Collaboration. Holistic Wayfarer showed me how it’s done by inviting me to write a blog post alongside her and Nida S., another writer. An African proverb says if you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. I went farther this year, because you journeyed with me.
I overcame fear of rejection and what-ifs to approach you, virtual stranger, virtual friend. I told you that I admire your writing and I would be honoured if you shared your perspective on a series I’m doing. And when that didn’t work, I pursued you—busy you, you that hadn’t written in a while, you that was between jobs, cities, homes. Determined not to say your no for you, I ‘harassed’ you until you said, “Yes, Timi!”
From each writer, I collected kernels of truth, after you wooed and wowed me with your words. Someone noted that humility is the common thread that runs through the Learning Series. Indeed, to learn, you must first admit that you don’t know.
The Learning Series was not the only collaboration I did this year. We wrote about age, the love languages of Nigerians, and love for country. The writers took my ideas and ran as far as Australia, danced above and below the Equator, and soared to Canada; yes farther than I could go. The result? A clash of hues softened by the spaces where we glimpsed your heart.
I opine that to write an effective personal piece, vulnerability must become like meat and potatoes. The writers delivered that quality, the ability to be open and yet closed, to be known and yet not known, to lie next to someone and yet not touch. Perhaps I reread your pieces and the comments that followed, to decipher your face in the dark that I might recognize you by light. These collaborations were shared over 150 times on social media, the power of your network not mine. You took me further.
In putting your stories and mine together, my joy at editing surpassed my joy at writing. I questioned if my writing was not merely a platform to pull other writers together to present the world with an anthology, all the stories of humanity in one place. I played with this notion until I met a ‘secret’ reader at an event. The usual pleasantries segued to the question of what I do.
“What do you blog about?”
I sized him up. Nigerian. Early thirties. “Let me show you.” I navigated to, Running in the Airport. “See,” I said, letting him read from my phone, “This kind of stuff.”
“Oh, I’ve read that before, hilarious! Someone sent it to me. So you’re the one who wrote that, he asked, looking at me. “You look . . .”
“Different,” I offered, aware that the photo on my blog was taken about three years ago.
“More beautiful in person.”
The charmer. If I were doing a sweepstake on my blog, I would skew the results so he would win.
“And you sound so . . . so . . .”
“Ordinary?” I offered again.
“Yes,” he replied, shaking his head. “After reading all that big grammar you write . . .”
Right there, his laughter clambering over mine, I began to write a blog post in my head.
Our laughter reminded me that my collaboration with readers either through the comments or in real life has also taken me further than I dreamed possible. Writing gives me visibility. It is wonderful to meet and know people beyond the page.
Happiness is transient for me, until I celebrate every phase of my journey. It is true what they say; the grass is greener on the side where it is watered. In 2014, my blog was a beautiful place to be because of you.
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
©Timi Yeseibo 2014
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