This question never leaves me. Suspended in my subconscious, I answer it every moment, every day. The events of my life and yours, past, present, and a future I envision, are being stored somewhere in my brain cells. To write, I start with a title, which provides direction. Developing the story resembles opening a wardrobe and sifting through clothes, pulling one and then another from the rack, admiring, discarding, until you find the perfect outfit for the occasion. Most times, my wardrobe is full, so full that choice is the problem.
Another problem arises from the opinion of others. How many times have you asked someone, what do you think I should wear and they picked an outfit that was just so not you? Or asked the question that makes the people we love dance around the truth—how do I look?
But, input from external sources also comes without me soliciting for it.
“I definitely think you should write about it,” Toyin said quietly.
“This is an issue that touches the heart of the nation. Can you just imagine . . .”
She was right. Newspapers and social media channels brimmed with the controversy over section 29 of the Nigerian Constitution and legitimising child marriage. I had skimmed a few articles but had neither researched the issue nor signed the child-not-bride petition. Like her, I was upset, unlike her, I had not yet reached boiling point. A couple more friends called and I felt the steam from their whistling kettles, so I caved in. Between midnight and 2 a.m., I wrote an opinion piece centred on an imaginary conversation with my daughter in 2025. It had many holes that I could not fill.
That Friday, I stumbled on an elegant piece written by a lawyer. Wading through the tide of emotion, he separated fact from fiction and proposed platforms to channel the wave of mass hysteria. Hearsay and conspiracy theories belong in fiction novels, and so, I was relieved that Sunday was still faraway. I would have sent my article to the recycle bin, but for a few sentences I felt I could use in a future post. I have not let people convince me to use my “voice” to “talk” for them since then. Although I read political articles, I rarely write about politics because I don’t have the resources to carry out investigative journalism that would result in balanced pieces.
When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence. – Samuel Butler –
My blog gives me freedom to wear anything I like from my wardrobe. Four criteria guide my choice, inform, entertain, inspire, and provoke thought. Oh, and try to keep it short!
Someone accused me of misleading readers since the tag line of my blog, because life happens to all of us and sometimes we get a second chance, isn’t reflected in the posts I publish. Perhaps he is right, and only I see the redemptive theme woven in my stories or maybe, you see what you want to see depending on the strength of your lenses.
So, what should I write about? Anything that catches my fancy, which I think will add value to you. Including this piece, which on the surface isn’t about redemption, but if you reflect on it, a large chunk focuses on wrestling my voice from peer pressure and speaking a language I understand. Second chances? Maybe, maybe not.
Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper. – Isaac Bashevis Singer –
©Timi Yeseibo 2014
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