No New Stories

no new stories

I attended a creative writing seminar where our lecturer was an award-winning writer, who felt it was his duty to knock fantasy out of our minds and help us rearrange our aspirations.

“Don’t think you’re going to be the next Shakespeare and write a never-written-before novel. There are no new stories,” he said.

His forehead was wide and shiny and his hairline indicated that baldness waited in his future. He swept through the class with his big eyes letting his words sink in.

Did he imagine that we could not even match his own mild success? I completed my writing exercises on time using the formula he gave us: a story has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. I didn’t care for original ideas. I was involved in a steamy romance with creative non-fiction, the only genre I thought I would ever write. I wrote about my real experiences or that of others, injecting lively words into sentences to transport readers to my world.

When I delved into the world of fiction, I looked for original ideas. Once I found them, I scribbled and scribbled until I perfected my story. After I shared my story with friends, one of them said, “Oh, your story is based on that Nollywood movie . . .” Another said, “You copied so-and-so famous writer’s story.”

But, I hadn’t watched that Nollywood movie and I hadn’t read the famous writer’s book. I had just thought about a story and written my thoughts down! It was then that the lecturer’s words came back to bite me and I bought into the idea that I don’t have any new story to tell.

My imagination is a collection of all I’ve seen, heard, touched, smelt, and tasted, synthesized and served as a ‘new’ dish. So, the more I engage my senses the more my brain has to synthesize and serve as imagination. Then it takes skill to arrange my imagination in a format that others can and want to understand.  Enter language or words.

I began to understand why aspiring writers are advised to read and write a lot—to broaden imagination and acquire skill.

When I get good ideas for a story, I don’t google key words to see who else has written about it. I just know for sure that someone else has done so already. However, unless their name is Timi Yeseibo, they have not written it in my voice or through the nuance of my experiences, which help me filter life.

This difference makes me unafraid to write about Romeo and Juliet because in the century in which I live, they would meet via Tinder and their death would be featured on Instagram. The themes of love, faithfulness, betrayal, and death remain timeless and universal. My children after me will also write the same story flavoured by the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feelings of their time.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

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.

 

 

 

Setting Forth at Dawn

L I G H T H O U S E

 

The first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise is called dawn. The forecast says sunny day; the clouds are undecided. One passenger is standing in the middle of the bus that rides past me and the rows of empty seats around him make alone seem like loneliness. The air is crisp and breathing is bliss, interrupted occasionally by the draft from the black garbage bags left on the pavement the night before. It will be at least two hours before the garbage trucks arrive. The thumpthump of my footfalls and swishswish of my sports jacket provide comfort and company. Although every joint protests and reminds me of how old I am, I jog because spring is here.

Like writing, jogging requires discipline and perseverance for results to show. If I work hard now, my dresses will flatter me in summer. After reading one of my blog posts, someone commented that writers lead very interesting lives. Hmmm, if they are anything like me, they do not, not by a long shot, not by most people’s standards anyway. Wise writers know: I am not, in and of myself, interesting to a reader. If I want to seem interesting, work has to be done in order to make myself interesting.

Four hundred metres into my jog, my body submits to my will and my mind takes over. I dissect my life, paring flesh from bone, rolling things over this way and that. Then, I tell myself the truth, crying, laughing, hoping, praying. I run through an article in my head, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Satisfied, I think about what to write today, tomorrow, next week, next year and with whom I may write it. In the newness of day, untainted by doubt, every idea seems plausible, even past mistakes, redeemable.

Ideas are running over me thick and fast. I don’t jog with pen and paper, phone, or voice recorder because the temptation to stop and write would be unbearable. I have learnt to park beautiful sentences in my brain and trust that memory would reward my fidelity. Moreover, to pause would force me to rationalize and logic would provoke miscarriage or stillbirth. It’s been said that all readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies.  It is easy for me to tell lies before the sun comes out.

As I turn around the corner, a new Indian restaurant reminds me of curries and naan bread, and my stomach rumbles. “Too early,” I mumble. Further down boats dot the harbour like swans. In summer, sailors will wave from boat decks and people lounging on rattan chairs in waterfront restaurants will raise beer glasses in return. Ahead a dozen men with buckets, rods, lines, and hooks, queue to board a boat sporting the signs sport vissen and rond vaarten. Such is the allure of the sea at dawn.

