[Interview] Award-Winning Author Charron Monaye Speaks On Overcoming Adversities, Taking Ownership and More
Despite what is highlighted on social media, we are all just trying to figure out this thing called life. At times, we may get caught up in the hype by trying to be picture perfect without seeking healthy ways to dealing with hardships, but at the end of the day, we get to decide whether we will take the opportunity and grow, or whether we will let our adversities consume us.
Bill Moyers once said, “Freedom begins the moment you realize someone else has been writing your story and it's time you took the pen from his hand and started writing it yourself.” For Philly native Charron Monaye, writing played a big part in her healing process. After overcoming multiple life-altering anxiety attacks, Charron had to learn how to give her pain a voice while not blaming herself in the process. She had to remove toxicity, manage overwhelming financial setbacks, and muster up the strength to leave an unhealthy marriage, all while raising her children. In the midst of it all, Charron Monaye adapted a new sense of survival while opening up about losing everything, and finding peace in the process.
To find her voice, power, and strength, she released her first book of poetry, My Side of the Story, in 2010 under Purposeful Publishing, LLC. It was a transparent tale about her marriage and divorce, that later transformed into a stage play entitled Living Your Life and featured in the Black Theater Festival in Washington D.C. with actress D’atra Hicks.
The award-winning playwright and author now owns a literacy coaching company called Pen Legacy, where she advocates for individuals and entrepreneurs to share their stories through writing, authorship, and publishing.
We recently got a chance to chat with Monaye about the power of taking ownership, overcoming adversities and much more. Check out the full interview below:
Did you always see yourself pursuing this as a career?
This started out as therapy. Writing for me was a way of release because I always thought -- and still do -- that my feelings and emotions were not important to people. It was almost like if someone asked you, “Hey, how you are today?” If I responded to them honestly, would they care? So, instead of sharing my truth, I wrote it. It wasn’t until 2008 that my writing became a means of income.
Based off your story, I can tell your journey is a product of turning your pain into your passion. What steps did you take to overcome your adversities?
I shared my adversities through my writings. Remember, I speak through paper. So, I wrote my feelings. I cried on the paper, yelled on the lines, and published the final product so the world can know they are not alone. I, also, prayed for a new narrative daily and changed my life, mindset, relationships, and finances so when God was ready to bless me, I was ready to receive.
But, most importantly, I downloaded into my spirit that no matter what, I was bigger than my adversities. Positive vibes and loving words gave me the motivation and confidence to push through my pain, my brokenness, and my debt towards a life that I love to wake up to.
How do you balance being an author and coach while working on your personal brands/projects?
Simple. Don’t overbook and only take on projects that connect to the overall brand and message. When I keep every assignment in alignment, they all tend to work themselves out. Being an author and a coach is literally me sharing and teaching what I know and love. So, it’s just like having a conversation.
My personal brand is my writing and being an author, so I am always writing. Therefore, I don’t necessarily need to balance. God seems to give me more hours a day to get it all done.
I noticed from your website that you teach 3-6 month coaching classes. Why do you think it’s important to give back to those aspiring to be writers or entrepreneurs in general?
For me, I give what I wish I had when I first started. When I started to monetize my writing, I was broke, unemployed, going through a divorce, and facing eviction. I did not have money to learn how to do this business stuff the right way, and nobody was willing to teach me without a paid invoice. So, for me, I give away a lot of paid and FREE information because I know how it feels to have a dream, be desperate for help, and fail because you don’t know. So, my coaching services help to give those who are new or out of ideas, the opportunity to learn from me, grow with me, or pick my brain reasonably.
In regards to your profession, what has been the biggest piece of advice anyone has given you?
"Money is not the mission!"
Far too often, I see people motivated in business to get money. They chase it. Lose their self-esteem for it. Sell their soul just to get it. Now don’t get me wrong, money is required. However, the reason why I am whole today is not because of money -- I am still broke, though (HA) -- but because of the blessings I receive. Operating for blessings instead of dollars will not only give you longevity, but it will offer you grace, favor, and consistent work. Like right now, I have 8 new authors publishing under my publishing house. In addition, I’m producing my third play that is premiering in Hollywood in October, publishing my 12 books, writing songs for my son’s upcoming EP, coaching clients, and adapting my play into a screenplay so we can prepare for filming in 2019. That is favor, not finances.
What is your creative process like when putting together a play like Get Out of Your Own Way? In other words, what’s that initial first step?
Before I write anything, I go through a “why” process. Why am I writing this? Who will it serve? I am not the kind of writer who writes because I can. I have to write for a purpose. So, I go through the “why” process. Next, I develop the message, create the characters, and go into prayer, asking God to connect me to the characters and storyline. Once I am connected and find that personal relationship, then I write it.
Now, when I wrote Get Out of Your Own Way back in 2013, that message was for me. I wrote that play to coach myself through my own personal setbacks. But, it wasn’t until 2017 that the play received the green light to premiere. I wrote the play but was not living what I wrote. So, it sat in my laptop until I became what I wrote and was able to not just tell the story, but give the testimony.
In your opinion, what are 3 things someone needs to do to start taking ownership of their life?
- Accept the real person they see in the mirror.
- Acknowledge their failures, flaws, imperfections, and love them all, and
- Speak their truth
What’s next for you and the Pen Legacy brand as we move through 2018?
The play Get Out Of Your Own Way will premier in Hollywood, California, October 5-7th. Tickets are available now at http://www.charronmonaye.com/events/. Also, stay tuned for all of the new authors that will release their books via my publishing company, http://penlegacy.com/shop/. As for me, I will be focusing on getting this film in theaters and my son’s EP in stores. Also, in 2019, my oldest son, Chris, graduates high school, and my youngest, Craig, graduates from the 6th grade. So, I am not just a productive business owner. I am a busy and proud mom!