The other day, I wished the most gracious Donna Mwiine a happy birthday. As a present, I followed her blog Introvert World but did not mention a thing, for I was certain the wonderful Prof. Google would send her a notification to that effect by way of an E-mail.
Yesterday, she posted something quite intriguing; Will the real writers please stand up!!! http://wp.me/p3Vjrz-6o
Apparently, she is not the only one that the thoughts she was generous enough to share have been keeping company. Her post was published as I held a conversation with a writer, Salmah, and had done so with another, Jemima, on the same not so long ago.
In an age where the real, or established writers are lamenting that selling books is not easy, as most do not have a culture of reading thus subjecting authors to the unfortunate life of poverty, the talented few and anyone else who has anything to scribble down will, inevitably, embrace the internet and with only a few clicks take to majorly Twitter, Facebook, and blogging.
Indeed, what another wonderful writer, Conrad Kuzooka, had told me is right; “passion will take you to a PC and blog. I write on paper but that is frustrating with bad handwriting”.
Well, that is him, but we can all agree that there is more than simply poor handwriting. We live in age where we can only hope that the young men and women who have embraced these contemporary technologies will eventually grow up and get real jobs. Until then, they will keep making things up and Tweeting, Facebooking, or blogging about them. Both the depositors and the recipients are not afraid, and should not be, to tell their stories however they choose to do so. The smartphone is no longer just a portable computer in our pockets. It has become the remote control for our lives, and coupled with Tablets, they are recommendable devices for writing and reading.
The question now becomes; “Who are these real writers that need to stand up?” The ones who will feed these devices. We all are, and here, I try to illustrate why.
Donna writes that writing is not easy. That she just puts her thoughts down the best way she knows now. And that she is not trying to win any awards or even get any recognition. Hello Beewol, bravo, you have done a great job and eventually turned into a theme.
Absolutely, writing is not easy as we have learnt that we got to regularly sit on (y)our typewriter, or computer, or mobile device with a backbreaking stoop and then type until blood starts oozing out of (y)our forehead(s) unbeknownst to the audiences we want to educate, impress, or help laugh.
And what do we become after that? Real writers, or jokers? I do not even know where I belong myself.
However, if it makes you, Donna and others, feel any comfortable, I used to think somewhat like you. That my work was as shitty as Zeno Othieno Owora describes it, and recommends that I beef up my little blog which I last updated years ago i.e when I last did anything good on it. Thankfully, “meeting” two Nigerians: Okwy Obu and Ikhide Ikheloa changed and encouraged me, tremendously.
From them I have learnt and will tell you that;
Not all of us are intellectuals. Not all of us are meant to be “serious” literature writers and bloggers. For some of us, “Harlequinesque” romance is our forte. For some, it is adventure stories. For others it is spy thrillers. For Salmah, Jemimah, Julie, Ester, Kahill, Ayam Patra (some persistent Ugandans – my friends -I subscribe to) and more it is the things and people they love, and the experiences they go through every other day. And so on and so forth. We should be free to express ourselves however we choose and on whatever we choose.
Beyond our somewhat “dreadful” prose and ideas, we could teach the serious ones lessons in imagination and relevance. Let us stop lampooning and ignoring one another. Room must be found for everybody.
Those who belong to my generation, the “I do not give a rat’s fuck” generation, please do not be afraid of that ogre, the intelligentsia. Pay no heed to those intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals. Just be free to learn from anyone you please, and to write on anything you please, and do not apologise to anyone for that.
But one thing you must do though: first build that necessary backbone called self-confidence founded on reality. Know who you are and do not inflate or denigrate your worth. Do not allow your worth to be dependent on the estimation of your peers, and even on that of “established” writers. If you are good, you are good. If you are terrible, you are terrible. Nobody else can change that but you yourselves. For that reason, you should keep building up yourselves per diem.
And, do not be afraid to express yourselves. Never for one moment buy into the bogey that you have to first prove yourselves by publishing macho stuff before seizing the soapbox and pontificating on anything you please. You have as much right to your own views as the next person. All you need to do is to make sure that whatever you say is something well thought out and not trash. Whether others respect your views or not is rather their own problem, not yours. You will have spoken.
We are all contributing to the body of literature which is a vast canvas containing all kinds of images. One should not be afraid to learn from every writer, however contemptible. Read widely, keep writing and always be your own most merciless critic. Never be satisfied with the progress you make. Keep progressing, improving and experimenting.
Take writing like you do exercise. Be loose-limbed, do not be uptight, let it flow, let your attitude flow, mine your inner demons, and your best will come out. Do not over edit the divination of your dreams.
Ultimately, it is true, a writer is judged by the quality and quantity of his best work, but this work can be seldom fully understood without reference to the lesser efforts, which frequently not only represent significant steps in progress but do much to reveal the worth of the writer him/herself.
Personally, I have realized that it is only after innumerable compositions and decomposition of the intellect that great work is produced.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us do this.