The Key West Experience

Just to let you know I have safely returned from Key West. What a fabulous experience! The seminar, which was themed “How the light gets in: Literature of the Spirit was indeed enlightening. To hear such distinguished poets and authors read and discuss topics like joy, compassion, gratitude, longing, resilience, and grace gave me great pause when considering my own work. Are these themes I strive to incorporate into my writing or do I just dive in with reckless abandon? At one point we were asked to consider the four gates of right speech as taught in Buddhism before putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. Do I ask myself questions about truth, necessity, kindness, and timeliness as I scribble?
What I liked best about the seminar was that the panel consisted of very well-respected highly published authors yet the commercial aspect of writing was totally absent. What I liked least was the homogeneous nature of the audience; where were the youngsters and people of color? With all this in mind, I took the first 30 pages of my latest novel “Nobody Owns the Rainbow” to Lee Smith’s workshop.
Again, it was an excellent learning experience; upbeat and refreshing with overtones of academia. But because the group was also quite homogeneous, sometimes I felt like my writing about the cross-cultural experience of island living drew suspicion. This is nothing new… even though I’ve been living and writing in Dominica for the last 20 years, I am still considered a cultural outsider by the Caribbean literary community. What to do? Simply put, I think a person has an obligation to care for whatever stories come to them until it’s time to give them away. Yah, man. That’s why I keep on writing.

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