That reader has been mostly elusive. Shaking people free of island stereotypes is a thankless task among those who want characters to talk like Jamaicans even though they're not, or who think American culture hasn't crept into island dreams and desires. Those readers want the differences to be less subtle, the beach to be raked. Fiction as vacation instead of reflection.
No, I need the reader who wants a "real" island. And I can't just write the story for myself. When you tell a story, the assumption is that there's a listener. Much of the pleasure I have taken in writing stories has been the anticipation of having someone say, "Aha. Yes," acknowledging a truth in a fictive world. O reader, where art thou?
At first, just imagining this reader was enough. He/she and I explored together and had fun looking for interesting shells, figuratively. But lately I've realized that I have no such companion in real life, and I've been stymied in finding Dear Reader.
Perhaps I'm just stupid about marketing. Perhaps I'm too lazy to persist in finding places to publish, or too shy to blow my own horn to shuffle people toward the stories. Or perhaps there is no market. In any case, without a playmate I'm not having as much fun anymore.
When I first started writing fiction, I went to a friend who had already published novels and asked if he thought I should continue. He liked what I wrote, but asked me two questions: Do I expect to make any money from this? (No.) Are you having fun? (Yes.) He encouraged me.
Today, though, the answer to the second question is, Not so much. It's time to stop, at least for a while. I own a sweatshirt that defines writer's block as "When your imaginary friends won't talk to you." In this case, though, it's when my imaginary reader stops reading.
Maybe it's temporary. Maybe I'll get to North Caicos next week and be so filled with new bits of island life to explore that I won't be able to keep my pen away from paper. We'll see. But otherwise, farewell my friend, fiction.