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The Man Who is Writing 5 books in 1 Year: Interview with Errol Shaw
The Man Who is Writing 5 Books in 1 Year
Last spring I met a colleague who told me his uncle was going to write 5 books in one year. Like many of us, we too have planned to write a book, but 5? Just last week I ran into this same colleague, Lloyd Moffatt. It is less than a year later - and just as he said - his uncle is not only writing but is nearly finished with all 5 books!
Even more surprising is that I misunderstood Lloyd when he said his uncle was writing 5 books in one year. What he told me was that his uncle is going to write 5 books every year for 5 years! And his uncle is doing it!
I asked Lloyd if he could arrange an interview with his uncle, Errol Shaw, so I could share some inspiration with those of us still in the planning stage - this would include me.
Errol Shaw received his BFA degree from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He was born in Jamaica WI and migrated to the US in the 1970s. Mr. Shaw has traveled extensively around the world to such places as Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He spent time studying at the Nanjing Normal University in China where he studied Chinese culture. He lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York
CG: Mr. Shaw, I read your 2nd book, Is Mama My Mother - such in depth writing. Is it based on your life?
ES: Yes, the story is based primarily on three very important women in my life which includes my mother, grandmother and guardian. The story sheds light on three generations of women who suffered at the hands of cruel men in their lives. Ultimately, their troubles became my troubles since each woman made the same mistake of attracting the wrong men into her life, which forced them to have children they could not afford to keep after birth.
CG: Are all of the books in this first series of 5 based on your life?
ES: Yes, the second and third book is about my life growing up in the Caribbean. I like writing about my life, since speaking about it often brings my audience to tears. Now when a reader reads my book, I am not there to see their reaction, therefore, I will not become emotional in their presence.
CG: I commend you for handling the issue of abuse of women. You did not gloss over the subject at all, you humanized the women - and the women were still capable of effecting change in their lives. Will more of your books address this issue?
ES: No, some of my genre will be derived from pure fiction while others will be from an autobiographical standpoint. I can honestly say that some of the genre will come to light due to my wild imagination and having a clear perspective of the world and its people. Before I sit down to write I think of cultural relativism and the diversity of culture. I also look on how people behave around the world and how some people in third world countries indulge in certain behavior, and where and how others could relate to it in one way or another.
CG: What is your 1st book about?
ES: My first book entitled “Color, Friendship and the Absence of Ignorance” is a story set in Paris, France. It is about an African American who met two French men during his travels to Paris. All three men became best friends who became so tightly bonded that when the African American found out that their sexual orientation was different from his, he could not give up on the friendship. They remained very good friends for a very long time. I wrote this book to shed light on ignorance. Many times people will judge others because they are white, black, have different lifestyles or are just foreign. Doing so is wrong. We are all God’s children and we may be different in some ways but in other ways we share similar qualities.
CG: The 3rd book I have and will read shortly. What is the 4th book about?
ES: The fourth book is a story about an alien who came to America with the hopes of finding the streets paved with gold and beautiful women being pulled by horse-drawn carriages. He was quite surprised when he was hit by the hard reality of what life is like in America. He was faced with pimps, drug dealers, drug addicts, pick-pockets, and many other ways of life that people were indulging in, all for the sake of the dollar.
CG: Why five books per year? Why not one or three? How did you come up with the magic number of five?
ES: I decided to write five books in a year shortly after I came to the realization that I may have a calling to write. I realized that time is of the essence, and therefore I must press on, to make my mark on earth. I am working for this generation. I will lay the foundation for the future of our people, therefore, I will work as hard as I can so I will be totally used up before I die. I must write at least two hundred books before my life is ended on this planet. Hopefully, I will be able to keep my expectations high as I press on knowing that dreams can be cut short by ordinary circumstances that often plague us as human beings.
CG: Exactly when was that defining moment when you sat down and said “I am going to do this!”
ES: Well, I always wanted to write but I decided that it would be a good idea to see the world first before sitting down to write. After traveling to many places around the world, I finally decided that I have had enough of a spark to my imagination. I was also compelled by professors in creative writing classes who told me that there is a good chance that my work will be used in colleges and universities around the country. Those comments were certainly a driving force that pushed me forward.
CG: What or who inspired you?
ES: I am inspired by both male and female writers such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, T. S. Eliot, James Baldwin. W. E. B. Dubois, as well as many others.
CG: How much time do you spend each day writing?
ES: I spend at least five hours writing every day. I write everywhere. On the train, during a nice summer day in the park, on the plane. I write in the confines of my hotel room and most importantly, I write about people on the train or just about people on the street talking dirt. I then extract from those writings the most intriguing piece that often makes me laugh out loud to myself.
CG: Do you plan to write, say 10 pages per day or aim to finish a chapter per day?
ES: Some days I will write twenty pages and on a good day thirty. It depends on who or what I am writing about. The stories about some characters flow more easily than others. Many times, I would write a chapter and a half depending on how long I plan to make the chapter. Sometimes I would work on more than one story in the same night. Doing so helps me set my goals very high.
CG: Next year when you do your next series of five - have you already decided on a theme? If so what is it?
ES: It is too early to say. Normally, around September, I will have a set plan of what I am doing for the year. First, I will decide what the titles should be for the list then I will start writing the stories based on the titles.
CG: For those of us still struggling through a novel, myself included - what advice can you offer?
ES: If you don’t know what you want to write about then you should first write in your journal about your life experiences or the life experiences of people from your childhood. Once you have your characters, you can think of a place that you would like for your story to be set and decide what you want the story to be about. Once you lay out your idea, you are ready to write.
CG: When you start on your next series I hope I can return and interview you. Will that be possible?
ES: I definitely will be interested in another interview. That way I can give you some heads up on my progress with the 2010 list. I thank you for having an interest in my stories. I also think your opinions are invaluable. I am truly motivated by your opinions. I hope the stories will inspire you to join the stream of writers as we set out to share our thoughts and ideas with the world.
CG: I think it will and maybe it has already. Mr. Shaw thank you so much for your time today. You have offered a lot of inspiration and certainly a lot of good food for thought. Congratulations to you!
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