I bust out with Alicia Keyes’ hook THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE in the grocery store, my car, the office, wherever.

This girl is on fire
This girl is on fire
She’s walking on fire
This girl is on fire

It’s my theme song. Love Alicia Keyes, always have. Whenever anyone asks, “Beyonce or Alicia?” it’s always Alicia.

The “Girl On Fire” lyrics are motivation for anyone looking to accomplish something, overcome something, make a change. It’s motivational. Being a girl on fire myself, I very much relate to the song, which happens to be the theme song from the “Hunger Games” movie.

The song and the movie remind me of my vision, purpose and drive to Create West Virginia. Surely you’ve seen the movie by now, or read the book. My son told me about Katniss, the heroine of the story, and the how it is set in West Virginia long before the movie. He said, “Mama, her Daddy dies in a coal mine. I think this is West Virginia.” He was right. Katniss’ home – the rural and desperately poor District 12 – is set in in Appalachia. It’s distinctly West Virginia, my home. It’s a place filled with good people struggling to survive when it feels like everything is stacked against them.

katnissOh, she got both feet on the ground
And she’s burning it down
Oh, she got her head in the clouds
And she’s not backing down

Just as District 12 has little in its favor, the odds always seem stacked against us. Yet, my head is always in the clouds, believing. Believing, specifically, that West Virginia has brighter days ahead. Katniss goes to great lengths to take care of her mother and sister. I know a little something about this. When my Mamma went to work at 4 a.m. at the chemical plant, I dressed my sisters and then took them to school. I had lots of motherly responsibilities at a young age, just like Katniss.

Let’s be honest. The odds are really not in my favor of “surviving” in West Virginia given that my ambitions are to write, produce and create businesses.

Nobody knows that she’s a lonely girl
And it’s a lonely world

It is lonely. But sang, Alicia, sang … because

katniss with bnowEverybody stands, as she goes by
Cause they can see the flame that’s in her eyes
Watch her when she’s lighting up the night

I know that, like Katiniss, I have perfected a few skills. She draws a bow. And me? I bring to the table creativity. It feeds my family. What’s special about Katniss is that she doesn’t want to lose the essence of who she is. This is my prayer. Don’t let me forget where and what I come from. Don’t let me forget my Mamma’s hardhat and coveralls. Don’t let me fall in love with a man with soft hands.

I wonder about this idea of “forgetting where I’m from” as I start to shape my book with editors. They want to re-style me and create a platform that will sell books. I’m told time and again that I can’t get national work if I “lead” with West Virginia. I get it. But I want to fight it, too, because this place IS me.

Katniss’ goal isn’t to win hearts but to save her own life and that of her family. She does what’s necessary, but I have to win hearts. Katniss doesn’t want you to love her and doesn’t care if you do. She just wants her family safe and fed and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. I have to make people care about West Virginia in order to feed my family. To live, here.

Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you’ll never forget her name
She’s on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

There is a flame in me that cares about Appalachia, loves West Virginia, and believes sincerely that I can – that we can – win. She’s just a West Virginia girl … but she’s on fire. If your reading this, I bet you are too.

Burn, baby, burn baby.

Check out Crystals book of poetry Valley Girl: www.crystalgood.net/store