Features — 01 September 2004 — by Rowland A. Parks

Watler told us that it is a challenge to write a novel. ?The challenge comes from within to write a novel.?

Sea Lotto took him eighteen months to complete, and at times, he would work as long as eighteen hours in one day. Watler said that in writing the book, he needed to produce a minimum of five complete pages per day. ?But there are some productive days when I could get as much as forty pages written. Then on the other hand, there are days when I get no pages at all, and I have to tear up everything that I had written.?

Watler said that he has been writing from 1956. His first writing job came as a court reporter for The Belize Times. ?I also used to broadcast short stories on
British Honduras Broadcasting Service. My stories used to be read on the radio by Lawrence Vernon and Leo Bradley, Sr. Together, we published an anthology of short stories, ?Among My Souvenirs. ?

Asked what first led him to believe that he could become a writer. Watler revealed that, ?I think that from elementary school I had this ability to write compositions. I don?t really know what led me to writing; I just kept writing.?

After publishing the anthology of short stories, Watler said that he sent a copy to the Jamaican newspaper, The Daily Gleaner. The response from The Daily Gleaner took him by surprise.

?I received an invitation from The Gleaner to study for one year under a program that they had going for
Caribbean writers. This was at The Gleaner in-house. When you learn journalism there, they teach you everything about bringing out a newspaper.?

Upon his return to
Belize from Jamaica, Watler said that he worked as an acting editor for the Belize Billboard, which was a daily newspaper in those days.

Besides working in two of the country?s newspapers when he first began to hone his skills as a writer, Watler said that he worked for a tabloid newspaper in
Chicago, USA. The publication that he worked for was named The Informer. He also worked on about three different publications while he lived in the U.S., during a three-year period.

How would you like to see the literature of
Belize evolve?
?I would like to see a number of brilliant writers who are striving to put Belize on the literary map of the world, and who can attract visitors by the way of what they say about our country.?
And the school system, how can it help?

?I have a contract with the Ministry of Education to visit fifty schools throughout
Belize this year. My visit to schools inspires children; it stimulates and motivates them in areas of writing, reading and cultural preservation. I also encourage teachers to have story telling sessions with children. It encourages them to think creatively, and it is nothing short of stimulating the children.?

Although Watler?s book just came out this week, he is busy working on another manuscript, which already has a working title: ?Bomba Codex.? The new novel, as its title suggests, is set in the
village of Bomba, in the Belize District.

Watler reveals that the plot centers on an ancient Mayan Codex that was discovered near the village of Bomba, and international arts smugglers attempt to have it smuggled out of
Belize.

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