I am saying good-bye to Saint Lucia tonight, a small island in the Eastern Caribbean, where my brother and I are spending a holiday together. It’s dark now. With darkness comes some insect, or gecko or night creature, which annoys the spit out of me by making a sound like squeaking wheels turning on a two-note phrase of complaint. It’s hot here—and humid.
Saint Lucia, all of 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, has produced two Nobel Laureates: novelist Derek Walcott and economist Sir William Arthur Lewis. Pretty good going for a tiny country where I would imagine not everybody has air conditioning. And most people here still manage on a dollar a day, American.
I think of all the comforts I have to support my writing. I have enough money. I have a home of my own and can go places in my car and buy an airline ticket when I choose. I have a computer and a fast internet connection that links me up with all sorts of interesting people. Am I lucky or what?
I thought of that when I came upon an exhibition of Santa Lucian writing outside a food court today. Covers of literary works of all description were up on display: from romances to academic writing, cookbooks to memoirs and local history. So many that I couldn’t look at them all. I’m sure there were mysteries there too.
We live in the best time in human history as writers. Anyone in the world has access to tell their stories about the tiny slice of the world they occupy. Some in circumstances that are not enviable.
Such is the power of story, the urgency to be heard, to yell out whatever makes your heart zing. Such is the importance of story, and the worth of all our voices.
Tell it, my friends.