February Updates

Halfway through the month and two things became clear to me; the first is that I have been watching way too many shows on Netflix and the second is that I bought two sets of gym clothes and I have not done even one push-up this year.

I expected a sense of ‘shame on you’ with these two realizations but what I experienced was the intensity of intention. I’ll explain. I love watching Korean dramas, documentaries and animations on Netflix so much so that I find such a sense of joy and calm when I settle down to watch an episode after a long day at work or on Saturdays. On working out, this year I had set out to be more intentional and even set up a reminder and a workout plan. I haven’t adhered to both and I find myself stretching more often with ease, walking or just sleeping instead.

On reading: I am currently reading Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Tom Hardy.

I just downloaded 3 new titles to my Kindle app via Netgalley and these have to be some very beautiful covers.

On Writing: I haven’t written anything since January 25th 2022 and it’s not okay. I do not have the strength to keep asking why or keep jotting sentences that do not align with the novel that I should have completed last year.

Have a lovely weekend.

I look forward to watching the next two episodes of the following shows on Netflix: Twenty Five, Twenty One and Forecasting Love and Weather.

Dear Self

Right now:

I want you to say ‘yes’ to the things that:

  1. scare you
  2. challenge you
  3. frustrate you
  4. worry you

I want you to say ‘yes’ to them

Not because they are right,

Not because they are all there is to life,

I want you to say ‘yes’ because they are the things that hold you back,

The things that tell you how little you mean to the universe.

I want you to ‘listen to them,’ and then start the work of making peace with those beyond your control and resolving those that you can.

Dear Self, I want you to know thyself.

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Reading Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

It’s 7:36pm and I am seated on the floor in this space I rent out in Mbita. The rain this morning brought with it some calm and chills and I am on my second cup of tea. Silver Spoon by BTS is playing as I write this and I am tempted to dance to it and sweat a little, shake off the cold, get rid of the socks and sweater.

I finally got to read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The book won the 1997 Booker Prize and has such a vast range of reviews that I could not help but have it on my wish list. Now that I have read it, let’s say that the Writer in me was challenged and in awe while the Reader enjoyed some bits and remains baffled by others.

First things first, I love works of fiction serve a table of contents. It’s like being invited to a buffet, and you can actually read the chapter titles and keep it going. So, this one had me at that.

I love descriptions as a Writer and this is because I struggle with getting it to feel just as right as you read it, and when I come across a description that has me in my feelings then the Writer and Reader are both pleased. Two of such stand out for me, however before I share them, I will let you in on what the book explores. “The book explores the tragic fate of a family which “tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how.” There’s the grandmother Mammachi, her spoilt Angophile son, Chacko, daughter Ammu and her inseparable twins: Estha and Rahel, then the mother of all drama queens, manipulative as hell bundle of life in form of their aunt called Baby Kochamma.”

Now two phrases that got me in my feelings:

When Margaret Kochamma saw her little daughter’s body, shock swelled in her like phantom applause in an empty auditorium.

The second phrase:

Impelled by feelings that were primal yet paradoxically wholly impersonal. Feelings of contempt born of inchoate, unacknowledged fear, civilizations fear of nature, men’s fear of women, power’s fear of powerlessness. Men’s subliminal urge to destroy what he could neither subdue nor defy.

I am glad that I got to read this book and it’s got me on extreme ends of elation and disappointment. The characters were so well written that even the plot itself offered me surprises, twists and turns and more so driven by hidden desires of the characters- and frankly speaking this book wouldn’t get far without Baby Kochamma. That aunt pulled some stunts that only she could do. What I couldn’t fathom was why the twins; Rahel and Estha were presented as mysteries and this followed them all the way into adulthood- yet Rahel was pretty straightforward even as a child, always speaking her mind- thus earning her the title of the ‘thoughtless one.’

You can buy a copy on : Amazon

Here’s another reason that’d compel you to read this book:

Like Rain falling into the Sea

Look at the rain long enough, with no thoughts in your head, and you gradually feel your body falling loose, shaking free the world’s reality. Rain has the power to hypnotize.

Hajime, South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

I spent three hours with this book in a bus this morning from Kisumu to Mbita. To the world woven by Hajime, of love, lust, decisions and young love and from the very first time he meets Shimamoto, he knows that she’s unforgettable.

He’s not a character you’d warm up to. It’s in his relationships with women that you could say he’s inconsiderate and selfish and as such ends up hurting the women he interacts with. However, it’s in Murakami’s style of writing that you cannot waver from reading the book to the end. And in a way, Hajime in peeling layer upon layer of the people in his life, perhaps finds the clarity of his own.

This book made me smile at the thought of rain in 186 pages.

Of his love and meeting with Shimamtoto twenty five years later, of the secrets she never let him unravel, of the grief she wore, the song It will Rain by Bruno Mars, is all I had in mind.

And at nine-thirty Shimamoto showed up. Strangely enough, she always appeared on, quiet rainy evenings.

