Updates on the Writing Life

Hello, I hope your week is coming along fine. What have you been up to?

If you would have asked me this question last week, I would have said, more writing, but I seem to veer off the path of intense writing when two things happen: when I think of tea or when I remember the tasks I’m yet to accomplish. I easily worry and obsess about what I am yet to do and it takes away from what I ought to do. I am working on this.

So, allow me to officially declare that the working title of my next novel has been registered, discussed and more so…approved by the overly critical side of me. The title is: SIFUNA

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Here’s a snippet of the second draft:

If you rounded up all the cowards in the world, Baoya would be their leader. However, Baoya was his father’s son, and his father was Lamaana. To the people who knew the history of democracy in Kenya, Lamaana was a name that was etched in history books. There was a street in the capital city named after the valiant and humble leader. To say that Baoya was a coward is to insult the memory of Lamaana, but, sometimes if not all times, the truth has to be given room to announce its presence.

My week has also seen me read more books off NetGalley.

  • The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Kovacic. It’s a mystery, historical thriller and it all starts when an Art Dealer, Alex Clayton, comes across a painting and she knows that the woman looking back at her was brutally murdered in the 1930’s and justice was never served.

The Portrait of Molly Dean

  • The Art of French Cooking Kissing by Brianna Shrum. Trust me, this book is what I’d term New Adult, but it’s both refreshing as it is overly dramatic. Yeah, and please don’t read this book on an empty stomach, that’d be like watching The Food Network when your fridge is empty. Loved the main characters Carter and Reid.

The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum

  • The Romano Brothers Series books 2 & 3 by Leslie North: I’m a Leslie North fan. When it comes to billionaire characters and steamy romance stories, well, she’s got my attention. There’s no way I was going to see these two books on NetGalley and not request to read them. Let’s just say, the masses are happy 🙂

Italian Billionaire's Unexpected Lover by Leslie North  Italian Billionaire's Determined Lover by Leslie North

It’s a slow start as regards my writing progress, but I am confident that with more time set aside to work on the second draft, I will be able to have it ready and self-publish by April. (That…is what I call an achievement, I tell you.)

It’s a Wednesday and I’m glad all’s going as it is and I can only work towards the best. I happened to watch a snippet of WAGS Atlanta yesterday night (please just don’t ask questions, roll your eyes, pinch your nose, grab a drink or watch a book fall…but listen), one of the retired NFL players was telling his friend, “everybody is always talking about ‘when the time is right,’ but there is no time, it just doesn’t wait for you to get your act right, when you love somebody, you have to make the time and you have to make it right.” I sank back in my seat and was like whoa! He’s right.

I am making time and pursuing interests that I’ve had. One of those happens to be getting an insight into life at a juvenile center, the other is giving a talk at a local high school to students on the importance of choices, making them and appreciating the consequences.

Until then, I’d love your thoughts on the snippet of Sifuna I’ve shared up there and also some book recommendations, especially historical fiction.

Have a lovely week.

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Red or not…trying out new stuff

There’s no way I’d fail to jump on the bandwagon today because well, it’s not a “wear red and expect flowers and chocolates” kinda day for me. I am glad to have finally completed taking my medication and I’m still nursing some nausea, a minor headache and a very sore throat. I look forward to having deep fried cassava after I finish writing this post.

So, on reading: I just finished this book called The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi, and it explores the gulf war, America’s war on Iraq and what life in exile meant for the narrator.

Media of The Baghdad Clock

On writing: I have made some progress and it’s why I’m typing away at this time of day. So, my mentor asked me to try new things, his words being “write something you have never written before, something that most people would not expect of you.”

So, I am Luo and I speak and understand Dholuo. I chose to write a short collection of thoughts in my mother tongue and here’s the tricky part, I have to put it out there and hear your views on it. One, I know it limits my audience to those who understand the language. I also know that reading the dialect is no easy fete- because well, I spotted one typo after I’d uploaded the book (my apologies).  So, hello world and here’s a collection of thoughts in my mother tongue:

After this, I am going to work on writing a short story for an app and I’ll see how it goes from then.

Until next time, have a look at the collection I shared and well, enjoy your day however red or not it may be.

On Writing

A friend asked me “How do you find time to read a book, let alone write a book with the kind of world we are living in?”

Some people would echo her sentiments, others would echo mine and a few would echo those of the written word. You are all right. So, I took my time and thought this through, and then asked her “how do you find time to scroll through your facebook feed and post selfie updates on instagram?” 

She sat back in her seat and put her phone on the table. See, we were on tea break and she was scrolling through her phone, answering whatsapp texts and I was reading a book. It was a thirty minute break spent differently by two different people.

pencil sharp shavings write draw art design yellow black table wood
credit: stocksnap.io

I then asked her how long it takes her to get to work and what she does while in traffic. She just shook her head and concluded the conversation by saying “you’re just special.” I did not utter a word in response even though I had a ten minute speech to prove that her tone suggested I was far from special.

However, there is still an aspect that I struggle with and that’s writing and not just sneaking in an hour or two or taking notes but full on writing. I am talking about sitting before a computer for four hours straight and just typing words that contribute to a story!

I’m working on it and now that I am feeling much better and the temperature in Kisumu is a solid 34 degrees Celsius, I’ll go drink some water and keep writing, guess that’s all I had to say on writing.

What it means to “trust in the process.”

It’s the second month of the year and I woke up this morning certain of two things: I completed my YALI leadership program and I have to edit my manuscript before the 18th of this month.

I did laundry and I sat down to follow through on all the commitments I had made for this month, and as I was going through the list and sending emails and making phone calls, I felt like nothing was moving. I had written all these things that I needed to do and when I was following up on them, I felt stuck. I’ve often heard that “the best way to get things done is to do it yourself.” This was not my feeling three hours ago, because when systems and policies are involved, there’s always a sense of tasks being assigned to different people. However, people deliver differently.

