September

I knew you’d come,

I just didn’t know I’d still be home.

Here you are,

Unbound, warm, delightful,

As sure as the sun rises and sets,

You are here.

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Wrapping up July

We are in the final week of this month and I look forward to more opportunities to grow in my thinking, learning and to finally commit to working out every morning- at least for 30 days.

July’s come with surprises for me; I bought more books this month than any other month of the year thus far. I traveled to Nairobi to spend some time with my absolute favorite humans. I had fun shopping for kiondos, bookmarks and brass earrings. I also came to appreciate freedom of movement when I got to stay out past 7pm without panicking that some police officer would hound me or clobber me for staying out past curfew time.

The other surprise was my patience when traveling back to Mbita and our bus had a flat tyre that took two hours to fix and I had to get to the house at 8:42pm which is way past the curfew time here.

So, I collected some snippets of things that I got, experienced and also look forward to courtesy of this month:

Stationery: I love buying pencils by the dozens and this month, I got a number of packs which I shared with some of my friends and neighbors while keeping some to myself.

stationery.

I also enjoyed watching some awesome Korean Dramas on Netflix and let’s just say that of these three, I loved Healer and K2 the most!

I also came across a quote on the Instagram profile page of: BusinessMindset101 which had me stunned and I couldn’t help but jot it down:

“Jealousy can come in the form of jokes. Pay attention.”

Books: What would this month be without not one but two major bookhaul deliveries? Here are 4 titles I am reading next.

And when it comes to music, I would say that some of the songs that I have enjoyed listening to this month include:

I am looking forward to spending more time eating healthy, staying fit and writing more in August.

Have an awesome week ahead!

July: Updates on life, COVID-19, travel and stuff

It’s Wednesday and I am still wrapped up in a warm duvet as I type this on my phone. It’s my way of checking in with the blogging universe while doing everything I can to stay warm here in Nairobi.

I’ve been here for 3 days and I have consumed more coffee, worn more socks and sweaters than I could ever comprehend at such a time. It’s got me fully aware of how much I am sunny through and through and I know I will enjoy some heat when I travel back to Mbita soon.

Every time I come to Nairobi I love visiting places that call unto me like book shops and jewellery shops mostly to buy earrings and accessories that I wouldn’t get at a fair price either in Kisumu or Homabay. So this time around I got notebooks and pens from Miniso, body splash from a store in town and bookmarks from Hilton Arcade.

There’s something about freedom of movement that has me appreciating life pre-covid. We could breathe freely without masks, walk in and out of places without fear of contracting such a deadly virus and travel to places unhinged. Now, coming from a town where the curfew is at 7pm to a city where it’s 10pm, it’s given me more time to catch up with family while still adhering to social distancing rules and regulations and that is something I found so precious in such a long time. I truly hope that we would overcome this pandemic, build upon our health system and come August next year elect more leaders who are accountable to us and responsible in fulfilling their duties.

On writing: I have been writing and it’s good to have that going so I truly hope it’ll work out and I have to push the release date given how many rewrites I am engaging in.

All in all,it’s been a good week thus far and I hope for the very best going forward. Have an awesome week wherever you are.

6 Lessons I keep Learning as a Writer

I am a Writer.

It has taken me twelve years to say that out loud without cringing or wanting to disappear. I take on a different persona online and maybe that’s why it was easier for me to add “writer” or “author” to my profiles on social media but not easily utter the word when in conversation with someone face to face. However, the good thing about life is that lessons assail you from every direction and if you happen to procrastinate, like me, then these lessons sometimes come with a nudge from gravity and late nights.

Someone recently asked me, “what can I do to be a better Writer?” and I nearly choked, because it’s a struggle we face, the desire to be better and to be acknowledged for being good, better, the best and so on. So, thinking back on everything I have been doing over the years, I keep learning that to improve as a Writer, there are six things I keep going back to:

  1. Write. Writers write, so whatever day you are having, you have to write something- a sentence or two, just make sure that you write.
  2. Read and not just your favorite writers, read widely and vastly. Magazines, journals, memos, fiction- chap books, you soon find that words are like taste or touch, they linger longer than you expected when they resonate with you.
  3. Observe. My Mom says that writers are travelers. It is true, for you to create a character or setting, your observation skills would come in handy. So, take time and truly listen to others as they talk, observe people in the street (without being too creepy), or at a restaurant or even your favorite actors onscreen- watch how they talk, laugh and what they do- do they tap someone, laugh while covering their mouths and so on.
  4. Challenge yourself. It’s not enough to write just a sentence a day, how about trying to write a novel in a month, or a poem, or writing in some genre outside your comfort zone. It does not have to be perfect, however, it is your way to seeing how far you can go and what that feels like.
  5. Study your craft. Well, this is one thing I struggle a lot with because I may love creative writing classes, or workshops but just attending them or following through on assignments is tough for me. What I find encouraging is that I am always learning something new from every lesson, or speaker and that in itself is way better than the assignments.
  6. Finish. Look, every Writer has numerous story ideas that never make it to published book, however, if you start out a story, try your best to tie up loose ends, to finish it just because there is something satisfying about completions that mean you can look back and gauge your performance.

