does not describe me fully
it is where to start
Monday, September 14, 2009
No, Grampa is not my grandfather. My grandfathers, who lived in Puerto Rico and whom I rarely met, were not Brahmin Episcopalian ministers fallen on hard times. Nor is Grampa a stand-in for my father, also a minister, albeit Pentecostal. Yet Grampa plays an outsized role in my fiction. In my novel, The Old Prophet’s House, he appears in the title though he is only a secondary character and, what’s more, he’s already dead. In the mysterious fashion in which characters, conflicts, and events sometimes appear in a novelist’s head, Grampa emerged in a story I wanted to tell and, lo, there he was, larger than life, and he never left. Recently, I even wrote a short story, taking place 19 years earlier than the novel, in which Grampa is alive, this time as the protagonist driving the story. I submitted that short story to a literary journal and have no idea whether it will be accepted for publication. We all know what the odds are. I can’t rid myself of the feeling, though, that Grampa still wants to be written about. Since my current work-in-progress novel has nothing to do with the fictional world in which Grampa first appeared, it will be interesting to see what happens. I only know that I have a vague sense that my time with Grampa is not finished.
My writing frequently explores multicultural themes. Born in Puerto Rico, I moved at a young age to the U.S., where my parents became Pentecostal ministers. Early immersion in Latino and religious cultures preceded later experiences as a businesswoman, a White House Fellow, and life aboard a trawler cruising from Martha’s Vineyard to South America. These sometimes incompatible worlds have given me a respectful outlook toward differing points of view. My short stories, poems, and essays reflect my own inclusive, yet sharply defined, journey across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. I recently published Peace on the Journey, a poetry collection which explores the theme of renewal in the face of adversity.
The defining image of this blog is a waterfall. Its inspiration comes from a scene in one of my novels in which the infant protagonist escapes her mother’s attention and wanders off to a nearby waterfall. While there, she experiences a mysterious sense of wellbeing, which she yearns to replicate for the rest of her life.
"I have made love to my writing and am now in the afterglow."
"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
About his fictional town Macondo, widely acknowledged to be inspired by his real home town of Aracataca, Colombia. “Macondo is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear."
"The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."
Blaise Pascal, Pensées
"There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and, because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly... to keep the channel open."