Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How much will you give your writing?

Miss Brill is one of Kate Mansfield's classic short stories. She has this to say on the creation of the character. This excerpt from makes me ask: how much are you willing to give writing?

"In Miss Brill, I choose not only the length of every sentence, but even the sound of every sentence. I choose the rise and fall of every paragraph to fit her, and to fit her on that day at that very moment. After I'd written it I read it aloud numbers of times--just as one would play over a musical composition--trying to get it nearer and nearer to the expression of Miss Brill until it fitted her.

Don't think I'm vain about this little sketch. It's only the method I wanted to explain. I often wonder whether other writers do the same--if a thing has really come off it seems to me there mustn't be one single word out of place, or one word that could be taken out. That's how I aim at writing. It will take some time to get anywhere near there." --From Letter to Richard Murry

Read Miss Brill here. Read Mansfield's poetry here. More on Mansfield here.

Extract from X.J. Kennedy's Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama

Monday, June 28, 2010

Introducing Pilgrimages...

We find this really interesting...

Pilgrimages is a project sending 14 African writers to 14 cities across Africa (and Brazil) to spend two weeks exploring the secrets and complexities of these disparate urban landscapes. Our writers will create 13 nonfiction travel writing books (as well as a feature blog) about their trips, about these cities: captured at a common moment, while Africa hosts its first World Cup, as the whole continent is more visible to itself and to the rest of the world than any other time since independence. 

These writers will shift the reportage of the continent. Collected, these 13 books and feature blog will comprise the PILGRIMAGES book series, which will first be published in its entirety—and simultaneously in Lagos, Nairobi, and Cape Town—during the 2012 African Cup of Nations football tournament. Together, the Pilgrimages book series and website will be the most significant single addition to the continent’s archive of literary knowledge since the African Writer’s Series.

Today also marks the launch of the Pilgrimages web site (, which will present blogs, videos and other content from the 14 pilgrims as well as essays from other prominent writers, bloggers and commentators such as Achille Mbembe and Grant Farred. The website will also invite contributions—short essays, letters of support, grammar school football tales, travel pieces—from the general public.

The 14 writers that will participate in the “Pilgrimages” project and the cities they will visit are: Chris Abani (Johannesburg, South Africa); Doreen Baingana (Hargeisa, Somaliland); Uzodinma Iweala (Timbuktu, Mali); Funmi Iyanda (Durban, South Africa); Billy Kahora (Luanda, Angola); Kojo Laing (Cape Town, South Africa); Victor LaValle (Kampala, Uganda); Alain Mabanckou (Lagos, Nigeria); Nimco Mahamud Hassan (Khartoum, Sudan); Akenji Ndumu (Abidjan, Ivory Coast); Yvonne Owuor (Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo); Nicole Turner (Nairobi, Kenya);; Abdourahman A. Waberi (Salvador, Brazil); and Binyavanga Wainaina (Touba, Senegal).

More on the website

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heinrich Boll Call for Stories...

Who they are
The Heinrich Böll Stiftung is a German political foundation, affiliated to the Green Party Germany. The Foundation is engaged in civic education worldwide with 28 offices. The Foundation was named after the writer Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novels and short stories in 1972. His courageous and unerring intervention significantly enriched and influenced political culture in Germany. He personifies the values the Foundation now stands for: the defense of freedom, civic courage, tolerance, open debate and the valuation of art and culture as independent spheres of thought and action.

The Conflict Management Program of the Foundation’s Nigeria office emerged as a response to threats at Nigeria’s democratic processes (see As part of the Foundation’s contribution towards addressing the recurrent and protracted conflicts in Nigeria rooted in diversity issues, the proposed publication should underline the positive role the rich diversity of the country can play and explore ways of transforming the current negative social cohesion into a common strive for development.

