Budding African Writer Thread: Being a growing writer myself, I’ve had the privilege to meet a lot of people just starting out.
— SuyiDavies Okungbowa (@IAmSuyiDavies) February 3, 2017
Chat, I saw this Budding African Writer thread thing on Twitter the other day. Yeah, I saw it too. What d’you think?
You know I only go to Twitter for the memes. Lol. Tut, tut.
So, what do you think? I think the tweeter (right?) has the right idea. Africa is big, yeah? A whole continent. Whether the platforms or avenues to help new writers are there or not, it kinda falls to writers who’ve gone some way to look back and say, “Let me tell others what I know.” Everything from the craft to the business of writing and publishing. It’s so difficult to reach everyone, localizing these efforts seems like a path that must be tread.
Like looking back and offering a hand after climbing a few rungs up the ladder. Wow, Chit. You have sense. Wow.
*side eye* So what was all that talk about having an MFA? Oh, I think that could easily be misinterpreted. An MFA isn’t really any assurance of successful or quality writing. Truth is, as an early-career writer, the best way to educate yourself and grow is to read and read and write and write. Read everything. Ask yourself why you love the things you love about certain work by other writers, and see how you could incorporate that into your own work. Write and have people who have an understanding of good writing take a look and tell you what to fix. Write again, and again, and again, until you get really good. MFA or no, this is how you grow, bro.
You just tried to rhyme, Chat. I did.
Don’t. Please, for the love of God, don’t. Yessir.
Then, there was this talk about attending workshops. Some guy even said he’s never attended any workshops, and his writing has been fine so far. What d’you think? Mahn, thing is, workshopping your writing has little to no rivalry. Having your story sat on by a group of writers like you (or better than you), being told what works for them and what doesn’t–I dunno what can substitute it, mahn. Having your pieces workshopped is gold. Find somewhere near you with spaces and avenues like this–a writers group, some event, an organisation–and get in there. You’ll be all the better for it, trust me.
Now that you speak about community, that was also a big deal on that thread, yeah? Yes. Gone are the days of the solitary writer. One has to get out there. If your locale doesn’t offer you enough avenues to meet other people, share ideas and all that, go online. Join conversations on social media, seek like-minded writers. Attend events and festivals. Join communities like WAW. Attend workshops like the #WAWFM.
And if you’ve gone some way with your writing, you don’t have to feel like you’re too small to curate or assist these communities. Foster spaces for those in your locales to engage in conversations. Do anything you can that encourages, just like our curators here at WAW are doing. Create writers’ hubs everywhere you can.
Writers’ Hubs. Hmm. I have an image of writers seating in a straight line, typing away at keyboards in, like, a cybercafe, you know? Clackety-clack, going full speed. Chit, you’re describing Yahoo boys.
Oh. Right. Yes. But you get what I’m saying, right?
Yeah, I think so. Fresh and budding writers, work hard and seek communities and avenues to grow. Older writers, foster these communities, assist growing writers, and increase awareness for opportunities in any way you can. Exactly. Wow. You really have sense.
Chat… Ahem. So, as an example of people doing good work like this (besides us, yer know), there’re these guys I stumbled upon, The Single Story Foundation. They provide lots of storytelling opportunities for Africans at home and in the diaspora, and have put together a lot of resources to aid us, including this directory of African Literary Magazines (ALM) one can submit to. You know how many of us say there aren’t enough places to submit their work to? Wrong. So many magazines, I couldn’t even count. There’re other resources for screenwriting, photography, and art of various forms. There’s even a list of agents ready to represent African writers, Chit! WAW fam, you need to get out there. Follow @TheSingleStoryF on Twitter.
And what if we get rejected? So what? You submit again, or submit somewhere else. Saying you want to write and not get rejected is like being a boxer, yet not wanting to get punched.
Ouch, man. Harsh. Yes, because writing is serious business. And if you’re unsure of where or how to begin, WAW has these three great programs coming in February and March. Attend them all, and erase your fears little by little.
Alright alright, you win. I’m off. To go write?
Lol. Hell nah. Off to peep some memes. Smell yer later, Chat.