Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, RAMBLES, REVIEWS

HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN WRITER by Elnathan John

You know the value of books. The process of making them intrigues you. You want your name on the front cover of a book and, like an earthworm inches through dirt into the ground, you want to make your way into people’s homes, heads and hearts. I am here to help you achieve that.

 

First, you must look the part. It is important to look like an African writer. Find multi-coloured kampala fabric and use it to sew shirts which you’ll wear to all writers’ events. Or an old t-shirt. You shouldn’t look like a model or banker. Your precious time is spent thinking of plot and theme and words, not on dress and grooming. Your hair needs to be unkempt. However, nothing says authentic-tortured-African-writer like dreadlocks. Please, note that in Nigeria there is a difference between dreadlocks and ‘dada’. Dada is less refined, naturally matted coils of hair due to superstitious neglect. Dada is uncool. Dreadlocks are deliberate. They are cool. They make you look wildly creative. If someone asks; no, you are not a Rastafarian. You are an African writer.

As a writer, you must flaunt your vices. You need to show that you are a flawed character. If you drink, drink too much. If you smoke, do it at inappropriate times. Show up at an event reeking of booze. People will understand. Vices are a tool of the trade.

Now, you have the basic tools: a multi-coloured kampala shirt, cool dreadlocks, and vices. You must set about the business of writing.

You do not need to read a lot to be a Nigerian writer. In fact, as a Nigerian writer you can make shameless statements like “I don’t really read much”, in public. All you need is a burning desire to write. It is sufficient to have read Shakespeare and Achebe, and maybe a little of Chimamanda Adichie for contemporary reading. The only thing you need to really study is a dictionary or thesaurus.

Please, note that all Nigerian characters are Africans who act the same: children are respectful of elders; parents are always responsible, wise individuals teaching children valuable lessons of life. Characters do not use cuss words or talk about sex, even when in the company of peers. Nobody’s mother smokes and we have no homosexuals in Nigeria.

Use big words instead of small words; ‘Discombobulate’ instead of ‘confuse’. How can you write like a layman when you are an African writer? It doesn’t matter how many people read or understand you. What matters is that you impress those who do.

Use many words. It is always better to err on the side of verbosity than to err on the side of brevity.

Protect your work fiercely and always insist that people give you constructive criticism. Anyone who points out, rightly or otherwise, that your writing isn’t quite there yet, is evil and an enemy of your hustle. You must believe that there is nothing like bad writing. After all, you were inspired by the spirits before you began writing – what do critics know?

Do not waste your time or money on editors. Editors are failed writers whose life ambition is to frustrate the hustle of real writers like you. Show your friends your work. But only the ones who are not jealous of your hustle, and who remind you that your writing is the best thing since point-and-kill. Find some popular person from your village who will write you a foreword without actually reading your book. Then, go to press.

Go to Ibadan or Lagos. Find a cheap printer who can print 1,000 copies without ink smearing on the pages coming out lopsided. Arrange for a transporter to bring your book home.

A book is not complete without a book launch. In Nigeria, a book launch is a fund-raising ceremony. It is not important to have writers at this event. Well, maybe the book reviewer. You need your state governor (who may not come but will send a representative with a cheque or a pledge); your Local Government chairman; your Pastor or Imam to bless the event; and any minister, senator or rich person that you know. It is important to find a Chief Launcher who will encourage others to donate to your hustle. Do not leave it to chance or the discretion of the Chief Launcher, unless you are sure of his capabilities. In Nigeria, nobody is allowed to embarrass the Chief Launcher by giving more money. So, if you can, gently hint that you know he will set the bar high for others to follow. That is the job of the Chief Launcher – setting the bar as high as possible.

You do not need a marketer, publicist or publisher. These people eat into your profit margin. If you have a car, carry a few hundred copies in the trunk at all times. Be your own marketer. Steer conversation toward your book and tell them you have written this really cool book. Someone will ask for it and you will tell them to hold on for a minute while you get it from your car. If you don’t have a car, have a big bag that can carry at least 10 copies. Do not be ashamed to carry your books to public gatherings. Book by book, God blessing your hustle, you may end up selling off the 1,000 copies your printer produced, and maybe even go for a reprint.

