REDEFINING WRITING AND A FEW OTHER TIPS BY EBUKUN OGUNYEMI (April 2018 Publication)
My writing journey started with falling in love with literature; enjoying the reading of African literature especially and trying my hands on writing every storyline, conversation, imagination and things that flood through my mind in all genres - poetry, drama and prose; but it wasn’t enough to build me as a Writer but it was enough to sustain my interest in Literature and Art. What am I trying to say? There is a point in your creative life where you come to the realization that your desire for literature and everything art is not because you enjoy it alone but because it makes you feel alive. How did it make me feel alive? Every time I craved that my pen bleeds, the only way I get to feel like I’ve had a complete day was if I scribbled something even if it’s one; the desire to be better at it; the crave to write like someone; the desire to put my work out there; to replicate the same feeling the writer of whatever book I’ve read in someone else and that right there is not normal! Only a Writer feels that way not an enjoyer of Art! An enjoyer of art only gets and feels the message, becomes impressed, feel sober, celebrate and laud the ingenuity of the owner of the work of art but a Writer experiences it all! She is the passer of the message and the enjoyer of it!
With that feeling right there, I knew what I wanted. I knew nothing else could give me much joy than trying and daily making efforts to succeed at this – Writing! How do I make that happen? I realized I needed to redefine Writing! It’s bigger and powerful than I handle it. I realized Writing could be communal but it’s more personal than general. What Writing is to me may not be what it is to another person, so I’ve got to decide what it is to me and make it what I want!
I started writing at a very young age – I was in Primary 5, many started writing way earlier than that! I didn’t think I was doing anything serious. I didn’t have an audience, I was not encouraged but I knew it was something meaningful but even at that, I was paying attention to things like rhymes when I read and write poetry. I enjoyed them and laughed at the funny ones so I wasn’t enjoying the technical poetries. I would avoid them enough that I could count the number of Shakespearian poems that I enjoyed but I picked one thing or two from him about rhymes. I started making attempts at poetry. I listened to a lot of music – Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves, Kool and The Gangs, Don Williams, etc. I learnt the importance of words; content. As time goes on (I was doing more of drama; wrote so many – for me, developing dialogue was the easiest thing to do), I stumbled on poems from people like Niyi Osundare, Odia Ofeimun, John Pepper Clark Bekederemo, Wole Soyinka, Thomas Wyatt, W. B. Yeats, John Milton, Leopold Sedhar Senghor and I realized the essence of satire, revolution, history, depth, imagery, having a message, standing up for something and defending it; lending a voice and fighting for a cause – the essence of art. I devoured a lot of their pieces. Later on, I discovered I enjoyed reading Soyinka’s prose more than poetry because he was a lover of elevated English words (vocabularies) and I enjoyed the simplicity in the works of other poets. It was more like the simple choice of words but with underlying depth. I like it when I read a poem (I’m a sucker for African poems), easy to assimilate and I am left to ponder; I could muse on it – a work that leaves me to reflect, think, have opinions, do the hmmm/wow thing, get my pen bleeding with inspiration; that’s what I call a good work.
Also, same was for Prose! The first book I ever read was Efuru by Flora Nwapa and a whole of other male writers but there was one thing, I couldn’t identify with them. I read Buchi Emecheta’s Joys of motherhood then Lord God! Adichie to the rescue; right there! I knew what kind of writer I wanted to be. It was quicker to realize what kind with prose. It was easier realizing what manner with poetry, drama was never a challenge (it was like I defined that earlier ‘cause I started there). Therefore, realizing something with the two helped me to merge them together. Knowing what kind of Writer I wanted to be in Prose also equaled Poetry and knowing what manner in poetry also equaled what manner in prose. So what do you see in my writing? You see simplicity, a voice, a target audience, an interest, depth, hard work and every other thing other people may see that I don’t.
What am I trying to say in essence with the storytelling above? I’m saying, the art of writing is a process. You have to go through it to be a better Writer. Reading is how you discover the kind of Writer you want to be and every moment I tried my hands on writing, I realized the ones that come naturally to me and the ones I’m trying to learn. As a person, I’m naturally deep and I have a thing for imagery and description, so when I write anything at all, I basically do not search for those things, they just flow but there are certain things in writing, I needed to develop and a truth I discovered and no one can tell me is that those parts of your writing that do not come naturally and needs development are the ones that bring out the beauty in the natural ones.
