Too much good stuff from the present demands attention. Venice will have to wait until the next post.
My current writing project is a novel about a young abused Ugandan boy who runs away from home, pretends to be an AIDS orphan, is taken in by a Ugandan Anglican priest, and then faces the loss of this new life. It incorporates snippets from the lives of real AIDS orphans I have been involved with for 20 years. The first draft is in the can and the plot works, but I’ve been struggling to find a way into the heart of ten-year-old Mukisa. That happened this weekend in a mind-opening two days led by authors Lidia Luknavich and Pam Huston at the Port Townsend Writers Workshoppe, in the company of eleven very talented writers – some from PT and others from as far away as Portland.
Going deeper, finding an authentic voice, is always the big challenge, and this is the first time I’ve written from the perspective of a male hero. By the end of the weekend, listening to Pam, Lidia and others in the group, I’d understood in my gut that our common humanity overrides gender, culture and circumstance; every child struggles to overcome pain, to accept and nurture her own unique potential. I will find Mukisa by accessing that child in myself.
The other gift we received was Lidia’s not-to-be-believed generosity as she listened to the writing we produced in response to her guidance. Her enthusiasm and compassion were the gentle bulldozers knocking down barriers to creativity. Lidia and Pam will be back in October. Not soon enough.
Speaking of my fictional Ugandan orphan, here are photos received today of the wedding of Kenneth Kasule, the young man who watches over the real AIDS orphans Port Townsend supports. His bride is the gorgeous Sylvia Najjuma, one of our orphans all grown up, recently graduated in information technology.
He also sent photos of another of our stars, Sharifah Namyalo, with her new computer, donated by a generous PT supporter. Sharifah broke all grade point
records at her secondary school and is studying economics in her first year at university on a Ugandan government scholarship. Sylvia and Sharifa could have been throw-away children.
How do these miracles happen? About a third of the support we send the orphans comes from the annual Memorial Weekend Concerts, a labor of love by PT’s favorite concert pianist, Lisa Lanza. She invites the most talented of local
young musicians – and some a little older – to give their best, and it’s always standing room for those who don’t get to Grace Lutheran early enough. Don’t make that mistake! Be there Sunday, May 25, 1120 Walker Street, when doors open at 3:30.
And if you’ve yet to read Lidia and Pam’s books, hurry to the renewed Writers Workshoppe and Imprint Bookstore and buy them all. You’ll see what I mean.
Next – Venice, La Serenissima – really