It’s a long story, so here’s the short version: I am Tracey-Ann Wisdom—born again child of God, writer and editor of words, future bestselling author, avid romance novel reader, tea drinker, cat lady, wannabe singer and dancer, couch potato sports analyst, Lupita Nyong’o stan, and Misty Copeland enthusiast.
Now for the details: I was not given a middle name when I was registered (thanks a lot, Daddy 😒), so I have informally adopted ‘Alayo’ for that purpose. I’m telling you this because you will see it on my profiles and I don’t want you to wonder who the heck that is and if I’ve been hacked. Alayo is a Yoruba (Nigerian) name, meaning ‘one with joy,’ and I am growing into it more and more each day. It was initially ‘Alaiyo,’ from A Raisin in the Sun, which is said to loosely translate to ‘one for whom bread is not enough.’ However, I’ve since learned from actual Yoruba folks that Lorraine Hansberry lied to us all, as no such name exists.
I grew up on the nerdy side of the classroom (front row centre), an unabashed teacher’s pet and quivering bully magnet. My head was always in a book, even my grandmother’s Mills & Boon collection that was under the bed in an orange hard shell grip (that’s a suitcase, for the young’uns.) When I wasn’t reading, I was writing, and I was very good at it. My Grade 4 teacher thought my mother was doing my homework, and I was something of a star in my high school classes for my weekly teen romance installments. The Sweet Valley books were all the rage back then, and you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t Jamaica’s very own Francine Pascal. I’d probably facepalm reading them now though.
All the same, I never considered writing as a ‘profession’ – it was simply something I loved to do, and I struggled to define a career path at the crucial fifth form/sixth form stage. I eventually entered the University of the West Indies, Mona, as an English major, but about halfway through the first semester, I decided to go for what I truly wanted and sharpen the instrument I’d been given with the right training. I nervously sat the rigorous CARIMAC entrance test the next semester, and learning that I had passed was one of the happiest moments of my life. I may or may not have cried.
Since graduating in 2008, I’ve spent more than nine years in the communications industry, working in traditional media – The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, new media -eMedia Interactive Group Limited, book publishing and public relations. I consider myself a journalist first and foremost, even when I’m not working in the media. I guess you can’t take the training out of the girl. Visit my LinkedIn profile for more details.
I am currently engaged as a proposal writer for a Big Four international accounting firm and I’m also an independent content contractor, if you will. A mouthful, yes, but I eschew the term ‘freelancer’ as some people take the first syllable of that word a bit too literally for my taste. And for my bills.
I love to tell stories, and I love to soak in the words of other storytellers even more. So, in between writing projects, my favourite thing to do is get lost in something from the growing collection of novels, memoirs and self-help guides that I can’t resist purchasing whenever I am in the vicinity of a book store. Coupled with my exploding Kindle ebook collection, I have enough reading material to last… about three months, if I decide to forego sleep and work. I am kind of the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of speed reading.
I have a bit of a magazine habit as well, particularly when it comes to Essence. It was the December 2002 issue of that magazine, featuring Halle Berry in the afterglow of her Oscar moment, that gently planted the seed that I could and should become a journalist.
I also mentioned that I’m an author. Short stories are currently my focus, and I’ve won two silver medals and a bronze JCDC Creative Writing Competition. Up next, gold! (And the prize money o!) My first story was loosely inspired by my (mis)adventures of ‘shopping while fat’ for a white dress for my UWI graduation. My ambition is to become not only a bestselling author but a Nobel Laureate one day.
I’ve been blogging on and off since about 2007. You can check out some of my more recent musings at write-overthink-rewrite.blogspot.com. I decided to officially plant my flag in this little corner of the World Wide Web to tell my own stories, from my personal life and experiences, and those of some of the cool, brave, wonderful and inspiring people I know – the stuff I don’t normally get to write about for work purposes.
So, whether you’ve read all of this or just skipped to the end, thanks for checking in. (I told you it was a long story.) Pull up a chair, grab your drink and a snack, and take this journey with me.
– T. Wis