It’s my anniversary everyone!!!
Today, marks a year since I have been blogging with WordPress. Thanks to my friend Lady C, who became my WordPress inspiration with her well laid out blog. I remember thinking when I first started this blog that I could use the pieces from my class on Autobiography to see what light this genre sheds on fiction. I was determined to put up a post every month and I am elated to say that I achieved that goal: YAY!!!
For this post, I thought it would be nice to pay homage to the literary masters that I learned and continue to learn from.
My first attempt at writing a literary piece was in 8th grade English. Our indefatigable teacher, Mrs. O. assigned Gladys Casely- Hayford’s poem “Rejoice” as the assignment for the day. Our job was to interpret, memorize, and reenact the poem by next class. The groans that accompanied the announcement were loud indeed and Teacher O was infuriated. Hence, she gave us more homework. This time we had our previous assignment to do plus 2 poems of our own to write, interpret, memorize, and reenact. The deadline was also bumped up to the next day. I was floored and so were my classmates for the class was quiet for the rest of the day.
After moments of mental agony, drafts and re-drafts, I had something to submit to Mrs. O. I stood by her desk as she began grading my work and her first reaction was, “Where did you get this poem from?” I was perplexed. Was this a good sign or bad sign? I told her I had written it. She found it hard to believe but graded it nonetheless. I took it as a good sign and my English class with its assigned readings from the West African Verse anthology found a special place in my heart. R.E.G. Armattoe’s “The Way I would like to Die”, J.P. Clark’s “Streamside Exchange,” Christopher Okigbo’s “Love Apart,” Dennis Osadebay’s “A Song of Hope,” and Gabriel Okara’s “Fisherman Invocation” were fodder for my literary cravings. There was just something really special about those crop of poets and I wanted to write like them.
Poetry was not my only obsession for prior to that incidence, I devoured novels. Thanks to having older siblings, I cannot recall reading more than 4 children books in my early years. My sisters read and so I read. My father bought novels and so I read. Their friends talked about novels they enjoyed and so I read. I was that student who in elementary and high school had a novel stuck in the middle of my textbook, shielded by front that I was doing classwork. Sometimes, the novel would be wedged between my knees as I sat on a high class stool , switching my attention back and forth between the board and the latest unfolding plot. Getting caught and punished on numerous occasions did not curb this habit and I apologize to all the teachers I frustrated during this period 🙁 .
I talked about my favorite authors like they were old friends. “Once you start a Sidney Sheldon novel, you can’t put it it down” (I’ve read all his books and miss his suspense filled novels dearly), “Jeffery Archer is the go-to-guy for a political thriller”, “Have your tissues in hand when with V.C. Andrews”, “Expect tragedy upon tragedy from Danielle Steel”, and “John Grisham would leave you wanting more from the courtroom.” Those were my single line verdicts to friends who sought my opinion on what they should read and I never failed to buttress my points with examples from each author’s repertoire. I read so much that I began to daydream. I was the ruthless lawyer, the troubled child, the insubordinate wife, the ambitious working mother and a lot more. My illusions were mixed with real events and I had a story (injected with gestures) for everyone who cared to listen. Then, I began to write.
I felt comfortable with writing poetry until I read Araceli Aipoh’s No Sense of Limits. I had never seen my hometown, Lagos presented in such an exciting tone before. I wanted to write about Lagos like Aipoh. Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come followed closely after that and I experienced Lagos through the eyes of a character who was within my age group in the first half of the book. However, it took several years before I took my next baby step to writing a novel, the short story. Scores of short stories and poems later, I can call myself a budding writer. I want to write with the nuggets of inspiration I have picked up in the course of this literary journey. Although this time, I plan to write like me, Nma.