Get an award. It doesn’t matter what. It may be from your church bulletin which you have been writing for since you were in secondary school or your old boy’s association newsletter. You can even have friends get together to organise and award you the ‘Roforofo Prize for African Fiction’. Then, you can have on your book, ‘Award Winning Author’. No need to state what award it is. An award-winning writer is a good writer.

It is my hope that you make it as a writer and have many successful books in the market. And with well organised book launchings, you can be sure that God will bless your hustle.

 

 

ElNathan John is a satirist and award winning author of the novel, Born on a Tuesday. He blogs at http://elnathanjohn.blogspot.com/ … Follow his tweets at @elnathan

el jo

He is the creator of the Nigerian ‘How to series…’ Google it! You might also want to check:

How to worship the Nigerian God

Damn You – Letter to Nigerian Literature and all involved

How to show Nigerian love

http://dailytimes.com.ng/opinion/how-be-nigerian-mechanic

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Posted in LIFE, RAMBLES, TALES

THOUGHTS OF A SINGLE NIGERIAN MAN

There are so many things running through my head right now. I feel a pain in my chest as I pay for fuel at the new price of N145 per litre. I remember that a few days ago, I left the same petrol station at 00:30, with a near empty tank after having queued for over 5 hours. Today it takes only a few minutes to get my tank full. I drive out thinking of the fact that the prices of everything have gone up and the only thing that stays down, annoyingly so, is my salary. I begin to bitch and gripe about my never increasing salary as against ever increasing prices and then I remember that the Nigeria Police Force received over 800, 000 applications for 10, 000 vacancies. I remember that any time we complain about poor salaries, management reminds us that there are a thousand people out there who can do our jobs a hundred times better than us for less than what we are paid.

I get home and it’s dark. I fix my meal with the dim light from the rechargeable lamp that has been charged only for a few minutes even though it has been plugged in for over 48 hours. The darkness reminds me of my loneliness. It was dark yesterday too but I had company; a friend from out of town was travelling with his girlfriend and they missed their flight so they spent the night at my place. It was the first time I was meeting his girlfriend and I envied them the moment I saw them together. They didn’t shove their relationship in my face but I could see that what they have is good. I still feel envious as I eat alone, reminded of the much better meal that she had insisted on cooking despite my half-hearted protests.

I hate the fact that I’m happy for my friend and jealous of him at the same time. I am angry at myself because  five years ago, I let a good thing slip away from me and now she’s married to another man but I can’t seem to find the strength to move on. I get depressed when I remember that what she once felt for me was so strong and I was too blind. Now she feels only pity for me as she has moved on to better things. She still typifies the ‘perfect girl’ for me, not because I haven’t met other outstanding women, but simply because everything seems to always look good with hindsight. When I imagine what could have been, I leave out the quarrels, insecurities and harsh realities of life that would have made the relationship just like any other. I keep the picture perfect in my mind’s eye. Such fixation with the past is making history repeat itself with other possible girlfriends.

It’s almost 10pm and I remember that I have to be out of the house by 5am the next morning to go and face another challenging day at work. Work has become tedious all of a sudden because reality has called to question, the ideals that led me to turn down a better paying job in favour of a job that would let me live my passion and bring satisfaction and happiness. I ask myself more frequently whether it was worth it, especially these days when I can’t seem to afford anything and my friends drive cars that would take a year of not touching my salary at all to be able to afford buying. How satisfied and happy am I right now? I still enjoy the core aspect of my work, though I feel like I could trade that for a little more financial comfort. A foreign trip is being planned at work and I may or may not be part of that trip. I have contemplated walking away from everything without a backward glance once I touch down Schiphol but deep within, I know that I would still come back because my passion has such a strong hold on me.

With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to live in this country. Every day the hardship increases with no respite in sight. We sacrifice our dreams, hopes and desires on the altar of survival. Many people have stuck with their jobs simply for the money. There is always something else they would rather do but all those things don’t put food on the table. In a country where the unwritten code is doctor, lawyer, engineer or infidel, it would be deemed madness to say you want to pack a bag and travel the country or wake up in the morning to write poems which you will share in the evening with a gathering of friends. Each family in Nigeria is blessed with that one person that will quickly point out to you that you can’t feed a wife and children with poems or experiences; that Aliko did not become Dangote by being a historian or a museum curator. Your parents will ask God where they went wrong and beseech him to cure you of this madness and bestow it upon their enemies! When do we start living a life of purpose as against a life of survival?

