I spent two hours this evening writing as I do ever so often but if asked whether I am a writer chances are I would answer with a shy and possibly dismissive (It’s nothing to write home about tone), “No I am not a writer but I am borderline in-love with words in their various forms”. It’s very similar to how perhaps a baby who has learnt to walk probably thinks: “hey, I can actually take steps” but she wouldn’t say she is a walker, at least not yet a certified walker but just in that weird stage between crawling and walking that someone should perhaps come up with a name for. Poor analogy but I suspect you understand what I mean.
I read an interesting post on instagram the other day written by a writer, as her bio clearly stated :Writer, paraphrasing her post she said something along these lines: I would not say I am a writer, I am just a feeler who uses writing to scratch the itch when it arises. And this ladies and gentlemen, I have found is a sentiment that resonates with me and probably with a lot of other aspiring writers. Most times, I write because I am feeling emotions so deep that they demand that I ink them onto pieces of blank pages (or type them onto my cellphone screen) and make them memorable. I write best when I am on the extreme of either side of the spectrum: Sunshine and rainbows kind of happy or the kind of sadness that makes your heart feel like it is beating out of rhythm. I am a certified feeler on the journey of becoming a writer because it is only once one is published does a closest writer feel like they can finally wear their : I am a WRITER t-shirt.
I have found writing to be one of the most beautiful spaces, I have often found solace here from avalanches of emotions, I have seen beauty between letters and I have revisited lovers lost in the corners of my notebooks. I am currently attempting to become a certified writer. Yes, you guessed right, I am writing a book but more specifically a novel. The next paragraph will probably be the hardest to write, where I want you to get a glimpse of what we will call “The Novel”, yet equally I am not yet at a place where I am letting a lot of people in on what it is actually about.
“The novel” is based in Uganda and South Africa the two countries that house the stories of my origin. It is a story of becoming, not my autobiography but instead it borrows pieces of the people I have met and the conversations I have heard. The book follows the lives of two girls, their learning, unlearning and relearning about themselves, the world and those closest to them. It is a combination of a love story that consumes your entire heart, political themes and discovering the essence of one’s self: Home.
It was inspired by Africa and by a need for us to record our stories, Chimamanda said it best when in her TED Talk she remarked, I always wanted to read books that had people like me in them, people who had been to places I had been, that I could relate to. I was also inspired by the notion that we can look at the very same thing yet have it evoke different emotions. Africa yes there are vast complexities and uncertainties, now let us shift our view: Africa the blank canvas with so many opportunities, as uncertainty makes all things seem plausible.
I have learnt that writing a novel is like scaling a mountain, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance, I am still learning. There will be days where you just have to push through, knowing fully well that you are solely using your grade one vocabulary and you will feel inadequate on those days, then there are the day’s where you feel like you and Shakespeare could have been friends drinking tea and rhyming. On those days write and don’t stop until exhaustion overtakes your body. My biggest annoyance has been the moments when half way through a chapter, I realize that I have written 2000 words that make the previous chapter not make sense so I have to delete and try again or when one minute a character is wearing a blue dress and in the next line she’s wearing a red dress: consistency in the story is key, this too I am still learning. In summary I am in the awkward space between a feeler and a writer, that someone should come up with a word for, wish me luck Ladies and Gentleman. I will leave you with these words:
“If you hear a voice within you say, “You cannot paint”, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
By: Ijangolet Ogwang