Where great stories are told. Where storms happen but flowers bloom and strong tree seeds are planted. Some plants and trees are still coming up, and to think there’s so much more to plant. See that one right next to yours? That’s me.
My first name, Linda, means BEAUTIFUL.
My middle name, Ogundu, means to FIGHT for SURVIVAL.
My last name, Orji, means STRONG TREE.
Encountered by many storms, and yet I still stand: My seeds were planted in the concrete jungle of Bronx, NY. I believe my West African roots, Arondizuogu village to be exact, is why I never collapsed. I was 11 years old when I discovered one of my natural resources, creative writing. As I grew, so did my passion for it. I hid notebooks of poems, essays, and writing assignments in my trunk. I wrote down all my experiences, and over time my art developed. I believe it was in 2010 when I came up with the idea of putting all my creations together and turning them into something bigger than myself. But that season of my life was cold and dark. I couldn’t find enough strength to believe in myself. I was frustrated with my scratches and bruises from the many storms. I didn’t feel pretty or smart enough. My branches were broken. I compared myself to all the other trees around me, and I couldn’t understand why all of my branches had to break. How were flowers going to bloom from me? How was I supposed to be beautiful and strong?
I shared my art for the first time after the storms passed when I randomly entered a Student Essay Contest a day before the deadline. I chose to step outside the essay requirements and write it my own way, with one purpose — to be honest. I wasn’t concerned about winnings. My winnings would be that one person I inspire; that one person who feels my passion and soul through my words; that one person who feels encouraged to be their unique self, in spite of their circumstances. Weeks later, I was notified that I received honorable mention, which was far from my expectations, considering my decision to completely ignore the rules.
I made a promise to myself that from that point forward, I would do whatever it takes to use my skills to build a foundation that can help move the world forward. With the only difference that I’m going to do it the Soul Survivor Writer way. Here I am, in The Backyard, three strong tree years later, standing tall right next to you. We may have withered, but we didn’t fall.
I am Soul Survivor Writer.
Therefore, my purpose travels from my roots into my name.
Up through my soul, where it is contained.
Released onto paper, but NOT in vain.
It is for you that I endured the storms
And have broken branches that appear to many as deformed.
It is for you that I now see BEAUTIFUL.
It is for your SURVIVAL that I FIGHT.
It is for you that I now feel STRONG.