What have I done this holiday? I have masqueraded as a writer. On top of that, I have been diagnosed with a disease. It’s called literariosis. It consumes a person. It keeps you awake at night. It keeps you thinking, obsessing. In extreme cases, the diagnosed person will lack interest in all else. My being diagnosed with this disease was due to a series of events that I shall take you through.
I have a friend; Lydia. I guess you can say we both suffer from this disease. She is yet to know, though. But will find out through this blog post, hehe. But anyway, we have a sort of partnership, a partnership that consists of « Oh, my God, did you see this story? » and so on. We stalk literary websites and pages and writers and so forth. We shall soon be able to sit an exam on the content on Nyana Kakoma’s ‘Sooo Many Stories’, Beverley Nambozo’s ‘Bibishawe Niwe’s Facebook page, Writivism’s website, the Jalada website, The Short Story Day Africa Facebook Page,etc. I sometimes go as far as stalking the writer’s walls. Once stalking becomes part and parcel of you, you graduate to more life-threatening symptoms.
The ’emulation’ process comes into play. You try to tell your own kind of story. When you do, you stash your journal somewhere under your bed. You put a more than non-decipherable password on your laptop, to keep intruders away. When you can, you attend every literary festival that is. « Are you a writer? » someone will ask. » No, I just love reading and these types of things, » you reply, while there. Somedays, you decide but « iiii… lemme show ko my friend, » or « lemme open up a blog. »
Then maybe, the confidence starts to set in. You think ‘Maybe, I can do this.’ You share more and more of your work. You get encouragement. Of course, there comes the criticism. You start to love the criticism. It’s usually very helpful.Then the self doubt creeps in: do you then receive nice comments because these people know you? You remember a mentor you once had, he said » I sometimes send in my work to someone else to read it, in the guise of it being one of my student’s work. You get more honest advice that way. » You decide that, that is the best approach.
Somedays, its worse. You try to sieve through it all. The confusing opinions. The confusing remarks. You decide to recoil back into solitude again. You decide that, you will not share your work again. Maybe, it’s best that you just read and love other people’s work. What is Chimamanda doing? Which talk did Ben Okri give? What new anthology has been produced?
« But, nga I don’t see your work ,anymore? » Leave me alone, you think. You focus on other things. Something not as unsure and flimsy as writing. Something that you’re certain about. Perhaps your studies or job, or whatever. For some, that is the end of the road. The literariosis violently consumes them. They give up. They lay their writing tools down. They close their hearts and filter their minds. For the lucky ones, they are sent to rehab.
And that is where I am now. If there is one thing that my therapist has taught me, it’s that love what you are doing. Be open to growth. Be open to criticism. It will make you grow. Your writing is your child. Picture the criticism as a sort of a communal interest in your child. A child with immorality is not wanted in the community, after all. However, sometimes sieve the criticism. That is something that you will have to figure out how to do. My therapist also says that not everyone will like your work. It’s a « taste » kind of thing too. Maybe like the same way you are still trying to understand sci-fi.
My therapist says that writing is a growth kind of thing. Keep on writing and keep on learning. And yes always be open to criticism. So, rehab is not such a bad thing, after all. It keeps me sane and from slipping into « I am my own kind of person » that negativity sometimes brings.
Yes and my therapist told me that masquerading is not such a bad thing after all. Sometimes we become what we want to be.