Most importantly, a Writer does not read anyhow (you might think otherwise but that’s my style). I don’t just read anything and that is as a result of allowing me to go through my writing process. During the process, there’s that stage where you try to read almost everything – anything that you lay your hands on and it is in that moment that you learn to build your reading list and a reading list is hinged on building your identity. There are people who believe a good Writer is not a selective reader but I don’t belong to that school of thought. I decide what makes me a good Writer (not that I ignore tips). As a Writer trying to be better, I believe in reading books by people who help you to see the kind of writer you want to be. I mean which writer can you identify with? What books do you relate to personally and content wise? Who writes and lend a voice to things you’re passionate about? See, a Writer can read all books (for review, entertainment, interest, etc.) but if you must be good at writing your kind of writing, you gotta read books by people who write your kind of writing and when you read them, you don’t read them because you want to write exactly like them but you read them to understand why you need to keep and develop your writing voice. In essence, you’re not supposed to be another Writer’s clone. You’re supposed to write your own way in their category. This is what I mean, there are Writers whose books I pick and can put them in the same category; not because when I pick a book by A I could see she has been reading a lot of B in her works but because they champion the same thing; they lend a voice to the important things – the things we are scared to talk about, they tackle it all and I am talking about Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lola Shoneyin, Chika Unigwe and the likes. I constantly update myself with their works because when I pick them, I’m inspired with things to write about, I’m reminded why my voice is not mediocre and I see growth and consistency in one work to the other.
In summary (I could take all day lest the essence of the writing be lost by length), I like to think that a Writer should always be conscious of the environment, society and the era she lives in. it’s quite crucial to your voice! It’s how it stays relevant, creative and constant. There is always something to talk about in that place where your interest lies. You can talk about it all. Talk of the female gender, equality is not the only thing that’s not right! Many things are not. Who says you can’t handle them all? Spread your wings! Also, a lot of reading births a lot of writing. Read for yourself and let yourself into the mind of the Author. Don’t just read for recommendation’s sake. Just because someone thinks a 2.0 of a book doesn’t mean it can’t make your 9.5. Just because you pick a book and it didn’t really speak to your core doesn’t make it a poor book, you might just need to learn how to be a little more selective. Don’t be in a haste to tell people how many books you’ve read that you never really digest them and I also like to think that the greatest tool any Writer can possess is a mind, creativity, reading culture and above all, a pen and a paper. Sometimes you might have a musing but no energy to add the creative juice and sometimes that inspiration may come like a thought, a reflection, a storyline, an opinion, a reaction, etc. it’s better to pen it down. No Writer builds on a vacuum, there’s always a preexisting thought (more like a foundation to build on).
Finally, phones and laptops are not trustworthy! Hard disk can pack anytime. Once, I lost a work that took me two years and more to write; the pain still stings till date and I couldn’t recover the desire to write that work again (I hope I do). Just know, it’s safer to always use a dropbox. Never take a chance on your works and also, a Writer should never lose the essence of writing – to effect change, lend a voice, protect and defend a cause. Art isn’t just for art sake anymore. It has never been but now; it’s more about the soul, mind and humanity’s sake.
Ebukun Gbemisola Ogunyemi is a Writer (Content Writer, Screenwriter, Fiction Writer, Creative writer, Poet, Spoken Word Artist) avid reader, fiction series, lifestyle, faith and social issues blogger.
She is also a fun baker, recipe developer, amazing cook, an aspiring On-Air-Personality/Media Personality, passionate about Women, Children, Family, Parenting and Emotionally related causes. She is a simple, witty and resilient individual and she hopes to own her talk show very soon!
Her life goals is to impact, bless and shape the world by sharing her journeys of self-discovery, rediscovery and utilizing God’s deposits in her life maximally.
19/4/2018 10:10:03 pm
The common saying that, 'Rome was not built in a day', is evident in this piece as the author gives a well detailed background story as to what and how her writing skills was birthed.
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