What’s great is that these are insights I gained from my experience and they are not the only insights, if you think that’s just talk try looking up “Advice for Writers” on Google and you’ll know what your ancestors started saying long before you even picked up a pen.

I love that I get to write and can share my writing with others and hope I’ll be vastly read. Have a great weekend ahead!

Lessons I am learning about writing non-fiction

In the beginning of this year, I went through some writing goals I had made in 2018 and one of them included writing outside of my comfort zone. I love fiction and more so historical fiction and after writing The Currents Series and Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi, I have been thinking of working on a book that delves into the situation of primary education in Kenya and this prompted me to start doing some research towards this in March this year.

Now, it’s my first time writing non-fiction and I am learning that above all, I cannot wing it or just write as much as I want without fact-checking!

I am also learning that when you are writing about a subject that you truly care about, there are some factors that you have to watch out for like:

  1. Your desire to want the whole world to know about it so much that you find yourself at a loss of where to start or what exactly to say and when.
  2. How attached you are to the subject that you lose objectivity. In my case as I was doing research, I found myself defending the teachers more and not truly understanding the whole system, how it works and why. So, every article or book I would read, I found myself defending only the teachers and I am still struggling with this.
  3. The chances that you may relive your trauma. On this point, I learned it by reading an article that Kurt Vonnegut has written some time back, when he shared that some stories he told were so close to an experience he lived that he struggled with objectivity. He advises to write it out, spit it out for what it is- and then dealing with everything after that, for once it is written it is out there.

This project is proving to be more challenging and rewarding as I learn along the way too and I can’t help but want to see it through to publication. I also came across some insightful tips on Creative Penn, and Masterclass guide to writing non-fiction that I read and found quite encouraging. So, here’s to fulfilling one of my writing goals!

Static

My heart is like water,

It nourishes as it pleases.

When the sun goes down, it begins to falter,

It seeks solace in the pieces.

My heart is like the air I breathe,

Untouchable yet priceless,

So when the sun rises, I reach out with the palm of my hand and check on it,

The beating of my heart reminds me that I still have unresolved matters.

Sometimes, often…at times such as this,

I yearn for that stillness,

the calm before and after a storm,

anything but this turmoil,

My heart like fear is static.

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Questions to ask an Author

I read something like this somewhere and it was more about an author saying that there are questions he wishes he was asked, not the common stuff like his writing routine, books he loves reading or what he’s working on. I got derailed and lost the link when I got the notification that the next episode of Descendants of the Sun that I’d been watching had finished downloading.

As a Writer, there are questions that come to mind- the kind that somehow get me talking more about my writing and love for writing so, I wrote down the questions I’d love to ask myself and answer them here. Let’s do this!

1. What is the one book or the first book that made you cry?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It is still the only book that I weep whenever I read it.

2. Does writing energize or drain you?

Sometimes, especially when I am writing dialogues, I feel energized. There are days when I am drained or rather more exhausted by it and when I feel like this I either press on then sleep immediately after or read a book instead.

3. What is your first experience of the power of words?

I think it is more when I was nine years old after my Dad passed away and suddenly his presence, the conversations we used to have, his voice felt like it only existed in my head. I also had a teacher in Primary school who often said I would not amount to much and I dreaded his lessons or just running into him in school- I think back then what hurt me most was knowing that adults could be so mean to children.

4. Did publishing or has publishing your first book changed the way you write?

Look, this one right here is something I cannot shy away from. I started out writing romance and posting novellas and short stories on smashwords (here’s my author page) and then tried out historical fiction with the first series I posted on Amazon, The Currents Series, and loved it so much that after reading that first proof copy I found myself writing more historical fantasy books set in Africa/ Kenya to be precise.

5. What does literary success look like to you?

I feel like this is more about having your book on someone’s bookshelf, it’s pages crumpled or turned so many times, highlighted, or set aside because it is the one treasure they keep reading. This could be with just one reader, or two or many…so much so that they talk about it, quote lines or simply share insights learned from the book. On the author’s side, it is also more about the feeling that ranges from elation to exhaustion just by writing- a commitment to waking up to words.

6. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote this book, Sifuna, and published it here in Kenya. It has one scene where the main character, Sifuna, grabs his fiancee, Dorothy and pushes her to the wall and spits on her- I wept when I wrote that.

END

There you have it, six of the many questions you could ask an author!

Conversations

Dear Stardust,

How are you?

How does the sun look like where you are?

Is she bright yellow up above you, or tangy orange as she travels home? How does she look like?

And you?

How do you feel right now?

I spend my days writing these letters to you, talking to you the best way I can, using what I have.

Sometimes, I feel like I could pour my heart on paper more than on a device.

The internet never forgets.

I want you to behold my handwriting, to see how I slant my consonants, hide my vowels…

Stardust, I guess I just have better conversations with you when there is a pen and paper between us.

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If

I am not this person,

I just enjoy playing her once in a while.

So, if you, my love are truly sorry,

Then let your remorse be accompanied by a book,

Or books.

I could plant a garden of flowers,

So, no more red roses or white roses,

Say ‘sorry’ and add ‘I got you this!’

My love, if…if truly you are sorry,

Then do as you wish, and hope that I’m pleased.

If…

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