Still busy sorting all my old blog posts into categories. Seeing the dates on these posts has made me realise how quickly I’ve zoomed along this indie writing road. I opened the WordPress site in March 2012 after joining Facebook in January. Before that the only IT knowledge I had was how to operate my cellphone – sort of.
As far as writing went, I’d only started that the year before when I wrote African Me & Satellite TV, scribbled in notebooks and on bits of paper shoved into an old manila folder. The story had been niggling at me for a while. To begin with I really just wished it would go away. I’d never written anything before. Never yearned to be an author, or ever imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be capable of writing so much as a paragraph of fiction that anyone would actually want to cast their eyeballs over.
It never went away though. It grew and grew, and became my obsession, until finally it was done, sitting in a tatty pile on my desk along with the two books that grew side by side with it. Two of the characters in African Me were so huge to me that they had to have books of their own. And so they did.
Not ever having been on line before, and not even knowing that Kindles existed, I tentatively tried to look for agents. I’ve never approached one though. A friend suggested that I join Facebook and look for writers there. I did, and found one brilliant little group of mainly aspiring authors and one or two stars. There, apart from gaining a couple of amazing friends, I learned about indie publishing. It was only towards the end of last year that I found myself swept away on the indie highway.
Along the learning way I’ve published two short stories, and a sci-fi/fantasy novel on Amazon, obviously expecting to be hugely famous mere hours after pushing the upload button. Shame about that. I’ve found out lots about finishing, formatting, and publishing e-books, as well as creating covers for them, not to mention marketing and SEO. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that I have only one toe in the water. As far as indie publishing and marketing knowledge is concerned I still have miles to travel. I’m just really glad to be on the trip.
And that trip was all about getting African Me & Satellite TV published. There were just unexpected twists, trips, and bonuses along the way. I now have the first book in a series out there, with loads more to come. I’m painting away to create images of Lapillus and the characters in Shadow People, so that anyone who reads the books see them a little as I do. I’ve learned that writing and reading short, sharp stories is brilliant. For the first time in my life I’ve written poetry. This was really hard, but a bit of African Me just had to have it, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.
African Me & Satellite TV will be published soon, and I am terrified and excited. My main point of this ramble is that no matter what trip you are on, you never know where it will take you.
To writers more newbie than myself I say – gosh – are there any? Seriously though, from what I’ve learned so far I have a couple of opinions.
• Don’t publish your beloved first. Publish another brilliant, but lesser love first and learn the ropes a little.
• Don’t believe that just because you have “Author” attached to your moniker, thousands will fawn at your feet.
• Learn about marketing on line, and follow through. I’ve been held back in this department by constant (daily – very often weekly) power outages, and the weakest internet signal on the planet, but that has never stopped me from trying.
• Research every thing that you do. Don’t fall for “editor” “publisher” tricks – there are a lot of nasties out there who will con you properly. Check credentials.
• Beware of spending the majority of your waking hours in the wrong areas of cyberspace. Do you really think that posting links to your books on a group of other indie writers will generate sales or get you real readers?
• Do join other indie writers for online events. You will build up a group of indie writer friends over time and this is good. You support each other. Boost each other. You need this. Just be careful who you team up with. Make sure your indie buddies are cool.
• Don’t ask people for fake reviews. If I see a book with hundreds of gushing five star reviews, I’m immediately wary. And if I then read the book, and it’s really bad, I’m not a happy girl at all. I do review for friends, but never if they ask me. If I like what I see, am a fan of the genre they have written in, I buy their book. I never leave bad reviews – ever. If I don’t like a book I leave it at that. There are loads of people willing to leave crap reviews – some that seem incapable of spelling “and”, I’m sorry to say.
• Have patience. What will be, will be.
Till next time friends. xxx
One of my favourite writers and source of much inspiration, Nigerian, Chinua Achebe, author of the 1958 novel “Things Fall Apart,” has died at the age of eighty two. He was teaching at Brown University in Rhode Island, as professor of Africana Studies, and Bard College in New York. He wrote a couple of dozen books in his time and received honours and awards in his country as well as the rest of the world. “Things Fall Apart” has sold millions of copies world wide, and interests me not only because it is a fantastic story, but also because it is set in pre-colonial times. The lost culture and history of Africa are very important, and have to be searched for and revived to help with the healing of the people of this continent.
The depiction of Africa as the “Third World” has always bothered me, and authors and activists like Chinua Achebe will always inspire me. Africa was the “First World” to begin with, and the cradle of civilization. The amazing ruins and history slowly surfacing, show that Africa’s people were culturally, architecturally, and intellectually much more advanced at the time of their building than many other cultures around the globe. The incredible damage inflicted by the years of colonialism and oppression is not going to be fixed overnight, and it has to be recognised for what it is. Even though this generation isn’t guilty of it, it’s important that they understand it, because Africans can’t be expected to forget it. The results of colonisation = the mess that is Africa today. Africa should not be expected to follow current “First World” rules. They will have to stumble forward and find their own way, according to their own rules and beliefs. People like Chinua Achebe have helped people all over understand this a little better. He coined a lot of proverbs in his books which succinctly point out the some of the problems of post colonial African identity as well as being generally wise or witty.
“There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. … Once I realized that, I had to be a writer. I had to be that historian,” he said. “It’s not one man’s job. It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail — the bravery, even, of the lions.” Chinua Achebe
He famously criticized Joseph Conrad (author of Heart of Darkness), referring to him as a “bloody racist”, which if you read some of Conrad’s passages seems fairly plausible. He was outspoken on many issues, including poor governance in Africa and often turned down awards given to him by his own country in protest.
Corey D. B. Walker, an associate professor and chair of the department of Africana Studies at Brown University, said Achebe’s loss was a great one. “He was more than just a colleague, faculty member, and teacher at Brown. He was a gift to the world. At a time like this we could draw many words of wisdom and comfort from the deep wells of various African cultures and traditions to honour him. The most fitting is the simple and elegant phrase – A great tree has fallen.”
Here are some of my favourite Chinua Achebe quotes:
“I would be quite satisfied if my novels (especially the ones I set in the past) did no more than teach my readers that their past – with all its imperfections – was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them”
“I believe in the complexity of the human story and that there’s no way you can tell that story in one way and say, This is it. Always there will be someone who can tell it differently depending on where they are standing; the same person telling the story will tell it differently. I think of that masquerade in Igbo festivals that dances in the public arena. The Igbo people say, If you want to see it well, you must not stand in one place. The masquerade is moving through this big arena. Dancing. If you’re rooted to a spot, you miss a lot of the grace. So you keep moving, and this is the way I think the world’s stories should be told—from many different perspectives.”
“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”
“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”
“That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant.”
“The triumph of the written word is often attained when the writer achieves union and trust with the reader, who then becomes ready to be drawn into unfamiliar territory, walking in borrowed literary shoes so to speak, toward a deeper understanding of self or society, or of foreign peoples, cultures, and situations.”
“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.”
“There is no story that is not true, […] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
Hamba kahle Chinua Achebe.