Award Winning Author Sade Adeniran Talks African Writers & Podcasts…

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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.
Sade

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.

Thanks Sade!

If you’d like to support Sade’s campaign.  Head over to her page and make a donation. Alternatively you can help her spread the word by liking and sharing the FaceBook page.

Twitter: @Imagine_This

Writing Coach Rosemary Dun on First Drafts & The Alchemy of Teaching Creative Writing…

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Shoes and $&!££y First Drafts: The Alchemy of Teaching Creative Writing           

 

I teach creative writing both at an adult education centre and for The Open University. I approach all my classes with the same two goals: to pass on what I wish I’d known when I first started writing creatively, and to help new writers get in touch with their subconscious from which all creativity flows. Over the years I’ve witnessed magic in both my own and my students’ writing and lives. 

Raymond Carver wrote: “It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring—with immense, even startling power.” And that “a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing- a sunset or an old shoe- in absolute and simple amazement.” 

We live in a text-based world which isn’t necessarily conducive to creative writing. We write – text messages, emails, facebook, work reports – daily. But is this “creative writing”? 

For me, there are two components to creative writing.                                                                        

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The Craft = ways of doing (i.e. the nuts & bolts)

The Art = ways of seeing (or perceiving – i.e. your view of the world).

Often, in order to access the “Art” of the process a good start is to move away from the keyboard. With freewriting by hand you’re outwitting your inner critic or editor, and telling your subconscious that you’re writing creatively. I like to get my students to free-write with pen and paper, to draw with crayon, to write in the dark – to dance and sing and pay attention to their writing. And to also develop the close observation, the being specific, the employment of all five senses, the showing with scenes, the day-dreaming.

 

I’m a big fan of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones, her timed freewriting exercises, and the writing of “$&!££y first drafts”, through which you can discover your voice, help your characters take on lives of their own, and channel flow and natural rhythms. Freewriting can take you to a trance-like state, and to where magic and alchemy can happen.  You begin to dream your writing. It comes and finds you (so do carry a small notebook and pen with you for when that happens). Your subconscious works away at plot problems, comes up with solutions, with new avenues, and with terrific unforced and specific prose and – Halleluah – before you know it, you’re a writer.   Teaching creative writing is such a privilege. I’m often humbled by students who have a breakthrough, or by those who say their lives are changed and enriched forever because writing is now in it. Most recently, a student confided that – after years of trying IVF and all but giving up – she felt “something unlock, and that she now has her long-dreamed-for baby. She’s convinced this is all down to a practice of free-writing. And who am I to say otherwise?  

Magic can, and does happen. Not always. But when it does … it’s … magic! All I ask of my students is to be open, to be brave, to trust in the process and their own innate story-telling abilities – and to let go of the wanting everything to be perfect. Embrace those shitty first drafts!

And so, thanks to all who have shared the magic, for those who are writing magic, and for the magic yet to come. Oh, and do start staring at those old shoes!

Rosemary Dun is a published writer of short stories and poetry.  She has performed poetry and run workshops at literary festivals. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University  and teaches creative writing at Degree level for The Open University.  Rosemary’s latest novel is with her literary agent ready for submission (good luck gal!).

Contact Rosemary via her website for  mentoring or tutoring  www.rosemarydun.co.uk 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like buses…

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 …You wait for one post and two arrive at once.

I’ve been in Atlanta since June, so I do have an excuse (sort of).

During this time, I’ve been blessed to visit New Orleans and attend the Essence Festival for the very first time. Lots of celebrities were present and I did manage to listen to Alicia Keyes talk about the AIDS crisis, Mary J Blige sing her heart out and observe many just mulling around (sometimes aimlessly). I kept my cool though (unlike when I met Will Smith way back in 2008!)

* So there is something up with my computer today and I can’t post any pictures. Just know that a very nice picture would have gone here! 

 The history of New Orleans is fascinating. The Spanish and French influences in the architecture make it like no other US city I have ever been to.  Such a short visit this time, I did get to attend a drumming session in Louis Armstrong Park. If you get a chance to visit New Orleans make sure you check it out. These men and women meet every week in the spot where hundreds of years ago, African slaves danced and sang songs of their homeland.  When asked if they make every Sunday, one of the participants said; “We try never to miss a  Sunday.”  What heartfelt dedication.

What about the food? Well, the influences of those ancestors forcibly removed from Africa to the USA during the time of slavery is very real and present. I tried Gumbo for the first time and this immediatly reminded me of a Nigerian dish called Peppe Soup. I also had the best hot dog I have ever tasted  (please trust me on this) situated across the road from Louis Armstrong Park, called Dreamy Weenies!

 * picture

So I am back in Atlanta (home away from home) and continuing to sample what this city has to offer. The weather has been great, except for the almost daily rain…  I guess there had to be a reason for all the lovely trees.

Unlike many of it’s residents, I’m not driving whilst in Atlanta so have been getting around on the MARTA train and bus system. Now I am used to the fast and plentiful London transport system, so let’s just say that when the local bus only runs once every hour and not on the weekends, this becomes VERY INTERESTING.

But I am enjoying this ride.

Atlanta has the sunshine, the odd celebrity walking around any given area-but the best thing about here?  The people.

I like to just talk to people, find out their story. Is this because of blatant nosiness or fodder for a future book? Who knows?  But I have met so many wonderful people on this journey so far. In New Orleans I met a former 1960′s civil rights worker, now a retired Pastor who was once babysat by Mahalia Jackson; the man who drove my hotel shuttle bus each day, disclosed that he had once been tortured by the Taliban in  Afghanistan.  The list is endless and I get to add to it every single day.

It’s the southern hospitality that keeps bringing me back to Atlanta, without a doubt- oh and the sunshine!

So, as the title of this blog post suggests, you’re getting two posts for the price of one.

Next up, writing coach Rosemary Dun let’s us in to the world of First Drafts & The Alchemy of Teaching Creative Writing…

Enjoy (and sorry for the lack of pics- they were good too- blame the computer or slow internet connection!!)

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