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ROSES….or THORNS? Conversation from the workshop.

How long have I been out? I have been attending a workshop for writers in my neck of the woods and it was really an eye opener for me. I had a better understanding for Gerry, my chief editor who doubles and the face of my publisher as he is the one I really always relate with.

I was the only one who gave a paper on creative writing but I would share that in a moment. What I found really interesting were the comments of the writers who had gathered to listen to the presentations of the speakers who were a collectivity of learned persons, a prof and some intellectual doctors.

I came away with a better understanding of the agonies that Gerry must have gone through with me and maybe a few other authors. I never could understand for a long time why I had to wait forever to get a book out in print and I had a better understanding at this workshop.

Apparently the traditional publisher has a lot to contend with, from the minute he agrees to publish a book. An indigenous publisher who is acclaimed by all as being very successful agreed with the general outrage that enhancing our reading culture is an uphill task as it costs the earth to get all the materials needed for printing a good quality book.

He gave a list of that they had to pay for. The high taxes, the high level of corruption, and the intransigence of electricity, salespersons not remitting in record time . By the time he had finished his catalogue, the hall was silent. I sent a silent thanks to Gerry.

Before the publisher took the mic, I had gone round some of the stands of authors to see what the competition was, some had self -published their works. I was interested in that since I have been toying with that idea for a while. I need to keep my body and soul together. I write solely and have very little outside income so I have been hungry for a long time.

The idea of self- publishing became very attractive as I have quite a lot of books, (some in series) that I want to publish. I use to feel I do not have that much time left and should really do something to put out as much as I have written over the years.

However the lot I saw at the workshop dismayed me. Badly collated prints, badly stapled, and I just sighed and walked off feeling depressed. The other side of the coin did not look attractive either. Publishers want to wait months, some years to publish your book, cannot promise to help you promote and the very small matter of royalty is a strange word to them.

I mentioned that to my new friend, publisher chairman at the workshop as we got talking, he seemed to have liked my paper and he asked me questions about my new book Numen Yeye. He explained with a twinkle in his eye that publishers need to deduct their initial cost outlay before they can pay royalty and added that self publishers had the problem of marketing as well as the logistics of placing their books at location where it can sell.

However, he consoled that he has a large staff, and works along the coast of West Africa. I gave him a suspicious look and smiled, wondering if the same treatment of low royalty applied to his titles. He laughed and called over an author. He invited the author to be honest and confirm what he got last month as royalty payment. I stared as the man smiled and simply brought out a photocopied check for one million naira. I almost fainted. The author explained that he fainted too, but believed it when the bank confirmed payment. So he had the cheque photocopied as he was going to frame it.

I was quiet for long moment after that, but felt a deep sense of gratitude to Gerry Huntman. I wondered if he had ever thought of being a manager of talents. I recollected all my fears, tears and sometimes fury and each time Gerry had been rock solid and calm. Phew! I could never have understood the publishing mess but for him. But I still have questions. Why do publishers take forever to reply to queries?

I am still in a quandary about self publishing. I like to have somebody else make sense of what I am trying to say and not kill me in the process. I love to know that someone is there in my corner so I would love to have my book published for me. I really am not sure I want the ego trap of wanting to do it myself. Above all, I can’t stand publishers who think they are doing me a favour, for they make me want to shove my gray head down their throat.

Finally, I had a very beautiful time at the workshop as ah yes, my book was well received and I got quite a lot of enquiries. More than half of my friends cannot buy books online so I am going to be the book seller of my book from the look of it.
Oh yes, my reviewer took my book with him on the flight to Britain as he told me that he did not want to miss a page.

Wow, you could say it looks like it might turn up roses for this old lady who simply can’t stop dreaming.

 

Leaving a trail..conversations.

