by Donna Sealy
It is hard not to hear the passion for writing in William Gittens’ voice.
The ebb and flow of his words is an indication that he loves what he is doing.
The author sees himself as “a conduit” where at any given time, his creator can express “whatever gift He sees fit”.
As he prepares to write a new chapter in his story tomorrow with the launch of his new book – Established in Barbados Vol.II – the author spoke about his journey and what set him on this path.
“Volume 1 was published in 2000, I started publishing in 2000. This idea originated in a classroom in North America while I was doing my first degree which is in Media Arts Television Broadcast and Production. There was this professor, Dr. Oscar Muscariello, an Italian, who was teaching us Children’s Literature.
“He gave us an assignment and said ‘you have to bring in a book tomorrow. You have to go home and prepare a book and bring it back’. He took us into the library and showed us books, how you need to put them together and so on,” he recalled during the interview with Barbados TODAY.
Gittens said that was a summer course during 1994 and he was able to produce a book about communication after handling three jobs on the campus.
“I used children to share a message with each other where one person would tell the other ‘We’re going to have a fair on Saturday’. Each person that conveyed that message said something totally different to what the original message was but in the end they all came together and they explained that if you don’t get the information right the first time what can happen. I got an A-plus for that.
“He was very impressed with what I’d done and how creative it was. I was exposed to something I had no knowledge I had skills in and so I left that and didn’t even think about it. I graduated and came back to Barbados.
“In ’99, 2000 there was a cross road in my life. I wanted to do something different and was challenged and I meditated and prayed and asked the Creator ‘What can I do?’. It came to me that I could publish books,” he said.
The “light bulb turned on in his head” and from there, even though it has not all been easy Gittens started to publishing.
He wrote proposals seeking sponsorship and he got it, and between then and now he has been able to produce nine other educational/historical children’s books: Images of Yesteryear in Barbados Volume 1, Images of Yesteryear in Barbados Volume 2; Building for the Future; Colour Me, Mise en scene; Land Marks; Technique Demonstration; Established in Barbados Volume 1; Monuments; and Focus.
“I must say that publishing is very expensive. The little money I made from those books I had to pay the publishers. The thought came to me ‘you can do your own publishing’ so I invested in a great printer, and I started experimenting … and I liked what I saw. Of course I had to spend a lot of money on ink but I went for it and things started happening,” the author said.
He noted that people gravitated towards his first book which contained images of a bygone era and that was the impetus to “validate and concretise” some of his ideas.
He secured funding from Cable & Wireless, which he deems a miracle and the Ministry of Education invested in one of his book which was distributed to some of the schools.
Gittens said after publishing Mis en scene, which translates as staging a scene, his inspiration hit a lull but he found it again after managing his son’s cricket team and wrote another book.
“If I didn’t love what I was doing I wouldn’t worry with it because it is very costly… What I discovered was that the more I kept at it, new ideas, new approaches, new techniques [came] and I was honing the skill that was developed in 1994.
“I feel good about that and people saw me in a different light because sometimes people see you one way, or form an opinion about you and when you are in a position to produce things of substance and of quality, their perception about you changes,” Gittens said. His view of life is that the each person is here to assist his/her fellow man.
“I’ve found from experience, that our people don’t do a lot of documenting, they talk about things but sometimes they don’t follow through and when you’re the type that follows through and execute the task, they say ‘I was thinking about it’. They can refer to it because it is documented because it is in black and white.
“That’s the other reason why I was motivated to go in the direction of publishing. It is a form of also preserving our heritage. There are experiences that people have or had and because they were not in a position to document it or remember that they should have, then they have some regrets,” the author stated.
For him it is more than documenting things, it is about challenging people and stirring something within them to respond differently.
“I love what I do. I am a creative person; I’m always looking for ways and opportunities and strategies to improve what I’m doing,” he added.
This brings us to the content of this book which took three months to compile. He explained that he had the information put down and just went into his database where he stores the information he researches.
At one point he lost everything when his system crashed but he had a contingency plan and was able to go forward. Gittens described Established in Barbados Volume II as more expository than some of the previous books.
Among the plethora of images which he sketched, and information you will find are the national heroes, a poem about them, Gun Hill Signal Station, the windmill, two of Cable & Wireless, Lawrence Neville Johnson Monument, a comparative analysis of the new and old Supreme Court, George Washington House, the copper man, the Central Bank, Barbados’ currency, Queen’s Park Theatre, Holetown Monument, and the Lloyd Wilson Foundation Monument. You will have to buy the book to get the rest.
Tomorrow evening at 5, at Cloister Bookstore in Sheraton Centre, Gittens will be launching his 108-page book, which is also available on CD.
He will be promoting this, as he did his previous ones, himself as he said “nobody can promote your product like you”.
“You have to pay interest in your own things and you have to be prepared to go the extra mile. It requires discipline and executing the task to the end You can’t say ‘I give this to you’,” Gittens said.
The reason for going the CD route?
“I was checking out some print. I wanted to go to a publisher and it would have cost me close to $19,000 to print 50 alone,” he disclosed.
He has dedicated Established in Barbados Volume II to his father Charles Alderson Gittens. For him, publishing his books is his way of giving back to society. firstname.lastname@example.org†