An Anatomy of a Farewell

 

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

There was no perfect time to begin Livelytwist. Four years ago, I did not have all the answers I needed to start a weekly blog. Chief among them being whether I could sustain the tempo—whether I could produce writing that would entertain, inform, inspire, or provoke thought, week after week. In Six Degrees of Separation and Other Stories, I bare my soul.

I started this blog with grit, a little knowledge, some research, plenty goodwill, confidence, trepidation, and a two-month content calendar.

The question that I am frequently asked after I introduce myself as a blogger, after, what do you blog about, is: do you monetize your blog? The question is not always direct. Sometimes, it is cloaked as queries about ad revenue or sponsored content.

In his book Outliers, The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell says that hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Monetizing Livelytwist was never my primary focus. I just did what I love with dedication and excellence, which are hallmarks of everything I set to do.

The result is a resume I can present anywhere.

  • Produced over 200 articles with quality content.
  • Displayed my range with a rich landscape of varied writing: creative non-fiction, short fiction, op-eds, reportage, memoirs, and personal essays.
  • Highlighted my range by tackling topics from the mundane and comical to the serious, made relevant because of the underlying message(s).
  • Synthesized and delivered local content to international audiences. 
  • Facilitated and sustained online engagement with heterogeneous crowds via the comment section.
  • Identified, managed, and promoted (new) writing talent.
  • Discovered and negotiated new business through engagement on other platforms.
  • Harnessed marketing opportunities by collaborating with others and leveraging their social networks to reach new audiences.
  • Developed and managed diverse teams by initiating several writing collaborations.
  • Received 100,000* blog hits on livelytwist.com through organic growth. 

However, the emails and conversations that attest to the fact that I lit other candles remain my greatest treasures. All because I dared to ignore the butterflies in my stomach and move in the direction that my heart was tugging me to go.

. . . this gift that chose me, feels like a solemn trust, like a platform to do my life’s work. When you read something and say it inspires you to do life better, I let my tears fall where they will. –Timi Yeseibo

Someone said that it is not that life is too short but that we take too long to begin. I concur. People now ask me, “So you’re gonna stop blogging, what next?”

Four years ago, I could at least define what I was beginning, a blog. Now, it isn’t easy to articulate my next steps. This is what I know for sure. Whatever follows will involve me writing in some form. I now know that when you identify your gift, develop it, and use it to serve others, you will inspire others to do the same.

I once read that sometimes when it seems as though things are falling apart, they are actually coming together. In hindsight, it was true four years ago when my life took a difficult turn. I believe it to be true now.

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

P.s. April marked four years of blogging at Livelytwist, a success story that has you, dear reader, by my side. It is now time for new adventures and to stop blogging. I first wrote about it here. I’ll write some more in the coming weeks and then I’ll stop.

  1. Gladwell, Malcom, Outliers, The Story of Success, (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 175
  2. Not quite 100,000 hits . . . yet.

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/child-beautiful-model-little-cute-920131/
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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For The Love of Poetry

poetry

 

If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the inquisition might have let him alone.  – Thomas Hardy  

 

My English literature teacher confused me, but my sister taught me to appreciate poetry. She explained symbolism, alliteration, onomatopoeia, personification, and the difference between metaphor and simile. I got it but I did not get it. I mean what kind of person writes:

Hirsute hell chimney-spouts, black thunderthroes
Confluence of coarse cloudfleeces—my head sir!—scourbrush
In bitumen, past fossil beyond fingers of light—until . . .!

Sudden sprung as corn stalk after rain, watered milk weak;
As lightning shrunk to ant’s antenna, shrivelled
Off the febrile sight of crickets in the sun—

THREE WHITE HAIRS! frail invaders of the undergrowth
Interpret time. I view them, wired wisps, vibrant coiled
Beneath a magnifying glass, milk-thread presages 
1

 

Say what? Who in their right mind reads and understands this stuff? And yet, not comprehending, I fell in love with the cadence of the words of poets.

My first recall of writing poetry was in my late teens, when I was angry at the world. I acted out behind demure verses like the girl who leaves home wearing a knee-length skirt only to fold the waistband and transform it to a mini skirt once out of sight. I flirted with nuance, condensing meaning into short lines. Ambiguity meant I could write about everything and nothing. I created word puzzles in which every interpretation fit. Words like:

His silence reverberated with rage from now to eternity

I learnt the economy of language. Still, I wasn’t very good. The story I wanted to tell balked at stanzas and writing in free verse was caged freedom. Prose enabled me to soar. My sentences rambled beyond set margins instead of stopping around the middle of the page and I welcomed breaking them up into paragraphs.

Prose is my husband ‘til death do us part, but my affair with poetry continues. When sentences come to me, they bounce with the cadence of the words of poets.

Timi @livelytwist
© Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

 

A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman. – Wallace Stevens

 

My first poem was a disaster. It is only a disaster now after enough years have passed for me to look back on it. I forgive myself for it because my sister liked it. And since it was the poem I wrote in a blank card meant to wish her success in her final exams, I breathe easy.

“Why would anybody prefer poetry to prose?” my study group mate once asked me.

“Because that’s where murderers go to hide dead bodies.” I answered.

We laughed together for a bit and then he stopped midway, leaving me to see the laughter to the end of a minute.

“I don’t get it,” he said.

I expected him to get it. We were returning from a study group meeting of chemical engineers who had to fulfill a one-credit literature course. As the one who knew a thing or two about poems, I had spent the entire afternoon explaining a brilliant poem about a contract worker in colonial southern Africa.

