Sculpting Life Above Average
Raye Mitchell is the founder of the New Reality Foundation, Inc., and CEO at the Winning Edge Institute Inc. She is a power and influence expert, attorney, author, speaker and activist. Mitchell is a member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund network providing legal support for women and girls affected by harassment. Mitchell has received national acclaim for her work mentoring women and girls of color to beat the odds and excel as leaders.
Mitchell is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California (USC), the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy (B.S.) and the USC Marshall School of Business (MBA). She is a native of Los Angeles, California.
She is committed to being part of the amazing journey and united efforts to help young Black women and girls assert their power and their presence. For far too long their voices have been muted, their stories ignored and their experiences have been rendered invisible. Mitchell wants to help build bridges and lend to a positive effort to find peace and common ground based on mutual respect, equality and share visions of justice and inclusion.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing is pure energy and delight. I am free, engaged and determined to get that story out no matter what happens in the process. It’s an adrenaline rush to the max.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Romance novels. If forced to write a romance novel, I would die. I don’t like romance movies, novels, or short stories. It is such an irony since I am a hopeless romantic.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
See above. It would be torture to make me read a romance-based book or watch a romance movie. Nope. I won’t do it. (But then again, I said I would never eat kale and drink that green juice smoothie thing, and yet, I just downed one for lunch today. Yum!)
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything what would it be?
“Self-sometimes you need to just write the stuff and figure out how to fix it later. Just spit it out for goodness sake.”
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing that first book has encouraged me to reach for more and more. It is like the addiction has set it, and I won’t go to rehab because I like my new addition and it is a healthy addiction for me.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I was the big girl, the fat kid, the one that did not fit into anybody’s notion of average. But, I was also the smart Black girl who had a grandmother that said your size would not define your worth or your future, but you need to speak up and speak out and love yourself in the process. It took a while before I found my voice of self-acceptance and learned how to use the power of language and self-acceptance to build a world where I felt good about me regardless of size, skin color, or being the smart Black girl.
I am writing my next book on the power of language and words to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. Over 76% of cases of workplace harassment are not reported. Harassers count on silence and they count on us not using the power of language and words to prevent sexual harassment and or hold them accountable when they do harass.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I loved Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair. It was refreshing to read a “coming of age” book about a young Black girl.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success for me will be when I am in a position to make my books and works accessible to young women and girls around the world so that they can feel included, spoken to and spoken about in a favorable manner. I really want young Black women and girls to celebrate their unique stories and life experiences, and if (when) I reach such a platform, I will feel that the pleasure I receive from writing is also delivering pleasure and encouragement to others.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
If I did not dedicate my energy to making a living on “the right side,” i.e., my creative energy as a writer, I would turn to my second passion (which I am pursuing) to build a health and wellness platform for ‘above average-sized women’ who want to be fit and be engaged athletes without the industry shaming or focus on size or weight loss as the only measure of fitness. I am a bodybuilder, have great physical strength and endurance regardless of my size.
I started to share my personal story on my blog www.RayesJourney.com to encourage other women and girls, of all sizes to reject stereotypes about body size, beauty, and other notions of who can be an athlete or be fit.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I celebrate good reviews and keep a healthy perspective on bad reviews. I write for my audience, and not everyone will get my point of view. That is okay for me.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Well, if pressed, I would give up the kale and spinach juices. Otherwise, I think to be a better writer; I want to limit the number of ‘courses’ and workshops that I attend each year. By this, I mean, I want to continue to learn, but I think I would find a few trusted sources and stick with them for consistency. As a writer, there is so much content out there telling you ‘how to be a better writer,’ that you end up over-consuming. Instead of creating a delicious gumbo of learning tidbits, you end up with a hot mess of conflicting concepts.
The real world of writing learning tools could be like the mystery basket on an episode of Chopped from the food network channel where you make try to make something good out of a bundle of strange ingredients. To succeed on Chopped, all you need are the basic skills so you do not get bogged down by the ingredients in the basket.
Hear our podcast featuring Dr. Raye Mitchell with host C. Stene Duckworth