Welcome back to another one of my personal writing updates where I reveal to you what I have been up to in terms of my writing exploits, how far I have reached in fulfilling my targets, the obstacles and challenges along the way and to generally let you in on my checklist to see how good/bad I may be faring at it.
As you already know, I undertake these updates after every four months to reflect back on the various tasks and milestones I have passed and also plan ahead. Now, if this was any other year, it would be really easy to keep track of the months as they go by, but this year has been specifically oddball. I know I am not the only one who feels as if 2020 has rushed past us while we were just holed up waiting for any semblance of normality to return.
Well, you are not alone. But instead of moping in bed or fast-tracking my watch-list on Netflix, I decided that this year was going to be spent safely distanced at home and ticking off whatever resolutions I had almost forgotten about once the year was up and running. As I mentioned in my previous writing update, I figured my art was calling for me – and the necessary intervention could not have come at a much better time. It got me charged up and ready to learn, improve, discover and create. (Part of this mantra inspired the website’s tagline).
Now we are in the moment in time where the world has been forced to adapt to the scourge of Corona Virus. I hear it being called ‘The New Normal’. Frankly, it sounds like a badly-directed horror movie from years gone by.Of course, I would love to spend some time lamenting about how the pandemic has been horridly mismanaged here in Kenya but that is a post for another light-year.
Despite the year being bogged down by the pandemic and millions of people cursing their lucky stars for missing Easter celebrations and The Sauti Sol YouTube concert, I had a lot going on for me during these four months. Here is a quick breakdown.
I FINALLY UPDATED MY BOOK LISTS
My study room is packed to the brim with overseas writers. I am not partly to blame because most of them are academic journals that belong to my parents and old vintage comic books that my brother fawns over. But there is also a section of the shelves dedicated to the tons of novels and material I have spent my teenage years reading and re-reading. The likes of Sidney Sheldon, Mary Higgins Clark, Harper Lee and Leo Tolstoy have graced the compartments of the library for so long that I can picture the exact positions where they lie.
When you own so many non-African books, you get disillusioned trying to read an African writer and understand their point of view. It is no big secret that a prophet is never welcome in his own town. Nevertheless, when you are a writer, especially one that comes from a country which the rest believe only produces marathon runners and corrupt leaders, you get the feeling that obsessing over overseas work is tantamount to a betrayal of sorts. Moreover, it yields a sense of unwilled favoritism towards works of foreign authors (at least for me) and what Ngugi wa Thiong’o colloquially termed as ‘colonizing the mind’.
I looked at some of those books and wondered ‘would they ever care to read my work’. The next day I brought in a pile of African writers just for the sake of wanting to find an answer.
I am neck-deep into the story of Ezeulu and the village of Umuaro from Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God. It’s been five weeks since I began reading and none of these books have disappointed me or crushed my hopes of finding comfort in an African writer’s work. In fact they have been like a mirror to my own work, a silent critique and a correcting mentor.
Moreover, it yields a sense of unwilled favoritism towards works of foreign authors (at least for me) and what Ngugi wa Thiong’o colloquially termed as ‘colonizing the mind’.AVID CONQUEST
There are a lot of stories that the African continent has to offer, lots of voices that the world needs to hear. And I figured if this should happen, I should not be tardy for the African party.
JOURNALING TAKING ON DIFFERENT FORMS
One of my buddies shared with me a lengthy (which in hindsight should have been the clue I needed to know it was top-notch) file which, at first viewing, looked to be another sub-par template of a motivational story. But the more I read it, the less I was able to actually peel my eyes off of it. The Metascript Method by Mark Queppet demystified the art of journaling and offered a fresher breather to an aspect of life that is often neglected: memory.
I found myself thinking about memory and its duality – the more volatile and unhinged short memory and the compact, unadulterated long-term memory. There are so many instances when the world flutters past our minds and we do not recognize or give enough credit to the thoughts, ideas, sights and senses that come with it. How many times has the sun set without you noticing? Or when was the last time you observed a crew of birds sailing in the sky?
