Are you headed in the right direction?

I should add…”and other questions I’ve been asking myself lately.”

It’s forty six minutes past eight and we’ve just had supper. I prepared spaghetti and I am now looking forward to having a cup of black tea before I sleep. Have you noticed that I tend to specify the time I write these posts? Like here, here and here?

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Okay, well, maybe not so much but I seem to be drawn to time and this is partly due to the fact that my writing hours have changed. It is also largely due to the fact that I underestimated my writing and ability to set a scene that’s closer to home.

Have you ever sat down with friends or family and right when you are having a laugh at something funny one person just asks you some deep stuff?

Hear me out world, it’s been years since my aunts got on my case about getting married. I do get the occasional product launch at functions and church. “Meet my daughter, she’s a great Counselor and did I tell you that she’s a Writer? Yes, we lost Margaret Ogolla, Azenath Odaga and Grace Ogot, but God’s always gracious, we believe He’ll bless the work of her hands.”

“Yes, how’s our son doing? I hope he is well. Tell him to come visit me or call me.”

So, there I was seated on the floor with my back leaning against the front door. It was four in the evening. The muezzin had just summoned Allah’s faithful servants to the Mosque near our home, so that “Allah hu Wakbar” was my cue to get black tea and mandazi. I was getting ready to feast when my friend calls and starts by saying “we need to meet up like now!”

I told her, “it’s four and NASA were to make a statement so there’s no way I am making my way to your place because that means going past Kondele where we both know GSU trucks are parked by the road.”

“It’s quite safe, you should come,” she responded.

“No thanks. I love you but I am in no position to run for my life when I haven’t committed a crime, so tell me, what’s up?”

“You know how things have been with that guy I told you about? Well, let’s just say that I am over it, because I got this great job and it means I’ll be moving to Naks and sitaki drama! It’s just, how do you know you are headed in the right direction?”

I did what I always do when I find myself cornered to provide a solution or to justify someone’s actions. I asked her, “tell me what happened?”

She hang up ten minutes later after our chat and by then my tea had gone cold. I looked out just in time to see a police patrol truck drive past our house. Her question still rang in my mind as I went to heat up my tea, “how do you know you are headed in the right direction?”

In what aspect? Is it life as a whole, a project, a goal? What exactly are we talking about here? I struggled with this and though I’ve often mentioned that I tend to worry, I also do overthink and it wears me down. It wears me down even though I know what it’s doing to me. So, how do I know where I am headed to and if it’s the right way? If it’s a location I use Google Maps or ask for directions until I get there.

If it’s about a goal, I take my time and reflect on what I’ve done and weight the pros and cons to ascertain whether I’ve made progress or not. So, it’s got to be progress. The results tell me if I am headed in the right direction.

I was so pleased with this kind of understanding until something dawned on me, “what if you can’t see results yet you’ve been working hard?” Now, I have to think about that, but here’s the thing how do you tell that you are headed in the right direction? What works for you in relation to this?

 

 

My writing space

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My writing space has always been neat. It’s got a keyboard, stick notes, highlighters, writing pads, blue and black ink pens and never without pencils and erasers.

I have written some of the stories I never thought would find their way into print.

Here, on this table in my mom’s room, surrounded by heaps of books on African literature is where I first came up with Ulioko. He’s the only character who resonates with most of the people who have read the Currents Series. With utterances like:

“You cannot dip raw cassava in hot water and remove it expecting to eat it.”

“Even the baboons do not like to stare at their children’s buttocks.”

I have drafted some of the stories that are neatly tucked away in my journals, gifts that some day, someone will treasure knowing that I wrote something every day.

My writing space has always been neat because I like my things in order. I like an essence of space and when everything is piled up, my mind wanders like a child digging through a chest of family secrets.

I thought that every word I wrote would be as crisp as my writing space, but this picture serves to show that inspiration does not trickle down a straight path.

Have a lovely week Writers!

