I feel like my brain’s all burnt out. This week I went to Kingston to collect an award I received for a short story I wrote. At the awards ceremony for the JCDC Jamaica Creative Writing Competition I was a bit surprised. There were way more prizes than I expected including gift baskets, cash awards, etc. I only entered one story though so next time I’ll be submitting a few poems and short stories. It really was an excellent experience, like a milestone. And for that I’m grateful.
I have great news! I know I should tease you a bit, leave a few hints here and there. But I’m so excited I doubt I can wait until the third paragraph to tell you what’s been on my mind. Yesterday evening I got an unexpected email. Attached in the email was an invitation to an award ceremony based on my entry in this year’s JCDC Jamaica Creative Writing Competition.
Poetry, poetry! I’m in the zone again or at least near it. Thanks to the poetry course I told you about recently, I’ve been writing more poems again. It’s like magic when I’m walking or sitting in a bus and words just start singing in my head. I could be walking on Habour Street during the evening crowd and the words whoosh by just so and I snap open my notebook as I try to capture them in hurried scrawls. My days are full of those moments and I feel so alive again, like that time three years ago at UWI when Prof. Mervyn Morris — now Jamaica’s Poet Laureate — was listening to my poems float from pages like melodies no voice could hold.
What do writers fear? For me, it’s the blank page. The longer I stare at its white expressionless face, the more intimidating it seems. I sometimes try to ease my anxiety by succumbing to the lure of distractions — Facebook, Korean YouTube videos, Amazon’s endless catalogue of YA books. But these distractions create room for even more self-doubt. What should I write about? Will it be as good as this book or that story?
Each day I tackle moments of indecision by beginning with one word. It’s amazing how one word opens up a world of infinite possibilities. I hope I’ll be even more brave this week by daring to revisit a manuscript that’s been fermenting in the recesses of my mind — the manuscript I’ve merely glanced at in the past few months.
Some nights I sink into sleep, fitfully like a child haunted by the dark. The wet cloud of days past hangs over my head but dreams eventually pull me in. When morning comes — yellow and alive — I sometimes throw the sheets over my face and roll over into another blissful dream. But sweet dreams come to an end when the glare of a new day seeps beneath my eyelids and swallows the images that creep across my mind.
I feel like I’ve been in a long wistful dream for the past few weeks. I’ve been floating towards the East, discovering South Korean: the spicy tang of kimchi, the lull of Hangul… I can’t quite explain my fascination with this place and the world it has awakened in me. Blame it on a drama series I discovered while researching TV programming topics for an article I needed to write at work.
The Calabash Literary Festival went on as planned but I didn’t get to go. There were omens and mishaps and haunting dreams. I spent Saturday juggling the mundanity of weekends, shopping at the market, hands weighed down with fruit, meat, greens and bread. I cleaned the house, ironed church clothes while waiting, wondering if I’d made the right choice. Should I have overlooked the cobwebbed doubts that shadowed my mind? Should I have ignored the ill omens and taken a trip down to Treasure Beach, four-plus taxis away? Should I have made the ultimate sacrifice?
4: 30pm (Fri)
Last week was thunderstorm and lightning, flooding and death. A week of horrors that left me haunted by images of nine-year-old boys being washed out to sea. It all began on Monday when floodwaters lifted up higher than walls, blocking roads, swallowing walkways, leaving hordes of Montegonians stranded. But that was only the beginning. The unimaginable was yet to come.