This call for essays/short stories and photographs on the theme: 
“Unity in Diversity: Diversity is positive for Nigeria” intends to:
- Encourage future generations of Nigerians to be part of a solution to the recurrent diversity related violent conflicts in Nigeria.
- Explore new ideas/strategies to solve the conflicts through youth-led solutions.
- Provide a platform for citizenship participation in the quest for sustainable peace in Nigeria.
The essays/short stories should concentrate on:
- Telling a true-life story of how the diversity of Nigeria’s people enriched your personal, your families or your friends’ life and explore how the positive aspect of diversity could benefit Nigeria’s social and economic development
- Drawing conclusions from your own positive experiences to develop new ideas/strategies for integrating the positive role of diversity into the social and political structures
- Considering the role of future generations of Nigerians to ensure peace is sustained in the country
The photographs should
- Concentrate on the theme “Diversity is Positive for Nigeria” and include a brief description of how the photograph depicts the theme

Send entries to:
Word Count: Not more than 3000words. Quotes and references must be clearly marked as such and properly cited at the end of the text Format: 

Texts are accepted in the following formats: word or pdf, they must be in English language
Age Limit: 18years to 35years
Deadline for submission: 31st August 2010
Notification: Selected entries will be notified before 9th October 2010
Further Information: Heinrich Böll Stiftung
16a, Oladipo Diya Street
2nd Avenue Extension

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lessons from a Freelance Writer...

Or let's call it letter from a freelance writer. This piece was first published on Jobberman, a career website. There sure are tips for everyone to pick from it. Enjoy! Do you have any more tips? Feel free to share!

How can I ever forget that look on my mother’s face when I told her I wanted to be a writer—a you-are-joking-aint-you kind of look. Her fears were in two folds: why don’t you do something good, well, professional with your life? And the other one: how can you quit your 9-5 job for such uncertainty? I asked myself those questions before making my decision. I’d gotten to that stage where every ‘job’ that tried to reduce my ‘madness’ made me worse. Follow your passion passionately. Forgive the tautology!

I still wonder why it is hard for people to take you seriously when you tell them you are a writer. Maybe it’s because of their opinion of work—work is rising as early as 4:30 to beat the Lagos traffic; wearing that power suit; getting to the office as early as 6am to catch up on sleep. It’s 5pm, work is over. Rather than leave, they wait till the ‘traffic devil’ is placated. So, there’s time for more facebooking. Facebook isn’t bad but we all know it has the power to be your god and you its supplicant! That’s work, serious work or better still, an illusion of work. This is not absolute, there are people who love their jobs and work very hard. But why do people literally sneer at you when you tell them you work as a writer? Take whatever you do seriously even if others don’t.

Seriously, writing is hard work. That you face a blank piece of paper and have to transfer the thoughts in your head into words is hard enough, let alone thinking of your ‘target’ audience which influences your style, and not forgetting drafting and re-drafting. Writing, like every other business, has to meet a need: either for the writer, the editor or the reader. There’s a value chain. The writer is the producer/manufacturer/MD CEO (just may not be as rich); the editor is the primary market/consumer and the readers, the secondary market. God bless you, the editor does not like your story, there’s no money, shikena! Then you write loads of pitch emails most of them unsolicited, few may hit an acceptance. 

One editor told me: “the first lesson every writer should learn is bombarding. You have to know how to bombard editors for them to get your attention.” Maybe I should let Willa Carther say it all: “Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand—a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods—or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values.” In my case, it’s ‘arty’ business. That for you my young professional is good knowledge of the dynamics of your profession.

Some editors also want you to write for free. Phew! They forget that like every other job a writer has capital which could be as tangible as a laptop connected to the internet or as immeasurable as the time spent harnessing creative energy in each word to mean exactly what’s intended. They go like: shebi it’s just a review, just write something. Sorry it’s not just a review—I have to buy the book; spend my invaluable time reading it and write what I think about it. As good old dramatist Moliere said “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.” We may do it for free because we are anxious to see our name in print—little bouts of excitement but happiness won’t put food on the table. What value do you place on yourself?

Every paid worker has one fear: the end. This end comes either as a sack letter; a retirement letter, downsizing (thanks to the global crisis), or the EFCC hounding you down to present your financial history. You know what I mean. A writer also has fears—it’s not the rejections slips. It’s not even writer’s block; we succeed in slipping in and out of those. Our constant fear is that maybe someday, we won’t be able to do the magic again. We would lose that ‘talisman’ that we wound around our fingers when we write those stories. Maybe someday something will happen and we will lose our minds and the ability to write. Lurking in every writer’s head is the fear that they’ll move to the world beyond with many untold stories, unrealized potential. Most times, that fear drives us! Don’t let your fear kill you; use it instead for your own good.