Most of the times we fall victim to trivial distractions and attach so much pressure on ourselves to stay on top of matters that are not important. The Metascript Method stands on the principles of limited brainpower and cheapness of thoughts. Mark explains that because of the fact that we cannot juggle more than a couple things in our minds and that our thoughts often flash past us quickly, the need to lay down these thoughts in an external place and then decide on which actions to take concerning them becomes a necessity.
And I agree. You cannot expect to go around living a life where you do not appreciate introspection. That brief moment where you form thoughts in your mind, speak to yourself, throw around questions in your brain should not be dismissed as a passive daydream. Firstly, it is by appreciating these thoughts and then recording them down can you be able to act on them or make a decision.
As Mark puts it clearly:
The act of journaling a thought first crystallizes the thought into some coherent form and then externalizes it, placing it outside of you into the material world – separating it from all the easily ignored thoughts left bouncing around in the ether of your mind.
Most of the times we fall victim to trivial distractions and attach so much pressure on ourselves to stay on top of matters that are not important.Avid Conquest
I used to think journaling is for writers and introverts only until The Metascript Method unraveled deeper aspects of the act and entwining it with changing bad habits, expanding your focus and breeding consistency in life.
I write the random, seemingly irrelevant thoughts in a random notepad that I keep close and then record voice memos when I want to capture my emotional responses (and simply because it’s a lot faster too). Soon, I will take time and listen to what I had to say and maybe have a laugh about it.
I TOOK THE BOLD MOVE AND PRESSED SEND
On the month of July I decided to hunt around the Internet and writer’s space for submissions calls. I had never done anything like this and to be honest I was just scrapping for an opportunity to bare my writing skills out there. When I began searching around, a dear friend of mine direct-messaged me on Twitter and she sent in this ad that was a submissions call for a themed edition for this particular writing organization.
She must have seen through her third-eye because weeks after I wrote down and sent them a piece, an email pinged on my desktop a certain dreary Wednesday. The team had been thrilled with my submission. And they were glad to have my work presented in their special edition.
I was beyond thrilled, of course, because this was not a feeling I had become used to. See, with writing and any other form of art, you have to arm yourself with a load of confidence and esteem. Sharing your work out there, whether it is a project, a dance routine, a portrait, takes courage and mental strength to accept whatever outcome it yields. To see the Congratulations message flashing on the screen reminded me how awesome it is when your work receives admiration from skilled professionals in the business.
Contrary to the fact, there is a lot of disenfranchised grief that befalls artists whose work does not receive appreciation. I see a lot of online bashing that goes on when an artist’s work does not meet the expectations of a society that will mock you into oblivion. We all need to understand that there is a ton of effort and hard work that goes into perfecting an art-form.
The words of encouragement and support that an artist gets at that grass-root level determine how far they are propelled into mastering their craft. Conversely, inasmuch as the society cannot expect perfection from an artist, they are liable to demand it. I talked more about the limits of artistic freedom in another post which you can refer back to.
It would be a major understatement in this year of understatements to say that I am proud to have taken the bold move to make my submission. That was literally the spark of light I needed to brighten up my year. I will be updating you in my socials as more advancements come into play.
And speaking of social media…
Yes, Avid Conquest is now on Instagram! I figured my readers needed somewhere to find updates on post more easily, get sneak peeks on the process behind the website as well as interact with me on the content. And what better place than on Instagram.
So if you are reading this, it means you have patiently read (or endured) the post to the end and you can reward yourself by either doing one of three things.
- Share this post to your reader friends and tell them to follow Avid Conquest
- Get on your Instagram and follow Avid Conquest (@avidconquestig)
- Tag us on posts and we will highlight them on our Instagram stories.
Honestly, they seem like three fair options to me so I would not be worried about making a choice. You can do all of them if you like!
Get a free copy of Mark Queppet’s The Metascript Method and learn all there is to know about the power of journaling.
This post is part of the Writing Update series. Stay tuned for the last update of the year.