Every word is a revolution. When someone asks me what my take away was from watching Junot Díaz talk with Toni Morrison last week, that last line is the best way to summarize it. There are few times in life when you realize you are in the presence of greatness. I have had this privilege a few times by simply being in the room with great literary minds. Yet, nothing really prepared me for this particular discussion at the New York Library.
I’m not going to go into an expansive breakdown of this discussion because I will not do it justice (which is why I just attached the link below), but rather, it is best for me to be reflective on how this event should reshape the life of writers. What is interesting to me is how unapologetic words from these two authors can be. I feel like I’m someone who says sorry too much so when I read their words and hear them speak, it’s like a tiny revolution. The reality is that I want to write my fiction with no apologies. It should be harsh at times and hard hitting. Yet, there is a serious fear factor in all of this. There is a little person on my shoulder telling me that I am not good enough.
As I sat there and watched these two legends speak, I began to wonder if there were feelings of doubt that snuck into their thought process. I do recognize their humanity but the aura around them glowed with divinity at least in the realm of the written word. Toni Morrison was that author that Professor Mays at Syracuse University championed. I took a class solely on her and it took me way too long to realize how great she really she. Song of Solomon is one of those books everyone needs to read. So seeing and hearing her talk about books I’ve read a long time ago along with her thought process was indeed axis shifting. Yet, that confidence she has makes me believe that whatever fear she may have had was put back into her work. I plan on reading her works again. Now that I’m older I think her words will mean even more to me now then they did then.
The same goes for Junot Díaz. He writes like he talks and it’s truly amazing. He has changed the game for me. I became used to reading narratives where the voice is so very formal and even if the protagonist curses… it’s still formal. But when this man stood up in front of a large audience in Syracuse a few years ago and read one of the dirtiest passages in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I knew this man gave zero fucks about what people thought about him and his work. That is an inner peace that he has with his work and the central place that I want to get to.
That is why every word is a Revolution. This goes far beyond just writing something that I consider to be special. It is more about reaching a point where I have a connection to a audience that is beyond the norm.