This morning I sit in my office a few degrees away from the snow and cold that has closed (yet again) most campuses in this southern New York county. I know now that my job is just another reason (read excuse) not to write. By the time I put together my lectures on great African-American writers I am spent – like an old coin that should have been taken out of circulation a long time ago. I ask myself what do I have to offer that could improve the process and enjoyment of fiction? Yes, everyone has a story but most of the themes have been told. Where’s my twist, my variation on a theme – any theme?

William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with breathings from your heart.” I don’t believe Wordsworth considered a heart made shallow with longing for the temporal rather than the spiritual. This shallowness thwarts the aim of fiction’s ambition which (according to most) is to understand people and what lies at the center of the human heart. It’s as if I’ve been to the center of my own heart and found – nothing.

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