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!

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)

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

 

On Work

Work is love made visible,

and if you cannot work with love but only with distaste;

It is better that you should leave  your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

Khalil Gibrain

TMI

Word of the day:

Scripturient (adj.): Having a consuming passion to write

Listening to: Young, Wild & Free by For King & Country

 

 

What’s in my bag and snippets of advice from the market

I had no intention of leaving the house yesterday. I woke up and washed my clothes which in this case happened to be: my blue smurfs pajama pants, two pairs of black stocking, an orange tee-shirt and one floral bedsheet.

I knew the day had more in store for me, but I was stuck in a zone where I kept replaying the lyrics of Despacito…yes, catchy tune and all but there’s that part that goes something like “pasito a pasito suave suavecito,” that kept coming out of my lips like a chant! So, I took some tea, had a bath and changed into my all time fave; a grey tee-shirt and jeans and a pair of red ngomas and headed out to town. I also took my backpack along with some essentials:

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I don’t know why I always carry cello-tape but it’s better than a pair of scissors right?

So, I make my first stop at The Darling store downtown and ask for some short braids. A lady writes down my order on a piece of paper, takes my money and hands it over to the cashier. While I’m standing there, someone taps my knee…I turn to my left and see this lady, she smiles. I smile back.

“Didn’t you see me when you got here?” She asks.

Are you a billboard? I shake my head and reply, ” I am sorry I did not, my mind’s miles away. How are you?”

“I am fine, seems like it took a tap to get your attention.”

“Seems so.” She starts to say something and then the cashier calls out my order and I take the braids off the counter and stuff them into my bag and leave. James is waiting for me outside. He is basking on the motorbike a.k.a Bajaj Boxer…spotting a NASA t-shirt and cap. When he sees me, he takes his position and we head out to the market.

I pay him his due and he takes off as I walk into the market scouting for two things: eggs and sweet bananas. You can never buy just two things at the market because vendors know how to advertise their goods in such a way that they reel you in with their chants and before you know it, you’ve bought two pairs of stockings that you are never going to wear! The first guy is busy shouting “Boyfriend na soo, kau boyfriend kae gi mia, weri gi ati oh lunch, ati oh sweetie, kau boyfriend gi mia, nyathi ma nyako nyakandisre.” (Buy a boyfriend jacket at a hundred shillings, forget the lunch or sweetie , and buy a boyfriend jacket because a girl’s gotta look good)

I look through a few jackets before getting distracted by a lady selling bags right behind him. I switch lanes and check out the bags. I spot a navy blue backpack and ask the lady how much it costs. She looks at me and then lifts up a brown leather handbag and says “How about this one? This is the kind of bag for you, that one has been taken already.”

“Thanks, I just liked the backpack. I could try some other day.”

“No, wait…listen look through this pile of handbags you might find something you like. A lady should always have a handbag you know.”

I took a step back and smiled and walked away. I don’t know what she had to say as I left but the man beside her was loud enough for me to hear, “why do you always have to make someone buy what you want? You should have sold that bag, now she left unhappy and we haven’t made a sale.” Maybe I looked unhappy to them. I have been told that not only do I wear my heart on my sleeve but I wear my expressions on my face. It must have been her conviction that a lady should always have a handbag that made me take a step back. It could also be that she wanted to reserve the navy blue backpack to sell at a higher price because it wasn’t singled out when I spotted it.

As I got back home, I poured myself a cup of tea and joined my sister in watching afrosinema.

T.M.I

Currently reading: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Listening to: 7/27 by Fifth Harmony

Drinking: Coffee (my first cup of the day)

Writing: Ushanga (5 pages down…a whole lot to go!)