I haven’t called my mother in a while now though I think of her often. She’s going through some challenges that money can solve but I have not the money. I know she would love to hear my voice and just talk, pour out her heart to me which she used to do until I gave her the impression that she was disturbing me, especially when we discussed the absence of a woman in my life. It worries her. It worries me too. She has decided to give me some space. I really should pick my phone and call right now but it’s late and I may disturb her sleep, not that she would mind. I have only N34 on my phone though, so I will postpone the call yet again.

The battery of my laptop is fast running out and I have to hurry to finish whatever this is that I’m writing. If I don’t finish it today, it will become one of many things that procrastination did not allow me to finish. As I think of a conclusion more thoughts pour into my head. I think of church and how it has mutated to a profitable venture rather than a house of solace that it used to be. I think of the last girl I almost had sex with but didn’t because I was able to stop thinking with my penis before it became too late; the girl has a huge crush on me, I was only lusting, there was no condom…

I think of how my one room apartment will fit into the living room of a very close friend with space to spare. I think of all the things I used to believe in that I’m indifferent to now. I try to count the number of generators I can hear but I can’t because their different sounds have become one sound; a noisy chorus that will last all night even if power is restored. I think of the bottle of red wine that has been in my fridge for five months now because I don’t want to take alcohol again though I still take Smirnoff whenever I go to watch a game at La’Mango. It just doesn’t feel right ordering a soft drink in a bar. I think of the wrinkled shirt I will wear to work tomorrow if power is not restored. I think about the girl I sat next to in church on Sunday who seems to like me. I think of my friend and his girlfriend with a little less jealousy. I think about all the people that will read this and how many of them can relate and what percentage will view me as a disturbed and deeply troubled fellow. More thoughts keep pouring in but I will stop writing now lest I expose more of my soul than I already have.

23:06

12:05:06

OluOlu

First published here… OluOlu blogs at Surutuu.

Posted in POL TALKS, RAMBLES

THOU SHALL NOT BOW (Thoughts) by Aidee Erhime

Professor X had a friend, we’ll call him Dr Y.

Dr. Y’s wife recently became a professor and he came to Prof. X’s office to officially invite Prof to the celebration of success. It was something to be proud of. In the middle of the whole discussion and congratulations between both intellectuals, Dr. Y was clearly unhappy. Encouraged by Prof to speak out, Dr. Y poured out his whole jar of rants. His wife, whose school fees he had paid, whose welfare he had managed, whose life he had uplifted, had now become his intellectual superior. She was now a professor and he, a mere doctor. People now called the duo Dr. And Prof. Y and as if that is not enough, she has refused to show her gratitude to him.

 

Sighs.

One party would say the man is simply a hater while another would sympathise with him. A good fraction of the sympathisers would call the first party the feminist group. Isn’t that the norm of the day? Everyone who even remotely defends a female is called a feminist. I am a feminist.

News I read a while ago spoke of a different couple. A wife bagged her PhD and went on her knees before her husband to express immense gratitude to him for his support. One group spat out rebuke. Why would she go on her knees Aren’t there better ways to say ‘thank you honey’? A kiss? Mind-blowing night kungfus? Oh but she decided to kneel down and worship him like he is the alpha and omega of her life! Tueeh!

I am a feminist. I stand for everything that shuns maltreatment of females. I am against being told not to argue with a man because he is a man. I am a stubborn lady who will never let a man demand respect from me, not because he deserves it  but because he  is a man. But here’s something else, when a woman decides to marry a man, she inadvertently accepts to respect him above all else. Why would I get married to a man and find it hard to go all the way down to my knees just to show gratitude to him?

I dare say that those who cried foul are not feminists. Feminism doesn’t preach disrespect to your spouse. Feminism stands for proper treatment of women, feminism says don’t treat a woman as inferior. It doesn’t say to disrespect your husband. Feminism says, “I may be a woman but society won’t break me down; I get to make a choice rather than do as people expect me to do as a woman; I get to show society that my body isn’t all I have, I also have a brain that can think, a creative mind…” This is feminism, at least my version of it.