My dear friend, that’s the little I can advice from my little writer’s corner. I hope it makes sense. Remember that professionalism is not in the sharp suit, neither is it in the 9-5 boredom many endure. It is in the value that you bring to your job. Call me a vanity writer if you like but I know I just added value.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Writing and Copying...

Plato is of the opinion in his Republic Book X that all writing is copying. And not mere copying but one that's thrice far from the truth (which exists in the world of forms)...remember his Allegory of Caves? Aristotle on the other hand in his Poetics does not see anything wrong in writing representing what exists in reality. He even says that creativity lies in that act of re-presenting.

In our world, copying takes several forms--from the echoes of writers read in the past to literally going on Google to yank off articles (what we call cut and paste!). Some also echo various thoughts and ideas from previous writers while some just go onto other people's blogs, website or into their books to yank off their works...mark it without permission. This reminds me of the battle between Molara Wood and Africa's Best Stories Supporters. When and where in the world do people have the right to add your story to a collection without your permission till after the book has gone to press?

I also remember reading a quotation sometime ago by Wilson Mizner:
“When you take stuff from one writer it's plagiarism; but when you take it from many writers, it's research.”

Where does copying end and plagiarism begins? Where is copyright infringed? And maybe it would be good if you share your thoughts on how writers can protect their work online....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

10 1/2 Ben Okri

This is courtesy Naijablog. We find it interesting...we hope you do too. 

When asked a few years ago to list the top ten books children must read, this is what Ben Okri recommended:

The 10 1/2 Inclinations
There is a secret trail of books meant to inspire and enlighten you. Find that trail.

  • Read outside your own nation, colour, class, gender.
  • Read the books your parents hate.
  • Read the books your parents love.
  • Have one or two authors that are important, that speak to you; and make their works your secret passion.
  • Read widely, for fun, stimulation, escape.
  • Don’t read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
  • Read what you’re not supposed to read.
  • Read for your own liberation and mental freedom.
  • Books are like mirrors. Don’t just read the words. Go into the mirror.10.5 That is where the real secrets are. Inside. Behind. That’s where the gods dream, where our realities are born.
  • 10½) Read the world. It is the most mysterious book of all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bookaholic&Lagos 2060 Giveaway...

It's been a while since you won something ehn? Here's a giveaway!

A quick brief on the Lagos 2060. 
The question ‘what do you think the future will look like?’ has been asked by millions of people the world. Sci-fi is one way to answer the question. The Lagos 2060 project is run by Dream Arts and Design Agency (DADA), in collaboration with the Nigerian Center for Excellence in Film and Media Studies, and Studio 1.5. DADA is a creative consultancy with interests in architecture, design, film and publishing. DADA Books, their publishing imprint, will be releasing an anthology of short science fiction stories resulting from the project, complete with illustrations. “Nothing beats telling your own story,” says Arigbabu, “if you don't, others will tell it as they see it. For all those who bellyached over the way Nigerians were portrayed in the (South African) science fiction movie - District 9, Salvation has come!” At the time of writing, DADA is in talks with international distributors for the anthology. The partnership of organizations are providing guidance for the writers through the project.

Lagos 2060 would eventually be an anthology of stories in a futuristic Lagos. Read more here

The competition
Now tell us in a paragraph some images that you think will be like Lagos in sci-fi as it may look, try to make it truth to life. You could write a story or an essay. The rules are simple: should be a paragraph. Should have Lagos in it. Should make us see 2060. Send your paragraphs to Not too many rules hen? Get creative! Start scribbling!

Deadline: A week from this post! So much time to write a paragraph...

The Prize: An autographed copy of Ayo Arigbabu's A Fistful of Tales

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chimamanda's Classic Football Article...

Yay, we have a new template. Tell us what you think about it!

Chimamanda writes this sweet piece in the Guardian on football and nationalism. The football field is one place where we are united. Or when we are watching those on the field...The cup has come to Africa, does it mean that the world is one? Reminds me of a funny World Cup ad by a big multinational here; it reads: Let's Get Behind Africa. Sure an editor missed the ambiguity of the words. Enjoy the piece!