The Trail…..Conversations

There is something I always find a bit exciting. That is peeping into the inner writer through reading his works. It took a while before I got that, but soon enough I noticed that you could sense the nature of the writer from what he puts out for the world to read. No, it does not mean horror writers are horrible or man size horrors. I do know one or two horror fans that are very gentle and sensitive but try to write out the horror of what life has given them. It is a concept of their frustration. I remember reading the novel of some of my favourite authors and learning a bit of their inner thoughts about the society they observe.

I use writing as a healing process, sometimes as a control measure. I asked my youngest daughter going through the agony of broken romance to write it out of her system. It took a while before she agreed I was making sense but when she finally wrote a small piece, she was alarmed at how murderous she felt. I advised that she should accept she was was never going to push such thoughts into the public domain but she could see how bad she she had been affected by the wretch.

Pushing such thoughts into the public domain? What do I mean really? It is like this. I think we affect others with what we put out and at a higher level we are bound to the effects of what we write. The human word is a grace from the creator and sets in motion thoughts, words and deeds that we are linked to by the laws of nature. I am not writing a religious piece.

Let me share an experience, I have been writing since the mid 1970s and I remember one piece I wrote for a radio drama series as a radio producer. I had written about vengeance and had some radio actors going through the scripts. It had to do with the anger of a young man whose father was left to die in the rain by a hit and run driver. Fair I felt in the understanding I had that the young man was entitled to exact his own vengeance knowing that justice was a matter of money in my country.

I stopped the production the next day when I actually drove to the next twon and came across a hit and run old man who had been left in the rain to die. I was stuned, shocked and miserable for days. Did I sense the story in advance? My skin was goose bumped for days and I shivered remembering I had described in detail how that had happened but I stopped the production because in my writing the grieving son had embarked a vengeance trip of the drivers at the garage in a desperate search for the hit and run driver who had killed his father.

I didn’t know the son of the real old man I found later, but I did not want to be held for such murderous thoughts I had written. I learned that day the power of the word, what it creates, hey, we call it creative writing. So I guess I just didn’t want to create such in the minds of people. Later on in life I did write about murders, the pain of the victim’s close ones and the attempt to find closure. I always worried about the job. You could not start saying writing has that as a job hazard do you?

The point of this conversation is this? Writers do leave a trail of their inner self behind in the stories they write. I know one author who wrote Guardians of the sky realms, Gerry Huntman. He wrote a very sensitive sci-fi fantasy about young adults and the concepts of building the right emotions in these young minds.  Chivalry, loyalty, courage and dignity. Standing up against evil, I suspected from his writings the type of parent he was likely to be and learnt over time his sense of fierce loyalty to people he calls his friends. It was a peep into the inner man.

There is Merle Burbaugh, very young man in his late sixties or thereabouts and his books tease you to be up and upright, but he writes as if he is self- conscious about being nice.  What am I trying to say today? That consciously or otherwise, writers leave bits of their inner world view in what they write. How they see things, I am not even thinking of psychoanalyzing writers. I am as crazy as the next writer I think and would take umbrage at such a suggestion.

We do have egos you know, some pea sized while some could be gozzilla sized. I tend to use people I know as characters in my stories. It is easier to build a character when you have a definite picture of the person in your head. Some characters do approach you. Like the old woman who simply popped in my head one afternoon as I was trying to reconstruct a poem. I was too surprised and listened in to what she was telling me.

When you write, do you immediately think you have a best seller? I am kind of curious like I can go into the mind of J.K. Rowling and ask her that. Do writers write because they want to be best sellers?. Hey, would you call Shakespeare a best- selling author now? Was that what he was thinking when he wrote or what was the name of that fellow who told the story of that sleepy man? I mean the one who slept and slept and woke up to see the world has changed.

I am sometimes scared by the rate at which I can’t remember names, for right now the name just teases the edge of my memory and slips away into the edge of the forest. I find it a bit exciting just chatting with you. Not much harm in that is there? The worst that could possibly happen is a yawn and you might flip the page, but you got as far as here waiting for me to make some sense.

I won, for you see, this is my own version of our conversation.

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