In the end, I quit two kilometres short of my goal, but it doesn’t matter. I jog to not only make the numbers on the scale decrease, but also for these moments of lucidity where I dethrone my giants before I face them.

Before the sun rouses
Ideas play hopscotch in my head
Flushing sleep from my eyes

What do you do or where do you go to find clarity? Are you a morning person or an owl?

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Photo credit: Unsplash/ http://pixabay.com/en/pier-dock-quay-ocean-sea-calm-336717/

 

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.

 

 

WordPress 107: How I Write My Blog Posts

creative process

I can scribble on the bus, at a party, or in the kitchen, but when it is time to pull my thoughts together, a chair and table lend seriousness to what I do. Although writing brings me satisfaction and can be fun, I do not write for fun. Familiar sound is unwelcome. I cannot let anything or anyone I know compete with the voices in my head. But the strangers at the café? Their conversation is a tunnel guiding me to the place where thoughts reside.

I don’t understand creativity, the neuroscience of it. To write my blog posts, I need an idea or two, or three. Don’t believe me? Just ask Neil Gaiman.

 

Happy now? So, here’s how ideas and words cross-pollinate and become blog posts on Livelytwist.

 

Inspiration

creativity dream

Words are the last thing I want to see for I have just spent four hours editing a manuscript. I drag myself to bed at 2 a.m. Ants crawl in the space above my eyes and Paracetamol has had little effect. I hear the words, “Six is just a number,” and understand the meaning, but I close my eyes and snuggle deeper under the covers. I hear the first line, the second, and then the third. I grab my laptop. The words are coming faster than I can type, a deluge. Like one possessed, I write until 2:30 a.m., 900 words of dialogue, and then I reread. I laugh, yawn, and sleep. Later, I email a friend.

“Naughty, naughty, naughty. This will get you in all kinds of trouble,” he replies.

I wish everything I wrote came to me by inspiration. I also wish I played the lottery yesterday and won a million Dollars. Instead, I get dressed, go to work, and collect my pay cheque at the end of the month.

 

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. – Bill Moyers1

 

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

creativity mechanically

Saturday, one day before publication. Nothing, nothing at all. Experience tempers panic so its waves do not break on my shore and retreat, making everything wet. I pound away at my keyboard like a blacksmith hammering metal sheets into shape—delete, cut, copy, paste. I surf the internet. I read other blogs. I watch TV. I pray. I flip through my T.B.D.L. notebook. I leaf through my experiences and run through my imagination. I write, one sentence at a time, like a child learning to walk. I visit the thesaurus. I employ literary devices. I pull words from the well in me. I push until I reach 500 words. Eureka!

Sunday, I upload and publish. I hold my breath until I see the first like or comment. Then slowly, I exhale. The best writing advice I’ve ever received? Just start and inspiration will find you.

 

The trick to creativity, if there is a single useful thing to say about it, is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time. – Denise Shekerjian, Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas Are Born2

 

The Force of Belief

creativity belief

Something I hear, see, read, or experience captures my attention and moves me deeply. It stews in my mind for days, weeks, months even, and I read what others have to say. I examine my life for inconsistencies as conviction takes root. I determine to do better because what I write will change me. When the thoughts crystallise, a title is not far off.

I write with what I hope is restraint, in a measured tone. I know it will stir readers for it is the force of conviction on paper. It alienates or binds. Only in my response to comments, do I try toe the middle ground, to be gracious. I wrote, I am not What I wear and Other Lies we Tell Ourselves, this way. In a world of muddled grey, black or white can bring pain or gain.

 

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. – Steve Jobs, I, Steve: Steve Jobs in His Own Words3

 

All this is theory as all three elements are at play when I write, sometimes, one is more dominant than the other two and vice-versa. Some days it is hard. Some days it comes easy. Always, it is rewarding, like chocolate cake after lean meat and vegetables.

So, how do you write, or draw, or make music, or do what you do?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Image credit: cartoon figures from Microsoft

The Creative Process, adapted from Julia Quinn’s photo: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151963920732054&set=a.59952827053.71263.42811462053&type=1&theater

  1. http://explore.noodle.org/post/53323730990/bill-moyers-pair-with-this-vintage-guide-to
  2. http://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Genius-Great-Ideas-Born/dp/0140109862/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403991437&sr=1-1
  3. http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Jobs-His-Words-Their/dp/1932841660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403993785&sr=1-1&keywords=I%2C+Steve%3A+Steve+Jobs+In+His+Own+Words+%28

 

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.