My story, ‘Silver Moons’, about a slave taken to the Potosi silver mine in Peru/Bolivia (it was Peru, now it’s Bolivia) in the early 1800s, is about as good as I can get it. I’ve taken editorial advice on several occasions and the story is strong. It makes me cry when I read it. I love it. I believe in it. So I’m aiming big.
I’ve sent it to the Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize at Griffith University. There’s a big prize and publishing and a lot of recognition. But the real reason I want it there is so that people read it.
It’s a good story. It’s important. It needs to be told and for that it needs an audience.
This is what I want my work to do; I want it to influence people, I want it to hurt people in places that need healing, so that these places get examined and repaired. I want it to work on somebody’s sense of things, to open their eyes to a new world, to make them believe in a better world and to make them feel that they can have an influence and a say in the matter. I want to open people’s hearts to the world and to other people.
Literature can change the world. We tell ourselves stories about 2000 times a day in the form of daydreams, and they last about 14 seconds. Our brains are hardwired for it. People exposed to stories that evoke their compassion and sorrow are much more likely to give and be compassionate to others. Such stories are an antidote to other stories we might tell ourselves, such as our country is right, our religion is might, our way is best, our selves are most important.
Literature is an act of love in the world. Literature is a stalwart of peace. (And literature is of course not the only means of story telling – it’s just my chosen one.)
I’ve known for years that I was meant to be a healer, and clumsied my way around trying to find the means. I never realised that it was my writing!
But here we are and here I am and this is my mission and my faith.