So why people hide under the canopy of feminism to scold a woman for kneeling before her spouse is confusing. Do they do it for the fun of it or for the satisfaction that comes with confusing young minds?Perhaps, it’s because I was brought up among the Yorubas who value respect a lot. Perhaps there’s something wrong with me for thinking she did just the right thing. Perhaps, I’ve decided to be stuck in the old-school way of thinking. Perhaps I should wake up and see that the world is fast moving and respect for one’s spouse isn’t a big deal anymore. Perhaps, I should waka-pass as usual and mind my own business. Perhaps…

 

Aidee Erhime tweets at @AideeErhime, and blogs at SEVHAGE and ERIMZY

Posted in LIFE, RAMBLES

WHEN MOODS COME… [THOUGHTS] – Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Who knows what this morning brought with it from yesterday?
Did one second at least bring a smile?
Hold on to it…and even if others force a frown for the times, let it go…just for a bit. Push it aside. There’s beauty deep within from which you can draw new lines to make you laugh.
What are the words of others?

Sometimes, truth.

Don’t let any harshness steal your joy. Meditate, let go of what doesn’t count..
Then make the rest of everything else do so.

Too many laughs depend on you… So, think of us. With love even as we follow slow steps to Orisa’s groves where we shall drink deep of your pools… and say soothing words to ease our souls of strain, and whatever pain might lie therein.

 

 

 

 

 

(P.S: Final stanza lines inspired by a poem by Agatha Aduro, bardest boo ever liveth. #hugs)

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, RAMBLES

HEY WRITER, STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE AND PRAY IT IS OKAY! (RAMBLES) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Life is one big contradiction in every field but it is more so when you are a writer—or so I think. You think you are there, you think you have the right words. You are in the moment and you bask as Mother Muse slowly pours herself unto your pages through the medium of creativity.

Depending on the time, you push yourself to the end or just rush it to a stop. Finally, you smile at seeming perfection. Ah! For the conscious writer, something pricks you to note that the work might have flaws here and there. So, you might decide to getTagxedo disorder editors or throw the work away. If you get the right editors, your headache begins. Have you ever noticed how those folks always seem to find faults here or there? Some of the faults are so obvious you have to hit yourself in the head! Ouch! How could you have missed that? This is the beauty of patience and seeking counsel. (Yes, if you miss the editorial seat, you might miss a lot of good stuff that might have made your work better.)

Anyway, you do your rewrite and maybe feel the work is okay… Or you keep editing till you tire out. I have been known on occasion to keep editing right up to the door of the final proofer and printer doors! Anyway, finally, you push the work out, hoping that someone will like it somehow and it will be the ticket to giving you something good. Some of us, and I am a front man in this group, edit and refine our work tying as many screws as possible.

In most cases, you get your work or book published and the feeling, for most, is indescribable. It is like a baby given to a parent. The looks of wonder at the new you is something the adjectives of the universe will not dare present. You hold that book close… Yes, I know there are a few who would look at their own book with bad eyes especially if it didn’t come out the way they like. Talk of all those parents who discover that their children are disfigured or not of the sex they want! But no, we are not talking of those sorts of parents. We are talking of the proud ones and yes, I didn’t derail. We are still talking about books.

It is easy to find authors who pick their published books and see things they wish could have been done or written differently. Many times have authors been caught reading what they hoped they might have put. Some would take a pen and correct a few lines shortly before reading at a festival or something. Sometimes you begin to see things that might best have been removed or something that might have been added for effect. It gets to the case of seeing your grown child not being the perfect baby you had once viewed. The hope is that with the next book, you will take extra precaution and have your heart more expressed.

Usually, the ideal thing that most writers come to discover is that a work is best left to fallow for three months or maybe a year… just enough time for you to have become a stranger so that you will edit your work through fresh eyes since looking at the same thing over slowly makes it seem perfect. But time is not on the side of anyone and how long can one really take? Tagxedo disorderThe changes and all might never be enough and we usually have to just halt. Much like what poet and scholar, Hyginus Ekwuazi says echoing older writers of yore, no true work of art has ever been truly completed. You simply have to get the maturity to let it go, and pray that point was a time worth your imperfection.

So much to writing, so much to reading. Oh well. In the end, who knows what I might want to edit from this piece… I will be mature and let it fly. Wherever your writing and reading takes you this week, make it worth the time. Cheers!

First published on the SEVHAGE Reviews website.