WRITING IS NOT A CHILD’S PLAY
Writing is not for lazy minds, it is not for those who cannot think beyond where they are or what they see. It is not for those who cannot think outside the box neither is it for those who want to do it because others are doing it. It is not for those who have no purpose to which they write. It is for those minds that can think and brainstorm and proffer solutions to some problems, situations, circumstances and, pass a message to the society as well create an ever lasting impression on people’s mind. Our writings mirror the society and serve as the eyes of the masses; it is not a child’s play to be called a writer. You must live up to the task of a writer.
I could remember when I wrote ‘writing is not for little children’ and posted it on facebook and some other sites, I could remember that I was attacked, some asked me why I would say rejection is normal to writers. They asked me if I know the emotional trauma some writers go through each time their works are rejected by magazines or sites they send them to. I was not able to convince majority of them that being a writer does not mean that you cannot be rejected, in fact I can boldly tell you that each month, I receive close to ten rejection emails from different magazines and sometimes, some don’t even reply my message or acknowledge that they have seen my work submitted to them. You can be abused anytime especially in this side of the world where we find ourselves. In fact, rejection should be something you shouldn’t be afraid of, you must learn to accept it as it comes, and you must take it as a normal thing without much ado about it. spread your wings and embrace it and never give up on yourself because your works are rejected out there and other people’s works are being accepted, not every magazine fits your works, not every magazine will accept your works just the way they are; not all of them will accept them the way you write them and the way you present them or your style of writing. Every poem or prose or short stories have their own magazine and place. For the fact that this magazine did not accept one of your poems does not mean another won’t accept it. We are not perfect writers and perfectionism is not part of Art. Art ia not perfect taht is why we have critics who see art from different angles and approach it differently.
If someone like Graciano Enwerem took ten years to write and publish his book, what then are you rushing to do with your manuscript? Give it time and keep working and developing it. if someone like Samson Kukogho was once rejected and later, the same book that was not accepted somewhere won the Guarantee Trust Bank and Okada Books dusty manuscript award elsewhere; then you have hope of getting your book published. If Harry Potter’s author: J.K. Rowling was rejected many times and today, she is among the wealthiest and famous writers in the world, I bet you, you have not really started writing. I have over seven books submitted in different publishing houses here in Lagos and some of them have not really give me hope of publishing my book; but I still hope in them. There will be many rejections that would certainly come on your way if actually you want to choose this career, you can’t escape the heat of rejection from publishers, if actually you want to be a writer, you must buckle up your shoes.
It is not all about posting on facebook and having people clicking on the like button, some of them that click on the like button don’t read the post and some of them don’t read 6% of your write up. Don’t be deceived, you know your flaws when you are being rejected. Although some of these magazines don’t tell you why your works are rejected, they only say it does not meet up with their magazine’s standard. You see, I’m still a child when it comes to writing, I’m still building my craft; building myself to be a better writer to reckon with. I have witnessed many rejections from different publishers. I have over thirty manuscripts in the shelf. Some I wrote five years ago, some eight years ago and some two years ago. Each time I’m to clean the shelf and i look at them, I always have tears stream down from my eyes because they are those books I took my time to write, some of them I spent six months and some one year and some, more than one year.
Sometimes I ask myself when these manuscripts will turn to a book but get no answer to these questions. I have written to many magazines and I wasn’t paid for it, what was I looking for when I wrote those things to them without looking at money? You know I’m only looking for a way to establish that name: John Chizoba Vincent, because, if I don’t establish it, no one will take me serious as a writer. Even this one you are reading will be rejected too by some magazine i may send it to.
There is always a striking difference between what you write and your personality and how you present it and so therefore, becoming a writer, you have to lay down aside many things. You don’t first consider the money, you don’t consider the pains, you don’t consider rejection, yes, it will be very hard for some people to accept your craft but you have to first work with passion and the pleasure in your muse, get recognized before money start coming. You don’t rush it, it is obvious here in Africa, Nigeria precisely that being a writer that has no name is like being a rejected personality. People take you for granted but it all depends on how you present yourself, it all depends on how strong you are to your craft, if a mere word from a critic can weigh you down then you don’t have business here. The first week I posted my work on a what’sapp group, a guy from the group wrote to me in privately that I should stop writing, he said that I was killing the art itself. I was discouraged because it hurt when someone condemn your work without knowing how long it took you to create the work he just condemned without even reading the entire work. I let go of it that day but it took me another one week before I could write another thing.
