Onuigbo Rachael is a writer, natural skin-care consultant, and fitness coach. She won the 2015/2016 My Rainbow Books writing competition and is currently writing a memoir. She is an ardent reader and loves classics, young adult fiction, and thrillers. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found at the gym, sweating it out and coaching other people who want to lose weight or making tutorial videos to show how you can use natural products to treat a lot of skin issues.
Rachael was also a mentee in the first cohort of the Sprinng Literary Movement Mentorship Programme.
Connect with Rachael Below.
I started writing at a very young age; little things here and there. I wrote animal stories on pieces of paper and sold them to my friends for ten naira: to buy sweets. I remember my mum getting angry at me many times because I was always tearing pages of paper from my books and asking her to buy a new notebook too soon. Writing was my hobby.
When I was twelve, my dad, who meant the world to me, died from cancer. The pain I felt then is something I still hope to put into words, someday. I was devastated, and because there was no one I could talk to, I did a lot of internal screaming. I raged at God and the world and myself, wondering how the person I loved the most could leave me.
On one of those days I felt as if the hole in my heart would grow big enough to swallow me, I cut out paper and wrote. I can’t remember how many pages of paper I used, but it felt good. It was like the paper was my friend; like it understood me and was saying “tell me all you want. I’m here. I’ll listen.” More than anything, that was what I wanted: someone to listen to me. I was tired of all my internal screaming and writing gave me a voice. Writing became my passion.
Many people may never experience the peace that comes with laying your words bare on your paper, mobile notepad or wherever you prefer to write on. I’ve stopped trying to explain to people that writing is not just “that thing I do.” Writing has defined the person I am and each day; I rediscover a new nugget of myself that I tucked away for whatever reason.
Facing opposition is common in creative professions. People that want to be writers, designers, painters, musicians, dancers or anything creative have to put in double the work for people to take them seriously. I can’t speak for other parts of the world as I’ve never been, but in Nigeria, a lot of people will take your creative work as a joke until you become successful (and this success is always by their standards, never yours).
I have to admit that it gets exhausting trying to show everyone that you are not delusional for wanting to be an artist and yes, it is an actual job you love doing. My mother would always tell me that of course, I could write if I wanted but I should never forget I was going to be a doctor and that required more attention. So, I kept a lot of my literary achievements from her. I didn’t tell her when I started a blog, when I got featured in a literary magazine, when I won competitions, or when I wrote my first book. Maybe I should, but I’d be honest and say I’m not exactly ready for whatever reaction she may have.
Often, I am asked: “Why do you write?” It used to be difficult for me to articulate my reasons, but now, I am armed with a response. Writing saved me; it was the one constant thing in my life at a time when everything else was falling apart. So, I write to let out all the voices in my head. I write to create, feel, and experience. I write to travel to different places, be different people and live a thousand lives. Writing gives me the opportunity to tell my truths, and because there is no judgment in words, I am allowed to let out all the things I am afraid of when I write. I bleed my thoughts from my fingers because like air, I need words to survive.
To me, writing is a celebration of life. I pen down words and make my stories immortal so that when I’m gone, my works live on to show that yes, I was here. I lived.
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