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When writing is both fun and frustrating

OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

Will you please close your eyes for a few seconds, imagine yourself in a jungle somewhere in Africa. Don’t start sweating now, but .. okay, I don’t want to run away or amok with the picture. I am not crazy you know and this is not from some crank.
My name is Biola Olatunde, you have to know that first off because you might be too interested to remember it after you have finished reading. It is okay to laugh now but do go on reading. I write like this on my blog, you guessed right, I am a blogger, an author, a poet and producer. Before you get bored altogether with my crazy introductions let me get to the story.
What does it feel like being an author in my country?

Good question, authors in Nigeria get the shortest end of the stick. You cannot make it a calling, or a profession and definitely cannot live by your earnings from books you publish. One big drawback is the populace. Simply put, we don’t read. Hold it, we are educated, because we read a whole lot so we can pass exams, get a certificate, get a job or start a business. Read for pleasure? You get a blank stare and a change of subject. ..if you are under 40, people within my age bracket remember with nostalgia books they had read, the comics, novels and the poetry.
But those books were written by western authors and gave some of us dreams that we might be able to write. They were not specified literature, but we devoured them, romantic novels, detectives, thrillers, mysteries, even biographies
In the sixties and seventies, being an author might have fetched you the odd change enough to buy you new socks or a few shirts. You learn that even then remuneration from publishers was practically zilch, you wrote then because there was a chance, that some fellow from the education ministry might read your book, and show it to the curriculum fellows at the ministry and if you have been a very good boy, they recommend your book to secondary school or even primary school. You are made then, as your publisher will give you a smile and promptly offer you 10% of the sales. The author never gets the cream off his hard work. Your creativity is something most Nigerians hardly ever think you deserve good recompense. Publishers are generally not keen on your manuscript unless you can assure him that the book will get a government nod. Authors, therefore take the route of self-publishing these days.

Self- publishing for Nigerians who do not have the English language as their first language is fraught with a lot of confusion, more so when in these days, you are wondering if you should opt for American English or British. We can’t tell the difference most times.

What genre of writing should you write that will hold the interest of the public? These days of sci-fi films, noir, erotica and so forth, we do not know one genre from the other. I like to think, the best way forward in that particular territory is to write about what you know best, Those days of my youth when I read a lot of Somerset Maugham, I learned that he would research his story, get a feel of the kind of characters he wanted to portray so he got to know his protagonist pretty well. I used that method always in my writings either as radio plays, or novels. I visited the Niger Delta, stayed in one of the towns, and interviewed a lot of the average Niger Deltan to get a feel of the place before I wrote my first published novel, BLOOD CONTRACT. I was very gratified to receive comments from people in that area thinking I was a native of the place. You need to be able to put such feelings and empathy in your writing. For us, concentrate on writing well.
You should be believable and honest I remember my cousin one day read my television plays and raised puzzled eyes as she asked me if these things I have written were actual events. I replied that they were based on real events. She shook her head and wondered why I want to live by imagining things. She asked me why I did not want to start a trade and earn really good money. For an author in Nigeria like I mentioned earlier, it will take awhile before authors can earn real good money. They are constrained now to do other things and even our Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka had to earn his living through being a lecturer.

Young people are now writing, trends are evolving, and some publishers are also emerging but the essence of writing still remains the same. If you enjoyed writing it, the reader would probably agree with you and pay for that pleasure.
In the next couple of weeks, I hope to make available to anyone interested, the fine points about writing and we will share together.
Once in while I get a writing binge and I like to think might be experiencing a binge for the moment. Let’s share together while the itch is one shall we

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Can you ask about the first time?

The language of sex and your child
I had to think for long moments before daring to start a topic like this. I am Nigerian and no matter what we say, the subject is something we squirm about and look everywhere but at our children.
Let me ask you a simple question, have you ever asked your child what the first time felt like? Or on the other hand, have you ever wondered what your child’s sex life is like?

You know, you suspect, worry and you are sometimes reluctant, or simply don’t even think about asking.
Tinu told me this, (of course I am not using her real name but that will do) “I didn’t think much of asking my daughter Wura if she had been to bed with her boyfriend. Just felt she was still innocent. I mean I melt each time she focuses those brown eyes o me and makes a request. Her dad can’t seem to resist her either, so I felt well, she really doesn’t need to be anything but her innocent self. I never thought of her in terms of physical intimacy with a man. Sure, she introduced her boyfriend to me and I was being the ‘modern’ mum when I said it was okay for him to visit her at home. The poor wretch looked personable and did not talk stupid, you know, start every sentence with ‘as in’. Then I walked into the kitchen of all places and there he was fondling my girl and she was giggling. I let out a yell and chased him out of the house. My daughter was very shocked at my reaction. She stared at me stunned, then ran after him. It took a while before we were calm enough to talk. I never wished to see the disgust on her face when she asked me if I was waiting for her to ask permission before her first sexual experience. What have I done? Tinu asked me in pain”
I understood her confusion and cultural shock. We had grown in a society where you did not discuss your monthly circle and here was a daughter freely making out in the kitchen of her parents. How high was the leap? What were the consequences? Is it modernity or plain stupidity?
We stared at each other, confused and anxious, because there is always cases of rape of young persons reported almost daily in one newspaper or the other, how do we balance that with a natural reticence not to talk about sex and this was not even rape!
Remember I posted a few weeks back things you must teach your child about physical safety with uncles, aunties and family relatives. This is different though and somehow deep inside you are not sure you feel comfortable with that level of freedom.
Roseline was outraged when I shared this with her and she has a son. “Tope would not dare bring a girl into my home much less take her to his bedroom, I will castrate him first!”
I was stunned by her own answer. I asked why, she glared at me then sighed; “I don’t want to be an emergency mother in law to some stupid girl who can’t keep her legs crossed around my son. Girls are always on the lookout to snag a rich husband and they use stupid words like being someone’s ‘baby mama’. What the heck does that mean? They are not thinking of settling down, but just be a parasite on some stupid male who has no control over his zipper!”

I couldn’t help laughing watching her face and seeing she was in earnest. Later though I contemplated what she said. The social media these days is replete with all types of relationships and maintaining some sense of reason is becoming hard by the day.
When does our responsibility end as a parent? Do we just feed them, send them to school or do we have the responsibility to give them a viable moral compass?
How can we give them a moral compass if we have not evolved a viable one that will suit our sense of values?
I seem to have a lot of questions and I am praying that a parent or two will answer these questions for us.
I will look forward to that.