So, there I was on my first cup of tea of the day wondering what to do next when a friend called and she said she missed me, but our conversation was the relief I needed. I told her about my frustration at receiving a response from an official and that it was slowing me down. She simply asked me “where are you running to? What’s the use of running when you’ll miss out on the all the details that you need to build this project?”

I switched off my phone after the conversation and started going through the list I had and in so doing, I discovered that everything I had written was dependent on one thing and it’s something I had received feedback on, late last year. Being the planner that I am, I crossed it out, and made another list factoring in communication I’d received last year and it’s earned me the result I needed.

What does it mean to trust in the process?

If you would have asked me this question last year, I would have answered “to sit back and watch,” but that’s not it.

Over the past few days, I have come to appreciate the fact that a process is a commitment and it takes time. To trust in it, is not only to look forward to attaining a result but to be continuously involved in getting that result. Writers do this when they start with an idea and each day build it up using words. It’s also hard to trust in the process when you feel stuck, or when it seems as though you are doing everything but not realizing something.

It’s in such a moment that I am learning to stop, take a step back, look at everything, appreciate how far I’ve come and embrace the need to get to where I want to be.

PS: Can I just say that it feels good to be back,😉, now let’s keep the posts coming.

Currently reading: The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior

Listening to: Camila by Camila Cabelo

Who would you invite to dinner?

Have you ever been asked such a question?

We started a course on 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey today and this was a question that I had to answer.

Imagine you could invite to dinner four or five people who have influenced you the most-past and present- and all are sitting at the table with you. Whom would you invite and what attributes or qualities do you admire in them.

From the top of my head I immediately envisioned having the following people.

  • My Mom: She raised two daughters on her own, raised four more daughters, a son and she doesn’t believe in running out options. There’s always a way and there’s nothing like not enough love to go around.
  • Chinua Achebe: He’s the first Writer from West Africa whose writing challenged me to write authentic characters because his characters did not shy away from speaking Pidgin. I do wish I met him in this life. I’d definitely have him sit on my dinner table and treat him to some ugali, osuga and fish!
  • Mrs. Benta Owino: She was the teacher who taught me how to read. I was in class three. Every morning, she would hand me a newspaper and tell me to read her an article and I looked forward to sitting beside daily and doing this. She passed away when I was in class Seven. I admire her resolve that “a good vocabulary will stop you from shouting in the village market.”
  • Michelle Obama: She doesn’t shy away from talking about the things that weigh women and young girls down and she’s for girls getting an education and pushing limits, exceeding limits and inspiring others.

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  • Prof.Wangari Maathai : I admire her strength, conviction in the importance of taking care of our environment and her unwavering determination in doing something about it. She passed away but I am glad I met her once when I was still on campus and she did not mince her words when it came to protecting our forests and vegetation. I was impressed by her extensive knowledge on the marine life too.

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If you were asked the same question, whom would you invite to dinner and what qualities do they possess that’d you would love to explore?

 

 

2018 Writing Update

It’s the thirteenth day of this year and I am in awe of all that’s happened to me these past days. I am also taking a keen look at how our interactions on social media would be and watching out for the words and hashtags that would spring up.

I haven’t done any intensive writing so far and I know it is not a great trend for me given the fact that two of my manuscripts are being reviewed by my mentor.

I have been focusing on my leadership transformation at YALI and today I got a chance to make a trip into town to get some books to read and a few bookmarks too.

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I got these from an Inama Bookshop and can’t wait to read them!
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I only remained with 1 of the 7 bookmarks 😦
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A friend bought me this collection 🙂

I have always been a planner and with my attention focused on one thing this month, I am slowly learning how to work around a schedule, often taking notes using an app, scribbling a few pointers while in sessions or simply tweeting thoughts that would come to inspire my writing at some point.

It feels good to share this update and I cannot wait to hear the feedback from my mentor because that would help me in knowing which steps to take and how to go about them before publishing another ebook.

How’s your writing coming along? What about your reading? Which books are you looking forward to reading this year?

 

Stepping out

Is it too late to say “happy new year?”

I hope this post finds you at your best and if not, I hope it will be one of the sparks that would continue igniting the fire within you.

January’s not my most favorite month, however it is my most inspirational month because my sister was born on this month and she’s my strength. If there’s anyone who has zest, flair, hope and humor it’s got to be her. As I type this I am in Brackenhurst, a great outdoors environment in Limuru.

Brackenhurst Hotel and Conference Center

I was so excited about being selected to join the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) last year and was bummed when it was postponed to June this year due to the political situation in Kenya. However, I got an email from the team in December about moving it up to January and I jumped on it😄.

I’m taking part in Cohort 21 and being in Limuru has seen me tackle challenging tasks. I scaled a pole, leaped off a few boards, balanced mid-air, had a panic attack, passed out but woke up feeling okay.

I’ve made friends, received insights on how to grow as a leader and learned how to count to ten in Arabic. It’s day two with many more to go and I’m glad I am doing this.

I’ve had a great start to 2018 because I’ve embraced my aspirations and I realize that stepping out into the world to do what I love is not as scary as I thought it’d be. I’m being challenged by world leaders from 13 African countries, learning about their culture, innovations, impact and fostering partnerships. 

So, what’s your start been like? 

What are you looking forward to building upon? 

I wish you lots of love and best wishes and while I’m at it, I’m looking forward to releasing two books this Spring😎.

I bought this @250/= at Textbook Centre
This piece of art is in my KUCC Annex room
First offi-casual look of 2018 @Brackenhurst