It’s been months since I’ve written in this journal; it has grown cold. Mostly I’ve been working in my lit.org blog at http://ochanilele.lit.org/wordpress. There I’ve been journaling about spiritual topics and promoting my new book Teachings of the Santería Gods. I’ve also used it to promote the work of other Lucumí authors and bloggers in the community. There are so many up-and-coming spiritual authors in our ranks that being able to help them promote themselves is, well, exciting.
But I want a place to journal about my mundane life, and I need a place to journal about my writing life. Most writers keep separate blogs dedicated to different aspects of their lives – why should I not do the same?
So I’m thinking I’ll use this blog to write about those mundane things – the art of writing and my own dreadfully boring day-to-day life. Someone might find it interesting.
It’s a new semester at college and once again I’m only going part-time. The highlight of my academic life is my Creative Writing Workshop I class. For those unfamiliar with workshops, it’s a class in which we study contemporary literature. Our textbooks are anthologies of poetry and short stories, and we read these in an attempt to discern their essence, what makes them works of art and separates them from other pieces that are “good” but not as moving. In just three weeks we’ve steeped ourselves in the contemporary works of Tobias Wolff, Annie Proulx, David Sedaris, Michael Cunningham, A.M. Homes, Edward P. Jones, Katie Chase, and Kevin Brockmeier. On my own from our textbook I’ve read Russell Banks, Donald Barthelme, Rick Bass, and Richard Bausch. And because I just can’t stay away from genre fiction, I’ve been reading and studying the insanely popular Sookie Stackhouse mystery series; since class began, I’ve read the first 9 books of the series.
All of this reading I’ve done just to immerse myself in writers that are good (and one writer just because her novels turned into a TV show and made her a million bucks! No shame in that!). After reading and analyzing them all, I feel like a hack.
Right now I’m working on two contemporary pieces for my workshop. My professor has forbidden me to write “genre fiction;” our class focuses only on the contemporary. Still, writers write what they know, and what I know is the mystical world of Santería. Lately I’ve specialized my studies on the patakís. So I’m working on a piece loosely based on the patakís of Unle Ejioko – a story that I call “The Old Man and the Apple.” My finished piece will need a better title, but one has to start somewhere.
I’m trying to make this piece a statement of faith and a statement of the immigrant experience. I had the story all planned out in my head, but as I write it . . . it’s changing. The characters are asserting themselves, and I think the piece I end up with will be vastly different from the piece I wanted to write. We’ll see.
I’m also working on a contemporary piece which is both a ghost story and a gay love story, all with a serious twist. It’s just an idea that popped into my head while working on “The Old Man and the Apple,” so I’m running with it.
Add all this to the work I’m doing on my manuscript (due December 31) and I’m quite the busy little artist.
But this is what I do. I am a writer, and I write, and as this workshop class ambles on hopefully I’ll stretch and flex my literary muscles and learn how to write and move within the world of contemporary literature.
Wish me luck. I need it!