Everyone speaks about having a purpose and calling, and for author Kennisha Griffin, hers is to point people in the direction of hope.
From nearly becoming a CIA agent, an aspiring journalist in college, a victim and survivor of sexual assault and now a mother to six children after five miscarriages, Griffin is the perfect example of the one thing she loves the most about being a writer.
In June, Griffin published her most recent book, “Put Your Pen to Paper: 20 Keys to Help You Successfully Write Your Book”, targeting writers interested in creating their own published work.
“I always tell [people], you know, your story is one that I know that encourages other people and helps them on their journeys and I believe is a big part of why we’re here is for each other,” Griffin said. “It’s not just for our own gain, you know, in this world, but to be support and be encouragement to other people.”
“I just have always found that if we can get to the point where we can truly get to know people, specifically who they are, there’s so much we can learn,” Griffin said. “See the strength, see the bravery, I see the courage. You know, we never know what another person has been through, unless we have literally walked in their shoes. And even though we may share similar experiences, we all handle it very differently. We’re all created differently, wired differently. We think differently. We love differently.”
Being a little different is something she’s embraced her whole life, including being a black woman in an interracial relationship. Married to a white man, Griffin said that it’s opened the door to not just rich conversation, but understanding too.
“We have gone places where we’ve gotten the stares, and not just from white people, but we’ve gotten stares from black people, and we’ve gotten stares from people that still seem uncomfortable,” Griffin said. “My parents never ever preached to us that as blacks, we were XYZ, where we should be extra praised and extra yadda yadda. We were always raised to love one another to love everyone to do really essentially what the Bible says right to love your neighbor. I saw it and appreciated the differences and all of us but I didn’t look at myself as less than and I didn’t look at anybody else this greater than so that was my mindset. So with that, I will say my heart honestly has just been in a place of empathy.”
Not only has her race played a part in her perspective, but being a woman as well. Mentored by women who wrote about difficult personal experiences, including abortion and sexual assault, firsthand Griffin knew the power that could come from sharing those different stories. The Louisiana native was familiar with how open vulnerability could inspire and create a common ground with a stranger.
“I also have been doing, what I call literary coaching, to help people write their books, and one young lady was writing her story. She had gone through kidnapping, and we had plenty of times during our writing sessions where she just would stop and cry and cry,” Griffin said. “And I had to remind her, ‘You made it through, and now sharing your story is really meant to help and inspire other people that find themselves in a similar position, that really need to know that you can make it out of it.’”
Looking back at being 19 and over 400 miles from home and stuck in an abusive relationship with someone who “looked like a man in shining armor but unfortunately just a monster underneath all the shine,” then turned down from a life-changing job opportunity with the CIA after months of the interview process, Griffin said that she now writes to be a reminder of perseverance.
“I had to realize that okay, if this wasn’t the thing for me, then there must be a bigger plan. There must be something else,” Griffin said. “There’s something in us, a reason that we could build and to inspire and help other people here. So I thought, well, if that’s not something for me, who am I? I hated to say ‘Yeah, I’ve got to keep on walking. I’ve got to move forward.’ I’ve got a belief that there’s something else pretty awesome that I’m supposed to do. You know, and who knew later on it would be in books.”