Thursday, 21 December 2017

Get Over Your Broken Heart....

(courtesy of internet)


When your heart is aching, the world looks grey. The flowers lose their fragrance. The birds’ chirping irritates you, all you want is to toss pebbles for them to scatter as further away from you as possible. Seeing what’s good in the world has become nothing but a futile attempt. You curl into a ball in your bed as you cover your head with a blanket and nurse that ache inside of you. Right now, darkness and pain are all you know. 

For reasons you cannot fathom, you seek out that jolt inside your heart. You do it daily, seamlessly, for it has become your constant companion. Because without that ache gnawing away at you, there is nothing else. Without it, you cannot make sense of what has happened to you. You can’t explain how it is that the world has lost its meaning. Why you can’t laugh. Why you can’t be happy for others. Why you can’t celebrate their victories. Only your pain helps you to make sense of it all.

There is a reason why you, the broken-hearted will not let go of your pain. To let go of that ache means forgetting that which caused it in the first place. Did you lose your only child? To no longer grieve is to let the child go. To undermine the memories of the one whose birth you heralded with ululation, song and dance. To turn your back on the pride you felt as it lay nestling in your arms. To cease being its mother.


Did you lose your lover? The one you had come to care for deeply? The one who meant the world to you? You know letting go of your broken heart is to kiss them farewell. You know it would be the final nail in the coffin for you will have to move on with your life. Moving on means letting your once treasured memories fade. It means acknowledging that the person you once held dear to your heart no longer matters to you. It means admitting their lack of significance in your life. It means, soon, you won’t remember that special bond you once shared. You won’t remember the way they once made you laugh. The way they once made your heart surge with joy. That is the part that scares you the most, isn’t it? 

So, you hold on to that pain for as long as possible. Because keeping it buried deep in your heart justifies your anger. Your sadness. Your lack of motivation. Your persistent loss of appetite. Your insomnia. Your depression. It explains why the object of your torment is still in your life. Why you keep their photos pinned to your wall. Why you cannot open your heart to other possibilities. Why you cannot love again. Somehow, the pain you feel has become your twisted source of comfort. I am right, aren't I? 

Often, you, the broken-hearted are the master at defending the status quo. You hide away from those who tell you everything is going to be alright. You shun their words of encouragement. When they insist you will smile again. Love again. Go out again. Laugh again. Their platitudes enrage you. Patronise you. Let them try walking in your shoes. Let them experience the kind of pain that suffocates you and makes you sink daily. Let them handle the confusion and desperation that comes with holding on to the very devil that threatens your existence. I imagine you telling them. Right now, the last thing you want to hear is that your misery can be conquered. That you have the power to move on and be happy again.  

Sometimes you say things that hurt others, especially the ones you love. Those you need the most. It is not because you don't care. You do. Of course, you do. You say these things because it is the only way you know how to deal with that gripping pain inside of you. It has manifested into the dragon that spits fire. A venom that quickly spreads and destroys anything and everything in its path. As you watch the demon encroach further into your territory, you sink deeper into the black hole. You are fighting a losing battle.

Listen to me, I understand. Your soul has blackened, and you do not know how to cleanse it. You have dug yourself a deep hole from which you cannot get out. Some may suggest therapy. Some will swear by the pill. But it takes a real friend. A real friend to make you understand that only you have the power to save yourself. It takes a person who genuinely cares to utter some harsh truths to you. It takes a genuine heart to drag you out of your bed. To slap you in the face and tell you to get a grip. The kind of friend who will stand with you in your hopelessness and demand that you toughen up and face this monster. 

Because right now, tough love is what you need. Get out of bed. Wash your hair. Go outside and sniff the hope that’s out there. Because believe me, there is hope. And to borrow words from a movie - "You shall be well. You shall be yourself again. You shall be perfectly content."


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tidbits About Me


If I am going to talk about myself, then let me start with my 4c natural hair.

I like accessories in my hair. Makes me feel feminine!


