I was scheduled for a two-hour workshop with award-winning author Rabindranath Maharaj (born in Trinidad, based in Canada) on the topic ‘Getting to the end: how to bring a work in progress to its best conclusion’. Due to the assigned time, I missed other interesting morning events like Michael Anthony’s talk on the evolution of Carnival and W.A.R. Stories, a documentary on the life of Walter Rodney directed by Clairmont Chung. Once more, my inability to bilocate proved a nuisance.
I learned more from helping to conduct that workshop than I would have learned from taking it! Rabindranath was all kindness and reassurance, and I leaned heavily on his years of experience teaching writing. I was not ashamed to ask a question or two myself. Some questions and answers were retained for later musing. Why does a novel get stuck? Because something isn’t working and perhaps your own suspension of disbelief has been compromised. But what isn’t working and why? Is the character development consistent? Does the plot make sense? What about my own work – do I also feel it when the society doesn’t make sense even if the characters are individually consistent in their words and actions? When do you admit defeat (or at least temporary retreat) and put down an unfinished draft? When does a novel ‘end’? At the first draft, the final draft? The first edit, the copyedited manuscript? The reviews and reader-reactions that inspire the author to change their approach in future, perhaps-related works? There are different strategies for getting through each of these stages.
After a quick lunch I prepared myself to record an interview for the podcasters at The Spaces Between Words. They are a lovely, professional team. They worked hard for the duration of the lit fest and they have a long list of podcasts from Bocas writers and others waiting in their queue. Check out their Still to Come page – classics and debuts, legends and new wave! I read a bit from Redemption in Indigo and answered some questions, and although I can’t guarantee I made sense it was one of the best interview experiences I have ever had. My heartiest thanks to interviewer Nicha Selvon-Ramkissoon, assistant editor and technical assistant (and photographer!) Ryan Durgasingh and editor Giselle Rampaul.
After the interview, I wandered into the tail-end of an afternoon talk by Anne Walmsley (former Caribbean editor for Longmans) on ‘Caribbean Publishing in the 1970s’. The audience appeared fondly nostalgic and slightly awed at her account of the nurturing of the Caribbean literary voice in that decade. I was drawn in as well by the mention of Ann Musgrave, the late proprietor of one of my favourite bookstores in Barbados, the Cloister, which could always be counted on to have shelves well-stocked with Caribbean literature.
Two incredible days down, two more days of Bocas to come!