Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Books Aren't For Everybody...But I Believe in Them

It's Black History Month. The time of year where Black creatives, academics, and historians, families, and students, and legacy, and public figures are acknowledged with great regard. They are honoured. They are celebrated. They are invited to spaces that are somewhat difficult to penetrate, oftentimes, during the rest of the year. But this is THEIR time. Everyone's time. Our time. We get to be even more unapologetically Black than we usually are! So we cherish it...regardless.

With all this greatness, it drives me to look internally and wonder about my chosen contribution to Black history/present/future and cyberspace. My books. My writing. My stories. My legacy. My Urban Toronto Tales.

I'm reminded of the Black literary GREATNESS in Canada, particularly each February. I have their books on my shelves. I listen to them speak, and read their words. They are the reflection of our ancestors that we are proud to be affiliated with: intelligent. Reflective. Passionate. Articulate.

I honour them.

I respect them.

I often envy them. Their words are poetic. Descriptive. Lyrical. Literary. Complicated.

It is in their literary greatness, that I am reminded that what I am writing (fiction-wise) is not that. Not at all. To an aristocratic reader, my words will seem infantile and/or uncultured. My plots: unchallenging. My language: common.

Acknowledging that I have now been a serious writer for the majority of my life, with no possible way of stopping...I realize that this may eternally be my style of writing. Common. Conversational. Riddled with slang and colloquialisms. Unbalanced and straightforward. But I also realize that this is how I enjoy capturing my generation. Whether it was my generation, as experienced in 1992...or my generation now, in 2018, I enjoy the every day conversations. I love the common locations, and banal activities. The stereotypical life patterns. The raw dialogue.

I have classified my writing as urban fiction. In my heart I know that these stories are my love letter to the city of Toronto, and to the developing urban culture that I am fortunate enough to be a part of. In a unique position to be first-generation to this country. Influenced by the cultural traditions of another land, yet responsible for excelling and maintaining a lifestyle fit for Canadian reality. Teaching and nurturing the next generation of minds, and being able to witness this progression from all three perspectives. It's wonderful.

Just as it is. Life: just as it happens. People: just as we remember them. I sometimes can't decide if my writing is actually quite horrible...or if it's low key acceptable. I'm human. I question it often. But I do know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to tell the stories of what I see, hear, and feel around me, and I get a joy and satisfaction from putting the words together that only another writer would understand.

These books are most definitely not for everybody. I can unequivocally guarantee that many well-read literary folks would 100% not endorse, approve of, or even turn to the second page of my books.

I can also hope that there are at least a few people in the city that have fun reading these pages, because the stories are unapologetically interpretation of us. In February. In March. In 2018. In 1995. I wanted to be able to remember us exactly as we were. I believe so strongly in the power of representation, and recognition...acceptance...that I can only hope that the mere familiarity of the characters and scenarios, and smiles of reader recognition and nostalgia are enough to make the printing of them worthwhile.

There's nine of them--the Urban Toronto Tales--and I've poured my heart and soul into them over the past 25 years. I started the first Tale when I was 15, and I haven't stopped writing them since...

VIDEO LIGHT - A story about a west-end dancehall princess turned Scarborough "housewife."

REQUEST TO REWIND - A fluffy, reclusive young photographer from Markham meets the city's top DJ and top club promoter and is unexpectedly thrown into a love triangle with these brothers.

FIRST YEAR - A teenage couple from Malvern leave home to attend a "fictional" university in Windsor, where their commitments and characters are put to through their first adult challenges.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS - A college actress struggles with monogamy, and is put into a complicated choice between her career, her love life, and potentially settling down.

EIGHTEEN - An adolescent tale about biracial triplets who leave their hometown of Windsor, Ontario, to start junior high in Toronto, anxious to grow up (needless to say).

THE WAY WE USED TO BE - A collection of eleven short stories about the drama and relationships experienced by most teens during their high school journey, however, these teens are still carrying pagers: it's the 90s.

THE HOOK UP - Four short stories about twenty-somethings looking for love in Toronto, in the late 1990s and 2000s. They have cell phones now.

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT - In a follow up to "Video Light," the characters are introduced to the exciting world of Toronto, Carnival...and the unexpected bacchanal threatens their union.

I WISH I NEVER MET HIM - Female cousins (in their late 30s) travel together to Cancun for a vacation, to reevaluate their current relationships and past heartbreaks through a series of conversations and journaling.

Those books are my heart and soul. It is my hope that the also represent the heart and soul of Toronto...from an "urban" cultural perspective.

They're all on sale. All the time...with a boost during Black History Month. It never fails.

And as technology has progressed, so have I. As my skills have improved, so has the content, and editing. They are a reflection of our wonderful city, our wonderful culture...both the urban culture and the Caribbean culture. They are a snapshot of a moment in time.

These books capture collective memories. And I believe in them. Still.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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