Q & A with JP Paul - Part VII
Why did you wait so long to publish Rattle?
I've been writing most of my life and have written upwards of three hundred shorter pieces and articles that were published since the 80s. Only recently did I get the overwhelming need to flesh out and publish longer works. I had a deal worked out with a company in Venezuela back in the early 90s after they read some featured works in Sunday Plus. It unfortunately went bankrupt during the early stages of the CAP and Chavez turmoil and was never able to publish my works. After leaving the country to avoid the crumbling situation, it took many years to recover some early printed manuscripts from those early days. The same thing happened recently when the matriarch of the Uruguayan publisher who I associated with passed away after a short but valiant battle with the Big C word.
Part of this is situational. I've lived in about sixty homes and moved internationally thirteen times in the past thirty years. There was always something else I felt I should be doing in spite of my desire to concentrate on novels. Finally, I reached a point when I had the time and the ideas. Best way to attack that was to finish the bloody books! I'm now concentrating on my writing career for the foreseeable future. In the past decade I've taken some earlier ideas and worked through some kinks. They could be completed relatively soon.
There's also the experience level. I know there are many young people producing great books as early as their twenties. In my case, I'm dealing with adult themes from an adult's perspective. I couldn't have completed them twenty or thirty years ago with any conviction. I don't believe you can fully comprehend the fine art, education or corporate worlds until you've been immersed in them for extended periods. Likewise, in the case of Rattle, I lived in Jamaica for a couple of years and still have many Jamaican friends. It's impossible to understand their culture by spending only a couple of one week vacations in an all-inclusive hotel. I needed to live there to actually understand them, conversing with them one to one. Watch them. Since I'm writing close to the surface of reality, I feel I needed to experience a part of their lives before I could write about it with sufficient integrity.
You've been involved with many different industries. Why go back to writing?
If I look back at my career in technology, journalism, visual arts and education, the one constant that led to success in these diverse fields was the ability to express myself. While I think I have good visual and verbal communication skills, it was my writing that opened many doors and consistently received the most positive feedback. It's also what I enjoy most.
My English is better because I learned to speak Spanish. My references and sources are amplified through travel and diverse experiences. I'm no longer as naive as I once was. I believe all of these improved my writing and my stories. Let's call the rest of those tangents part of my life apprenticeship. My time in other fields wasn't wasted. If anything, those experiences helped facilitate my writing.
Look at it this way: If people spend entire lifetimes doing nothing but writing, what can they actually write about with any authority? Wasn't that Thoreau's premise? For me, it's all about balance.
November 2017: Questions were culled from conversations and correspondence with author JP Paul.