I got a little sidetracked in the recount of my literary journey, so let's get back on track.
After my first book, My Restoration was not a success, I got discouraged and decided that I would not publish again. Before arriving at that decision though, during the course of time that I was trying to promote the book, I still wrote pieces of poetry and submitted some to various contests in the United States. Some of them were accepted and published in anthologies by the International Society of Poets and received their Poet of Merit Award in 1994 at one of their conferences held in Washington D.C. That was a great moment.
But, as always, after the mountain top experience, comes the cold shadows of the valley. While I was celebrating my accomplishment, I happened to encounter another aspiring writer from my home town. I would not refer to him as a 'fellow writer' because he lacked the right spirit. He said to me that the award was nothing special, that the company seemed to give them out to everyone. He added that he had one as well. I did not think of it at the time, but he was actually belittling himself as well while trying to ensure that I did not think that I had accomplished something great.
Despite that unpleasant experience, the fire of hope was still burning within me. A few persons said they thought the book was good, suggested that I approach the Ministry of Education about having it added to its curriculum for Literature. Buoyed by their support and words of affirmation, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Education, enclosed a copy of the book with it, and delivered it to the ministry. Sometime before that, I had mailed a copy of the book to a former Principal of the high school I attended. She was among those who had encouraged me to write while in high school.
A few months later, I received two letters in the mail. One was in an official Government envelope, and the other was from my old principal. I eagerly opened the official one, thinking it was the news I had been waiting for. It was from the Minister of Education, yes, but it was not what I was hoping for. The letter began acknowledging receipt of my book and thanking me for sending it. He then went on to say that he had given the book to the Head of Culture and Literary Studies for review. However, he regrets to advise that the report was that the book was not suited for use in the educational system because it did not contain anything about our culture. He then wished me success in my continued endeavors.
I was crushed. Slowly I opened the letter from my principal, expecting now to hear more criticisms about the book. Instead, it was a glowing letter about the quality of the book and the potential she felt it had. Her words took the edge off the disappointment but they could not open the door that had been closed with the Ministry. I decided then that it was just not worth the effort to continue with writing for publication. At least not at that level.
Stay tuned, the journey continues.....