Sometime last year, I made the bold decision to do away with my straightened (processed) hair. What prompted this is the shock I got one day when I saw a picture of a beautiful black supermodel online whose hairline was receding. In fact, she did not have hair at the edges at all. It pained me to see this beautiful, black queen with only half her hair. That's when it hit me. I was not going to let my hair deteriorate like that. I was going to make changes to maintain my God-given natural crown. 

 
I've got the Afrothing going on

All black women with 4c hair like mine know that it is not the easiest to manage. However, that does not mean that processed hair or having a weave makes it any easier. Every style one chooses comes with its own challenges. For example, when I used to straighten my hair, I dreaded going to the salon because sometimes the chemicals burnt my scalp. At times it took days, even weeks, for my scalp to heal. I endured this because processing my hair made it softer and easier to manage, or so I thought. But, I have since realised that my 4c hair can be just as easy to maintain and so much fun if you know how. I now know the kind of products that gel well with my hair. Products that retain moisture and gives it a shine as well as strengthening it. Not only that, I love the different styles that come with different lengths. Short. Medium. Long. At the moment, my hair is transitioning to medium. 

  Styling can be fun    




I love that as a black woman with 4c hair, I am not restricted to one style. I can experiment with different hairstyles to suit my mood. However, preparation is crucial if I am to exploit the natural hairstyles fully. My hair needs moisture. Lots of it. Depending on the style I have in mind, I can twist it, braid it with my own hair, straighten it using wool, wrap it or simply tie it. What I now understand is that I need to give myself ample time to style my hair. Again, it all depends on the style I am going for at any one given time. Some hairstyles are easy, some time-consuming and may not always be possible to do, especially if I need to rush to work in the morning.



Doing the perfect puff ain't easy

Versatility


Natural Black African hair is the most versatile hair I know. As a black woman with 4c natural hair, I have options when it comes to what I can do with it. I for one quickly get bored with just one style, so this is ideal. Sometimes I switch to braids. Braids have been a part of Black African hair for generations. For me, the primary purpose for having braids is to protect my natural hair. If you live in a cold climate as I do, then you will know that natural 4c hair tends to become brittle and break easily. So, to protect my hair from the cruel weather elements, I braid it. It also saves me time on busy days, and it’s always a welcome change for me. Also a much-needed break from all that combing and twisting. With braids, you can be as simple or as sophisticated as you like.



Box Braids
Besides box braids and cornrows, I have also experimented with crotchet braids which give my mane a more bouncy look.When I am having a bad hair day or can't be bothered to style my own hair, I slap on a wig. All these are ways to protect natural hair from the adverse weather. Ways to spice things up a bit. 

They say, if a woman cuts her hair there's no going back. I don't know if it applies here, but the decision to cut my hair was the best decision I ever made. There's no going back for me. My edges which had begun to thin are starting to recover. Not only do I feel fantastic and more confident being able to rock my natural hair in different styles, but my hair also looks and feels healthy. I cannot wait to explore more hairstyles with my 4c hair as it continues to grow.

Come back to this blog for more tidbits about me. 

Take care!






Saturday, 9 December 2017

My Year in Books: The books that challenged me, took me places and kept me company in 2017




As the year draws to a close, I've decided to give you a list of the books that I enjoyed reading throughout the months. The list is not exhaustive, but I picked the ones that struck a chord with me and left a lasting impression. Before we get to that, let me go off on a tangent and tell you how I came up with this list.

How I select books to read.
When they tell you, a book is judged by its cover, believe them. The first thing I do upon entering a bookshop is to walk over to the shelves marked according to genre and scan for the covers that catch my eye, assuming I have not predetermined the novel I want to read. Call me superficial, but jackets have a knack for drawing me in. For me, less is more. I like to be intrigued. Challenged. Give me a puzzle that I can put together as I explore the story.




Once I spot the one, I zoom in on the title, flip the book over and read the blurb. It is true what they say about the hook. I’m always looking for that thing that arouses my curiosity and piques my interest. The promise of what I will discover inside.
  
Reviews make or break an author. You better believe it. Some reviewers do know how to spoil it for everybody. Some are fair, some, well, darn obnoxious. I am sympathetic when it comes to reviews because I know how it feels to be told your writing is a dud. 

I am also influenced by the author’s use of language. I like to pore over a few random pages to gauge the author's writing style. To see if their voice speaks to me. I love books that are simple and yet sophisticated. I don't want the kind of distraction that comes with trying to decipher what the author is saying (Ernest Hemmingway will be spinning in his grave). Just write what you mean, and I will thank you for it. 

Then there is word of mouth. That book on everyone’s lips. The hype on social media, radio and television. All these channels guide me to my next read.


Below is a list of the books I devoured this year, numbered according to how I rate them. I am drawn to stories that challenge my emotions. I am a sucker for love, a good murder and a cry. Also, stories that make me want to explore what I thought I knew already. Stories that make me uncomfortable and enable me to view the world from a different perspective. Sometimes I crave for tales that inject in me, some degree of nostalgia.
  
1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Recommended by my daughter, this novel had me at ‘nurse.’ Where do I even begin? Critics refer to it as the To Kill a Mocking Bird of the 21st century. I agree 100 %. The story about a nurse (midwife to be exact) who could not carry out her sacred duties due to prejudice. Imagine wanting to save a child but you couldn’t because you are not allowed by the parents of that child. The nurse's only 'sin' is that she is black! The story is emotional I read it with tears rolling down my cheeks. I am a nurse so you can imagine my horror. The author, though white, did her research well. The way she addresses black people issues, her use of language. It was as if I was reading a book written by a black person. Some may feel such a story should have been written by a black person. I beg to differ. I have no doubt Jodi wrote the story that chose her. The author finishes by giving a heartrending commentary about race and our society today which meant more tears for me. I was emotionally exhausted by the time I finished reading Small Great Things. But reader, do not despair. The ending is quite encouraging.


2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
The story that had me at the edge of my seat. Quite a thriller. The suspense in this story, how twisted things get, is what keeps you flicking through the pages. A woman vanishes, and the husband’s life spirals out of control. Throughout the novel which is told from Nick and Amy's perspectives, we are left wondering if it really is Amy playing mind tricks on her husband. It appears she is, but why? How? At one point, I thought Nick Dunne was the one framing his own wife. Again, it’s about relationships. In this instance, marriage. How certain things we do and say affect our partner. Beware. You have been warned. Gone Girl is what I call a What the heck kinda story.




3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A great read, but not for the faint-hearted. There are challenging themes and some PI words. The storyteller is inquisitive. She is one of the Finch children who is intrigued by a strange man who lives next door. Then there is Atticus, the lawyer who faces the onerous task of defending an innocent ‘nigga’ in court. Because of this, he is dubbed a Nigga Lover. You can't help but feel for Atticus, and for Tom Robinson, of course. He has been wrongly accused after all. A great read, but difficult to swallow. The author shows a great deal of courage in telling her story, and I am not surprised it took Harper Lee a while for her book see the light of day. 

4. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Another gripping, emotional read. A story about marriage. Love and lies. There is a lot of pain in this book. But then again many great books draw from pain, tragedy and deceit. A lot draw from the African experience. The desperation that comes with wanting a child. The need to uphold certain expectations and sacrificing one's happiness along the way. Everyone is talking about this book, so, I had to discover for myself. I’m glad I did. 

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I saw this on my Twitter timeline and found myself on Amazon clicking buy. This is a story of slavery. Of broken relationships. Societal prejudices. And more. A simple read. Fast-paced and the author seems to cram a few generations into one book. An emotional read I find, but then again, who isn’t touched by the evil of slavery. I have to say though that the ending was rather abrupt for me. I was left wanting more, hoping for more. I needed closure, perhaps. Oh, well. *sighs* 


6. The Power by Naomi Alderman
I stumbled upon this title when I searched best sellers on Amazon. Men are in trouble and guess who the troublemakers are. Women. You guessed right. They have mysterious powers that kill men and boys, and it is scaring the living daylights out of them. A certain reporter is on the case. There is some weird shite going on in this book one has no choice but to discover how it all ends. Is it any wonder Barack Obama endorsed this literary masterpiece?! Loved it.


7. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
I could identify with most themes in this book. The hope that all economic migrants carry when they move to another country. The disappointments they face when they realise that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. In the end, most long for home. Home is where the heart is. The immigrant realises that they do not have to be scared to return home. That if they try hard enough, they can dream again and make it in their own country. The main character in this book does just that. They go back home, eventually, after years of trying to make it in America. I wanted the protagonists to dream big. To have more ambition. To swing for the fence. I wanted more conflict. Stakes to rise a little higher. I craved for more drama. 


8. Under the Udala Trees by Chimelo Okparanta
It's possible this book would have eventually found its way into my hands had a friend not recommended it to me. A story about two girls who fall for each other. Unheard of during the time and place the author describes. I managed to finish the book as it addresses some real issues in our society today. Mother-daughter relationships, sexuality, sacrifice, religion and love. I am always drawn to themes that tug at my emotions. I learnt that you cannot sacrifice your happiness or change who you are to please others. You will regret, and it will haunt you until you develop the courage and resilience to go after what you want.


9. Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
I found this book, again, when I searched for best selling novels. Read the blurb, and I was hooked. A heart-warming story about lost objects that need rescuing. Each object has a story behind it. Interesting read. Kept me going as I wanted to know if the storyteller fulfilled her promise to return the lost things to their rightful owners. 


10. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes
A story about an abusive husband. About a letter that lost its way and was found years later. Love. A light read. One of those books I read when I need something to lighten my mood. Perhaps one cliché too many for me. But then again, some readers thrive on those. Just goes to show, the book business is subjective.


11. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Another literary champion. A story about the experience of interracial couples. The relationship between two girls who come from different backgrounds and who view the world through different eyes. The author gives a realistic portrayal of Britain as a society. There are some lighter moments, but overall, I found the story somewhat depressing. Rather grim. I tend to navigate towards hope. But Zadie is undoubtedly a tremendous literary writer. 


12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You may be surprised I had not read this classic yet. Well, it was always at the back of my mind, and I kept putting it off for other reads. Eventually, I came around and read the novel. The author’s use of language is embellished, of course, but not in a discombobulating way. The author explores the society of the wealthy. Philandering husbands. Dreams. Tragedy. Love and complexities of relationships.

Besides the books I've listed above, I read I See You by Clare Mackintosh, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Together by Julie Cohen and the short story The Arrangements and the novella Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

If one of your favourites is not on my list, why don't you pick a title from my list and give it a try? You never know, it may be the book that opens your eyes and grows you. 

Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

My Reaction to Mugabe Resigning....In The Newspapers

A coup that's not a coup. 

Zimbabweans demand Mugabe's resignation.

On the 21st of November 2017, Robert Mugabe resigned as the President of Zimbabwe following an unprecedented military intervention and intense pressure from the people of Zimbabwe. I exhaled with relief, but Mugabe's departure left me feeling cheated and heartbroken. Click the link below to find out why.

Click link to read the full article


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Let's Talk Writing, Agents and Publishing





                                  Click to watch the video from the Festival of Writing 2017

It's been a while since I attended the York Festival of Writing in September 2017, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. The last September event was not my first. The first time I attended the Festival, I found myself very much out of my depth. Intimidated by the great minds floating around me. Still, I stayed the course and did what I had come to do. The experience opened my mind, and I took away a lot with me. Since then, there have been other events. For example, The Barelit Festival which I found inspirational and another eye-opener.

During the last event, I felt more prepared. Knew what to expect and felt determined to make the most of it. I met with agents who are the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. Met other authors in the same situation as me. We exchanged ideas, shared writing experiences and encouraged one another. I left the cold but peaceful York feeling more energised, motivated, determined and inspired. The highlight was listening and reading the positive and encouraging agents' feedback. 

