Writing and the Inconsequential Fraud

Writing and the Inconsequential Fraud

Every writer, I hear, gets to feel very much like a fraud now and then, that feeling of inadequacy, of pretending to be something he/she has little if no right to assume. Well, this is something I feel very much right now and by putting pen to paper, or more realistically, putting finger to key board, I hope to convince myself, if not others, that I have a right to claim the name…Writer.

I have for years, struggled with the craft, self-instructing myself, writing and sending out samples of my literary pretensions with the hope that someone somewhere will read and take notice. I hoped that I would, on account of my efforts, be found worthy enough to stand behind, if not in the midst of, Nigerian and African literati.

At the time I started taking the writing process very serious, there was little by way of writing workshops and though the internet was available, the kind of connectivity it grants the world now was only being dreamt up by computer savvy nerds. As such, there were no meeting points for Nigerian writers and most emails sent to established writers begging for assessment, were either replied with a terse; “sorry, I am too busy to read your work” or a more progressive; “sorry I can’t really pay serious attention to your work, it shows promise, but you have to work harder at it”. In those days one made the mistake of sending out feelers to male writers – a mistake, for the truth, as I found out later, is that female writers have more time for rookies and are usually very eager to give them a leg-up.

While time has passed since those early days of penning poems that tried to explore my then common relationship woes and though I have gotten more confident with my word power and spellings, and have since given up poetry for prose, I still find that I am yet to make the desired breakthrough as a writer.

Some years back, established writers started paying attention to the upcoming ones, and writing workshops started springing up here and there, but I found myself rather unlucky when it came to selections. Perhaps, the fact that I usually make it to the last stage and then get a letter telling me politely that I can’t make it to the final stage because financial constraint makes it impossible for them to take all the final cut of 35 and I am part of the 15 dropped, says something about my abilities.

The same situation holds for literary competitions, though in this case I won’t deny that my habitual carelessness plays a major role, as I usually get to the final short list before being dropped, probably on account of my hasty editing which leaves several unsightly typos and extra, undeleted, words in my body of work – as later readings reveal.

While the fact that my entries get some measure of attention encourages my psyche, the fact that despite my hard work, my writing brings little if none of the desired recognition makes it very hard to continue on this path, especially when one feels he is nothing but a fraud that risks the disgrace of discovery. However, these doubts do go away after a while and I go back to writing and the hope that someday, someone will not just see my efforts and grant me the much needed leg-up, but society would say my name with that peculiar reverence that names of great sages impresses on the tongue.

As for self-doubt, I have learnt over the years that it is an irritant that will keep coming back to torment me into upping my craft, and that the one sure way to fight it is to write about things that are close to heart, things that grant me joy.

As for writing workshops, other than being great avenues for networking with both aspiring and established writers, I doubt if they can teach you anything more than you are willing to learn or have already learnt on your own.

For any aspiring writer that has ever had doubts about their ability and prospects, the thing is to keep pushing no matter how aimless it feels at the moment, work on your weaknesses and read as much as you can, for in the work of others, you will find nuggets of wisdom with which to drive your own creativity.

As I tell my heart when it despairs, “if the ability to tell this story is a gift, tell more of it. If it reaches the ear of anyone else asides you, you have made a mark, for a story told is like a birthing … your soul given to another.”

35 thoughts on “Writing and the Inconsequential Fraud” by Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

  1. Thank God you’ve made progress. At least you now have something to say to aspiring writers.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks Kaycee. The general idea was to tell a factual story that would inspire others going through the same process. I guess I succeeded. :)

    2. Folks, these write up got Mazi finally into the Farafina writers workshop, after 2 tries.
      Read and learn.

  2. I like this one. This is a rousing speech to get any lagging writer up on his laurels.

    I agree with you; it is too easy to become disillusioned with the failures but; as it is with any dream…you have to see it first before others can see it.

    Keep working that pen, my literary brother. We’ll get there.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks Seun. We intend to keep doing this and encouraging aspiring writers.

  3. I think this is something most, if not all, writers can relate to. Even the ‘greats’ started somewhere. We just need to keep pushing. Encouragement.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Very true Uche. An established writer told me same a few days ago. They too have faced rejection and failure in their drive to make a name. Encouragement, yes, that is the thing we all need dearly. thanks for reading.

  4. You’ve just mentored me, fellow writer.I can relate well with your despairs and worries. All what blossoming writers need is encouragement. Aside the great work the Internet is doing in melding our voices to become more louder, workshops should never be in short numbers to encourage writers the more.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Glad to be a mentor to a talent such as yourself Joseph. We are pushing the frontiers and the walls of despair are yielding gradually. thanks for reading.

  5. Your words sure resonated with a part of me. With determination, anything is possible.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Glad to be of some service dear Igwe. Thanks for reading

  6. We are all in this together you know. We all have our moments and thanks for reminding us all about why we are here. All the best bro.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks irenecarew-bako. We sure do have our moments and more greater ones will come in the future, far or near. thanks for reading.

  7. Oga Nwonwu, let me give you d biggest compliment I give ppl these days:

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks Gboyega, great to be found worthy. Hope you are good.

  8. I echo the voices of the others. Most writers feel this way one time or the other, even published authors of best-selling books. Let’s keep reading and writing.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Very true Myne. The idea is to keep writing, reading, writing, reading, writing and hoping.

  9. Hi Fred,
    Enjoyed reading your note and thank you for sharing it. As writers, we can all associate with the emotions behind the words. I wanted to share with you some words of advice written by Thrity Umbrigar (an Indian-American writer). They have helped me these past weeks as I go through my own major episodes of self-doubt in my work. I hope you find some peace in them and I look forward to reading another article that would say you pushed that door down and made it in.

    “And finally, write for the right reasons. This is a bit of personal superstition, I suppose. But the ability to write is a gift, a special grace. It should not be abused for cynical purposes. Resist the temptation to write according to a formula or to imitate what is currently commercially successful. Write what’s in your heart. Write the stories that make you proud of yourself, not embarrassed. And never lose the ability to know the difference.”

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks a lot Yejide. Those words by Umbrigar did find dwelling in my heart. Thanks for sharing.

  10. fred,you have given me the strength.i must keep on pushing,if nobody listens,somebody out there loves what i have written.thanks for sharing

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks for reading and commenting Uche. Like others have said, we will get there.

  11. I like this Fred, thanks, and thank you @yejide kilanko for those words from Umbrigar, very powerful indeed. Bottom line is, we all need to keep finding reasons to write.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks Scopeman, you know how we do na. The reason for writing are as important as the writing itself, I think.

  12. Inspiring piece sir, guess the most important thing is moving up and forward.

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Yes Anderson, it is the moving ahead that is of most import. Thanks for reading ,man.

  13. We are all in this together…every one of us…

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      yes o Raymond. thanks for coming around to read and encourage the writer.

  14. very touching. you have spoken for a whole lot of people. success should be chased until gotten or until the breath is lost.

    we will get there

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      I agree Xikay. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  15. Thank you for this one Fred. I believe you are a writer if you can feel and talk about the triumphs, as well as the defeats attached to that name – writer; which you succesfully have. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

      Thanks Ayo, It is a pleasure to find that I am able, through my experience, encourage others to continue on this path. we go reach there soon.

      1. you have really encouraged people like me.

  16. You have just echoed what i go through most of the time, and at the same time you have urged me on again.

    Thank you for this piece.


  17. Thanks fred, you have inspired some of us who are trying to find our feet. God bless

  18. Great essay.
    Rings true.

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