I have some great news, I can’t wait to share with you.
Hello Dear Readers,
My promises to update this blog regularly… OK, I’m not even going to insult your intelligence. In my defence (or defense depending on where you are reading this) I have been writing… I’m also going to appear at a few events during the upcoming weeks (nice change of subject there).
The first is an author Chat arranged by the Women’s National Book Association- Atlanta Chapter!
A bit about this organisation: The Women’s National Book Association was established in 1917, before women in America even had the right to vote. WNBA is a national organization of women and men who work with and value books and exists to promote reading and to support the role of women in the community of the book.
Tickets are available right here…
So, I’ve been here for a year and a half now. And in keeping with feelings of sudden nostalgia, here’s something I wrote back in October 2015… four months in.
How time flies.
Georgia On My Mind…
Perhaps this was a pre midlife crisis.
Or maybe, it was merely time to un-play it safe, take a chance, pack a suitcase and leave the job I’d known for twelve years and jump on a plane headed to the United States.
Just like when I’d decided I wanted to finally write a book, I didn’t tell everyone of my plans. Because, like the energy around me, I needed positive folk, those I knew would support my dream with a well meaning; ‘Go for it, Girl’ and not the carefully worded, ‘are you sure this is a good idea?’
I am a dichotomy of traits; outgoing go-getter /introverted planner.
I was charting new territory having lived in England for most of my life, yet was no stranger to America. My first trip, aged nineteen involved working on an isolated summer camp in New Jersey with just an ounce of the confidence I now possessed. This time, I was a fully grown woman stuck in a space that echoed with the chimes of, ‘the time is now!’
So I did it.
I leaped off the proverbial safety net and into to the uncharted waters of the freelance writer and into a country that spoke a different English from what I’d been used to.
The first two months were a haze of apartment hunting and poetry slams. Making new friends was not something I thought I’d be doing at this age, but clearly a necessity when exploring new surroundings. The people I bumped paths with have been some of the nicest most welcoming I have ever met. Consequently, it didn’t take long to feel at home and rather bloated (Atlanta is home of the fried chicken wing after all) as I ushered in this new experience. Of course, the daydreams I once harbored about this trip (when it was far from becoming a reality) differs slightly to what has transpired during my time in Atlanta. The daydream contained five main components;
1) I Will Write In Fashionable Cafes Surrounded By Other Writer Types
So far, the only coffee shop I have frequented is the mighty Starbucks, mainly because of its proximity to my home, crucial as I do not drive. I once proudly vowed never to be a Starbucks type, preferring quaint family owned coffee houses with home baked cakes, but hey, needs must. I now even own a Starbucks card. Kill. Me. Now.
2) I Will Exercise (Almost) Daily
I am a woman of a certain age. I can no longer get away with a lack of regular exercise, as my lungs would attest after a short walk up a hill. The ‘but I do pilates once a week’ no longer cuts it. With a gym situated just a few yards from my front door, there are no excuses applicable. Three months later, I have been in that gym once whilst the chicken wing consumption has risen astronomically along with my girth. I have blamed the hot weather for my lack of interest, but Fall is now upon us and I am ready. I start today!
3) I WILL Maintain A healthy Eating Regime
Atlanta. Chicken wings. Please see above.
4) I Will Visit Vast Sections Of The American Countryside, For Inspiration
So far I have travelled to New Orleans, which was fantastic. But alas, this was to enjoy the annual Essence Festival, watch Mary J Blige, sample Louisiana’s finest cuisine and seek out a True Blood vampire. I’m not sure how inspiring this all was, but I had a great time! I do plan to visit Savannah, South and North Carolina in the very near future, areas I am told are very scenic during Fall months.
5) I Will Write (Almost ) Every Day!
At the beginning of this trip, my writing mojo had left me, gone on a vacation and tossed me aside. Friends dispelled my fears with; ‘You’re in a new country, it takes a while to settle down.’ But as any writer will tell you, writing is like breathing, therefore the absence of it made for an uncomfortable early experience.
Now, I am almost four months in. I am settled into my new home, the writing mojo has reappeared and I can end this article on a positive note.
I do however, remain addicted to chicken wings.
So, 2016 is almost upon us and I’m still thinking, ‘where did the time go?’
My time in Atlanta has been full of writing, sunshine and… writing. After ‘landing’ here in the good ‘ole South’- I was in shock for about six months. But now, a year and a half later, I’m still rather coming to terms with with just… being here.
Tragedy has struck, surprises (not all nice) have come, yet through it all, my faith in God has remained and here I am.
I feel so very blessed,
As with the writing- I have been partaking in that- a lot. And all will soon be revealed on that front.
Be patient, my luvvlies, be patient.
