typewriterflowerHi again everyone. I am back! And I am so excited that my blog  site is now up, looking the way I want it to and ready to roll!  I can’t wait to share my stuff. I am looking forward to getting all my followers back in line and making new connections. Yes, I am now going to do the Twitter thing, so click away and head on to my other links, add me and spread the word! And thank you for all your support, comments …keep them coming.

I will be sharing some of my old stuff from my previous site, so some of you will recognize them. But nothing wrong with a re-read! When it’s nice, do it…as often as you like!

Reading at St George’s University

Reading picSounding off on Creole Grenada Days 12
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Lisa Allen-Agostin

Last Wednesday I wrapped the official activities of my writing residency with a gala reading at the St George’s University campus. It was the culmination of my service activities here. I felt especially proud when Grenadian writer Cindy McKenzie took the stage to read an excerpt from her manuscript Force Ripe. Cindy had been one of five participants in my intensive workshop for writers of intermediate to advanced prose fiction. The workshop ran weekly throughout March.

Cindy came to the workshop with her work at an already advanced stage. It is a novel about a girlchild coming of age during the Revolution, and includes some extraordinary details of life in Grenada during the 70s and 80s. I am hoping it will soon find a publisher and everyone will have a chance to read it themselves. One of Cindy’s concerns is that the whole manuscript is written in Grenadian Creole. While I (of course) don’t object to it, she’s encountered some resistance from other readers. It’s a question that has come up in nearly every workshop I’ve done here over my residency: how to navigate the use of Caribbean creoles in our writing. As someone who wrote a weekly column in Trinidad Creole for some years, I have to come down on the side of using the language.

This writing thing

typewriterflowerWrite, write write. It’s what I want to do and to get really good at. But it is difficult. All good writers say it’s difficult there. I said it!And sometimes I have to make myself do it – sit myself down somewhere, and actually put words down on paper, and other times it just comes, it flows and I just go with it. But my writing is all over the place – literally all over the place in all different notebooks, diaries, much like my thoughts and my life really. I write this and that, here and there. And I really enjoy doing it. When people ask what I do, I say I do a little bit of writing. In fact I do lots of writing, yet, I don’t feel qualified to call myself a writer, simply because I don’t have any MAs or BAs against my name. I kept putting my writing down; measuring myself against other writers. Who told you you could be a writer? I kept questioning myself. Recently the writing tutor of my Memoir writing class commented – ‘I think you have the gift of writing or so it seems: you naturally tell a story and have a voice and a point of view’ and later, reassuringly said, ‘I remind you: you are a writer’ – suggested I send a particular piece I wrote, to The New York Times Sunday columns. And although this has really boosted my confidence, self-doubt niggles.
Recently, in a discussion with my partner about what a writer is, I came very close to tip-exing the word ‘Writer’ on the information cards which I had finally had printed – a small step towards marketing myself as a writer. In her essay ‘The Getaway Car’ Ann Patchett confesses, “I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers.’ Who or what is a writer? There are several definitions of what a writer is. Wikipedia states, ‘A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate ideas.’ In another dictionary, a writer is ‘a person who is able to write or write well.’ I rest my case.
I have now allowed myself to feel proud of my achievements –as little as they may be (the winning letter in Woman & Home magazine – the prize, a beautiful hatbox of French gourmet chocolates delivered to my door and a letter in Mslexia Writers magazine). And for a little bigger accomplishment, the completion on my memoir, which has taken me on some trying journeys over the years. What sprouted from my, somewhat naive determination, to share this story, using my own voice, has grown and developed into the completion of a full length manuscript. I must admit that this determination has almost been stifled along the way, not so much by rejections or the lack of confidence in my writing, but by the realization that my ultimate goal, the ultimate goal of most writers – to get published – seems further away, more unreachable. Octavia Butler says you do it alone with no, “…certainty that you’ll ever be published or paid or even that you’ll be able to finish the particular work you’ve begun. It isn’t easy to persist amid all that.”
Ann Patchett goes on to say, that she will keep forgiving herself, I guess for what she feels are her inadequacies. What’s to forgive? Having to forgive yourself to me, suggests you are measuring yourself too closely against other writers – amplifying differences, mistaking them for inadequacies. You are the writer you are. And if you are the best writer you are capable of being, then even better. We can’t all be John Grishams or Toni Morrisons. Who will be the Harper Lees? Or me?