When I tell people I’m living in Barbados, the reactions are interesting. Words that come up a lot are “exotic”, “paradise”, “idyllic” and “jealous”. It’s understandable, of course, from people struggling through a grimy London winter, and I’m not criticising the people who say those things. I just wanted to point out that they have little relation to my experience of living here. Yes, Barbados is a beautiful place. Yes, it really does have bright sunshine almost every day, temperatures that vary between 29 and 30ºC year-round, beaches of fine… Read More
As a side note to my post last week on the cafes I have killed, I wanted to add one more thing about writing locations. It struck me that in a country with so much beauty, I have latched onto the ugliest locations in which to do my writing. It seems that beauty doesn’t really work for me, at least while I’m writing. It’s wonderful to look at, wonderful to get inspiration from, but it seems I prefer to get that inspiration before I sit down to write. When I’m… Read More
I loved George Lamming’s novel In the Castle of my Skin, but wasn’t so impressed by this collection of essays. There were some wonderful ideas in here, but the book as a whole felt disjointed. First of all, for those of you who don’t know George Lamming, he’s Barbados’s most famous writer. Austin Clarke mentioned In the Castle of my Skin in a recent talk as “the Barbadian novel.” He was recently honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Bim Literary Festival. I went to see Lamming give a talk… Read More
OK, I’m off! Bags are packed, tickets printed, taxi is booked for four thirty tomorrow morning, and several alarms have been set. I’ve got some great guest posts lined up to run during the next few weeks, but you’ll hear nothing from me until the middle of July. I thought about taking my laptop, or going to internet cafes, and then decided just to have a complete break. No phone, no internet for a month. It’s a nice prospect. Let me be clear: I love writing this blog, and chatting… Read More
Do you ever get carried away in bookshops or at bookfairs, and buy far more than you’d planned? Is it consumerism, or bibliophilia? I like to think that, because books are objects of learning, my book-buying binges are a positive thing. But am I deceiving myself? Am I really no different from those people breaking down the doors of Primark in the Boxing Day sales? Anyway, you can see what I bought at Saturday’s book fair, part of the Bim Literary Festival at Queens Park in Bridgetown, Barbados. Some were… Read More
Wow. That was intense. Three hours on a hard bench listening to poetry readings with no break and no refreshments. That’s a real test. Luckily it was an open-air event, on the boardwalk at Hastings (the Barbados one, not the UK one). It was easy to get up and stretch your legs occasionally, and the view helped. The occasion was an event called Bim Rock Variations, part of the inaugural Bim Literary Festival. (By the way, I should have mentioned earlier that “Bim” is an informal name that Barbadians use… Read More
One of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I give a talk is “How do you generate ideas?” The honest answer is: I don’t.
Oh, I’ve tried. Believe me, I have. I’ve sat at the computer all morning and willed myself to generate an idea. Sometimes, after a few hours of mental torture, if a deadline is looming, I’ve managed to squeeze out something, just one idea at least. The trouble is, I know even as I’m typing it out that it’s not very good.
The best ideas, you see, come in a completely different way.Read More
Sometimes, as much as I like writing, I get tired of it. Towards the end of last year, it became difficult, and I started to dread it, and I wasn’t happy with what I was producing, and I let myself get too busy with other things. I needed a change of scene. I am fortunate in that I had no commitments keeping me in London, and in that my wife is from Barbados. So we gave up the lease on our Crouch End flat, put our stuff in storage, and… Read More
George Lamming also said something quite amazing in his speech, and I forgot to mention it in my last post. He mentioned that he reads for 8 or 9 hours a day, and has done throughout his life. If he doesn’t read that much, he feels – I forget the word he used, but basically unsatisfied, hungry for more. After the speech, I said how wonderful it would be to read so much – you’d have such an encyclopaedic knowledge of world literature and presumably a lot of other topics…. Read More