I want this to be a happy piece. I want us to raise a few glasses in the end. So let’s get some negative energy out the way first. Remember that job I was telling you about last time? It didn’t happen. They told me to wait.
I waited, and then I waited some more. The old –don’t call us we’ll call you– number. And then they went silent, switched off the lights on our Emails, left me fumbling in the dark. Deep down I’m a little bitter about it. Given the chance I think I’d show them the finger. But the thing about rejection is it comes packaged with ways to toughen you up. You dust off and move on sindio?
A friend of mine texted me a few weeks back. We were talking about writing, a conversation I’m slowly beginning to dread. She wanted advice, a flattering request really. She wanted to know how she could improve her writing, had sent me a small piece and she wanted to know how to weave some texture into it a little. The thread then shifted to me, how I was fairing with this.
Well, I’m not.
Because I’m an egotistical bastard and I don’t want to bother myself thinking what will happen when I stop caring about writing, because my texting is getting poorer by the day, and because I can write very long sentences like this, paragraphs, beginning with conjunctions, I didn’t text her back when she asked, “Will you regret it 10 years from now, that you stopped writing?”
As soon as I put up my last post here I had that sad jaggy feeling. That I wasn’t going to come up with a good enough piece any time soon. I funneled a few ideas back and forth my head but they were all too loose. And I had the feeling if I started on any of them I wouldn’t get to half the word count, which would sink me further down this black hole.
So I stopped writing all together. Even the things that I wasn’t going to be post anywhere, the ones that I write just to keep me centered. The ones that keep my art well greased. The ones I use for practice. There are times I go back to them, use them to remind myself of how I sound, and when I did it last, it shamed me that I thought that those were the glory days. Like I was admitting to myself that I’m washed up.
I’ll pretend nothing’s wrong when someone asks. But writing for me has slowed down to this, long hard doubt ridden process. Somewhere along the way I felt the passion, and all the vague reasons why I started writing in the first place sip away from me. I no longer knew why the hell I’d bother myself beating that self-imposed deadline every week.
So by the time I was getting Chelsea’s story here, for those mini-posts I do to remind myself that I still have something going on for me, I was standing at the edge. There was a pull at my feet and I just wanted to jump, get it over with. Quit. So I told her I was crawling at the bottom of the barrel, that I was tired. And she said to me,
“Sasa utafanya? Msee, una realize this is all you have?”
I didn’t know what to feel about that really. A statement with a thick lacing of brutality and truth, that’s what it was.
See, with this or any other kind of art you have to wait. You do your part and you wait for someone to come and make something out of it, someone to push you up a little in the world. Me, I get impatient. Even when I’ve sat down to write, the moment I realize I’ve hit a dead end I’ll trash that project.
This one was also heading to the bin, until someone saw a couple of those mini-posts and said there was something in there worth saving.
And it’s really responses like those that give you some drive to go back to the keyboard and beat the tar out of it.
I try as much as I can not to write about writing. You can only do that so many times before you realize you’ve said it all before. So I want to make this about the people who push me even when I’m dragging my feet. People who pat my back and tell me not to give up, people who click and read what I put out, people who have made sure I’m not talking to myself.
Sometimes you meet someone and it feels like they have imprinted themselves on you with a hot iron rod. You meet these people who, time will pass but they will remain embed in your thoughts. Those ones you meet and they make you feel like you owe them something. For me that’s the lady. Whenever I run out of reasons to go on there’s always her. And that, my friends, is always enough.
When I attended the writing masterclass I picked up a few things. It’s where I met Bett, who mentors me. Who writes for Nation’s Satmag and blogs at fcbett.co.ke . Kindest heart you’ve ever seen. Bett has been cultivating my writing ever since, texting, sending Emails and things of how I can improve my craft. She’s witty, conversation with her is always a hoot, and her critiquing is just the right amount of sweet and sharp.
You probably opened the paper one Friday and flipped through straight to the pull out section, My Network. You probably fell upon a review of this blog, by Abigail Arunga. Around that time I was deep in that doubt phase. So when the review appeared, friends who saw it came asking why I didn’t tell them about it, said I downplayed it too much. I wasn’t sure pride was what I wanted to feel. But I don’t think any kind reviewing is easy, so Abigail, if you’re reading this, again, thank you.
I have a few friends who have had a hand in this. Mike and Chelsea Laria who, without knowing, make me see things in a different light. To Kagichu whose patience with writing I admire. To cousin George who reads me with such enthusiasm it warms my heart. And Mpemba, who gives me his honest opinion and buys me a beer whenever I ask nicely. To Mueni, Joy, and Mwaniki, writers, whose passion for writing I cannot match.
Lastly, there are those strangers on the internet, faceless friendly strangers who drop comments here. Which means they have stopped whatever they’re doing, if only for a few minutes to see what’s all the noise I’m making. I don’t take it for granted. One of them, on Facebook said he wanted to be a writer like me. That one touched a spot. If I wasn’t in public I might have shed a tear.
My glass is raised to you all. Let’s pick up where we left off next week?