I have visited Savannah where I marveled at beautiful trees covered in Spanish moss (wondering how they got there) and visited the first African American Church; Chicago (where I didn’t try a pizza); a little German-town in Georgia called Helen (where I stood beside windmills and a Hansel and Gretel cottage); LA where I cheered at my first Martin Luther King Day Parade and Austin where I witnessed a lady walk around the street with no top on (apparently this is legal in Austin).
My dream is to drive across the West Coast, but considering I don’t enjoy driving and have yet to master the ‘other side of the road’ lark, we’ll just have to leave that fantasy alone for now. I am of course taking applications for any willing drivers… (I will pay in cupcakes).
As you can tell, this is a quick post to remind you I am still alive…. and writing.
I wish you all a wonderful 2016 and may all your wacky, crazy dreams come true!
As many of my friends know, I have about a trillion email addresses yet only check one of them regularly. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the address Bob at Webucator wrote to. So, as a consequence, I’m rather late in responding to his kind request to write a piece for NaNoWriMo. Thank you for your patience, Bob! Here goes;
What were your goals when you start writing?
I just needed to get the story out. The one buzzing around in my head, keeping me up during the early hours. A wonderful, yet crazy time- when the words come thick and fast and writers block existed nowhere in my vocabulary. I’d simply bask in the utter joy of sitting at the computer and placing thoughts onto a screen. A clever sentence, witty paragraph, powerful chapters; it would all flow so effortlessly.
Of course a very first draft is mostly rubbish.
BUT… it’s rather easier to edit garbage than, nothing.
The thought that at the end of this particular journey, someone on the other side of the world will (hopefully) be touched by my words, even moved. This in turn (at least in my head) is confirmation that I’m not indeed spouting nonsense and another human being can actually take something positive from what I have decided to share with the world.
What were your goals when you started writing? What are they now?
In the beginning, my goal was to get this, something, anything, published. To become a published author. Fast forward to now, with four published works under my belt – the goal remains the same; a) transport contents of head onto computer screen b) get it published. Added to that, I have to make sure I’m constantly improving and growing as a writer. One day, I fully expect to read through my first novel and squeal self righteously; ‘Did I really write that sentence?’
What motivates you to keep writing?
My passion for writing never dims. There are times when I procrastinate like crazy though. Suddenly more interested in watching the latest reality TV show about toilets instead of writing. But, ultimately, I find immense joy in seeing my thoughts come alive on a computer screen and then inside a real life book, with pages and everything!
What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
Young and old- never give up! There may be people around you, not as supportive as you’d like, but the trick is to see this as THEIR problem. Perhaps you’re doing something they’ve always fantasized about and it’s rather bothersome that you’ve actually taken the steps to make writing your reality. It’s easy to say; ’I’m writing a book,’ but to actually sit down and complete one is true commitment to a dream. Surprisingly, some of the strongest barriers can actually come from ourselves. Planning your story and reading a hundred; ‘How To…’ books is okay, but when this goes on for months and then years- there’s a problem. My advice? Get out of your own way and start that novel.
Sometimes, they are good, sometimes they are just…bad.
Leaving the day job and trekking to the States was probably not the work of a sane woman but it felt right and still does. A new country (one incased in a new civil rights battle that included protests in major cities) different culture… The changes were coming at me like a mass of tennis balls. It felt exciting, raw and challenging. I was ready.
Ready Set Go.
And then the unthinkable happened.
I lost a dear brother. Sudden and unexpected (as if deaths are ever expected).
The inevitable fall out of grief is that you turn into a complete shadow of your former self and walking around like a zombie becomes both normal and acceptable. On one such day, I found a child.
I literally, found a a two year old girl walking along the street dressed in a princess nightie and cute lil’ slippers. This already unusual scene quickly took on an urgency, when she decided it would be quite nice to walk into oncoming traffic. Running across the road, I managed to coax her away from the road, take her by the hand and call the police.
She clung to me trustingly as the police asked questions she refused to answer and after an hour they managed to locate her father (who’d fallen asleep whilst looking after her). This clever little girl had managed to maneuver herself out onto the street and away from a gated community and in the potential path of oncoming traffic and opportunist child-snathers.
This was a long day, yet one that, thank God, ended well. I hadn’t even noticed the change in my mood. Albeit temporarily, it had indeed changed.
You see, before I’d decided to take that route, I had sort of wrestled with the reasons as to why it would be better to take the OTHER route. An almost comical scene which undoubtedly led me to where I was able to see that beautiful little girl.
I do believe God put me in the right place at the right time as I was the only person on the street that afternoon.
Later that night, the child’s mother called and in between gulps of tears, said; “You saved the most precious thing in my life today, how can I ever repay you? Thank you.”
But perhaps that little girl called Olivia actually helped ME.
As I wait to see in the New Year here in Atlanta, the recent memories of loss and the feelings that accompany them are surfacing. But I will not discount the greatness that has also occurred during the past twelve months. Walking from a car accident unscathed, tasting chicken and waffles for the first time and almost passing out because of how wonderful they tasted; the beauty of New Orleans; warm sunshine in December.
The fact I am here typing this Blog, is a blessing I do not take for granted.
See ya later 2014… and hellooo 2015.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!
So, I’m still in America where I’m spending my first Thanksgiving!! Hurraaah! The irony is, I will be spending the day with some wonderful Ex Pats from the UK! I am taking along a rather large cheesecake as my contribution. I did have fantasies about turning up with a wildly inappropriately delicious Cheesecake from The Factory Cheesecake, but you know, Kroger next door is closer and as usual, I left it all to the very last minute!
Those who know me, are aware of my preference for all things sweet. Admittedly, when I first arrived here from across the pond, I couldn’t get enough of ‘Sprinkles’, cupcakes, ‘A Piece of Cake’ Red Velvet and of course the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake from CF. But having now exhausted such lusts, I can go whole weeks without them. And my stomach is soooo appreciative of this!
Having been in Atlanta on and off for the best part of four months, a lot has happened to take my focus away from writing. Moving to a new country, finding a place to live, and losing my dear brother.
It has been a trying and testing time.
But I have recently been able to continue with the writing, attempt to construct a story out of nothing and locate the mojo that keeps threatening to leave!
I thank God that the sun is still shining- a wonderful thing indeed!
Sade’s World Short Story Podcasts
Over to you, Sade!
Thanks Lola for letting me be your guest blogger and talk about my project Sade’s World Short Story Podcasts. Before I get into that, a little bit about me for those who have never heard my name. I’m a writer and a filmmaker, if I had to, I’d define myself as a storyteller. People always ask you, what made you want to become a writer? The first time I heard that question I was stumped because it wasn’t something I’d thought about becoming. Like most Nigerian children I had one of four choices, Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant or Engineer. Unfortunately for me, the only subjects I passed when I finished school were English and English Literature. I would call myself an accidental writer, it started with me writing letters to my father whenever we got into it and grew from there. I’m one of those people who finds the words to say days after an argument has ended, which is why writing suits me. Writing is about rewriting. So far I’ve managed to write for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service, I’ve also written pieces for theatre. My debut novel, Imagine This won the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and it’s the same book, which I’ve adapted into a screenplay and is currently in development.
Like my debut novel, which was self-published, Sade’s World Short Story Podcasts also had an unorthodox beginning. As well as looking for finance for my film scripts, I’m also in the throes of putting together a collection of my short stories. Because it’s been a while since I put anything out there, I thought I’d try and build up an audience and test the waters by making a selection of the stories into podcasts. My favourite podcasts that I subscribe to are, The New Yorker and Selected Shorts (PRI). I wanted to do something similar to Selected Shorts, which uses well-known actors of stage and screen. So I went looking for some great Actresses and found them in Dona Croll and Joy Elias-Riwan and they did a brilliant job. I made four podcasts and it would have ended there if I hadn’t attended a British Council event exploring contemporary writing and the creative future of Nigeria. It was here that a young lady wanted to know how she could get hold of stories written by African writers. A refrain I hear too often at events.
Living in the UK we know we have issues about diversity in the media. I’m one of the many people who complain bitterly about why I don’t see a reflection of my reality on the page, in film, on television, in magazines and so forth. What Irealised is that, I can’t wait for someone to change things for me, I’ve got to be that change I want to see in the world. So my short story podcasts which started out as a marketing tool for my upcoming collection grew wings and became a project which is about celebrating and showcasing African Writers and stories.
Since the beginning of time, when we existed in caves, stories have defined us. It is stories that give meaning and context to our lives. Author Junot Diaz wrote, “if you want to make a human being a monster, deny them at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” We don’t see ourselves reflected in the stories we read or in the films we watch, but we exist. So this is my way of redressing the balance, my ultimate goal is to create a weekly podcast showcasing short stories by African writers, this of course depends on how much money we’re able to raise from our crowd funding campaign.
There are lots of online outlets for short story writers, however the way we read stories is changing. No one I know has time to read because they’re so busy getting a life. With a podcast, you can listen on your way to work, while you’re making dinner for the kids, in the gym or wherever. It’ll be tales by moonlight without the moon, the log fire and the raffia mat. It also makes sense to make them as podcast instead of an online magazine, because most Africans have access to the Internet through their mobile phone providers, which means they’ll be able to download and listen for free.
Sade’s World Short Story Podcasts is vital to me as a Writer because telling our stories is important, it is a gift for future generations. We tell stories, not only to evolve and grow as people, but also to make a difference in the world and broaden the perspectives of all human beings.