Meanwhile, we won’t forget how writer’s block frustrates many of us. Sometimes you are completely blank, you don’t even know where to start or where to end. It funny how some of us manage to get out of this, the emptiness and blankness of our thoughts and some critics out there don’t understand this. Some of them just want to make sure they tell you how bad you are, how bad your write up is, how bad your tenses are, how bad your punctuations are; where you miss it. Some of them don’t do anything than this. They sit in a comforyable place, eyes wide, waiting for you to drop that work of yours on facebook or what’sapp or any site for them to rubbish it and tell you how bad you are as a writer. And these set of people cannot correct you or tell you the right way to do it, they are always ready to wash you down any time. That is why you have to be strong as a writer, you can’t fight them all, and you can’t win them all. They are like lion that lay in wait for its prey.
Even those up there, I mean those people we look up to as mentors and follow up their footsteps don’t even have the time and resources to help you and me. It is a one man race, a one man journey. You have to establish yourself first, your name, and style of writing. No one is here or there to spoon feed you as a writer. Do exactly what you want to do, don’t allow anyone to turn you into their mugu, a follow-follow goat, not every dress of a man will fit you. Create your own future, create your own style. It is not a child’s play to pick up your pen to write. I must commend all writers all over the world. Take it easy, it is not easy to endure that pain, to have that sleepless night; I bet you don’t even know where you’ve being read and where your names have gotten to and where your name have being mentioned. Don’t see yourself as a loser because someone out there wants you to feel like that. It is only you that know you and knows what you want to achieve as a writer. Don’t give up, keep checking and searching for ways you can improve your art, we need new voices, not sagging voices. We need writers with principles and policies who can cast down fire here and look the sun in the face. We need brave personalities who could stand against these vices when everyone else is on the run.
However, don’t let your growing voice be controlled by theirs. Reason with reasons, you must find a purpose why you write because if you don’t, you will be easily pushed to the ground. It is not easy to rise from this side of the world as a writer, anyone that tells you that it is easy; it is a set up. Work more on yourself. I have written sometimes to a woman that works in one Television station. I can’t remember her name now, I was introduced to her by a friend and she called me and I went to Ikeja GRA. I was excited that for the first time I was going to be paid as a writer no matter how small it was going to be. This was around 2015. We booked an appointment to meet by 4 pm. Before 3 pm I was already there. We discussed and she promised to pay me as soon as I finish up the manuscript. I finished up the first draft and sent to her email and that was the end. She never called again even when I called her she would busy my calls. I got tired of her until I stopped calling.
Later, a friend of mine who shot the film told me that my script was shot and the other of my friend who edited the film said the same thing. I was devastated. I could not say anything to anyone in particular. It happened just like that and it made me stopped writing script for film producers. You see what I am saying, i stopped because i was broken. You know it is not even a child’s play for you to start and finish something that people will read and tell you how great it is. Writing is for the brave heart, many people would frustrate you and make you look useless; like you don’t even know what you are doing. It is for those who can stand when the tide is higher than them, it is for those who can look beyond where they are now, those people that can push ahead no matter the rejections and abuse here and there.
Furthermore, when writing, you don’t just write because you want to write, you don’t just write because something comes to your mind even at that, you must settle down to know how to relate what comes to your mind to your readers. First, you must hold your readers captive, they must follow you in your journey, they must reason with you or reason better than you. You mustn’t leave them stranded on the way; you mustn’t leave them in a point of no return. You must find a way to create a balance between you and those that read you. There are some readers that won’t have luxury of time to go through your description of a particular character while some have the time but in all, you have to play safe, balance the equation in a rightful way.
Take your time, study your craft and your audience, build yourself in it; it takes time to blossom, it takes time to stand. It is not something you start today and it grows today. It comes gradually. It starts taking shapes as you spend time with other people’s work, as you spend time studying how others are doing it. It starts to take shapes as soon as you realize who you are, what you can do and you can channel those things to achieve a common goal. Take your time, don’t rush it, keep building and studying to improve in your craft where necessary and hope for the best. The problem that most of us have is that we are in a hurry to be called an author, we are in a hurry to see our book published, it is good but the way you start is how people out there will rate you in years to come. So start in a clean note, start in a brave style and leave a mark they can’t erase. There is no how you will not be remembered after you are gone.
In conclusion, be yourself. Be who you want to be and don’t try to write like Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe or Helon Habila. If you are good, you are good and your voice must be heard somewhere and sometimes in history pages, It might be now or tomorrow but keep working because what you engage yourself in is not a child’s play. It needs gut and bravity..
© John Chizoba Vincent