullet the size of a calf just barely skimming the edges of where Harry Potter sits on the shelves. I don’t remember much about it, or what our teachers urged us to place inside just over twenty years ago. But it’s supposed to be opened next year, 2022. Maybe tiny Jozette was incredibly profound. Maybe she scrawled manifestations for her future career in dull red crayon. Or maybe she made an origami boat out of gum wrapper. I don’t really have any expectations on what exactly I added, but I do hope that there is some connection from past me to present. I want to be able to hold it and feel some type of recognition, some spark of absolution that yes you have gotten older and wiser—and no you didn’t grow that much.

I like to think of time capsules as these vats of crystallized catharsis. Memories that are encased in ice, and need to melt on your hands, in your minds, so that you feel what once was. In this day and age, I don’t think we necessarily need to throw some memorabilia in a shoe box and dig in our backyard. We have the internet as our soil now. And I have taken advantage of this new way to enshrine our wins and our losses, storing them away for another year to read back on and remember. I wrote a cringe-worthy blog that I shared way too much on Facebook about my study abroad experience in Greece, and I built a website with whatever leftover html; css that I remembered from college to share my professional achievements. It seemed that with any new endeavor I partook, I automatically started my own online time capsules—or in some cases, mausoleums (looking at you Gifboom). And I haven’t intended to stop. So when I decided to write a book, of course I had to document that too.

So here we go.

I typically write something extremely sappy to my future self, well aware the Pisces in her would absolutely eat it up every time. But because there may be more eyes on this one, I’ll just talk a little about me, my journey, and the current events.

My name is Jozette Allah-Mensah, I am 24 years old—and cringe every time I remember I am a quarter-of-a-century years old—and I wrote a book. I have always been a writer, and always inhaled books. Characters sat with me at lunchtime and painted my dreams. The library and the bookstore was like my second church. I loved words. And my obsession with verbosity and curiosity about the nooks and crannies of our world followed me as a Journalism graduate at my alma mater American University. I spent my days working in corporate communications and my nights writing fanfiction and I thought that was the life I was meant to lead.

And then the pandemic hit, and all of our worlds were torn asunder.

Yet again, words were my comfort. Yet again, books were my solace. They cushioned the fear that stretched across the world, and let me rest in different universes for a while. I discovered—like, REALLY discovered—Fantasy and refused to read anything else for months after. And during this time, I thought about the meaning of life. About what I was doing, and how miraculous it was to be alive in the midst of so much death. I thought about what I loved and what was keeping me from pursuing it. And it was me. I was the stop gap. And then, one evening, I was watching one of my favorite authors do an interview from some years ago, and she said—I will never forget it—“if you have a story to tell, tell it.”

So I said, okay FINE. I will.

One march morning in 2020, I took an idea that I’d had swirling in my head for TEN years and finally wrote my first line. And like a flame had fallen on kindle, my manuscript for SCORCHED was born. I can get into the MONTHS of revisions which truly felt like death and rebirth and more death and then rebirth, another time, but I had my finished manuscript ready to go in May 2021, and started querying towards the end of the month.

There’s so much I could say and write about how exhausting and special and wild and terrifying and magical this experience has been—even if it has only been like a few weeks, but amidst the rejection and the requests and the uncertainty, I am grateful. And so in June of 2021, this is my time capsule to myself. This is my shovel and stake. This is my ugly silver bullet. So that in the next twenty years, or thirty or forty (if the Earth is still alive by then) I can look back and hold these feelings. Laugh at what I didn’t know or see coming. So that I can hold that crystallized hope and let it thaw on my fingers.

Whatever come from this journey, I am grateful.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: