"Writing under a pen name gives me the freedom to write with less worry that readers think my books are about my personal life, or about my friends and the people close to me" - Myne Whitman
I usually try to start early because I live in a far corner of the world. I get my morning stuff done, and then write on the manuscript I have in progress for a couple of hours or so. After that, I do some other personal stuff and get to blog rounds and my book promotion for about three hours. I also make sure my website, naijastories is online, I schedule and edit stories that will go up, and sometimes leave reviews/comments on certain submissions.
When I first started to write, it was just for myself, and something I felt my friends and family would enjoy. When I decided to take writing seriously, my first instinct was to write for a particular agent or publisher, however blogging changed all that. Because my blog received an immediate feedback to the snippets I posted, I realized that I have to write for the readers. And since then, I have become used to it, and in fact, it boosts my creativity and the drive to satisfy what they want.
Being a Nigerian writer…
I definitely felt the effects of the gap in opportunities available to a Nigerian writer. I tried to find a publisher for some of the stories I wrote while in University and hit a brick wall. There were only a couple of publishers in the market then and they weren’t taking any new manuscripts. Till date, things haven’t changed much.
To be honest, I won’t say moving outside the country has really impacted my writing so much. For instance, I was blogging back in Nigeria in 2005 and posting my poetry online, even though I was accessing the internet through the cyber café. The main impact on my writing was deciding to do it full time. This gave me the latitude to do more research and find out more about the options available.
Online self-publishing for example is available from Nigeria and has been used by Nigerian authors since 2001, many of those books are still for sale on Amazon.com till date. It was when I had all this information that I was motivated to be the one to determine my own writing career rather than forever waiting for a publisher.
Being rejected by publishers…
It made me realize that I wasn’t into writing for validation from publishers, and that as I had already known, I don’t like taking no for an answer. I like pushing through walls and the stumbling block from these initial channels only helped motivate me to find and or develop alternative ways by myself.
That was one of my most favorite times in the blogging community, but also a lot of hard work. The experience taught me that I could actually turn this blogging hobby of mine into something professional. It started from discussions with my husband on what to do on my blog while waiting for the publication of my first book. I brought up the idea of an interactive story, and together we fashioned out the guidelines and story. (When asked what she loves about writing poems for her husband she said it makes her heart go kpokpodikpo, and kedike! lol!)
It was very encouraging that when I called for submissions, there was an influx of interest. I coordinated by responding promptly to inquiries, checking out the blogs/writing samples of those interested, bringing them up to date on the story so far, and editing their final submissions to ensure continuity. From my blog, we moved to a dedicated website which I promoted to ensure we had good reach. It was an intensive but fulfilling experience, especially knowing that till date; more than a thousand copies of the free eBook have been downloaded.
Writers use the platform for peer review and as a networking community. Most of the members aspire to be authors and realize that their first draft may not be as good as it should. They post their stories so that other writers can critique and review them. They go away with this feedback to redraft and edit their manuscripts. We also have a lot of editors, literary agents, publishers and journalists as members. They either use the admin of the site as a conduit to offer opportunities to the writers or they approach them directly through our private messaging service.
We currently have our stories running in a newspaper in Lagos, as well as being read on radio. This spreads the name of the writers and for some, this is their dream – to be read or heard by an audience bigger than they can imagine. Other ways it has helped is by serving as an online portfolio of writing. One of our members was recently accepted for a creative writing and journalism course at an Australian University after he sent a link of his author page on Naijastories to the admission officials. By also being on our email list, our registered members receive regular updates of writing news, including publishing opportunities, writing tips, and contests.
A Love Rekindled…
ALR is a book that made me cry while writing it, and some of the readers have wrote in that they felt the same way too. The love in A Love Rekindled is very intense and heart breaking at the same time as uplifting. I think readers would enjoy the emotional experience of this version of love as well as learn some history and background of Nigeria.
It never gets easier, lol. The last bad review I got was on Amazon, and I wanted to knock my head on the wall. However, it helps to have other things to take your mind off it… And what can I say, it keeps selling J
It is a definitely a possibity and one I’m really looking forward to…, I already have my ideas on the actors and how I want it to be. What I usually do in such instances is begin to plan, I start laying down action plans, searching out gatekeepers (if any), and calculating resources and so on that would be necessary to accomplish such a goal.
She studied biological sciences as her first degree (same as me) and her project work was on the common beans weevil- Callosobrochus Maculatus. “I researched on the effect the weevil had on different varieties of cowpea” she says.