"I remember feeling very light, hugging everyone, laughing, repeating the same things that somebody else had just said. We hugged neighbours we did not like. We offered drinks and relived the game over and over. From the streets came the sounds of car horns, of shouting, of singing.

What happened that night was an explosion of nationalism of a certain kind, a benign, forgiving, optimistic nationalism. We forgot about neighbours who stole our electricity wires and leaders who stole our oil money. We all became, for that moment, Nigerians who had contributed to the vanquishing of the world.

Still, football nationalism, for many of us, often expands past Nigeria, and into the rest of Africa. I do not ordinarily much care for football or for excessive nationalism, but whenever Nigeria plays a major game, I find myself undergoing a transformation. I kick the air as I watch. I scream. I pray. I will the universe to make us win."

Read complete article here

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Freelance Market News...

Here's a website for  freelance may really need it if you are abroad or hope to spread your writing tentacles to the international sphere. Subscription applies too :( My friend who tried it says it's value for money though. So, welcome Freelance Market News...

There's a lot to learn...enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is Writing Still Relevant?

In this very short piece, Temitayo Olofinlua makes a defence for tell us why you think writing is still relevant. The piece was first published on the Future website. Read and comment...

The title sure makes me sound like an advocate for writing. All you can see is a lawyer trying to make a case for writing. The question shouldn’t really be is writing now irrelevant? Permit me to tweak it a bit—was writing ever relevant? If it was, why will it stop being relevant?

An attempt to answer these questions takes us on an historical trip to the origins of writing. And raise more questions. No one knows exactly when writing started but fingers have pointed to Mesopotamia and Egypt as the first sites of writing. Before then, all we had was speech. First question—why was speech insufficient? There was an increasing need to trap moments, to keep records. Writing met that need. Over the years, the functions of writing expanded to include storytelling and commemoration of the dead.

Fast forward to 2010—a fast paced world that threatens to leave you behind in the labyrinth of time. Writing has captured; preserved and transferred reality as it occurs across miles. We write our lives daily on Twitter. We start revolutions on Facebook. We take records with our diaries. Obits fill newspapers. Writing is with us. Unlike many things that die with time, writing has recreated itself in many forms—novels, newspapers, magazines, films, plays, internet, e-books, phones, amongst others. Writing has taken on many forms beyond handwriting; has it lost its significance? No!

Final questions—what’s the relevance of writing to the writer, the reader and the society? Writing makes us laugh; cry; smile; get angry; take action; pleases us. Writing humanizes us. Writing freezes moments in words. Until speech (or any other thing) outmatches writing in these ways, it may take a while before writing takes a backseat of irrelevance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Women PeaceMakers Program...

If you think this is your stuff, apply!

The Women PeaceMakers Program documents the stories and best practices of international women leaders who are involved in human rights and peacemaking efforts in their home countries. Women on the frontlines of efforts to end violence and secure a just peace seldom record their experiences, activities and insights as generally there is no time, or, perhaps, no formal education that would help women record their work. 

Read more on the program here.

Deadline: June 15, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fidelity Bank's Writers' Workshop

This year’s edition of our International Creative Writing Workshop is the 3rd in a series of efforts to redirect the energy of Nigerian youths to those values that once made Nigeria great. The workshop is also an important component of Fidelity’s Corporate Social Responsibility CSR through which the bank continues to push for a better society.

Participants will be expected to read and discuss a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, as well as complete short writing exercises.

Participation in the forthcoming workshop is limited to those who apply and are accepted. A public symposium featuring readings and panel discussions will be held on the last day of the workshop.

To apply, send an e-mail to -

 Your e-mail subject should bear the title – Workshop Application.

The body of the e-mail should contain the following – 
1. Your name.
2. Your address.
3. A few sentences about yourself.
4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words.

Please indicate whether your sample is fiction or non-fiction. Acceptance will be based on the quality of the writing sample.

All writing material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail.
Do NOT send any attachments.
Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submission is June 20, 2010. If accepted, you will be notified by July 4, 2010

More information here

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2010

Renowned worldwide for featuring some of the best and brightest new talent, Wasafiri launched an annual new writing prize as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations in 2009. The prize is now in its second year and the competition is open for entries. 

