The Caribbean-Writer? Vol. 1
As a writer, I’ve always been preoccupied with what the Caribbean-writer writes.
I don’t despise the hyphenated way I see my writer.
Honestly, I have never imagined writing for writing sake, or as something I’ve had to do to be whole, but rather something I could do to contribute to the whole.
I am not alltogether altruistic, this is just a thought-pattern that is as familiar as the need to put pen to paper (and yes I still write everything longhand first).
I’m working out the kinks of this thinking as I write here, but I remember the first time I attempted novel-writing, and here again, I mean that as the double entendre it pretends to be.
The setting was of course, a trajectory of island home that moves Columbus-like over an unknown expanse of water with thoughts of conquering in mind i.e. my own inhibitions, fears and perceived limitations.
And the destination? Why the only place where conquering could work naturally—Mother England. I had learned at her feet after all, so like the best of them, there was an inkling that I could endeavor to be worthy of her stamp of approval.
This is somewhat strange, considering that the one I most aspired to, was not Oxford-educated, but strung across a faulty phone line leading to another gray place—New York City. And through a series of happy-accidents (she might never prefer my phrasing and that would be as it should be) and what not, she did what she could do, and I have enjoyed the fruits of that labor.
Yet, she was so unique, that I imagined that mold to be broken (by God) and certainly not a thing to be duplicated, and there again, never in the way of the plagiarist. But in a manner of ‘this is the channel.’ Since we all, who are here, have faced that channel, even if we were not allowed passage.
And so I worried my writer and her message. Worried her to the point where she refused to talk to me, and yet I felt her—too close not to know that she still cared. Did I say that I was sorting this out as I wrote? Thank God this space is somewhat a labor of love. Who would ever pay to read any of it?
The one thing that has kept me writing, in this not-so-beautiful state of limbo, is the thought that I always wanted to go back.
Let me explain myself.
Every Caribbean writer I know and love, seems to write from that place of exile. It is as if to write, they had to leave—whether on their own recognizance or another’s. I not only wanted to toy with the ‘what if’ of staying, but I wanted to work and play in that landscape of returning and sprouting new roots.
But then again, it all feels like exile, because I am giving writing in-place credence, and writers need be free.
If only in their mind. If only in that sound place where Brother Bob sang of as diatribe—freedom is a principal thing.
So, I write on my knees, as passenger, as driver, in church, on my answering machine, in a voice memo, in morning pages, in my hand, on the inside of my arm, online, on post-its, in word and indeed.
I still think it’s a delightfully agile exercise to wonder, mull over and chew my cod on what the Caribbean-writer writes, but I’ve discovered that I am so much more.
More Caribbean. More writer. More woman. More determined. More everything. Much more than I could have ever imagined.
I will never just write anything for the sake of writing—not the appropriate thing, not the required thing, not the right or wrong thing.
I will write what is necessary for my writer to live and write again.
Dasheen Magazine is all about that place ‘where culture feeds imagination.’ It is both motivation and challenge.
Are you a writer? Creative? What kinds of challenges and motivations have you encountered in pursuing your craft?
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