I had submitted the first chapters of the manuscript I had been working on for the last eighteen months to two years to the agents for them to read in advance. Accompanied by the chapters was my query letter. Simply put, the query letter is the pitch of one's book (manuscript). In the query letter, the writer gives a concise description of their book, selling their idea and themselves as an author, to an agent. Also in this query letter, one needs to have a clear hook for their novel. The hook then develops into an elevator pitch which is a summation of the whole story in one or two sentences leaving out the boring bits! The elevator pitch expands into the query letter. Part of the query, the bit that talks about the book, will become the book blurb. Besides the query letter or cover letter, one then weaves the synopsis of the book which is a detailed summary in which you spill the beans of your plot. Confused yet?! Well, these are some of the few things a writer needs to grasp.

It has to be said that the traditional route to becoming a published author is not the only option. I self-published my first book A Life Steered, and I found the process satisfying. I’ve had positive reviews too. The reasons for choosing any given route are personal and valid. But for a writer to even begin to think about publishing or going through all that I've outlined above, one needs to write a brilliant book first. That is crucial.


I have matured in the way I understand writing, and I continue to develop. A few things have become clear to me - if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you cannot rush the process. You cannot give up. You should not be solely driven by what you think your readers expect you to write about, by money, neither should that determine or decide your narrative. Write what you want to write and from the heart. Write because you love to write. There will always be readers out there who will connect with your writing. What matters is that your writing comes from a genuine, heartfelt and inspired place. There will be agents, publishers who will appreciate your work and want to work with you. Those who will embrace your passion, ideas, style and want to sell your work. Learn to accept criticism and embrace rejection. Read, read, read, and keep honing your craft. We live in the 21st century, and we have options now. Different formats to suit our preferences and inclinations. Just make 'shite' happen. You are the master of your writing career.


During the festival, I met bestselling authors who spent years in what I call doldrums. They dealt with rejection and chose not to give up. They persevered, exercised resilience and patience, believed in themselves and their writing. Now they get to reap the rewards.

So, to those who keep asking 'When is the book coming out?', the answer is 'It will come out when it comes out.' I have completed two manuscripts in the last three years, which makes me very proud, and I will not rest until my two babies find a home. 

Take care!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Social Media And Me: Branding And More....


Social media is excellent for business. And for burgeoning authors too. I remember a time when I swore I would rather chew my leg than be seen on Facebook and Twitter. Today, here I am blogging, tweeting and Facebooking my heart out. It is because I have realised that the world has changed, and it will continue to do so. Technology is here to stay, and the sooner I embrace it, the better for my writing career.

Not every writer is into tweeting and Facebooking. However, one cannot ignore the fact that social media now plays a significant role in the world of writing. For some writers, it means the difference between failing and succeeding. Most reading materials are now readily accessible online. It is easy for one to reach many readers in an instant and all it takes is just a click of the button. To turn a blind eye to this truth is utter naivety. And, it is for these reasons that I reckon it does not hurt to be flexible in our approach.

Social media has its downfall. We are a gregarious society and with that comes the desire to be loved. To be embraced and accepted by our audience. There are those who will profess not care in the slightest. I am sorry, but one must be made of stone not to give a damn. The truth of the matter is, everybody cares how others perceive us. It’s human nature. We are bound to feel a sting in the chest if someone or a group of people whose opinion matter to us do not acknowledge our existence. A family member, a friend, a church member, a colleague, a customer or indeed fans. We care.

Also in the world of social media, it is not enough to just toss your product into the world and hope people buy it. You cannot just run a business campaign and think that is enough. One must go a step further to succeed. Everyone is talking about brands nowadays. The brand equals who you are and what you represent. The world wants to know that. Build a reputation, cultivate trust and form relationships with potential customers. Customers will need to decide if your brand is something they wish to align themselves with. Once they know and decide, results start to show.

