We Need Writers Like This

I was watching the kissing booth around 5am this morning and it hit me, how it went from a book I read on wattpad way back in 2013/14, to a Netflix adaptation. Talk about small beginnings!

It’s amazing, the nostalgia, of when wattpad was wattpad ; I really don’t know what goes on there these days and I hope it’s not only fan fiction people come up with. I hope they still have writers who write original Content.

By the way, I left my account, when I started my blog in 2015 – please don’t count the years, we don old for this place. 

I paused The Kissing Booth, to log back into my dormant account this morning, and what first hit me was a draft I wrote in the same year, that garnered 1.7k views, from doing nothing at all. click here to read it

It’s nostalgic, as well as amazing, because one of the problems then, was not having enough Nigerian writers on wattpad. It was a lone world, you and your genre – alone. No one could relate to what you were writing and it was a novel concept to them. I tried finding Nigerian writers to form a community and read works I could relate to, but I ended up with more Americans and more stories about high school. 

I remember sometime this year, my old friend created a whatsapp support group for new wattpad writers, and while it is an amazing concept, everyone there was writing about teen wolf, the originals or something else paranormal, and it reminded me of one of the reasons I left wattpad to own my own blog. 

WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH NIGERIAN WRITERS. Don’t get me wrong, Nigerians are writing and it’s a beautiful thing but we are not writing with or about our culture. Most of the nigerian writers I know on wattpad write about werewolves and fan fiction. I guess that’s what sells these days, but I miss the good ol’ Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Nwosu, Chukwuemeka Ike and Chimamanda Adichie’s of Old, that we grew up reading.

I daresay, and I stand corrected that we might be suffering an identity crisis when we should be selling ourselves to the world. Imagine if a Nigerian writer sealed a deal with Netflix on a book set in Nigeria. Huge, right? 

I grew up with and around books, we didn’t have cable TV and Dad still doesn’t believe in it till this day. Childhood memories consisted of Archie comics passed around in high school from person to person. They were so expensive, only the rich kids had them, the rest of us had to wait in line. 

While most kids my age got gifts and sweets when their parents traveled, I got Enid Blyton classics and boy, those were hot stuff back in the day. The first time my dad went to the UK, he brought back one of the books from the Harry Potter series, in hardback. Boy, if you’ve Seen those books in their original format, they are heavy. I remember reading it day and night for three days and I didn’t want to stop, even when it ended. 

Sadly, these days, the most I read are these law books because i don’t have a choice. I have hardbacks all over my desk, most I’ve given out because i don’t have the patience to settle down and read. Currently, I’ve been reading off and on, The Secret lives of Baba segi’s wives by Lola Shoneyin which is an amazing book, but i’ve not been  able to finish it for reasons I can’t comprehend. 

This brings me back to identity crisis. I started writing for as long as I can remember. As a child, it was bad poetry I used to give my father to edit. They were really bad and followed too strictly, the rules of rhyming and Yada Yada. Now, the only poetry I can stand is spoken words. I really do hate poems.

I wrote a lot of stories as a child, most of which were set in Manhattan or New York which is funny because the only time I’ve left the country is the one time I went to Ghana. 

Then, I could adapt an entire foreign scene and you’d never believe I was tucked in some remote street in warri. I mean, A for Effort? 

It’s the same way i’ve never been to Lagos but there are places I’d call in Lagos, my friends who live there haven’t even heard. Like, the one time I told someone to try out Ada’s pancake hub in yaba and she was moping at me like, wait, what? She hadn’t heard of the place and was even asking me for directions. I told her to use Uber, I can’t shout. 

It is what it is. 

This goes to say, that we are what we read. Do we still read Nigerian books? Do we encourage Nigerian writers? Have you read Naija Single Girl

For me, with time, it got boring writing about Americans. I wanted more, and the first hint of that, was reading Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class citizen, or what was left of it, that I found in an old drawer in my house. I never got to find out what happened at the end until last year when I downloaded the entire book, almost 10 years after. 

I got introduced to Nigerian books properly, when we had to read Chimamanda’s Purple Hibiscus in ss1 and boy, did I fall in love?

It caused me to switch from foreign books to Nigerian writers, as prior to then, I didn’t know we had new generation writers that wrote in simple English and no grammatical blunders without trying to be as foreign as possible. Don’t blame me, I was 13.

Watching the kissing booth reminded me of how much books shaped me, they used to be my safe haven. Growing up, I wanted to be a scientist and on finding out I couldn’t solve math to save my life, I decided to be a writer. I wanted to study English and do what I love, but Father said no. He wanted a lawyer and to convince me, he used books.

He would get me John Grisham books because he was the popular lawyer- writer then and the book that actually swayed me to consider studying law was The Street Lawyer by the aforestated writer and it was the only book that didn’t represent lawyers as assholes. I hated lawyers while growing up, and this was my Making lemonades out of lemons strategy. Like, if you must study law, then be a lawyer that actually helps people, like the street lawyer. 

Currently, I don’t know what I’ll do when I leave law school but I know for sure that I’ll never stop writing, even when nobody reads, it’s my comfort zone and maybe one day, Netflix would pick us up too. Who knows? Small world. 

  Someone once told me, to never despise the days of humble beginnings, and The kissing Booth reminds me that it can take one little push to turn a dream to reality, even when you’re all given up. Sometimes, it may be you, looking down on yourself, telling yourself it’s not good enough. For instance, the things I wrote five years back looked like crap to me at the time and sounded like the ramblings of a 15 year old. Now, she’s 20, reading what she wrote at 15 and discovering that her younger self was way better, wrote better and had better diction than her adult self. Maybe in another 20 years from now, she would look back on this post and the others she would write in her prime and wonder where the genius went. 

12 thoughts on “We Need Writers Like This

  1. Nice post, atleast we have you, I enjoyed all your blog’s write up but one person is not enough so I will agree with you that we need more Nigeria writers that will write more about our culture not fanfiction. Anyway, nice post and I hope Netflix will bump into your blog one day and pick one of your stories, winks. Keep on letting the world know that we need more Nigeria writers. Keep it up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can relate to this so much because I am literally always reading a book… A few days ago I found a book I was writing at 14 and it was about white people whom I knew nothing about back then.
    Then I thought “why didn’t I just write about Nigerians” because I know more on that subject matter and I have read some amazing Nigerian books.
    So I love this post because it puts emphasis on our need for more amazing Nigerian books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed, books do shape an individual. I support what you said about identity crisis, nowadays, people,mostly youths, write to earn fame and money. Gone are the days when people wrote for the love of it, when the saying that the pen was mightier than the sword was in voke. I’m glad you love writing and that you addressed the African Identity crisis. Your articles are amazing and it is my prayer that you keep writing. Once again, thanks for writing about the African consciousness;the article is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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