11 answers to 11 questions

I was going through my reader page yesterday at 2:56PM when I came across this post by this awesome blogger.

Congratulations, you penguin and thank you for coming up with some awesome questions that I could try to answer, so, let’s do this!

1. What’s a current food trend that you’re interested in trying?

None. I’m not big on food or trends.

2. On the same subject of food, can you recommend me a local dish of your hometown?

Chapobeans any day any time! Well, let me break that down: chapati and beans.

3. Where’s the first place you would like to visit next?

Kitale

4. If you could get something for free, would you choose a first-class airplane seat or a high-scale restaurant?

A high-scale restaurant any day any time! Did I mention that flying freaks me out?

5. Hot or cold weather?

Hot! Hot! Hot!

6. What annoys you?

A lot of things but mostly short form texting that makes me wonder if I should distribute dictionaries to anyone who sends me a text like “hw u?ms u?”

7. If you could learn any new language, which one would it be and why?

Russian.  I’d love to yell at Peaches in Russian.

8. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of the word “white.”

Paper. 🙂

9. Fill in the blank: “French ___fries____.” State your reason.

Ketchup and some chilli sauce and that stuff is bae!

10. Books that you would like to read?

11. Name one weird habit/thing you do.

I drink water while sitting on the floor at 2am.

Head on to The Finicky Cynic’s post about #TheLiebsterAward if you’d love to answer the questions: right here

 

Hey, can I ask you something?

It’s 10:36A.M. as I start writing this. If you are in Kenya, chances are you are seated at home alone, or maybe with friends, or family simply watching a movie because the news on TV is either depressing or never-changing. You are not on Facebook because since August 8th, you’ve come to tap the unfollow and block icons on your smartphone so much so that you don’t even know what your threshold for isht is.

It is refreshing that Kenyans love to be the bearer of news. First, most of our politicians took up the roles criminals and comedians. We thrive on just how foolish they can get, and especially when they deny uttering statements in public even as they are watching a clip of it. Now, we all have smartphones and bundles! Lawd, what would we be without bundles and powerbanks! Wi-Fi ni ya watu wa Nairobi…some other cities are yet to have that stuff in their homes, oh mercy! I know not the future of journalism, but hey…if in one minute you can get ten million different updates on the same story, well… I digress.

So, this morning I was woken up by two texts. See, here’s the thing world, I am a morning person. Yes, I wake up at 2am and write till 4am then pray to the gods of slumber to allow me to enter their world until 6:30am where I exit their world for that of another dawn. So, receiving a text at half past four in the morning is like being summoned to the world of daybreak, and that my friends, is like trying to get a cat to have a bath!

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Google Images

I reach for my phone and then I see “would you please tell me if I am doing the right thing?” Of course, I’d read the second text first. So, I sat up and went to my messages and the first text was “hey, can I ask you something? How do u knw uv lk made the right dsn? I mean, how do u knw that sm1 the 1 4 u?”

I thought, “not with that kind of communication!” and sent her a text message “call me and tell me what’s up.” She called and somewhere between conversation I dozed off. I know I did because as I was going through my phone at seven in the morning, there were three missed calls from her and eight text messages. I could try and tell you what they were about, but given that she’s not the kind to use words while texting, we’d both be at a loss. My fingers for doing the typing and you for struggling to read what you’d consider a drunkard’s slur.

I’ve always known a couple of phrases to be conversation starters for people at a crossroads. When someone says “can I ask you something?”, “can we talk?”, “are you busy?”, “can you do me a favour?”, “listen…”, “I have this friend,” then know that it’s not going to be a declaration but rather a call for your full attention, because there’s a dilemma that needs a solution.

I happened to fall asleep in the middle of the discussion of one. It’s pretty obvious that I had to call and make amends, but it also reminded me of something I have been taking for granted for the past one month. My instinct.

