I started to write as a child because I saw Feyi Fagade write a story in class. We were in Primary 5-White at the time, in Twin Fountain School, Warri. I was a fan of Feyi’s. She was so together and was not in the least interested in impressing anyone at our ripe old age of 10 years. In retrospect, I see now that I wondered with unrefined thought of just how calmly sure she was of herself. I on the other hand, battled with peer pressure by being a “mental bully”. I bullied in order to seem sure. I only discover this insightful bit of myself as I write this essay.
Feyi was writing a fiction that seemed a lot like African folklore. She asked if I wanted to write a bit and I said yes. At the time, it seemed quite an interesting idea that one writes a story. Now, it still feels interesting. All that happened back then was that we were made to read the stories others had written. She was upset with me for bringing the story to an end much too quickly. I unwittingly learned my first lesson about my writing that day with Mr. Amata sitting on his desk, marking our class work- I like stories ending quickly. It’s no wonder I leave off watching TV series when they drag out much longer than they need to. This does not include “Friends” or “The Big Bang Theory”.
I have of course improved remarkably in my writing in that my audience actually read to the end of the article, something I really struggle to do when articles are written- important or not to my life.
As a writer, I have observed that taking your audience along is a skill that one must possess. We must write and give our opinions as though we aren’t trying too hard to lead you to our conclusions but knowing nonetheless, that with each paragraph we keep you spell bound, we own a piece of you forever, chipping the former reality you held so dear. Beware of writers. Even when you disagree with us and reaffirm your stance on any subject, we are inadvertently giving you new reasons to hold on to your professions where they hung weakly on the traditions and crowd (un-)inspired mentalities, even if your ideas are wrong.
I told myself I was going to say the truth, although what truth is to a human can only be relative. I told myself that I was to be true to Hemmingway and other writers portrayed in the black and white movie era, walking the Parisian streets, of course without being pretentious. I would change the way my generation saw the world as Coco Chanel did for women with the jacket or Freda did with her rebellious art. The only problem was that I sometimes felt uninspired. Writers’ block- thoughts refusing to form and formed thoughts refusing to expand.
I couldn’t write consistently for countless days because each piece must mean something bigger than me. Now, I call this “The burden to matter”. To gain a following or readership, one must be consistent. So the problem of inspiration will need to be solved.
I am Nigerian and that is synonymous in the 2010’s with being just a bit ticked off. I will draw inspiration now from the anger we all have within, anger for our rule of law and anger for the grandstanding of the patronizing leaders of our society.
I am a woman. Surely that’s more than enough material for endless articles. The condescension faced daily will fill ten books.
I don’t think anger alone would cut it. I chose to inspire sometimes as well and this choice helped because I am not all the time angry. I raged and then inspired, implored my readers and subtly asked them to see the world from my point of view, one curious opinion after the other. Beware of writers. Harmless letters forming less harmless words, that then form sentences and paragraphs that in turn form stories conspiring to make changes in your psyche where you haven’t granted permission.
At the times writers are not inspired to write with ease, the process is quite tasking, making the writer reach for depths formerly unknown to her. Inspiration is drawn from the most diverse of places, one thousand dollars being motivation enough to dust ones keypad.
In the process of writing, an idea has been known to take on a life of its own, not giving any warning, keeping the writer just as dumfounded as her reader. I have found in writing that a writer has no business creating the title of a story fueled purely by inspiration. This could be the murder of great potential, short-circuiting the idea that could have spun down an unimagined route. I know I have started with one line of thought and ended up talking about something completely different.
In recent times with the development of blogs and platforms like Medium and others, writers have sought for outlets and their niche audience. We the writers of the world hereby thank Medium, Facebook and Twitter etc for the outlets they’ve created.
A lot of good writers never take off as a voice to be reckoned with because they do not pick a niche and become authorities in that field. To write about everything is to be a sounding cymbal. But then we see that a person is more than one thing. I describe man as a form of onion bulb. Peeling back a layer reveals another in a phenomenon I called the multiplicity of man. You can be a professional graphics designer, who is passionate about the educational sector (or lack thereof, depending on where you live) and has a penchant for long distance running. What does one blog about- Graphic design and the use of several design softwares, fitness or informal/formal education? How does one pick? I’m afraid I leave you with more questions than answers.