If you’re an author, this means having to show what you write about. Demonstrating what readers can expect when they buy your books. Can a writer not explore various forms of writing? Experiment? Can’t they just go where inspiration takes them? Why the need to brand? Align oneself with a concept?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are always branding ourselves anyway. Every individual is inclined to certain things. Subscribes to a specific school of thought. Believes in different things from the next person. Prefers to post certain things on social media and not others. Choice of words, inclinations towards certain genres, our passion. If that’s not branding, I don’t know what is.

 As a writer, I hone my craft daily. I continue to explore and grow in different ways. I am still digging deep and discovering who I am as an individual. I am also considering how I want the world to perceive me as a writer. What I represent. What I am about as an author.

I know the kind of message I want to send out into the world. I want to spread love and light being part of it. But, this process is not without some disastrous consequences. I have noticed that there is a real danger to lose ourselves in the process as we often get caught up in the idea of selling and end up selling our souls to the Devil. We gloss ourselves up as we pander to the society’s expectations. We throw away our values, compromise specific standards and sacrifice our dignity to please the customer. Nothing at all wrong with wanting to satisfy that all-important customer. After all, that is why we do what we do, right? But at what cost?

Social media, as I have discovered, can be the making of us, but it can also destroy us and change us in so many ways. When we sell a product or indeed a piece of writing, it is not at all uncommon to give into the temptation of wanting to hide our true feelings and values. We may even change our words and rein in on our imagination and creativity for fear of being judged and rejected. When this happens, we present a fake persona, a packaged image which we feel will appeal to our potential customers and those watching.

I recently joined Instagram where every photograph is the picture of perfection. Facebook and Twitter too. We often select the best image of ourselves and indeed enhance it, with the help of apps, to present the best possible image to the world. Our lives, as far as social media is concerned, are always perfect. We are forever smiling, checking into fabulous places, jetting around the world and everything is splendid. Very few will dare reveal the not so appealing part of their lives, and I can appreciate why. Studies have demonstrated how social media has and is playing a role in mental health problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. People are made to feel inadequate by comparing their lives to the illusions that they see on social media, and I think this is tragic.

Back to authoring, I am reminded of a time when a friend suggested that I was better off using a different name to sell more books. A name which was more comfortable to pronounce, perhaps which appealed to a kind of reader. Well, excuse me! I like my name just the way it is, thanks. If a reader chooses not to pick my book because of the name on the cover, then it is their loss. I genuinely believe that if it is my destiny to succeed as a writer, then I will realise my goals despite what my name looks or sounds like period. Changing my name or persona to pander to a specific group of people is not going to make me a better writer by any means. It is only going to suffocate me and thwart my real potential as a writer, for no one looks like me, writes like me, thinks like me and is me. I am my own person, and the world will just have to deal with that!

There are those who will tell you not to show the world what you believe. Your faith, spirituality, because not everybody goes to church or believes in what you believe. They will advise you always to be ‘politically correct’ as not all your customers or readers will believe in what you believe. But, isn’t that defeating the whole purpose of branding? Can we ever appeal to everyone? I think not.
I understand it is just business. I get it. Image and likeability are everything, but wouldn’t you rather be liked for being your true self, and acquire genuine followers than disappoint them when the real you surface? Isn’t it better and more satisfying to be admired for who you really are than spend a lifetime pretending to be something you are not? Because you cannot keep the charade forever and forever is too long a time to be suffocated.

How many people have been disappointed after meeting their crush for the first time and discovering that they look different from how they appeared on social media? How many fans have had their hearts broken when they found that their icon was leading a double life? How many celebrities that we loved and admired have committed suicide because they were tired of pretending to the world that they had everything under control? Their bodies got tired of eating relying on drugs just to please you the customer. They got tired of binge eating and then sticking their fingers down their throats to maintain a certain figure to please you, the customer. They got tired of bleaching their skin to appeal to your ideal. They got tired of spending money they did not have. They just got tired.

