Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cui multum datum est multum quaeretur ab eo

Or in English, 'to whom much has been given, much will be asked of him'

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point published an article in The New Yorker magazine recently that I really appreciated. The topic in question was Late Bloomers: Why do we associate genius with precocity? He touched on something that has always coloured my perception of creative pursuits, the idea that if you don't become a shooting star at a very young age; it is over for you. I have often spoken of my love for writing and how I have abandoned it and picked it up again many times over the years. I have never really made a conscious effort to define myself as a writer, and I have never sought an audience for my work. Could that be as Mr Gladwell posits, because I am still honing my craft and as such remain unconvinced of my abilities? Or is it merely a lack of confidence and fear of being critiqued?

Am I supposed to be a writer? For some reason, I have never considered my literary pursuits worthy of a career, and yet I find myself drifting back to that question more often than not these days. It really has never occurred to me to seriously attempt to take writing beyond the confines of my journal previously, and now this blog. And yet, every time I read a short story or book by a new up and coming Nigerian writer, I find myself wondering why that cannot be me. In a sense, I suppose that blogging in and of itself is a step in that direction. I blog a lot less frequently (major understatement) now than I did in days gone by, because from time to time I go back to read my words and I cringe. I try not to post unless I have something worth saying, and even then, I like to try and choose my topics carefully. My blog is evolving from a pedestrian recording of everyday events in my life into a series of mini-essays.

I understand however, that to set myself on the path to success I must learn to take a more disciplined approach to my craft. I have never taken a Creative Writing class in my life, and I could certainly stand to benefit from doing so. That isn't the immediate problem though. The issue that sorely needs addressing is my lack of discipline. I constantly allow writer's block to defeat me, and go for months on end without writing anything. As soon as I put pen to paper again, I remember just how much I love it. How essential it is for my wellbeing.

Last year, I attempted to participate in National Novel Writing Month. A movement that involves thousands and thousands of people across the world working towards the goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. I failed miserably. I wrote a grand total of 1,783 words, a failure of monumental proportions because I essentially gave up less than halfway through. A year later, I am older, wiser and more aware of my shortcomings. I am ready to give it another go. On the 1st of November, I will once again enter the belly of the beast and attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. To achieve this, I will need to work at the pace of 1,667 words a day - or to be on the safe side, 2000 words per day.

I cannot promise to post regular excerpts as when writing that fast, a good deal of it will be worthless (there is no time to edit as you go), but I am hoping there will be some jewels in the rough that I can comfortably share on this blog. I cannot reach 50K without your encouragement, and hopefully anyone who reads this blog and hasn't been scared away by the constant writing droughts will pop by from time to time to push and goad me into achieving my goal. 50K, here I come, wish me luck.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breaking Up

Is so hard to do. The break up with the person isn't even the hardest part. The real toughie is saying goodbye to the illusion of the person that once was. And now, I am breaking up with a 29-year illusion...it doesn't get much tougher than that.

What could be harder than saying goodbye to yesterday? I'm saying hello to a series of tomorrows in which you no longer matter. Not like you used to. And even though your star which once shone so brightly for me has diminished gradually through the years, I never thought anything would put that light out permanently. For years now you have slipped further and further off that pedestal, but I was so sure you would figure out how to apply the brakes. And so I held steadfast, stayed true, certain that for all the cracks that appeared beneath your shiny surface our bond was unbreakable. But you proved me wrong. Fell right off the lofty apex of my expectations and slid ever closer to the precipce until suddenly, without warning, you dropped right off the edge into the abyss of my contempt.

A black hole in my heart I never thought you could occupy. I don't see any way back for us. It feels like the end. I've known disappointments in my life, many at your hand, but somehow this cuts deepest. Cuts right to the quick. Pierces the depths of my soul and fills me with a cynicism I had no idea I was capable of feeling. This is the legacy of our long running love affair. I look upon your face and I am overwhelmed by the loss. Staggered by the magnitude of your betrayal. There is no panacea for what ails me. I'm mourning the person you were, mourning the bond we had, mourning the person you could have been. It is over between us - once and for all.