I want you to know though, that writers might indeed have you in strings, imposing their ideas on you, manipulating you to have new opinions, new ideas. Ideas that will shake and question everything you ever believed. But this is the catch 22- these writers of whom you should beware should themselves beware. Are we not but tools of a school of thought? We are either the tools of a school of thought or the tools of this schools’ opposition. We are used by the opinions we think are ours. We are tools of the ideas we met, ideas that existed long before us. Ideas we simply absorbed and then propagate for the absorption of others, brainwashing ourselves in a perfect system of ignorance. The ideas in opposition to ours are in existence simply to reinforce ours. By nature, we resist change in ideology but the writer suggests changes. Subtly, we lead you into the lives of those with whom you can empathize, seeing that they are not that different from you. You develop feelings for these characters and then see yourself excusing behaviors or ideas that you formerly would have spat on. You lose your shock factor. We write movie scripts with undertones of opinions and ideas suggested in the kindest ways, the most subtle of ways that keep you convinced that you formerly had this idea, that you formerly thought this way.
Who owns these ideas? From where do these new ideas of political correctness stem? How are these ideas suddenly rampant? Ideas that if one had previously had would immediately brand him as evil or as a bigot or as a usurper? Beware of writers.
Then I will explore reasons why one must not become a writer.
As a writer, you live in fear that you would never top your last book, your last play, your last article. You fear that you will never grow in your ability to string words together accurately, never be able to hold your audience captive as you once did. You fear that everything will be a caricature of your former originality. That everything is a sham will start to hunt you everywhere you go. Because as a rule all writers read, you read the work of a more powerful charlatan, one more skilled in her craft of making you drown in uncertainty, you start to question your own ideas, you read something like this essay and come to understand that your ideas are not in any way original. You fear that the jig is up and you were wrong after all. How, dear writer do you cope? Do you carry on like the numerous weaklings in science that insist we call them scientist and say that this new challenge to your former ideas is nothing but fallacy? Does your pride give way to the truth or do you hold on to your ideas in which you have no faith? Do you own up to your wrong ideas? Do you on your death bed admit to or give up on the existence of God? Or do you keep mum? Will you tell anyone that you had actually falsified the skeletons you claimed dated over a thousand years because your original theory was wrong? Who is Professor Reiner Protsch? Admittance of wrong is one of the most noble things a person can do, yes. But again I ask- is nobility real or another idea we met and carry on? When a writer, a provoker of thought and opinions discovers he is wrong, does he hide his shame? Are the concepts of shame, nobility, right and wrong in themselves real or a figment of our imagination? More questions. One could say that it is in our best interest that we insist they are real.
Another reason you must not become a writer is that sense of exposure. When I write not about writing in itself, I leave a bit of myself out here. It is a “nakeding” feeling. One that helps me understand just how the emperor felt standing in front of his townspeople, the little boy pointing out the obvious. I wonder again if my mental state can be assessed through my writing. “If I say my truth” I wonder, “would men in strait jackets be at my door?” Am I crazy or is everyone just as crazy? George Orwell said in 1984 “Sanity was statistical. It was merely a question of learning to think as they thought”. Will exposing my mental state draw the attention of scrutiny that will indeed bring about scientists discussing new means of identifying depression? Do I have an over-inflated sense of self? Am I so deluded and narcissistic that I imagine that I would ever write anything that anyone of average importance would care enough to report on my mental state?
Now I have given you reasons not to be a writer, I will give you reasons not to read what writers have written. Don’t read because every writer has an agenda. Every writers goal is to sway you. Don’t read novels- fiction or not, don’t read the Bible or the Quran, don’t read articles. Unsubscribe from the blogs you receive newsletters from. You of course can’t watch the television either. Writers write what you watch on the tube. Writers write movie scripts. Writers write cookbooks. Cooks have agendas as well. They get paid to advertise butters that might not be the best brands. Stare deep into space because you will be tainted by each and everything you read, watch or discuss. Discussions are one of the ways writers get data for their work. Everybody that speaks to you has an opinion that came from a writer. Don’t speak to them either. They are tools used by the tools called writers. It is a vicious cycle. Escape the loop.
I have started the outline for my new nameless book. Please buy my book when it’s out. Read my book and no one else’s. I have no agenda.