The society forgets that those who serve them are human beings too. They want to mould these people into something they are not. I am not naive so as not to understand that when you put yourself out there, you subject yourself to all kinds of scrutiny. That is OK. But no one is perfect in this world. And when I say be your real self, I am not at all suggesting that you should air your dirty laundry in public. My message is, be who you are, sell what you need to sell, build your brand without fear of being rejected. The people who matter will appreciate what you are offering regardless of your weight, the colour of your skin or how weird your name sounds.

The consequences of allowing ourselves to be driven by insignificant things are not worth the sacrifice in our lives. Our human dignity. Our peace and happiness. When our bodies and souls finally give up on us, the people we aim to please may mourn us for a while. But, soon, someone else will come along and steal their hearts, and you will quickly be forgotten. Therefore, my message is simple. Stop pretending and just be. There are people out there who will appreciate what you are offering anyway and decide to join you in your walk. When it is all said and done, wouldn’t it be a comforting thought to know that the legacy you leave behind is something borne of your genuine self? That which is purely you. UNIQUE!




Thursday, 27 October 2016

Finding My Own Voice



There are authors whose writings have informed my understanding and appreciation of writing as an art over the years. Bruce Courtenay, Maya Angelou, Tess Gerritsen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thomas Hardy, Chinua Achebe, Alice Walker, to name but a few. Though I quote them in my writings and cite their examples, I find it more satisfying and pleasurable when I produce original content of my own. A quote, a poem, an article or indeed a novel. After all, genuine authorship entails being able to create own content.

Writers will do well to read others and explore all kinds of genres. But in the end, they should be able to find their voice. So, what does finding one’s voice mean? How does one even begin to find their voice? Is it in the way a writer chooses their words, expressions, or is it in the way the reader responds to those words? 

Finding my voice is and has been a process. A process those in the know will tell you spans for years. It has been and still is a process of finding, establishing my character as a writer. Depicting my real authentic self in the way in which I present myself to the world through writing. It does not matter which words or phrases I use, instead, it is in the way in which my words and phrases give character to my writing.

The exact nature of my writing should provoke, in my reader, specific thoughts, and feelings. This way the reader gets to experience where the writer’s heart and soul lie, and what it is that drives them as a person.
I also believe that most, if not all writers, are products of their experiences. In my view, experiences are a writer’s most significant resource from which to draw knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Ultimately, it is how we embrace and interpret those experiences which determine the end-product. Our message to the world. Our writings. That end-product is what becomes palpable and tangible when a writer presents themselves to the world regardless of which writing path they choose to take.

My voice is my tone, the vibe, and the understanding readers get when they read me. It is that which people can quickly identify, that unique quality which separates you from other writers. When, in an instant, a reader recognises whose words they are reading the moment they pick up a book, a poem or indeed an article. It is only when this kind of familiarity begins to happen, that one can claim to have found their own writing voice.

Developing and establishing your own voice as a writer, I reckon, will give the reader the choice to choose you. Because, by the time they pick up your book, they would have already made up their mind about your kind of writing. They would've decided your writing appeals, inspires or speaks to their soul. I also think that the only reason a reader will keep coming back to a particular writer is that they are getting something that you as a writer alone can offer. That chemistry. That unique quality. Your voice.

Finding one’s voice is writing in a way that does not seek to deceive or betray what you represent as a person. As writers, we are encouraged to delve into uncharted territories and not to remain stuck in the comfort zone. We are invited to let ourselves go and to soar into the strange realms of imagination and create works of art. We are writers after all. One may wonder, though, if this process of creating, imagining and seeing yourself through strange eye lenses will betray your real character. I say it does not!

I believe that letting your imagination soar affords you the opportunity to develop specific facets of your character that you never knew existed. You cannot betray who you are by allowing your creativity take you to greater heights. If anything, the writer grows and develops as a human being. They extend an appreciation of the unfamiliar and discover a new potential within themselves. This process could be the unveiling of their ‘new self’. The newness that the world has been waiting for. That person, the kind of writer, you were meant to become all along!