Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Dreams are Achievable - part 1

I wrote and published my first book at the age of 12. I was in JS 2 then, very intelligent and passionate about literature and arts in general. I was the best in my class when it came to articles, compositions and letter writing. I was so good that I didn’t need to exert any effort before flooring everyone with my write up. There was one time when I had an issue with my English teacher and she gave me some spanking; about 2 slaps actually, after which she gave us an exercise to write an informal letter. I was angry with her and decided that I would write the worst letter she had ever seen or read. So I settled down and started writing what my mind called a very terrible letter. Within minutes I was through and flung my book at her (Just kidding - I actually submitted humbly), together with other students. The next period she returned to class and complained of how disappointed she was at our letters, I smiled in my mind. She continued with the bashing and at the end, said she was going to read the letter she considered the best. Your guess is as good as mine; yes, she read my letter. I was so furious, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t even intentionally fail a common letter. 

My love for art started in primary school with the encouragement of my dad. My dad would buy me water colours and crayons and would supply me with lots of A4 paper from his office for my art works and I continuously bested everyone in my primary school days as far as fine art was concerned; except for one boy though, who went on to read art. Writing however, did not come easy for me. I was continuously frustrated with assignments that required us to write about how we spent our last holidays as my holidays were usually unexciting and dry. Apart from the dozens of books I was usually forced to read at home behind tightly shut doors, nothing exciting ever happened. Then one day my dad opened the doors to my creativity and since then, I have never looked back. He called me aside one evening after I had quarreled with my assignment for lack of holiday stories to write and then told me that my teachers actually didn’t want to know the truth, they just wanted to know how good I was I was in creating stories and how I presented them. He went on to inform me that almost all compositions are lies and they are usually called fiction. I smiled; “so my teachers wanted lies all these while, and I didn’t know”, I said to myself. I went back to where I had flung my book, picked it up and wrote the most beautiful lie I could imagine about how my holiday went, fantasies of how I hoped my holiday would have gone, or would one day go. My dad read it and made some corrections. The next day, composition was adjudged the best in class. I was in primary four then. 

I was fascinated by the fact that all I had to do was lie to pass any literature test or exam and I just kept writing and lying. It got so bad, that I did an impromptu spoken essay in class one day about how I spent my holidays and captured the attention of everyone in class, including my English teacher, with “aromatic” lies. My teacher had to confess that it seemed I enjoyed my holiday more than the rest of the class. I was shocked when she said that, because I actually expected her to know that I was performing and everything I said were all lies. But she believed hook, line and sinker. I pitied her, smiled and went to my sit.  

I moved to the next stage and started writing articles and stories for myself alone. I had also started getting inspiration from Steve Nwosu of the Daily Sun, who wrote back page satirical pieces every Wednesday and other writers too. I would write stories and write stories and write stories. Then one day I thought, “Why can’t I publish my own novel?” It sounded like a pretty good idea but I didn’t know how to go about it, I didn’t even know where to start from and after thinking about it for months, I decided to publish it myself, in my own way. I got some A4 paper, cut and folded them into novel sizes and began writing my novel. At the end, I took two safety pins (I couldn’t find a stapler), forced it through the middle of the pages and then folded them to look like stapled pins. I then got a cardboard paper, designed it (which wasn’t difficult for me then) and attached it as the cover of the novel. The name of the novel was Wanted Pregnancy. It was actually a Play. I picked it up, looked at it and smiled to myself; I had succeeded in fulfilling a dream I had months back. 

I took the book to school the next day and it became the talk of the class. I couldn’t sell it; I had just one copy, so I resorted to renting it out for free from one reader to another, It even got to my teachers. The next week, I planned to extend the coverage of the book, maybe take it to other classes and at the end, sell it. To my surprise, when I got to class that Monday morning, I saw everyone gathered around, reading a book. I took a peek and to my greatest surprise, found out that I already had a competitor in my little adventure. Chioma (real name), one of my friends, had written her own book the same way I did mine. She even uncreatively titled it “Unwanted Pregnancy” just to make sure her book got the same attention mine was getting. I was pissed to the bone and visibly irritated. That was the last day anyone saw my book in school. It was like the man that trekked for Buhari after the 2015 elections in Nigeria and while we were celebrating him, different jobless people decided to start trekking to different parts of the federation when they saw the attention he was getting. Some even trekked for Atiku – Imagine! They spoilt the fun for that guy and dissolved the attention he got. That was what Chioma did to me. 

The followership I enjoyed from my book before Chioma spoilt the fun was massive but it all started with a simple innocent unlikely dream to write my own book. It may not have been achieved in the most conventional way, but I was satisfied with what I achieved at my level. I didn’t however understand the significance of that achievement, neither did I understand that there were lessons to be learnt, massive lessons. I just enjoyed doing what I did. 

The truth is that dreams are achievable no matter how unrealistic they look. This event came to my remembrance a few months back and with my current maturity, I began to see massive insights from that experience. In the next part, I shall share with you, some the revelations that drenched my thoughts from that experience.

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