In October 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie got onto a TED stage and spoke about the danger of a single story. She said, “If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images,I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner.”
When she said that I found myself asking; if I were to write about my people on the Kenyan coast of Mombasa, what would I write about?
The immediate answer was society; how society shapes an individual; how important families are; what changes individuals need to make so our society would advance to the better.
Today I’m happy to present my collection of short stories (available in Kindle edition). All of them are works of fiction. They’re meant to be entertaining, emotional, and in some cases thought-provoking. They’re also meant to open your eyes to a culture that many people across the world don’t even know exists; Arabs residing on the Kenyan coast (the people I’ve personally coined Kemenies). This is NOT to encourage tribalism, but to highlight the cultural traits that are specific to this particular section of society. I hope you support this work by purchasing your own copy of the book, notifying me if there are any typos and talking to your friends and family about it.
For the Kindle version; click here http://www.amazon.com/Bleeding-Stops-Other-Stories-Kenyan-ebook/dp/B01EFRMOSO?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 [The price should say 1.99 USD. If you see any other price, please wait for the page to be updated].
For the PDF version;
Let me know if you’re having problems purchasing this. If you live in Kenya and can’t purchase any of the versions online, email me and we’ll figure out an arrangement via M-Pesa.
So the other day I spent close to four hours on a story. I only stopped to move to another place with better lighting. And to order food, which I ravenously wolfed down with one hand while the other was on the keyboard. It’s a story I’ve been working on for ages (the first draft was written back in 2006), and the more words I add to it the more I realize I wouldn’t want it published. Unless I want to be sued by the real people who inspired it. It’s supposed to be ‘fiction’ with enough details close to life to make people point fingers and speculate. And in a small town like Mombasa, you seriously don’t want to set the ball of speculation rolling. Trust me.
Writing can be an emotionally draining experience. That’s the main reason why I tend to write in ‘spikes’ and things like nanowrimo never work for me. I might stay away from a work-in-progress for a long time and then spend four hours in a single day writing. Not only can writing be time-consuming, it can also be unsettling. It’s how Natalie Goldberg once said, “Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released.”
And sometimes writing may result in insomnia. We cannot sleep until we’ve put those those words on paper (or an iphone note). I actually kept an insomnia notebook one summer. Before smartphones came along.
And you know the worse part about writing stories?
It’s when you actually go to sleep and end up dreaming an upsetting scene. It happened to me once, but I still haven’t had the emotional capacity to write down the story around that one scene because it was too sad, thinking about it makes me tear up occasionally, I just imagine the disastrous effect writing about it would have.
But you know despite all its downfalls, writing helps us understand people, understand ourselves. It helps us figure things out things about life in general. In one of the scenes I wrote yesterday, my protagonist’s friend tells her, “Sometimes our secrets define us. No matter how much time we spend together you can never really know the true me because the things I choose to hide are as much a part of me as the things I choose to tell. Does that even make sense?”
Last but not least, it can be therapeutic.
Explains why I’m here. Good night.
You know how when someone walks into a room that already has two people and wants to kick one of them out, they say, “Take a walk. I need to talk to your friend here”?
Sometimes when you’re facing a white page trying to find inspiration, making that extra mug of coffee or wiping the dust off the keyboard won’t lure ideas out. So maybe it’s time to kick yourself out of your hobbit hole and take a walk. And if you are ready to lug things around you could carry your journal, a pen and a camera though your phone could probably play the functions of all of those.
I tried that today and by the time I was done from my walk I had a list of ideas to explore. Of course this list brought on a different type of problem; there were too many ideas, the question was which one to tackle first? And naturally that can be a procrastinator’s cue line to tackle none and go to sleep. But that mostly happens because we want whatever we create to be perfect and that daunting standard we set for ourselves becomes the very thing that stops us from doing anything at all. So another thing to remember is that anything imperfect is better than a perfect nothing.
Before I leave, a couple of days ago, the health and sports officials in the UAE launched ‘Start Walking’ campaign; a public health awareness campaign by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC). Their message according to Khaleej Times was “A 30-minute brisk walk everyday can help, manage, reverse and even prevent diabetes. So, start walking.”
So now that you’re done reading this, take a walk. If you don’t get inspired, at least you could lose a few calories.
Sometimes ‘staying away’ is easier than ‘walking away’.
The first step of anything is always the hardest to take as it deals with a shift in the current state of equilibrium. It takes time for someone to adjust to the change that occurs. It takes time for life to move to a new state of equilibrium, aka the ‘staying away’ part.
If you think about it, change is mostly about overcoming inertia and maintaining momentum, with overcoming inertia the harder part of the two. I learnt that on the treadmill. My normal workout includes some time on the elliptical followed by a run on the treadmill. So once I was so tired after my elliptical session, I didn’t have the energy for the treadmill. Yet I told myself, “Just start and you’ll stop after five minutes”. Yet when I started, the adrenaline kept me going for so much longer than the five minutes I had planned.
I know I haven’t posted anything for a while and it’s not like I’m not writing, but rather I’m just not posting what I write. Most of the posts I have are half-baked, and I realize I never have the energy to carry an idea to completion. After 100 words, I tend to just lose my focus and talk about something else (exactly like what I’m doing here). But I’m going to be honest with you. Every time I sit in front of wordpress’s empty page nowadays I ask myself, “What’s the point? What’s the point of writing all this? Who reads this stuff anyway?”
I feel it’s normal to have all these self-doubts because writing is a very lonely process. They claim writing is supposed to be a two-way communication between reader and writer, when I sometimes think it’s just a person speaking at the beginning of a dark tunnel and listening to his own echoes wondering if there’s anybody listening on the other side. But the most important thing about writing happens to be my message for the day; “Dare to begin as it’s usually the hardest step.”