Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Who has the right to write ...?

Can anybody write about anything for children? No. We know that certain topics are not appropriate for children and that persons who write for children should have skill in writing for a particular age group. I've been meaning to write a blog on that and will get to it eventually. Perhaps soon.

However, here is my topic of interest/concern.

I'm visiting an island I love for itself, a combination of sea and wind and land, and little changes of scenery, almost every few yards it seems, and for the first time I seem to be here at the time of year when the Woman's Tongue Trees are bare of leaves, their brown pods covering the tree like stiff brown foliage. My last post talked about those trees in Jamaica and mentioned my book, Gammon and the Woman's Tongue Trees.

And it came to me that perhaps I would like to write a children's story set here. Note the 'perhaps'.

Aha! How do I feel when writers who are not Jamaican or who have not lived on the island long enough to 'know us', write a story about us, set in the island? Not happy. Not happy at all. And I wondered, do I have the right to write about another island?

It is an interesting coincidence, therefore, that as I'm thinking about this, my attention has been drawn to a report on a Hardy Boys book which was set in Jamaica and has inaccuracies which would be hilarious if they weren't so annoying. (Read Summer Edward's blog and Hazel Campbell's comments, as well as mine, when it is posted).

Of course, we do not know how many children's books we have read which were inaccurate in relation to time and place. We do not even know how many are being written right now.

We know that the Library has a definition of what can be considered Caribbean literature. Can we have a stipulation as to who can write about any of our territories? Of course not. However, surely if we write about a territory other than our own, we should at the very least have the manuscript read by someone from that country. Is this a topic of interest? Comments guys?

Will I write a book set here then? At this point in time, perhaps not. It was just love thinking out loud. ( And I've felt that before about other territories I've visited) And if ever so, only if the character had some links with Jamaica, and therefore there could be a rationale for seeing it through 'Jamaican eyes', and I'd still use a reader. Comments, guys?

I did have an idea once for a series that in some way linked the various territories, but those I suggested it to, weren't interested. Are any of you?

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that most persons who really know the region could write about any island with sensitivity. Get a local reader by all means, but I don't think the kinds of major inaccuracies in the Hardy Boys book mentioned would exist to start with. Mostly the problem might be with the writer's 'ear' for different local speech. Stories linking the islands in the region would be interesting. A good example is Sharon James's TRAGEDY ON EMERALD ISLAND set in Montserrat and Antigua.