This idea (modeled around ancient chain letters) through my friend Nwachukwu Egbunike. The idea of the Blog Tour is to give bloggers/writers a chance to talk about their craft and what they are doing at the moment. Then pass it on. Nwachukwu’s own confessions can be found here on his blog. Here now are my answers to the four questions in the Tour, and I’m passing the torch on to Ayodele Olofintuade, Pearl Osibu, and Dami Ajayi. Their bios follow my answers.
1) What am I working on?
I have always worked on many projects at once. This blog is one. From the many times I’ve come close to closing it down, I’ve come to a realisation that it is a work that will continue. And from the response I’ve got (especially from those who come back to read old posts even when I’m not here), it seems that it is doing something in the world that many people wish should continue.
A collection of my latest poems has been sent to editors for feedback but won’t be published until all ts are properly crossed.
Two years ago, I also started a book on collected observations on language and language attitudes, particularly in Nigeria. I have come to the conclusion that our language policy is flawed, and that our current state is influenced by our inability to take new risks and try out new things because of age-old attitudes and untested assumptions, some forced on us by the British colonial rule. Over the last hundred years, a new language and a new identity has formed. We have a choice now to explore who we are (separate from what the colonialists told us we are), in order to evolve a proud and distinct identity that we share with the world. (No publishing offer yet, so here’s your chance, world!)
I’m also translating a contemporary Nigerian novel into Yoruba. I’m done with just one chapter, and that’s because I haven’t given it all my attention.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, the work on this blog is different in that it has helped me pursue a number of research ideas that I may not have thought about, or pursued with as much vigor, if there wasn’t an audience for it. My recent visit to Abeokuta is one of such instances, as is many other travel pieces here that eventually led me to asking relevant questions in concrete directions. They start usually as improptu travel experiences, but always leads to directions that clarify thoughts and opinions, and questions that I have pondered for years.
I’m not alone in using the new media for reaching new audiences, but I like the position that this blog fills, both for me and for those to whom it matters.
In this way, I haven’t fully entered the Nigerian literary pool. But what is this pool anyway? Just books? Printed words on paper? I’ve observed it as thoroughly as I can, from many angles. My poems have been published in places, but I have never intended them to change anything fundamentally. They are just my solo way of interacting with my lived experiences.
My thoughts and projects on language however seem innovative, if I say so myself. Attitude around what currently exists seems to have calcified around complacency: “This is what we have. Why change it?” I find that extremely disturbing. so, if I can change anything, I hope that it is changing current language attitudes, and helping to call attention, and change, to the current limitations of our British experiment.
3) Why do I write what I do?
This is cliche, but I write because I can. However, I have found blogging to be a more liberating medium than paper and pen ever were. In a recent interview with Global Voices (please read it), I argued that the next frontier in literature is electronic publishing. And until we have writers whose sole portal are electronic platforms winning prominent literary prizes (like the Orange, Pulitzer, Nobel, etc), we haven’t made as much progress yet. I believe this to be true. Writing is writing. The distinction between whether it is printed on a papyrus or published on a wordpress blog shouldn’t be a limiting factor to its appreciation. In any case, the internet now might reach a lot more people.
Those who have followed this blog will agree that it hasn’t been limited to language issues either. My fascination with travel and history is beginning to convince me of future opportunities in larger work in anthropology and historical non-fiction. The History of the Yorubas, by Samuel Johnson, for instance, needs a serious updating. I’m interested in a number of endeavours that bring me close to the treasures of history, language, and literature. In most cases, the demarcations aren’t very clear cut.
4) How does my writing process work?
As erratic as you can imagine. I have moments where I can’t get up from my working desk until I’ve written dozens of pages; when everything works as smoothly as they should, and words come on schedule. And I have weeks when nothing works, and all I do is watching historical documentaries, old musicals, or American comedy shows. What is common with each mood is the unconscious working of the ever active brain. Some people can summon words at will, and produce masterpieces at the first prompting. I’m not like that, but in many cases, I surprise myself – which tells me that the brain has been working and making the right connections behind my back.
I’m passing the torch to the following people. Check them out:
She is the author of Eno’s Story which was shortlisted for the Nigerian Prize for Literature a couple of years ago. She has also spearheaded a number of book reading initiatives meant to bring the printed word to young ones across the country. She blogs at TotallyHawaya-Haywire.blogspot.com
She is a Fashion Designer/Stylist, Nigerian writer and blogger. She runs the blog Fifty Shades of Me where she publishes her short stories and keeps up a commentary on topical, social issues. Elsewhere, her works have been published in Sentinel Nigeria eZine, Jetlife Magazine, Metropole etc. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria. She blogs at Fifty Shades of Me.
He is a medical doctor and poet. He was shortlisted for the Hume Prize for Poetry last year, and has been published in a number of online and print publications. He is the co-founder of Saraba Magazine. He blogs at Mr. Ajayi
They will all have a week to create their own blog post and answer the four questions, so look them up.