Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Need for Local Literature

I'm at a point where I feel comfortable talking about that hinted-at good news. It's not an agent or a book deal, lovely as that would be, but the formation of a writing group I started shortly after moving to my new home in Central America. I wrote about it in an article for Rate Your Story (RYS), which you can click over to read if you like. (RYS is an excellent resource if you haven't heard of it.)

As stated in the RYS article, I lived in Africa for a while and saw the need for literature that spoke to the local situations with characters the children could see themselves in. Sadly, I wasn't writing then and not attuned to how I could change it. Now I am, and I'm hoping the group we are forming will change the literary landscape of the region, but the thing is, they already have great stuff to guide them. 

As so often happens in countries with economic struggles, most people don't see the incredible talent within their own borders. The grass is always greener because so often it really is. Or people in larger countries aren't often exposed to the literature from smaller countries because the gatekeepers don't know about it or don't realize that stellar literature can come from areas that make the news more for their struggles than their triumphs.

I've been impressed with the artists I've met here. I speak the language well enough to navigate a Taco Bell menu, but with kind friends to translate for me, I've been introduced to some brilliant authors, like Salarrué who wrote Cuentos de Cipotes (Stories of Children), among others.

The video above is a brilliantly crafted animation of one of his stories. It's in the dialect of a region in El Salvador, which makes it harder to understand, even for Spanish speakers. The basic idea is a group of children decide to play funeral, and they need a willing corpse so little Tanta is picked (Tanta is the feminine form of silly or dumb).

Unfortunately, Tanta doesn't stink, so the the children look all over for something to make her whiffy. Once that's done, they add the lid to the "casket." But Tanta doesn't appreciate this realistic effect and raises a ruckus. Tanta's maid hears her cries and saves her from a fate worse than a fake death and, in essence, becomes the angel who brings her back to life. 

I hope to have even more good news soon. We have a talented guest speaker scheduled to speak to us this week and I can't wait to share what I learn with you all shortly.

Have a great week.


  1. This is great news! I love hearing people's good news. It's what keeps me going some days. :)

  2. Johnell, this is a wonderful idea and what a great way to embrace the culture you're in. I think you will have a blast doing this as well. So now I know where you're at too. God bless this new venture.