I’ve been struggling with writing Ushanga and all the while there’s been the feeling of giving my characters room to grow and breathe life into the story. In a way, I am working on that, but I love control and no, I am not Mr. Grey who exercises control in all things…I am learning to let go and sometimes working with an outline can really stifle your writing.

Have a good day people!

TMI

Reading: 

Listening to: 4:44 by Jay Z

Drinking: Black coffee (my first cup of the day)

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Let’s face it, my first week of August has been awesome largely due to great books. Yesterday I was going on about Rain Falls on Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile.

Today it’s Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. After reading Eat, Pray, Love- I was content to read this book because I was eager to know more about Elizabeth and Felipe, how did it turn out for her? Did she commit after swearing off marriage? Did she come to find what she was looking for? (Yes,we all know that I am a hopeless romantic, hence my desire to finally buy a little black dress:-) )

So, here’s the thing about Committed, unlike the first book, this one is downright entertaining. I loved her research into marriage in various cultures and the roles that women and men played in this institution. 

I also loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and I’m noting them down for future conversation starters!

Be of love (a little)/ more careful/ than of everything else. E. E. Cummings

A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her. Oscar Wilde

Marriage is a friendship recognised by the police. R. L. Stevenson

It’s been a productive day for me and any day that begins with time spent at Java is always an awesome day for me! I am looking forward to casting my vote tomorrow and hoping all the other voters make an informed decision that would see Kenya prosper. I am also moving on to the next book which happens to be Alexander by Valerio Massimo Manfredi.

Yeah, Manfredi is my absolute favorite because his retelling of legends always has that extra spice to it, it’s like the perfect serving of curry! So, I can’t wait to get started on this.

Have a great afternoon.

TMI

Listening to: Long Live the Angels by Emeli Sande

Currently reading: 19 Souls by J. D. Allen.

Drinking: Water 

Rain Falls on Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile

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About the book: Theo, a young Rwandan boy fleeing his country’s genocide, arrives in Dublin, penniless, alone and afraid. Still haunted by a traumatic memory in which his father committed a murderous act of violence, he struggles to find his place in the foreign city. Plagued by his past, Theo is gradually drawn deeper into the world of Dublin’s feared criminal gangs. But a chance encounter in a restaurant with Deirdre offers him a lifeline. Theo and Deirdre’s tender friendship is however soon threatened by tragedy. Can they confront their addictions to carve a future out of the catastrophe that engulfs both their lives?

If there’s one book you ought to read in 2017, it’s this one. I am not saying so because it deeply moved me, or because the folks at NetGalley were so smitten with me that they approved my request to read it, but because Clar (I love you Clar) delivers grief, turmoil, nostalgia, fear, anger, loss and love in crisp tones.

It’s like being at a karma restaurant where you get what you deserve and more often than not, Writers underrate readers when it comes to serving up truth and pain. Clar’s characters do not make excuses (even though Dierdre does for her husband every time his fists find a home on her body) when it comes to baring their flaws and working through their muddled life.

From the beginning, you know that Theo’s a good guy and as you read on, you wish him the best. You want him find a way out of the mess he’s in, but what edged me on was that at no point did I pity the characters. It was almost as though they were telling me “you can empathize, but please, save your pity for another book,” and in their speech you’d sense some kind of toughness. I don’t know much about the Irish, but like Theo, in reading this I felt as though his stay in both Rwanda and Ireland had their fair share of violence. In Rwanda, it was uncalled for. He did not ask for the genocide to take place, but with the drug business in Ireland, he was definitely the one who knocked and asked to be let in.

This book did a number on me and if you are thinking what I think you’re thinking, No, I did not cry! I wish I did because there were moments when reading it felt like watching a thriller, but no I did not. A few lines and scenes stuck to me like glue, so, I’ll share them:

“In the real world, goodbyes happened when you weren’t paying attention.”

