Detroiter Shyne Nelson has written his first book. “Things Unsaid” is a collection of poetry, essays and short stories.
“I wanted to write a book my whole life,” Nelson, 32, said. “The concept was pretty much things I had thought and things my friends had thought that they weren’t able to express in an unapologetic way. Most times the issues that you read about in the book are discussed politely. And I said to myself what if we were really transparent in our feelings and the things that we go through. So that’s where it came from.”
The process to write the book took Nelson almost seven years.
“The reason for that is I had a lot of ideas and concepts when I was younger but, to be honest, I wasn’t that confident,” said Nelson. “I thought nobody would want to hear what I had to say. I wasn’t sure of myself so I let it sit.”
But by the time Nelson turned 30, he had found his voice and sought to finish his book.
“I really wanted to complete it,” he said. “It was a life goal and I really wanted to finish it.”
Nelson initially shopped the book to publishers, but most, he said, were turned off by his bold no-holds- barred style.
“They wanted to take away some of the subjects that I graze and I really do talk about a lot of different things and the publishing company felt that the subjects were somewhat taboo or that they would be offensive to people,” Nelson said. “But I didn’t want to be watered down.”
In “Things Unsaid,” Nelson’s poetry is provocative, his essays are insightful and his short stories are just plain entertaining.
“My hope is that people see themselves in the book,” said Nelson. “I hope that people feel a justification for the feelings they’ve felt before. I want people to say, ‘no, you’re not crazy. Everybody feels like this.’ They just don’t have the strength to say it out loud.”
In one essay, “Dear Black Man,” Nelson takes on members of the African American community who see him as less than for being gay.
“There are a lot of different things going on right now with the black community and the gay community,” Nelson said. “I wrote it out of frustration. I feel like going back when you look at the story of civil rights and the contributions that Martin Luther King made you never hear about Bayard Rustin or any of the LGBT community people being in the forefront and they were. It is really frustrating for me to feel shunned by people who should consider me family.
“It bothers me when somebody who looks like me feels that I’m not their equal,” Nelson continued. “I put in the same amount of work as straight men. I have the same education. But for some reason there’s a stigma that I’m weaker. And I wanted it to be known that I’m no weaker. I’m as strong as you. You have people like me in your family. The recent incident with the guy who killed his son for being gay, that was heartbreaking. But it happens so much more in the black community than in other ethnic groups.”
Writing, Nelson said, came natural to him, and is something that he’s always done.
“I’ve been writing since I was about eight,” he said. “I guess you could say I started writing as a form of therapy. It was a way to get my thoughts out and express myself without any consequence or the fear of someone repeating what I had to say.”
Nelson is also an avid reader, with his favorite author being the late E. Lynn Harris.
“That’s my idol,” Nelson said. “I’m so sad and upset about the fact that he passed away before I was able to meet him. He’s my inspiration for being a writer. He’s one of my heroes definitely.”
When he’s not writing or reading, Nelson said his passion is record collecting.
“I’m an avid record collector,” he said. “I love records. I love to listen to them. I love to collect them. I love to shop for them. That’s pretty much it. I’m a homebody. I’m not a big club person at all. I’m not a big social person as far as big crowds and stuff like that.”
Next up for Nelson, he said he’d liked to turn “Things Unsaid” into a stage play.
“I’ve been working on some dialogue for it,” he said. “I feel that stage plays are a lost art and I want to put my people – black and gay people – on stage and tell the story.”