To the rest of the world, poets go to poetry to hide things. To my cousin, every poet is a fussy genie, hiding plain language in plain sight with difficult words, like magic. Maybe it is true. After my first poem, I spent years playing detective, investigating hidden meanings in all manner of poetry.

Poetry is sensual word craft, as painting is to photography or music is to speech. A word, a sound, a sight, a smell, a breeze, the rain, any of these can trigger a poem. If a poet catches that trigger, the poem will lead them to a place where its gems are found and where everyone else will need to be a detective if they will find the poet again.

I wrote poetry long after I had written much prose. When I write poetry, I do not write with the intention to mystify. To me, writing is as much an attempt to discover a theme as I hope reading the poem will be for my readers. I stack a word after a word, speaking not to the entire poem, but speaking in that instance to the next word, the next line, and maybe eventually to the entire poem.

For example, I fell in love with Somali poetry in 2013. Due to the country’s difficult history, Somali writing is in a phase that births literature with heart. Triggered by romance and tempered by distance, the product of that literary love was poem after poem after poem. One day I shall sit on the shores of Mogadishu. We will forget all that has been. There, we shall talk about love.

 

I think about you, Mogadishu    

You star in my nightmares
You seduce in my temple
You challenge my sleep.

You keep me up till 11:30
Then you wake me at midnight
You should leave in the morning
You should leave in the afternoon
But by evening you’re still here
Strange damsel of my dreams
I think about you.

You hide many secrets in your hijab
I cannot unravel nor understand
Your smile is brighter, embarrasses the sun
You frown darker than night.
When you turn and walk away, I know you want me to follow
You tell me nothing; only in your eyes I see everything
Strange damsel of my dreams
I think about you.

Read the rest of the poem

Dela @ African Soulja
© Delalorm Semabia 2015

 

  1. Soyinka, Wole, To My First White Hairs, Poems of Black Africa, ed. Soyinka Wole (London: Heinemann/AWS, 1975), 282.

Photo credit: JovanaP/ https://pixabay.com/en/reading-old-newspapers-dusty-888864/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Six Degrees of Separation and Other Stories

secret of change

On a scale of one to ten, I was born with a six in writing, just as you were born with a six, or seven, or eight in something. This means that even if I don’t develop myself as a writer, anything I write would be better than what most people write. But talent is not enough. It can be a beginning.

I believe in six degrees of separation, the version I have heard, that you are only five people away from any one you want to meet. I could meet Barrack Obama if I want to. My family knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody that knows Goodluck Jonathan. Goodluck Jonathan can lead me to Obama. In theory.

I put this man know man to good use when I tried to publish my manuscript traditionally in Nigeria. It helped. In theory. I got an audience with every publisher I wanted to meet. In those days, I wrote creative non-fiction and dreamt about a coffee-table-style book with rich photos, that readers could leisurely leaf through. Two things stood in my way: money and a photographer to team up with.

After I butted my head against the wall several times, I used six degrees of separation, again, to get the attention of glossies and weekend papers. I received some offers. Two conditions made me decline. The publications demanded exclusivity and wanted me to write free of charge.

“Are you crazy?” asked my cousin who was number four in this particular six degrees of separation.

“What exactly do I get from this arrangement?”

“This is Naija, shine ya eye well well! You’ll get a platform to build your reputation as a writer, and before long, they’ll be calling you for speaking engagements. Then you can charge like 100k per engagement,” her eyes shone as she giggled and clapped.

Should I have taken the offer? In 2008, Michael Birch sold Bebo to AOL for $850M. In 2010, AOL sold Bebo for less than $10M, as the story goes. Birch said, “Obviously, the timing was good for us and bad for AOL.”

Was the timing good for me? I only know two things. One, that although I had about two months’ worth of articles on my laptop, deep down, I feared that I could not write engaging articles week after week. Two, that if you don’t know who you are or what you’ve got, people will remould you until you cannot recognise your reflection.

Once, a mentor asked me to pay a token for advice. He said, “What is given too cheaply is often despised.” I have found that humility is not being the doormat others step on because you don’t know your value. It is knowing your value, but choosing to be a doormat anyway.

Some of my missed opportunities are like Halley’s Comet while others have prepared me better for this time. Some people ‘wait’ for opportunity as though opportunity is passive, like something that happens to you, as in the sentence, I was hit by a truck. At night, I look at the sky and believe there are spaces in the universe for us to fill. We cannot rule out what some call luck and others providence, but in a sense, we call opportunity by our preparedness.

As I tried to get a writing gig going, people would say, “Your articles read like a blog post. Why not start a blog?”

I chewed the idea and spat it out, for the same reason that I never wanted to start a business. I have no entrepreneurial bone in my body. I’m a nine to five girl jare. Share your vision and I will actualise it; but don’t ask me to come up with my own.

Four years later, many unpublished articles and short stories later, miffed that I found one grey eyelash while looking in the mirror, I wrote an article about getting older and posted it on my Facebook Timeline. The responses surprised me. Not just the likes or comments, but the call to start a blog.

I had come full circle. I wrestled with the thought that I was moving away from my dream of being traditionally published. In truth, I had buried that dream under a big box labelled life. My sister told me, “When you’re down, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

I started this blog with grit, a little knowledge, some research, plenty goodwill, confidence, trepidation, and a two-month content calendar.

One year later, this gift that chose me, feels like a solemn trust, like a platform to do my life’s work. When you read something and say it inspires you to do life better, I let my tears fall where they will.

 

path to your dream

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Related posts from Livelytwist:

https://livelytwist.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/wordpress-101/

https://livelytwist.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/wordpress-102-no-pressure/  

 

Photo credit: Pensiero / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Title: Reading

Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pensiero/70530914/

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.