Our “Working Girl” this week is Wayétu Moore — a freelance writer and founder of One Moore Book; a boutique publisher of multicultural children’s books. One Moore Book is family-run and publishes culturally sensitive and educational stories for children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures.
Name: Wayétu Moore
Location: Brooklyn, NY
How did you get started?
I was very much an introvert as a child. We were new immigrants and at about age eight, my Dad bought me a typewriter after he noticed that writing was helping me to break out of my naturally shy, introverted shell. When I started to write, I felt more free and happier so my parents just encouraged that any way they could. From that point on, I’ve always been a writer – I was an actor for a while when I started college – but writing was always been present. It’s always been one of the constants in my life. Writing, I feel, happened rather organically, although I still ask myself: “Do I really want to make a career out of writing? Maybe I should go to law school or do I ever see myself going back into acting?” So it’s a process and it’s still happening right now – realizing that I want to be a writer. As for publishing, I love my company but my goal is to one day have some one run it for me so I don’t see that as my life path. Becoming a publisher was a way for me to combat this sort of homogenous tendency and tradition of the larger literary canon. When you are a Black writer, when you are an African writer, when you are a woman writer, there are expectations; and so starting my company was a result of being exposed to those expectations and immediately not liking them. It was like a statement to say, “We can have control of our stories”.
What’s an average day like?
I wake up around 7am on most days–6 on a really busy day and decide if I will be working from home or a neighborhood café. As soon as that’s decided I will work through the day until around 2pm–writing, editing or coordinating something or other–before taking a break. My breaks this year have been incredible. I visit museums, galleries, take classes, meet up with friends or just take long walks with the intention of getting lost. During my early to mid twenties I was an extreme, unrelenting workaholic and I had fun, but the work-to-fun ratio was unbalanced. Now that I’m getting a bit older I realize the importance of smelling the roses. I do that in at least one way, every day, and because of that decision I am the happiest I have ever been. By the time I get home–usually around 8pm–my mind is clear and I have new inspiration to work again. My evening sessions have no schedule. I stop when I fall asleep.
Why do you do it?
I love it! Storytelling has always been something that’s interested me across multiple platforms. In terms of the gratification I get? I don’t know, it feels natural to me – it feels like what I should be doing. I was raised in a very white homogenous Texan town, so everything I wanted to know about my culture, everything I wanted to know about black people… you know, the truth about the Diaspora, I had to research. In doing so, that encouraged a natural interest in Diaspora studies and finding out the truth and exposing that truth. Being someone from African descent in a homogenous town for so long you develop a desire to be the truth teller.
Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:
Lack of time. I primarily work as a freelance technical writer which is what pays my bills. This includes grant-writing and web content management for various companies. And then there’s running the company and wearing many hats at One Moore Book. I’m also a creative writer. I’m always writing and submitting to publications and of course I’m still working on my novel so time, for me, is definitely scarce.
Your greatest achievement to date?
Publishing a book by one of my favorite writers, Edwidge Danticat.
Any advice for young women looking to break into writing/publishing?
Do it every day. Write every single day. Also, learn to censor those you let into your inner circle. My mom told me that recently and it spoke to me. Opening up to the wrong people or to too many people is not wise. Getting to know people is great–we are all so complex and beautiful. However, everyone you “get to know” does not have to eventually become your best friend. Establish sound relationships with people and do right by them; but your “inner circle,” those who know you–guard that like you guard your heart. Knowing your dreams and connecting with you in a deep and spiritual way should be a privilege given to few. After you, your inner circle has the most power in determining the course of your life. Getting bad advice, heeding bad advice can be your downfall.
What might be next for you?
I am working with an agent who I respect and admire on my first novel. I hope to sell it in the next couple years but I don’t feel rushed or pressured. I am really enjoying spending time with my characters, editing, re-writing and fine tuning my craft. This experience is a blessing.
What are your top 5 hair tips?
- This is no secret, but every once in a while I condition my hair with raw eggs. The protein is a great treatment.
- I love Shea Moisture products. They are all-natural and leave my hair feeling and smelling great.
- Don’t be governed by anybody’s perception of how you should grow or wear your hair. I am growing my natural hair but at any point in time I may decide to wear a weave or wig. I like to switch it up and I think it’s unfair when women criticize each other for relaxing their hair or wearing extensions. When my non-ethnic friends chemically treat their hair with color, or even bleach it, people don’t shake their heads and assume they hate themselves. The same should apply for women with naturally curly hair. Relaxing your hair or wearing weaves does NOT mean that you hate yourself or hate being black. Your freedom to explore the many faces of your femininity is your right.
- Pin curls work just as well as curling irons and are a great alternative to heat.
- I drink a LOT of water. It’s essential to healthy hair and skin.
Fun Fact: One of Wayétu’s earliest published works on the typewriter that her father gave her was a poem she wrote in the 4th grade called “We Need A Change.” It was published in the Texas Anthology of Young Poets.