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Writer’s block or Lethargy?

I have had an intense week. Okay who hasn’t? I heard that , but we agreed to have a conversation okay? The problem felt simple., I have heard about writers block. You know sitting in front of the computer and you stare at the keys but nothing happens right? Good. How do you explain having lots of stories running riot in your head and you actually have finished the story in your head….or so you think and then for the life of me I simply open the computer and blimey, I go over to social networking and Lord I am lost. I giggle, smile, even chuckle at some of the posts and then three hours later am tired, sleepy and the characters sadly head for my head, another wasted night the characters mutter to themselves settling in different corners of my brain. We all spend a very restless night. Some of them are angry enough to inflict some level of nightmares on me. Am I addicted? There are days I simply sit by the computer and stare too fuddled to even go the social media sites and then in some unexplained misery, shut down. I sense a problem but for the life of me I am at a loss to explain it to me. Then I have what I privately call writing binges. I simply can’t seem to stop. Poems, jokes, drama, and I simply seem to haunt my social pages then. I find it difficult to get to bed. Those times Numen simply sniffs and goes to a corner not giving me a thought. I know why because inspite of that frenzy, I have not gone back to the sequel about her story.
We have been avoiding each other for days now. I started on the story then asked her a question and she took umbrage. The question was simple and clear.. do gods and goddesses fall in love? She gave me such a long silence that I imagined that she had left and then a long sigh came and she whispered.
“What do humans know of love? Of its awesomeness? Love, the world rotates on that axis and it is the template that determined the world. No, not the weak self- serving version you humans call love. Have a look into creation from the molten fiery depths of the plates of the earth that serve as the shoulders of Atlas to the roar and silence of the depths of the sea that is the belly of Neptune to Sango’s speed swinging in service and obedience to the Will of the Creator”. She paused for breath and I sensed her frustration. She sighed.. “Don’t ask such a silly question my friend. Humans have no real concept of Love, if they did, they would swing in the Natural laws and I would have little reason to be here”.
An amused chuckle escaped me and she smiled in return not one whit fazed by my supercilious amusement. Suddenly I was bored and I felt the dread of my disbelief. I was talking about my disorganized writing regime and was not really interested in in gods and goddesses I mumbled in irritation. Now I will have to sit down and make some sense of this blog, I continued complaining.
How do I solve this peculiarity? Is that what is meant by writer’s block or in my case a plain case of mental laziness. Ouch! At least you could pretend to be reading and be amused at my attempts at writing.
Now I do have a problem, I have been trying to decide if I should shoo Numen out of my head, life and space. She really has not finished her story but I am not so sure because I have a sneaking suspicion that she is going to tell me something that I might find difficult putting it right in words. Fantasies could become blurred you know. It is a longing for escape. I also have a simple confusion. Would I be stretching the magic if I write a sequel to Numen Yeye. In its original manuscript (by long hand, two big notebooks and hundreds of sheaves of loose sheets), Numen Yeye had spanned three parts. Must have been crazy in those days I used to say to myself. I mean who wants to read about sagas? My fingers ached and so did my back from sleepless nights. She sat glued to me then. Come to think of it she has stayed back and close since 1981 when she walked in.
Since Numen Yeye came out, I have noticed that my friends tend to give me strange looks. Like they wonder at me. I take great pains to explain it is a story but my close friend gives me a look that suggests she really does not think so. Kind of convenient that I find the social media a good excuse right?
A friend from the other side of the pond simply dismissed my story as superstitions and stuff and from his Olympian height said he did not care for such stuff. I scratched my head, puzzled. I had read his sci-fi stories and though I did not understand his imagination I had read his book no books and enjoyed the artistry of his words. Why am I puzzled? He did not extend to me a charity that I had hoped. The sharp end of reviewing that every writer dreads, accepts and helplessly hopes that he would not have to face.
You know as a writer, you do hope that your book will be well received. You hope that at the very least friends will see the merits of the effort and make a fair comment. Some of my friends have been generous, I thank them, some have been blistering and I do thank them as well.
My editor said everything.. He said, there can be only two ways people will see your story… those who will like it and those who will not understand where you are at. That gave me lots of comfort. So when a fellow Nigerian said she could not wrap it round her head I smiled. Or the fellow author who said he was going to dump reading the book because he did not care for superstition, I did not bother telling him that we had chatted on social media about the book while I was writing.
I just remembered something.. Have you read the book Numen Yeye? By the way I do reviews too. You know in obedience to the law which states that it is only in giving that one receives lasting values.
Let’s meet again soon and I sincerely hope my lethargy will lift and I can report that I have gone someways with Numen ‘s sequel.
Hasta la vista friends.

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.

 

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