On

I speak of the dawn more than dusk,

It’s the dusk I love, it’s the dawn I ask for.

So when the world settles on my shoulder, before my knees sink on the ground I place my hand on my chest, look for my heart, await the slight beating of it,

And I tell myself that I made it to this moment,

The journey is still on.

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Last week of December 2021: Life updates and stuff

It’s a joy to be writing this.

I’ve had a flu this past week that came with joint pain, exhaustion, headaches and a never ending fever and when I thought the worst was behind me, I get to deal with a never ending cough. For three days I lacked the sense of taste.

So, let me start over: happy holidays! How are you spending the holiday season? We have two days to the end of 2021 and at the back of my mind there is the feeling to strive for more, better, for adventures, for a happier me and all that. I am also looking forward to achieving the goals that I never did this year.

As I write this, it’s 9:33pm and it’s raining in Kisumu. I haven’t had a cup of tea tonight. I just finished watching, The Silent Sea, on Netflix. If you’re looking for a dystopian or sci-fi series to watch- give it a go, it’s worth the time and it’s Gong Yoo on this!

On reading: I have bought more books this month which I hope to include in the books I get to read in the coming days.

This year, I did get to read 202 of the 200 books I had set as my Goodreads Reading Challenge and I would love to read more books next year.

On writing: I would love to do four key things:

  • Write daily by adhering to a writing schedule
  • Join and commit to a Writers Group
  • Publish my #WIP
  • Talk more about my writing either on talk shows, podcasts, book clubs.

I look forward to reflecting more on the things I do and have done this year in the next two days.

Until the next post, do have a wonderful time.

Make memories, cherish the good, challenge yourself to learn from the moments that wound you. Give love. Laugh loud. Dance like you’re the wind.

10 Japanese Proverbs that I love

What would the world be without pearls of wisdom? I’ve shared some of my favorite African proverbs and sayings here and this time around, I’d like to share 10 gems that I find intriguing from Japan.

Love without friendship is like the shadow without the sun.

The deepest river flows slowly.

If you believe everything you read, you shouldn’t read.

Nothing is more expensive than what is free.

The tongue is but three inches long yet it can kill a man six feet high.

In wealth, many friends, in poverty, not even relatives.

It is because of fools that wise men can stand out.

You don’t have to die. Heaven and Hell are in this world too.

When you have completed 95% of your journey, you are halfway there.

Experience is an expensive school, but a fool will learn from no other.

Self Publishing: Lessons I’m learning and things I hope to achieve

I have been writing for two decades now.

My first attempt at self-publishing led to the production of a short story, Dear Yellow, on Smashwords in November 2011. I have published 30 ebooks on Smashwords since then. Of the titles published on Smashwords, the most reviewed are: 21 Days, Pieces, Made for You, and Say You Love Me.

In 2014 and early 2015, I got onto Amazon and by then it was CreateSpace that called out to me and I tried my hand at it and went for publishing books for sale on Amazon. My author page now looks pretty much like this:

One of the greatest challenges working and writing then publishing on Amazon was that I could not reach out to more Kenyans and persuade them to buy the books online, because first it meant using a debit or credit card and second, if they wanted paperback copies the cost of shipping was ten times more than the book. As a Writer, though Amazon offered me the books at an author’s price, I also had to factor in shipping costs and this had me ship books only in the fall- so readers here could only get copies once a year! It was exhausting!

Sometime in 2018, a Writer friend, Elly shared her experience self-publishing in Kenya, and I reached out to a couple of publishers and finally got feedback from Publish 4 All here in Kenya.

So, in 2019 I worked with them and published Sifuna, then followed it with Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi and In the Quiet.

  • From 2011, to date, I am learning that it takes a lot of work to write, and not just jot down words but to align them into a story and a memorable one as such.
  • I am also learning that self-publishing means you put in the work, if you do not work on a quality cover, or format your book into the right size and ensure all contents fit the frame, then it’s nerve wrecking and means you go back and forth with the printers until you get it right and all this comes at a cost because in Kenya we import paper, so any paper waster is money wasted.
  • Today, I appreciate the efforts put in by the Kenya Copyright Board to ensure provision of copyright certification for content produced. Elly gives a step by step account of how to copyright your work in Kenya-> here
  • It’s also easier and faster buying an ISBN from the Kenya National Library Services at www.isbn.ac.ke

I hope to keep writing and publish more books for as long as I’ve got breath in me and for this year, it’s been a daunting task to complete a book I had wanted to publish in August.

  • I would love to be vastly read and to also see more young girls and women writing books, both fiction and non-fiction in Kenya.
  • One more thing I hope to achieve is designing good book covers. I am currently taking lessons on basic graphic design and learning how expensive good software is! So, I hope I can learn how to create book covers and in the future buy the software and use it.

Until then, if you’re interested in print on demand services, email Publish 4 All at p4akenya@gmail.com and they’ll give you a breakdown of the services they offer.