I have never been an active collaborative blogger. I wish I’d featured a lot more guest bloggers, wish I’d written more guest posts. But here I am.
For the first time ever, I have allowed Obinna Udenwe talk me into joining a world blog tour. Where my first impulse would have been to simply dismiss it with a harsh remark as ‘I’d rather focus on writing than talk about it,’ I find that I’m embracing the idea of discussing ‘the writing life’, my writing life. And it’s a difficult life.
Seeing as I have a novel coming out in September, 2014, I have to talk, scream, shout. In this era of the internet, it isn’t enough to write a good book and expect it to sell itself.
And so I have gladly hopped aboard the Blog Tour in the hope of creating links between writers and perhaps introducing readers to authors they wouldn’t otherwise come across.
I was asked to take part in‘The Writing Process ‘Blog Tour by Obinna Udenwe, a novelist and short story writer who has a novel coming out this year. The idea is that all the writers who take part answer the same fourquestions about their work and their writing process. You can read Obinna Udenwe’s answers here. I have asked Nze Sylva Ifedigbo, Robin Cain and Osemhen Akhibi to grab the baton from me. You can read more about them at the end of this post.
Let the answering begin:
1) What am I working on?
A sequel. Yes. A sequel to the romance novella I completed last year, which is slated to be published by Ankara Press.
There is no title yet. Just a working title. Finding Love Again II. Of course, it won’t be called FLA II. That’s why it’s a working title named after the first book. I loved working on the first book, perhaps it’s because it was set in a resort. The Obudu cattle ranch resort. I love this work because its about being a survivor. The heroine, even after being jilted on her wedding day, is able to move on and prove that she can succeed at other ventures. She accepts the things she has no control over and works hard to excel in her endeavours. And the heroine was crazy enough to travel up the plateau in order to find peace and quiet to complete her poetry manuscript, only to find—instead of concentration— the makings of love. Does she fail in her venture? You’d have to read the book to find out.
The second book—just like the first— is also about the complexities of family relationships, family expectations and how our sense of duty can influence our lives. Only the second book focuses on different characters who struggle to piece what’s left of their failed marriage together because they find they really can’t live without each other, just as much as they can’t live with each other. A dilemma, you know?
The book essentially shows a tough, independent heroine who gets implicated in a white collar theft, loses her job and has to keep her head above water. She also wants to keep HIM out of her head because they can’t be together. A state secret service officer (the hero’s sister) has sworn to make sure of that. But fate keeps getting in the way.
- Family versus individual accomplishment. Duties that bind.
- Launching new career paths. Making career choices.
In addition to my new novel, I’m promoting (somewhat haphazardly) ‘Finding Love Again’ – I can’t wait for it to be released, so that it can finally reach readers.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I hate that it is difficult to answer this question modestly, but I’ll try. I think my work differs from others of its genre because each writer draws from a unique well of experience, and as such writes from a different place.
My background is both rural and urban. I can seem at once traditional and liberal in my views. My philosophies—which are often reflected in my writings—have changed with time and experience. You know the things life can do to a person’s psyche. However, I have lived in different places, tasted different cultures and traditions, so that I am often a blend of various people. I am interested in roots, because people are often moulded by their roots as well as their beliefs. I am also interested in the effects of ‘the big issues’ on the lives of everyday people. For instance, Finding Love Again involves a half-South African love child (now a millionaire) who leaves Nigeria for South Africa in search of his white mother. He realises that he could not have been able to do this during the apartheid era.
So I write about the influences of fate, freewill, determinism… and how we survive and love in spite of all the challenges life throws at us.
3) Why do I write what I do?
My writing focuses mainly on fulfilment and joy because that’s what I find fascinating. I want to know how people go from surviving to existing to taking control of their lives and living it.
Notice how different people interact with each other, how they chose love interests, who and how they hate, why they act the way they do, and more interestingly, why they make stupid choices on a whim (even when they know it’ll ruin their lives) and then, regret them. These things define us. The things that happen to us, and the things we do of our own freewill; how our lives change, whether we are active or passive.
And of course, family ties. I like the complicated web that family ties spin. And how they oh so affect our life’s choices and our destinies. Families are solid pillars. Sometimes, they’ll bruise you; sometimes, you lean on them for support and other times, you’re just contented with their presence. I love exploring these themes in my novel. As the popular saying goes, no man is an Island.
4) How does your writing process work?
It depends. Sometimes, very rarely, a paragraph or an entire story will drop into my consciousness. Other times I have to plough, think really hard before writing every sentence. Most times, I have to conceive the entire scene in my head before putting pen to paper. This makes me slower because I’m more concerned about structure. How do I tell the story in a way that will be truly unique?
And so I can’t yet be one of those people who can write a novel at speed. Perhaps, I will get there, but for now, I want to make sure that my stories are told creatively, so to speak.
But I read a lot. I find that my writing goes really well when I’ve read a lot of well-written works. And so I write most days when I’m not working as a computer repairs woman or spending time on ‘life’. I am happy if I can write a scene a day, irrespective of the length. But I ensure that I read a lot more than I write. At least that format seems to work for now. The truth is I feel incredibly frustrated when my writing isn’t going well. In fact, I plunge into depths of depression. Often, I pick a good book, read and gush over the writer’s skill. Gushing has always been an effective catharsis.
I also do a little planning, but just a little. I find planning a little exhausting, and overdoing it burns off my steam. I am one of those writers who just sit down and write. Often, I have the structure in my head. I find I write more easily if I’ve sketched out most of the scenes in the chapter with their major conflicts.
And so to pass on the baton for ‘The Writing Process’ Blog Tour.: As promised you can read more about them here:
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo, fiction writer and op-ed columnist is the author of The Funeral Did Not End. He lives in Lagos Nigeria.
Photo credits: simondenman.com