By Amatesiro Dore 26 July 2013
In 2009 I had no talents. I couldn’t rap, dance, or play football. Then I began to explore my natural advantages: modelling didn’t agree with law, debating wasn’t commercial (at the time), and pornography wasn’t considered because “Y has a long leg and two branches”.
I loved books, I had read more literature than anyone in my literary circle; I was the son who had book titles on his “shopping list”. I grew up with a writer but I preferred eating words to cooking them. I never considered writing, I was a happy consumer. All my first dates ended up in a library or bookshop. If I didn’t sell an author to you, be very afraid, I probably didn’t like you.
I patronised the art scene on the island. Book readings at Silverbird Galleria, drinks at Jazzhole, plays at Terra Kulture, intellectual chats on Facebook, and all other activities artless artists undertook to feed their muse. It was during my waka-about that I met Respected Writer who told me about the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop. Then I wrote my first meal (for eyes other than mine). RW and I discussed point of views, tenses, punctuation, and if my story was “working”. After many editorial tinkering, and force-feeding of family with sentences, I sent my entry a few days to the closing date.
I was in Abuja, Drumstix, enjoying free Wi-Fi on a friend’s laptop. That was when I saw it: I was one of twenty applicants who received that email. The mail was a few days old; I had forgotten about my talent quest. But there it was, an email saying I had talent…a promising propensity to be read.
I became very suspicious of my new talent, but if “they” said I could write, what did I have to lose? My friends didn’t care much about my selection, they were into Law. I envied my friends, they were normal, I was abnormal.
I returned to Lagos for the workshop and I met other abnormal people at the workshop. I had never been in the same room with creative writers; ONLY creative writers – the Farafina Class of 2009. I moved through the haze and after ten days, it was over. I can’t remember what happened (I refuse to write about it), it was nine months in a womb and I was born again. I had so much to think about and consider, I didn’t write another sentence for over a year.
There was a memory tattooed in my head: I standing at the parking lot with Chimamanda and Mr Fine Boy, we were chatting about post workshop options, and I said something about going on to get an MFA in Creative Writing. And Chimamanda said: “Tesiro, go and live life”. I regurgitated those words after a year; they became my launch pad into creating sentences.
In 2012 I became sure. I had lived life and I was ready to write. I invaded the Farafina Class of 2012 with a pillowcase full of my favourite books, and I gave all away. That was how I began.
Last week, emails were sent to the 2013 participants. Where were they when they read their emails? What lives were they leaving behind? When time and talent battle for their soul, what will they do?
Congratulations to the Farafina Class of 2013, wishing you a good beginning, you’ll never know how it ends, until you start writing.
Next week, the list of participants for the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop 2013 will be published on this blog. The selected applicants have been contacted via email.