• Preparing so that I can eventually view my own short stories, poetry, et al. published as Kindle Singles.
• Rereading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to prepare for leading a class discussion. This remarkable, award-winning novel, now 60 years old, still offers up beautiful prose, brilliant insight into human behavior, and mastery of writing craft.
• Rereading Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, also in preparation for the Invisible Man discussion. Ralph Ellison acknowledged the influence of this novella, among others, in writing his own National Book Award novel.
Two authors from different cultures ask, “What is in a name?” The Irish poet Eavan Boland and the Puerto Rican playwright/poet Nancy Mercado conclude that the answer is of fundamental importance in defining one’s existence.
In her essay, “Lava Cameo,” Eavan Boland asks, “Was there really no name for my life [as an ordinary woman] in poetry?” Her search for her late grandmother helps Boland validate her “femaleness” in an otherwise largely male Irish literary tradition.
In her concluding essay to the collection What’s in a Nombre?Nancy Mercado states, “Naming is the spiritual act of living beyond the moment, of signifying something beyond the instant ….”
In both instances, each author reclaims the right to name herself and her work apart from the prevailing hegemony of gender and/or culture. In Nancy Mercado’s words, “The act of naming is rebellious; it is the expression of power over a thing or over someone ….”
It is also an affirming act. As Eavan Boland says, “I had written poems. Now I would have to enter them.”
In a perhaps less consequential way, I have renamed this blog. My literary name Judith Mercado now takes precedence over the previous title of Pilgrim Soul. This is a defining act signifying renewed focus on my literary life. I will always be a pilgrim soul, seeking and learning. This blog, however, will now focus primarily on Judith Mercado as a short story author, novelist, poet, and essayist.
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."