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The Writing Journey Of A Soon To Be Published Author…

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Hello All…

I had the pleasure of chatting with fab and soon to be published author Irenosen Okojie. Look out for her guys! Having secured an agent, it’s only a matter of time until she’s snapped up by a major publisher! For now, she’s been gracious enough to write about her writing journey so far…

Enjoy!

My Writing Journey by Irenosen Okojie 

I may have had ink stains on my tiny hands in my mother’s womb. I suspect during the birth, after her face crumpled in relief at the prospect of fitting into her clothes again, my first wail was bewilderment in foreign surroundings and the second and third shrieks, frustration at being unable to document my infant arrival into this world; to not yet feel the strokes of a pen or flick a written page.

Fast forward to adolescence and I was well and truly addicted to a drug. Reading. Most teenage girls were obsessed with boys but I coveted books; the smell of them, feel of them and emotions they evoked. Literature was magical, it transformed the mundane into the extraordinary, planted a seed in me that had lofty ambitions. I hid novels inside my supplementary science books, often reading in class, piled into WH Smiths on smoggy days clutching wrinkled five pound notes. I liked that you could be wandering down Carnaby Street holding a weathered copy of Chinua Achibe’s Things Fall Apart and simultaneously be in Africa. I was one of those kids with the disposition of someone much more adult. You know the ones, seemingly born mature. I began to write, scribbled diary entries full of wry observations, poems jotted down with a fountain pen I always had to shake several times so the ink could come through. There was so much in my head; I thought I’d combust from carrying its weight. Writing offered me a space to explore, create, play, offload and dream.

Years later, I joined a young writer’s development programme run by Spread The Word. It paired aspiring writers and poets with established mentors. What began as a short story developed into a novel. Over the next two to three years, I had regular meetings with my mentor who offered feedback and encouragement. We’d also set deadlines and mark milestones which meant the work was progressing, growing. Writing a novel is like being dumped in a small boat at sea. You have no idea where you’re going or how you’ll get there but somehow you muddle through. Bit by bit, chapter by chapter, you create a book, similar to building a puzzle. Writing is tough, daunting, isolating and at times frustrating. It’s also illuminating, exciting and fulfilling. It’s been a thread that’s snaked through my life. No matter the circumstances, I always wrote. I’m miserable when I don’t. I wrote on rumbling trains, mountains, hospital isles, music festivals, in sleep. I wrote at the end of new beginnings and the beginning of fresh endings. I work in the arts which meant always interacting with other writers, poets, illustrators and musicians. This also spurred me on. I kept reading, all kinds of books because I can’t stand literary snobs and believe every genre has its place and value. I attended literature events to meet and connect with other writers. After all, no woman is an island. I redrafted the novel, sought advice. I kept working on the craft.

In 2012 after a few rejections, I signed with my agent. I remember meeting her at Foyles Bookshop on Charring Cross road. We sat in the busy café. I shook rain off my umbrella, watching her over a steaming cup of peppermint tea as though she was a trick of light. I honed in on her words, ignoring the din of noise. Any minute now I thought, she’ll say she just wanted to meet and to try again down the line. I steeled myself, internally rationalising. Literary agents don’t waste time meeting writers they don’t want to represent. A week later, the contract arrived in the post. It was real.

Sometimes, I think of my journey so far. I think of that baby floating in the ether, tightly gripping her pen. As she grew into womanhood, awkwardly embracing all the stages it entails, I think of her changing those pens as if they’re gears.

  

 

Irenosen

Irenosen Okojie is a London based writer and freelance Arts Project Manager. Her work has been published by The Observer, The Guardian and Kwani literary magazine . Her short stories have been published internationally and she is penning her first novel and a collection of short stories. She is also the Prize Advocate for the SI Leeds Literary Prize.To submit please visit:www.sileedsliteraryprize.com

Visit Irenosen’s website: www.irenosenokojie.com

Follow her on Twitter: @IrenosenOkojie

How to Juggle Writing With Raising A Young Family: YA Author Keris Stainton Reveals How She Does It!

Posted on by lola in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

 

The wonderful Keris Stainton is the author of three published YA novels with a few more to come this year. She home educates her two young sons and is addicted to tea and Twitter.

I had one question for Keris;               1600313_10152211160060972_2118264409_n

“How do you juggle writing with raising a family?”      

Here’s what she had to say…

” Writing and having children are, for me, inextricably linked. I’d always wanted to write and had dabbled for years and years, but it was having my first son, Harry (now 9) that made me finally decide to go for it. The full story involves a job in accountancy, a Paul McKenna book, a life coach, and Starbucks. But basically all you need to know is that I became horrified at the idea of one day telling my child that I’d always wanted to write, but had never really been brave enough. And so I started to write. At first I wrote for magazines and online, but when I was pregnant with my second son, Joe (now 5), I got a book deal and have subsequently had three young adult novels (and one New Adult novella) published, with another three due out this year. But I am always – always – looking for excuses not to write. The only time I ever willingly do housework is when I know I should be writing. I will phone annoying relatives. I will sort my receipts. I even, recently, googled how to fix a dripping tap (I didn’t go as far as actually fixing it though).

 

 

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I annoy myself. I can fill days with ‘busyness’ or ‘research’ while fretting constantly about the fact that I’m not writing. This also involves telling the boys I can’t take them to the park, we can’t make biscuits, no I can’t help you download yet another Minecraft mod – I’M WRITING. But I’m not. I’m avoiding writing. I learned recently that if I write first thing – very first thing – then all of the above can be avoided. A few weeks ago I dreamt that we were burgled and so I started taking my laptop up to bed with me. One morning, I sat up in bed, opened up the laptop and started to write. After half an hour or so, the boys got up and joined me in bed with their own technology. By 9am – AM! – I had my words for the day. The rest of the day was so easy, so breezy, so much fun that I keep wondering if I’d forgotten to do something important. But no, I’d just got it out of the way. (I just read this article by Merrill Markoe, which may explain why it works).  I will probably always avoid writing to some extent – I think it’s just human nature that if you know you have to do something, you’ll do all you can to put it off – but getting it out of the way early seems to be the key. Then you have the day free to be a parent, plus you also get to feel smug that your writing is done. Win-win.”

Thanks Keris!

Birthdays, Elephants and… No Writing?

Posted on by lola in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hi All,

It’s been a great few weeks… 

I spent my birthday in Goa, India and it was amazing.

Elephants are some of the most beautiful and gracious creatures (in my humble opinion) and I had the privilege of spending my birthday  with them, ElehugCutbefore some birthday cake, lobster on the beach and partying the night away. A great birthday. I will confess that I did not write AT ALL on this trip- didn’t even make any notes… Total relaxation.

Now, I’m back  and the writing continues.  

And next week I have a lovely treat for you all, so stay tuned!

 

Lola