This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions when it comes to writing. I came across two different articles which turned my world upside down. One gave me hope and encouragement to pursue my literary dream, while the other sowed doubt and fear. Both articles have triggered me to reflect more deeply on my upcoming historical fiction novel, Children of the Ocean God. In particular they have challenged me to ask myself some difficult questions – What does this book realy mean to me? And what am I willing to sacrifice to get it published?
There are no easy answers that I could come up with. Obviously Children of the God, is very special to me. I see telling this story as a calling, which is central to my higher purpose in life. It is a chance for me not only to honor my ancestors, the Garifuna (or Black Caribs), but to also educate my Caribbean brethren about our wonderfully rich history and share a work of literary excellence which follows in the footsteps of many great Caribbean authors, many of whom are no longer living. The latter is by no means driven by conceit or bravado, but rather the realization that there is a great void in Caribbean literature which needs to be filled. We need to tell our stories to the world and do it with literary skill and finesse, and above all in our own voice.
On the second question I am conflicted. While I am keen to get Children of the Ocean God published by a respected publishing house I am not willing to sell out my creative vision nor to compromise the authenticity of the story. I refuse to adapt my characters or narrative to fit with modern politically correct social norms in order to get it printed. Beyond the fact that it is a historical fiction novel, which must be true to the period (i.e., the 18th century), it would be unconscionable and inauthentic for me as an artist to do otherwise. This may adversely affect the chances of getting Children of the Ocean God published for mainstream audiences. I can imagine that many publishers may shy away from content that they consider too controversial or which goes against the current dominant monolithic viewpoint especially on hot button topics like race, gender and sexuality. I fear that we now live in a time in which it is too easy to cancel other perspectives and stifle debate, by not allowing room for differences of opinion. However, I will persevere and stay true to myself and to my craft. My ancestors have made tremendous sacrifices for which I am deeply indebted. So I will not give up or be deterred in my crusade to honor them. Wish me luck!
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