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Trading Tales

Published: 
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

By the time this is published, God willing, I’ll be on my way to Glasgow, Scotland, where I’ll be taking part in a writing residency. The residency, Trading Tales, is co-hosted by the British Council and the Mitchell Library. It is meant to allow two Caribbean writers to spend three weeks in Glasgow exploring the Mitchell’s archives of that city, with an eye to producing a piece of historical fiction on the connection between Glasgow and the Caribbean. 

“Glasgow’s Mitchell Library hosts a vast collection of original archival material relating to Scotland’s shared history with the Caribbean, forged in many ways in the 1750s by the North Atlantic Slave Trade,” the CaribLit Web site said, announcing the residency.

In turn, in September, a Scottish writer will spend time in the Caribbean doing the same thing.

“How you does get these things, boy?” a friend and fellow writer asked frankly after I said I’d be going on the residency. Earlier this year I was in Grenada on another residency, so I suppose the question is fair.

My answer to him was earnest, and perhaps not in the spirit in which the question was asked: “I apply.” 

I actually struggled with the decision whether to apply for this Trading Tales residency. 

In the first place, I was worried I wouldn’t get it—like all professional writers I am terrified of rejection and therefore hate to apply for anything. 

However small or large the prize, publication or opportunity, it still takes quite a lot of courage, audacity even, to apply for it, because applying presumes I am good enough to compete. A scary thought.