By Glenn Townes
glenn.townes@njurbannews.com

You are never too old to pursue a passion. In October, award-winning writer and acclaimed novelist Walter Mosley became the first African American man to receive the coveted National Book Award’s 2020 for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for lifetime achievement in writing. The feat is especially notable and an especially fitting tribute to the acclaimed novelist who commenced his fiction-writing career in his late 30’s and has now penned some 60 books. Perhaps, his most well-known and celebrated novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, published in 1990, was an immediate bestseller before and certainly after former president Bill Clinton flashed a copy of the book and lauded Mosley as his favorite writer during a campaign in 1992. Eventually, the book became a feature film starring Denzel Washington.”Fiction is one of the few things in the modern world in which you can make something from nothing,” Mosley said in an interview.

For Mosley, 68, who was embroiled in a bit of controversy in September 2019, when he quit as a writer on the hit CBS All Access series, Star Trek Discovery, after a dispute with executives involving the use of the N-word in a script, the cache of achievements and accolades continues. He recently signed on as an instructor with MasterClass—an online education platform based in San Francisco. The popular medium enables students to access pre-recorded tutorials from various industry experts. According to MasterClass, students will examine a thirteen lesson package highlighting Mosley’s essential tips and advice. Topics covered include plot structure, the use of strong and colorful language and dialogue, and information about how to effectively tell a story, among other things, to make it as a professional writer. According to a press release and statement from David Rogier, founder, and CEO of MasterClass said, “Throughout his impressive career, Walter has used writing to illuminate important racial issues and as a means of personal discovery.” Mosley joins an elite list of contributors to the online platform, including fellow scribes James Patterson, Judy Blume, and Margaret Atwood.
Additionally, sports stars Serena Williams and Stephan Curry; songstress Alicia Keyes and scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson are among the other luminaries that offer expert advice and tips to eager students. Of his craft, Mosley said, “Fiction is one of the few things in the modern world in which you can make something from nothing. In my MasterClass, I will show you how writing can create a whole new understanding of the world and hopefully leave you with the confidence to write your own stories.”

Lastly, in a related issue, earlier this month, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that it would honor legendary playwright August Wilson on the 2021 Black Heritage Forever stamp. Wilson was one of America’s greatest playwrights. He won a Tony Award for 1987’s Fences and two Pulitzer Prizes—for Fences and The Piano Lesson. Wilson died in 2005.

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