Theo saying:

“I’m feckin’ over the moon that a family found me in the bush and taught me how to hide up to my eyes in the mud. For hours, Dierdre, staying absolutely still and listening to the screams as they found other people and butchered them. So, no, I don’t take it for granted. For years, after that, I was still just trying to stay alive, trying to get up every day and keep breathing. Do you know how hard it is to do that sometimes?…I’d survived, I knew I’d made it, and then I didn’t know what to do with that.”

On the other hand, there is a sense of “I hear you” that I have when I come across any book that mentions Kenya or East Africa. It’s like coming home or being home when I read such books, and this feeling is not lost on me as I share my views on this book. I believe it made me read it closely looking out for any mistakes or falsification of events, and I did not come across any of it here.

It’s 142 days give or take to Christmas, until then you’ve got to read this book.

Like the title, Rain does indeed fall on everyone and sometimes those who are lucky enough to seek shelter cannot pretend that they were never soaking wet.

Where to get the book:

Amazon

Author’s site: https://clarnichonghaile.wordpress.com/

 

Ice-cream in cups and tea in cones

Mark Twain once said that, “There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” I wonder what made him utter those words, to whom and to what end.

It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday here in Kisumu. I got out of bed at nine this morning because like the past five days, my sleep patterns have been affecting my writing so much so that it seems like whatever I write every day at 2 A.M., does not add to the book I’ve been working on. I wonder, what would you do with content that’s irrelevant to your purpose? If we were having this conversation three years ago, I would have deleted them. I have since come to appreciate my scraps of writing by neatly filing them in a blue box file under my bed. They gather dust every week.

I took time to run a few errands for my mom and this saw me walk into Choppies ( formerly known as Ukwala, Format and so on) to get a copy of today’s newspaper, 2 litres of Fanta Passion (because I’m all about Fanta) and 500ml of Vanilla Ice-Cream.

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remember this post?

So, there I am making my way around the supermarket and this girl walks up to me and smiles. She’s in those ombre braids, since I can’t explain that stuff, let me look up an image on Google and share it…just give me a second, okay, wait…something like this:

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She begins “Hey, how are you? It’s great to finally meet you.”

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you too, are we friends on facebook?”

“No, we are not, but I liked your page and I always read your blog? You’re so funny, like how do you do it? Do you just sit and start typing and then click send? I’ve always wanted to have a blog of my own but you know lectures and campo and stuff. So, what are you working on?”

“I’m mostly working on myself. I am taking time to get the next book going so keep up with me on the blog and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.”

“It’s Ushanga right? I love the picture of the maasai bracelet! Wait, why did you like choose that for a cover? I also noticed your covers look more simple like hazina a lot going on. I love that. I also loved your other books like ile ya Leila and Max, tell me was that about you? Kwanza 21 days! Wait, was Zora also you, because those books were too real to be just stories, hebu tell me!”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know if I am right or wrong, but I have a feeling that Leila was you, but Zora was partly you. Listen, I got my friends to read them and we’ve been talking about you ever since, they won’t believe that I met you. Look, is it okay if we took a selfie? I promise I will only send it to my friends on whatsapp.”

We moved to the next aisle because there was no way I was going to take a selfie near the pampers aisle, who knows, the picture might find its way to one of my aunt’s streams and then I’d be getting calls like “to nyakwara biro chieng’ mane? To dhok?” 

We took a selfie and she gave a quick hug and disappeared as fast as she’d appeared. I know she’ll get to read this and think, “why did you have to post this?” Truth is, meeting you lovely reader was something I prayed to the gods of literature would never happen, and as usual, the gods laughed and made it happen.

I walked back to the freezers and added another tab of Vanilla ice-cream because now I had a reason to get concerned about my writing and that meant dealing with what I’ve been avoiding for the past two weeks.

Have you ever had tea in a cone?

I did, two hours ago, but the tea had to be cold so as not to melt the cone…now I’m nursing a toothache!

TMI

Currently reading:

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Listening to: Illuminate by Shawn Mendes

Drinking: Tea