I had always wanted to be a writer, but life somehow got in the way. Pathetic excuse, I know, but the fact is I was so busy struggling to survive and cope with a genetic medical condition (sickle cell disease) that it didn't even occur to me that I could in fact try to become a published writer. In hindsight, those were the very conditions which could have helped me to do so as my condition kept me confined to home and bed much of the time and gave me plenty of time in which I could have crafted my art. In fact during these times I wrote many insightful poems and short stories which literally bared my soul, and which I think many magazines and women's journal readers would have been able to relate to. But unfortunately I did not log or otherwise take care of them, much less submit them to any publications, and sadly they have been lost over the years.
I left school with five C.S.E's (Certificate of Secondary Education) in English language and English Literature; History, Music and Religious Knowledge. Those were not going to get me into university or even into a great career, and in fact I did not even consider the possibility of going on to further education since my priority was to start earning as soon as possible so I could leave home where I felt extremely restricted. Fortunately my condition was episodic and did not keep me debilitated all the time, although it was progressive and would cause me greater problems in the future.
Anyway, I left school and got a clerical position in a firm of builders merchants (hardware store) and later worked at a farm machinery company keeping their stock records. From there I took up an administrative position at an ice cream company before moving to London and joining the civil service. This was where I began to come into my own. I was employed to the Personnel Department and discovered that I loved the work. I gained promotion and then, with the experience gained I move on to work at one of the London borough councils where I continued my upward movement until I became a Personnel and Training Officer in one of their departments.
But my condition was beginning to cause problems. In 1981 at the age of 24 I had a hip replacement operation which worked well for a few years but then became infected which resulted in its removal. The orthopaedic surgeon declined to give me a new replacement, citing as his reasons the fact that my body could not withstand another major surgery should the new replacement also become infected – a distinct possibility as sicklers are extremely prone to infections. This left me with one leg shorter than the other and a very pronounced limp. In addition the sickle cell was beginning to damage the blood vessels behind my eyes causing them to haemorrhage.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I finally ended up with major depression, only one hip, and a yen to return to my native country where the warmer climate would be more conducive to my wellbeing. So I returned to Jamaica and began my writing career.
I began by entering short fiction into the annual national writing competition, and to my delight I reaped medals and trophies year after year. Every single entry merited some award. I was elated and encouraged to try writing a novel. And so my debut novel, Sweet Home, Jamaica was born.
It took me eight months to write and was published in May 2007 in the UK by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie, who decided to split the manuscript in two (against my wishes) and publish it in two volumes. The sequel, The Missing Years followed in January 2009.
So here I am, finally a published writer, and I can’t help feeling that if I had applied myself earlier I might by now have found some acclaim. But it seems the hardest part was not writing the books and getting them published, but getting them to the attention of the reading public. That is a challenge which I have chronicled in an article published on the itzcarribean website http://www.itzcaribbean.com/blackwriters_cbeckfordbrady.php
Still, as the saying goes, it’s never too late for a shower of rain, and who knows, my next offering might just propel me into the literary spotlight.