“You’ve done so much”, I keep hearing. “You’ve done well”, I tell myself, at times, but I know there is so much more I want to do. So much more that can be done, because Force Ripe has so much more legs to continue trading on. I have not work on this for fourteen year, come this far to just let it go without giving it my all. I am now at a crossroad, some kind of junction, perhaps a roundabout with too many un-marked exits. I now have to choose which road I will take.
Audio Version. Movie. Videos to advertise. A softer school version. Force Ripe in book shops and libraries. Competitions. All of these are bashing around in my head and each day I research and reach out. I ask the ones who know, knocking on every door I find. Speaking about competitions, I seem to only hear about them with an announcement of a winner. And if I were to follow that route, I will need a special loan! And if they are free, there is always some criteria which I don’t meet – published too early, or too late, or wrong country of residence or something! Very encouraging! I have contacted the Calabash Festival organizer. No response. I have written to several Literary “persons” and in most cases, received no response. I have been trying and have tried again this year with the Bocas Lit Festival – such a dynamic platform for Caribbean Literature – yet it appears, Force Ripe does not fit in. Well forget about getting noticeable or accepted reviews, to help push in the right direction. You need to be recommended, and you can’t get recommended unless the recommender gives you a chance! Talk about chicken and eggs! People don’t open these doors unless they know who’s calling. Not even a crack for a little peep. Not even a peep through the curtain, you know how you do it when a Jahova witness you have no time for comes calling on a busy Saturday morning!!? Sometimes I does feel so damn overwhelmed and under …something….but anyway.
I think we all have some kind of calling, whether we hear or listen or heed is up to us or perhaps the stars. Some of us are great composers of words, some great interpreters of these words. Some are great story tellers and others fantastic speakers. I want to write stories, which resonate with readers – especially the ones who don’t normally read, but loves being transported to a time and to places they can relate to, reminisce about, even learn from. So they will pick up a book like Force Ripe and confess that they could not put it down- encouraging and promoting reading. This is why I will continue to write stories which resonate with this audience. Force Ripe evokes a mixture of emotions and takes its readers, each one, on his/her own personal journey. For some it’s a painful one, but if it helps them to face, fight and overcome, that is a purpose fulfilled.
On the advocacy route – I have been approached on the subject of being an advocate on issues which come up in my story -for example: child neglect and sexual abuse and even on the matter of the children left behind – because that is a big issue. To advocate means to speak or write in favour of; to add a voice of support to a cause or person; someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. I am against any form of abuse. However, I chose not to be that public figure or label myself. This does not at all mean I am choosing not to speak for or against those issues. And I admire those who do so, who has that purpose and fulfil them. I very carefully tried not to make Force Ripe just another child sexual abuse story. I wanted to tell Lee’s story, but also show our people, the culture, a bit of history, all through the characters and specifically through her eyes. My thing is writing the stories. So I will keep writing and sharing my stories. In fact, I wish I had a recorder in my head! I will keep on trading on. I aim to reach as wide an audience as I can – all those with whom Force Ripe evokes special memories, give a little tickle, or effect some kind of closure. I will let Force Ripe do its thing and everyone else do theirs. Heed your calling.
Talking about sharing stories, not a week goes by without being asked if I am doing another? Or when is part two coming out. Ok. I know. The pressure is on.
Sharing a couple excerpts
When we reach by the big mango warwood tree, them children from Undergoogoo, gather up there. Six of them. On Sundays, people does bathe and put on their Sunday clothes, better than the usual week clothes, but not them. All of them in their dirty raggy clothes and greasy hair. And all their ten commandments spread out on the ground.
As soon as we pass them the biggest one shout out.
“Rasta gal! Aye Rasta gal!”
I squeeze Carlos hand tighter. Walked faster.
“Eh. You en see Rasta gal! She use to live in the bush wid man, now she playin ting oui!”
She have about twelve years. People say she father does take her. She grandfather too. He doing the same thing to she little sister . The one who is just six years.
Carlos look up at me. “Carla, what is a rasta gal?”
“You looking sweet girl,” the photographer said.
I sat on the wall in front Horse Shoe Beach Hotel, trying to relax for my graduation photo. But only one thing on e me mind.
“Well give me a smile nuh man!” he tried again. Looking at me over he lens, ready to click. I don’t like posing for pictures at all. I always ended up looking, either vex or as if I about to cry. I fixed my dress. Fixed my face with the best smile I could come up with.
School done and I glad. No more fighting up to study all kinds of things – like algebra, and all them dates in History that simply refuse to stay in me head. No more getting up early early morning and riding bus up and down, from country to town, feeling as if somebody beat me up when I reach. No more staying in people house, always trying to figure out what I do that cause what’s her name to stop talking to me. And I still don’t know what I going to do now, but I well glad school done.