Why do you write and other questions I can’t answer with a straight face

It’s a Tuesday and I am preparing my third cup of tea as I write this. No, I just poured water into an electric kettle and switched it on- the tea will come as a result of dipping a teabag into the hot water for a few seconds and adding sugar to it.

I’m a Writer. I write.

I have my days and in saying so I mean days when I am excited about writing and can write continuously and then those days when the sight of a blank page makes me want to curse my ancestors.

It’s been three weeks since I published and received copies of my latest work, Sifuna, and with this there have been questions that I’ll admit I never answered with a straight face, not because they were neither funny nor annoying, rather, they were questions I didn’t expect to hear.

First things first, have you seen the cover I designed for Sifuna?

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I’ve received positive reviews so far and I am glad that I got to print copies here in Kenya and with this it’s easier to order copies and ensure readers in the country get first access. I’m yet to liaise with bookstores to expand distribution and this thought takes me right into the questions I’ve been asked so far:

Why Sifuna?

Em…I like the symbolism in the name Sifuna. It’s a name given to a male child among the Luhya community, and it means “harvest.”

Which bookstore has copies of your book?

None so far.

Why? How do you expect readers to get your book?

I am more open to having readers contact me to get a book, like you did, is there a bookstore you would recommend that I could approach and engage in discussion on marketing and distribution of my book?

How much is a copy?

Kshs 700, this includes delivery charges via Easy Coach courier services.

Why do you write?

I wish I had a definite answer, it would satisfy you, when I’m specific however, with writing, nothing is cast in stone, except for the fact that writers write and that’s it. Sometimes I do it for the power, because hey, I can kill a character using words, embedding them in a story or I could draft my Ex like a drunk, piece of chair, a urinal…in a story, who knows? It’s very satisfying, that kind of power, it’s like being high…does that answer your question?

When’s your next book coming out?

Whenever it is ready.

What will it be about? This one is political and stuff, what of the next?

I don’t know, it will be what it is…a story, and whoever reads it can choose to assign it to the genre they feel is most appropriate for them.

Wow! You must be rich! How much money have you made so far?

I’m rich, I mean, I sat down and wrote over forty thousand words- trimmed it to what you have in Sifuna, so yes, I am a notch above today.

What advice would you give to an aspiring Writer?

The difference between an aspiring writer and a writer is action. Write and write and read as widely as you can.

Do you think Kenyans love to read?

It’s 2019, are we still asking this question? Okay…no worries, let me try and put it this way, I’m a Kenyan and I love to read…so when you choose to ask about “Kenyans” that leaves more than forty million plus people and yes, Kenyans love to read the question is what do they love to read and how do they consume the content they read? Now, those are questions that can keep us here for years.

I just finished reading Sifuna- and Baoya’s a fool, like how did you even think of someone like him? How can someone be so naive?

Great! I’m glad you finished reading Sifuna. Well, you talk of two things being a fool and being naive. The two may share a fence but they are not the same. Baoya’s naivety creates room for Sifuna’s callousness to announce itself…and there are people like both Baoya and Sifuna, have you looked around?


I’ve had two cups of tea already, I’ll go to bed now and start brooding over the next story.

Have a wonderful week!

PS: I’m into 40,000 words for NanoWrimo this week and my mind’s a mess.

 

 

Writing updates

Hello, how was your weekend?

It’s raining outside as I write this. I am on my third cup of tea silently hoping that the sun would come out to play so I can go to town. I postponed a meeting because it’s cold and wet and those two freak me out…well, mostly because I am:

  1. tempted to stay in bed reading a book and drinking coffee
  2. definitely tempted to wear pajamas everywhere I go.

On writing:

I’ve got two big writing projects that have been on my mind.

  1. Completing the Ushanga book.
  2. Writing a short story for an upcoming anthology set here in Kenya.

I haven’t picked up on where I left with both projects because I seem to have got great books to read off NetGalley and of course write reviews after devouring them. I am looking more into character portraits and how I bring my characters to life because there is a certain authenticity to a character who when read feels like they are actually talking to you in real life. I have been able to draw this out through dialogues but when it comes to having a character in a setting or getting them to settle in a descriptive environment my words fail me.

I am also working on sentence variation.

I’ve often loved short sentences, but written long ones instead, never pausing to let the reader catch a breath!

On reading:

I bought two ebooks yesterday that I can’t wait to start reading. It might take me a while to complete my #tbrlist but I’m definitely going to read these!

Have a lovely week.

Keep it simple. 🙂

Literature in a hurry

Have you ever tried to swallow hot porridge?
It’s a futile attempt at controlling temperature that results in a swollen tongue, scorched throat, and tears, bucketloads of tears. How do I know? I was young and foolish, that’s how.
I bought a copy of my first newspaper of the year this past Saturday. I didn’t want much from it except a page or two on Literature that’s featured in the Daily Nation Saturday paper. It did not disappoint. The title Literature is under siege, but literary intellectuals are silent. I remember looking at that article and spreading the paper on my sister’s blue carpet as I walked into her kitchen to fix my second cup of coffee. I walked around the house as the kettle went to work for that coffee I  needed desperate to read Godwin’s article.
I had decided that this year I would invest in matching my lingerie. I mean there are reasons for and against that but I thought why not? But, aside from a wardrobe upgrade I have been speaking out more about writing and the need for content that speaks  to an audience, not in a way that they hear, but a way that they internalize the message.
I read somewhere that:

Journalism is literature in a hurry

I remember going through Godwin’s article thinking of how many people did take up Literature at the University and why they went for it. See, I think I would have taken it up but I have always had that Psychology cloud hanging above my head with a lightning bolt ready to strike lest I deviate from my course.

In his article Godwin writes:

It is deeply ironical that the influence of literary and cultural intellectualism has been so roundly trumped by the irrational ideas, whether they are rich quick allure and materialism, or the sectarianism of tribe and religion, in times of information explosion.

He goes on to ask a question that has given me no peace since that Saturday evening :

Is our idea of literature consistent with the current challenges that society faces?

In my previous post Like a time stamp in the heart, I shared three questions that I believe every writer ought to ask themselves and figure out an answer. I went ahead and stated why I write and why I hold dear the ability to put words together in an attempt to create. So, why did his article bother me so much? Why did his view on literature especially in the higher education institutions send me  chasing after my own tail?

I don’t know. And no, it’s not denial, it’s the state of uncertainty for the feeling is there but for now what precise reason, I don’t know.
Since then I have read a few good books and bought even more.

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There’s more to this but if one thing is true it’s that Literature will never die. It may be under siege as Godwin writes, but that is his view and we are seven billion people and the pen knows those are quite a lot of views.
Shall I consider myself a Literary Intellectual and say that I’m speaking about it, and writing about it? I don’t know…