I’ve been promising to talk about my writing odyssey for quite a while now so, finally, today na today. This, I believe, will answer all the questions I’ve been receiving from the people who know me but don’t know enough about the writing side of me.
While thinking about how to go about this issue, it occurred to me that I could end up with a mini autobiography if care is not taken. Since an autobiography is not intended, I’ve come up with a simple method of dealing with this subject without making it too boring or evasive to read. As they do in Nollywood, this is Part 1 of the article and it deals with the simpler aspect; “Why I write.” I expect to conclude the “Why” aspect in Part 2; following which I should proceed to “How I write.” Trust you will find this to be okay since I don’t intend to keep you on this Blog Page the whole day.
Now, let’s start.
The question of why I write can be answered with one phrase: I write to exercise my right to write. Writing, I believe, is a matter of interest. And I have a great interest in writing. The art of writing presents the writer with certain benefits which, as a person, I have enjoyed over time. Some of these include:
- Light Head – Writing helps to free the mind. Is there any issue bothering your mind? Try to write about it. By the time you are through with it, your mind will be as light as wool.
- Ideas – As you put things down, ideas begin to flow into your head automatically. This is better experienced than explained and you can try it on your own. You will realize that we all have a Secret Speaker who is always willing to talk to us all the time. That Secret Speaker becomes much more assertive and audible as you write things down.
- Personal Development – Whether we believe it or not, we all have some innate talents within us. If we show enough interest, we can develop certain skills that will go beyond our imagination. Are you interested in writing? Then write, and continue to write. Before you know it, writing will become part of you.
- Communication – Apart from generating ideas from within “YOU,” writing also serves as a perfect way of communicating your ideas to people. I needn’t say too much about this because it has now become so clear to everyone in this new world of Facebook, Twitter etc. It doesn’t matter if you belong to the club of internet users who continue to “damage” the English Language by the day. At least, you know your audience, and your audience understands your style of writing “buffday” instead of “birthday” and “hapi” instead of “happy.”
- Knowledge – Writing compels you to read and research. In an attempt to write convincingly about a subject, you will have no choice than to obtain adequate information on it. You could read more about the subject or ask people for opinions on it. The research exercise will surely increase your knowledge of the subject and you may become an expert in that line within a short period.
- Debate – If you like discussing issues with people, writing will assist you in achieving that aim because people are bound to react to whatever you write about. Apart from the fact that readers post comments on my blogs, some actually discuss them with me whenever we meet. Others call me on phone or send emails across. That’s the beauty of writing. I needn’t add that I learn a lot from those feedbacks. Well, some don’t spare me either. A blogger must be a calm person because some reactions could be quite infuriating.
- Message – This is similar to “communication” above, but it is usually target-specific. Do you want to send a coded message (a yabis) to someone? Write a satire; he will get your message. Let’s say one cowboy has just hit you below the belt and you don’t want to confront him headlong or mention his name, you can hit him back by writing about the incident. Some other people will also join you in doing so. In fact, those gboromiro people will help you add “salt and pepper” to it. After all, none of you is mentioning anyone’s name. Abi?
- Self Reflection – In most cases, what you write is a reflection of the real “YOU.” Don’t forget what I said about the “Secret Speaker” earlier on. Writing forces you to think and reflect on issues. It awakens you to understand yourself better. Again, “a taste of the pudding is in the eating.” It may be difficult to understand this aspect properly unless you personally do some writing.
- Exercise – Writing and reading are wonderful tonic for the brain. They strengthen your brain in similar ways to what physical exercises do to your muscles and bones. If you want your brain to stay alert; begin to write from today. Practice the act for the next 21 days, and then return to this page to give me a feedback.
- Self Discipline – I recommend writing to anyone who wants to learn how to stay focused on something. Writing requires you to be a disciplined person. As you progress in your writing adventure, it soon becomes a kind of ritual. You then begin to feel that you must meet your writing appointment irrespective of any challenge you may have on hand. Before you know it, this skill (self discipline) becomes a part of you and it will start showing in other aspects of your life too.
- Celebrity – Your writing can (easily?) broadcast you to the whole world. You will notice that I have put the word “easily” in brackets with a question mark because it is not that easy to become famous with your writing. But with a lot of determination, you can actually become a celebrity some day. If however you want that fame fast, fast; you may consider writing for Boko Haram. Everyone will immediately know you, and the Boko Haram guys too will like that. If you don’t believe me, check out the reasons they’ve just given for bombing This Day. Those guys require the services of some understanding writers/journalists.
Unknown to many people, I did not start my writing adventure just today. It has always been a part of me, but the “new world” social media have simply helped in broadcasting it to a larger audience.
The journey has been long but let me start from the time I used to watch my senior brother writing love letters to his girlfriend(s?). That was where I started my “training” from. Oh! My brother can write so well; though he doesn’t talk much. Thank God he’s now a Pastor.
Valentine’s period was usually a special lesson time for me with my brother. He would go out to buy plain cardboard papers to design special giant “I Love You” Valentine’s Day cards for his babe(s?); and in those cards you would find “Lord have mercy love messages” that could send any lady’s head spinning. You know what I’m saying?
Later came my “romance” with Lagos Weekend Newspaper! Can you remember the paper? It used to be a publication by Daily Times Nigeria Limited. In those days, one could find any type of story in Lagos Weekend but be rest assured that it would contain divorce and crime stories. Call the paper a “Detective Newspaper;” “Romance Newspaper;” or “Adventure Newspaper” – anyone – you won’t be off the mark. Was I their journalist? No. I was an ardent reader, and an “indirect contributor.” I used to contribute by way of letters to the editor, reactions, and submission of stories. By the way, hope you still remember the Page 3 Girls!
From Lagos Weekend I “graduated” to sending “Rejoinders” and different “Letters to the Editor” to other Newspapers and Magazines like Concord, Vanguard, City People etc. Anytime an opportunity presented itself for me to write, I wasted no time in doing so. While a number of my submissions were duly published, many did not find the favor of the editors. Who was I to complain? Dey send me?
Hmm, it’s amazing what a young man can do. I remember spending about two months to write a particular love story which I believed, for some strange reasons, would be published by Mill & Boon. I spent my hard earned stipend to type the manuscript somewhere in Marina and walked up to the General Post Office to post it to the publisher in the UK, using the postal address I obtained from one of their books. But how wrong I was! They sent me a one paragraph acknowledgement letter after about six months; and that was all. I guess my story was trashed.
For me, writing has never been any special thing. Rather, I’ve always considered it to be a pastime; a thing of leisure and pleasure, that’s all. Let there be a call for an article or essay somewhere, I would make a submission. Let there be a church magazine; I would contribute. Let there be an in-house company newsletter; I would drop some lines. That’s the way it has always been, and I’ve always enjoyed the “show.”
As I was having fun writing in those days, little did I know that my fast fingers would lead to greater things later in the future. I don’t like boasting (a Catechist shouldn’t). But I must just tell you one or two things that my gifted fingers have done for me.
Please join me as I continue the story in “Why and How I write – Part 2.”