Sunday, December 17, 2006

the writer returns

So, lately I've been feeling like a writer proper. Partly because some Ghanaians - as you probably gathered from my earlier post - can be quite judgmental when it comes to appearance but every time I say I'm a writer, they go - oh, it's OK; that's why you've got locks! Yes, it appears writers can be forgiven for everything here because it's not a 'proper' job. My next dastardly deed is to try to rob a bank and see if I'll be forgiven :)

The good news is confirmed; I got a distinction in my MA and came top of the class, for which I am to be awarded - wait for this... no, really, wait... 50 POUNDS! I mean, I'm not going to refuse it, but PLEASE! Have you any idea what that course costs? 6400 POUNDS... At least give me 10% back, or, yeah I know it's asking a lot... refund my fees or something. I could really use that money!! Even my first degree, which I finished in 1998 awarded me £180 for coming top of the class - and that was in Manchester (lower cost of living and all that). Anyway, still, I met my favourite writing group there so ha hum I'll be mum... I'm still going to start a campaign for the next person who wins that award - it's 'disgracefulish'

On my more academic side, I have just completed a paper on linguistic diversity in Ghana, focusing on the influence of the media and the idea of national identity so I'll let you know when that is out. I went researching at the Balme Library in the University of Ghana in Legon and also at the George Padmore Library in Accra - those libraries have some choice material but they need help! No anti-theft barriers NOTHING. At George Padmore, the collection has reduced to a point where I am planning to mount a campaign for people to donate books to them... It's serious!

On my creative side, I FINALLY GOT A SHORT STORY IN A NORTH AMERICAN MAGAZINE :) Storyteller Magazine (Canada - will carry the latest (and final) version of my story 'Scotch Bonnets' in their Winter issue. I'm ecstatic of course... but I have to stay focused; I'm deep inside my novel...

Got to go..

I'm not reading anything for the next week or so - just writing

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

headlines from Ghana

Long time no blog, but those-in-the-know know that I've been podcasting. It turns out it's a lot easier, especially if you go completely 'ghetto' like I do: I just use my phone voice recorder, then I plug it into my laptop and download it and there's your mp3 podcast... it only takes a minute to update the xml file for iTunes etc, so it's essentially pain-free. OK I'm not saying blogs are a pain, but it takes time to type and I certainly can't type as fast as I talk! So, the update, I'm in Ghana, trying my best not to miss my grlfriend too much, keep up with my work schedule and fulfill the social duties that come with being amongst family!! In that time I've written one short story, the outline for an article on the evolution of languages in Ghana (which I'm doing for a publication on linguistic diversity in Africa), a couple of poems, and a few pages of my novel in progess. I've also done some research for the novel and I'm hoping to do a lot more in the next couple of weeks. My writer's group in London are keeping me disciplined because I'm still feeding back on stories online using a great program called Celtx and I've had some pretty good news; it's now confirmed that the first chapter of my novel-in-progress 'Afterbirth' is going to be published in the new British Council anthology - New Writing 15 - due out mid-next-year. Meanwhile the anthology that I'm editing with Tash Aw (originally due out in November) is on schedule to be released in January - you can pre-order it online (search x24: unclassified). Oh, and I passed my MA Creative Writing course, in fact I'm told I got a distinction but I haven't seen the stuff myself yet so I won't start drinking just yet!

It's Tuesday and I wasn't planning on going to the internet cafe today but it seems I'll have to because of some bills I thought I'd sorted back in the cold that I haven't. On Wednesday, I'm told there's a cool jazz place that's come up in Accra called Jazz Tone so I might go and see what's cooking there. I'm always excited when I find out about a new stage-venue in Accra; I grew out of night clubs like eight years ago so it's no fun for me otherwise. It's funny, I say I grew out of night clubs, but I think it's more a case of the people I would go out with, like my older brother and a crew of my 'boys', are all late-working professionals and Dads now and I'd much rather be writing than out getting smoked up but I bet if we all got together the dance moves would all come out to play again :)

Speaking of which, I'm loving being an uncle to all these strange, beautiful kids who I probably won't see for another year and will have to get to know all over again. They are a great distraction from the politics going on around - our president who has the oratorial skill of a snail, presidential candidate asprirants in the opposition who have forgotten that they are friends, 'load-scheduling' of electricity (basically we have to accept that our lights will be off once every five days), our currency being redenominated so that I will no longer be a millionaire :). See unlike politicians, these kids state their goals clearly - TO CAUSE HAVOC - so at least you know what you're dealing with; the politician state that they are here - TO SOLVE PROBLEMS, and do exactly what the kids do. I'll take kid'sSHIT over bullSHIT any day...

Otherwise I'm out here getting darker and taking the opportunity to send out some work for publication. For those of you who subscribe to short stories and poems on my mailing list, I will be sending them out this week so look out for them, if you don't subscribe and are interested, go the the website and select the appropriate mailing list to join. I send the stories out quarterly and the poems monthly.

I'm reading: some Anais Nin anthology, the title evades me at this moment!