This has been a crazy week for me, got a severe throat infection, a craving for Fanta Orange and sore limbs, plus there has been little time to write being on medication and all.
A friend visited me and as we got to talking she asked me why I was not like Chimamanda, and something in me froze, like I was facing death. She insisted that there were some things I could do differently, like enter major competitions and somehow send my manuscripts to traditional publishers here in Kenya just to get more established and respected like Chimamanda.
Okay, hold your high horse for a second and if you are reading this let me get you in on a secret that’s not so secret:
No, Writer wants to be compared to another Writer.
It hurts, in fact it stinks but I will explain why. When you compare a Writer to another one (in this case, most people do so to a well known and obviously wealthier Writer) you erase or downplay their effort and their voice, style and time writing. It is normal for people to want to compare things and even label them, but just don’t do it. Each Writer has their own style, voice and demons- please do not awaken them in the name of stirring up a conversation!
So, there I was- high on medication and it was hot, she was drinking that juice I offered her and she’d just asked me to get on someone’s lane. I love Chimamanda. I am in awe of her writing and take on women in the society, but I am not getting in her lane. I have my own and at the moment it is filled with rocks, shrubs and lots of diversions, but it is my own lane.
The temptation to look at other people’s lives and think you can catch up or work to be exactly like them is something that my Mother has always instilled in us as the sure way to our downfall. She would say, “Be you, there is no other Achieng’ out there in the world who thinks or feels like you, so don’t try and destroy that.” And there are other writers, especially when you are getting into publishing and having people say so much about your work, who believe that they have to be like so-and-so to make it big. If that’s your goal, then what is your art?
It is easy to sit and wish you were like another Writer, but then who are you? Stay in your lane. Carve your own path. Make your mistakes and learn. Babies crawl, fall (mostly landing on their butt), walk, run, but they never stop. The other Writer you wish you were, started out much earlier or put in much effort to be in the limelight, and you have to put in the effort. Has it ever dawned on you that for there to be a spotlight , every other light has to be dimmed?
Put in the time and effort to tell your story your own way.
Aside for that, I had a wonderful time reading these books-if you know any of the authors, kindly let them know that this recovering Writer enjoyed the company of their books while on bed rest! Psst! Tell Kathryne Kennedy that I fell in love with a certain grumpy dragon in her book called, Ador 🙂