The competition is open to anyone worldwide who has not published a complete book. We are looking for creative submissions in one of three categories: Poetry, Fiction or Life Writing. Three winners (one from each category) will receive £300 and their winning entries will be published in an issue of Wasafiri.

More information on the Wasafiri website here

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Nigeria is 50...So What?

As the nation clocks 50 this year, there are series of events to 'mark' the it. One in Lagos, one in Abuja...enjoy!

On Sunday 6th June, Crown Troupe of Africa will set off sparks at Motherlan' 64 Opebi Rd. Ikeja, Lagos as they present Season 2 of their series of performances in commemoration of Nigeria's 50th anniversary, tagged- Nigeria @ 50, So What? 

Early this month, Sound Sultan joined the award winning dance-theatre company on stage in asking our brothers and sisters in diaspora to try come back home to make this land work for us all. 

On the 6th of June, Crown Troupe will be joined by the Coded Tunes All Stars, led by prolific Producer & Musician- I.D. Cabassa. Also performing will be the enigmatic Amulegbajo Dance Company. 

There will be two shows- 3pm and 5pm and tickets cost only N1,500. Call 234-01-8529562 to get your tickets before we run out!

Proudly Supported by Motherlan'

The Abuja Council for Arts and Culture presents a play titled  "A Rich Heritage" Expect a night of laughter. dance and drama.

Date: Friday, June 4, 2010
Venue: Cyprian Ekwensi Cultural Centre, Area 10, Garki 
Directions: Off Moshood Abiola, Off Kalems Street, 3 Awka Street.
Time: 7pm
Gate: 1, 500 naira for individuals, 1000 naira for groups of 6 and above

For reservations, call Joan, 08084996998. Tickets are also available at the gate...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Introducing the Ebedi Writers Residency...

Ebedi International Writer’s Residency is administered by EBEDI International Writers Resort. Located in the idyllic scenery of Iseyin town in Iseyin local government area of Oyo State Nigeria, the Ebedi Resort provides an inspiring ambience to churn out creative works away from the rigours and bustle of everyday work and life.

The residency whose Patron is Dr. Wale Okediran, will be administered by the Ebedi’s Writers Residency Management Board under the Chairperson of Maryam Ali Ali. Other members of the board are Akintayo Abodurin, Uche Peter Umez, Tokunbo Okediran and Alkasim Abdulkadir as Secretary to the board.

Ebedi Writers Residency is a well furnished 4 bedroom Bungalow complete with Kitchen, bathroom and Patio area.A standby generator and water bole facilities as well security arrangements are also available. A large well landscaped compound and the adjoining hills will complement a beautiful Writers Resort.

The Writer-in-resident shall be granted a stay not more than six weeks.

The Management Board shall also provide the writer with a grant enough to cover feeding and incidental expenses during course of stay.

How to Apply
All applicants must specify two preferences for the time of their residency; successful applicants will be offered the first available spot in accordance to their preference. 

To apply, please send in the following:
  • Biographical sketch including publications, performances and writing credits 
  • Ten page sample of your latest work.
  • One-page description of the work to be undertaken while at the Residency 
  • Two letters of recommendation e-mailed directly to the e-mail address mentioned above 
  • If the applicant has a publishing contract for the project in process, he/ she should kindly state this.

  • Ebedi’s Writers Residency is open to both writers based in Nigeria and international writers who have published books in the categories of novels, short stories, poetry or plays.
  • Writers should have a specific project they will be developing or completing at the Residency. 
  • Selected writers will be expected to contribute to the Iseyin Community's educational development by organizing a literary activity such as a writing workshop or literary competition among the students of a secondary school in the town during the duration of the program. 
  • Regardless of the country of origin, the applicant must be fluent in speaking English.

Selection Criteria
  • Ebedi Writers’ Residency program mainly focuses on the professional experience of writers, quality of past work and their potential to have a productive time while they are residents.
  • Major factors in making the selection will be the literary achievement of the applicant to date and the ability to produce a work of substantial literary quality. The Management Board will make the final selection of two (2) for each Residency Season.

More on Ebedi on their website.

This is what you all have bee waiting for: an escape. C'mon apply! Kudos to the Ebedi Crew to...this is a very welcome development!