A question I am often asked is; “So why do you enjoy writing?” For me, the answer touches on a number of things. First, I crave writing like the air I breathe. There are days when I just have to write; my head is filled with ideas and pictures that fervidly beg to be put on paper (or rather on screen). On those days, I am deluged with a plethora of stories/articles that seem to explode within me, unless I put them down. Second, writing is like a place I go to. It is my solace, my strong point, the place where I am at my best; where I tell the stories of the everyday person like you and I. As a child, I was extremely quiet, and my teachers considered me dull and dumb. “He will never amount to anything,” they said as if they were God. I used to run away from kindergarten when I could no longer take the beating from my very first teacher, whose name I still recall (I would love to meet her again someday actually). I have to mention that I did finally tell my father about my teacher; needless to say that she stopped beating me when my Dad told her the consequences if she dared try that on me again.
Anyways, through my turbulent early days in school, I found a way to empower myself; an outlet to express my fears, worries and anxieties. My elder brother taught me how to read, and the moment I learned to read, I started scribbling. I would hide in my little corner and pen a story of me conquering my evil teachers who beat me silly. In my quiet time, I’d read those stories to myself. I found an escape from my immediate reality. Besides, I had found something I was good at. It put me on the map of our neighborhood. I could help my peers learn how to read and write, and in social circles, I was now part of the gang, so to speak. Writing empowered a quiet little boy, and ever since then, when I find myself in front of the keyboard, an incredible amount of peace overcomes me, and my imaginative side erupts to life.
Third, I enjoy writing because of the imaginative power of writing itself, and what writing spawns in us. The materials we read can take us around the world without having to leave our immediate vicinities. I love travelling, and as a child, I dreamt of seeing the world. Those dreams were born of the books I read as a child and as a teenager. I have been blessed to see a few places, but before I visited most of the cities/countries I have been lucky to see thus far, I had been there way back in time, through the eyes of other writers who described them in books. Through the works of James Hardly Chase, I walked the streets of New York City, without leaving my tiny bedroom back in Enugu. I walked through the beautiful Trafalgar Square in London as a teenager, through the writings of the great Frederick Forsythe.; and many others.
Fourth, I enjoy writing because it tells the story of all of us. It paints pictures of characters that all of us can identify with in some way. The stories we read about others might as well be our own stories. We see others conquer the same trials that trouble us today, and we draw strength from their fights. In others, we see the weaknesses that we wrestle with, and somehow they find a way to come out with a smile and self-worth on the other side of the story, and we know that we too can come out victorious. Even though some of the characters we read about are fictional, they become real to us. They might be heroes in the story, but when we know that they too have their fears; it tells us that we are not alone. Their stories tell us that we are not forgotten…we could be them. In fact, most fictional characters are born out of real characters. It is hard to read of a temperamental, loving, or funny character that is entirely new to mankind. Somehow, we can think of someone that fits that character, and it could be ourselves.
And fifth, I enjoy writing because of you, the reader. To know that the lines you put together can put a smile on someone’s face, challenge someone to be, and to do more with their lives, make someone realize that they are not alone, to rekindle love in another person who had long discarded love as a figment of human imagination, or remind someone that life may be tough now, but they too can overcome; to evoke the emotions laughter, tears, peace, or well-rooted self-worth in the reader means that, even though they don’t know you, they connect with you somehow. They feel what you felt writing those lines. It reminds us of our common humanity. It is said that with stories, we can shape cultures and generations. No wonder the elegant Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (for whom I have so much respect), warns of the danger of the single story. While the meager lines that I write might touch someone, they touch me just as much; and to know that they touch you the reader, blesses my heart through and through! Thanks!
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