Meet February’s Woman. Warrior. Writer. Nana-Ama Danquah!
How did you come to author your life?
I was a freelance writer for a newspaper. My editor and I would talk from time to time and somehow he would always manage to find a jewel of a story in the personal anecdotes I shared with him. He’d tell me to write it, then he’d publish it. Until one time when, after struggling to write, at his urging, about something deeply painful and personal, he killed the article. “This should be a book,” he told me. “Keep writing.” But I didn’t. I didn’t believe anyone wanted to know about the challenges I’d faced. So my editor sent the pages to an agent, who also encouraged me to keep writing. She then sold those pages that I’d written as an article to a publisher, and then I thought that maybe some people really did care about a Black woman’s journey through depression, so I committed myself to writing the memoir. And that experience taught me the importance of telling one’s story—because, first and foremost, it will free you; and, also, you never know what impact your story, and the power you hold as a free person, will have on others.
Nana-Ama Danquah, a native of Ghana, is author of the groundbreaking memoir, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression (W.W. Norton & Co.) and editor of four anthologies: Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women (Hyperion); Shaking the Tree: New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women (W.W. Norton & Co.); The Black Body (Seven Stories Press); and, Accra Noir, which is part of Akashic’s popular noir series. Ms Danquah has also worked as a celebrity ghostwriter, political speechwriter, and creative writing instructor. She lives in Southern California.