Tap, tap, tap. Her typing was getting to me. I detested it. I distracted myself staring around. The dreadfully cold room was filled with over 20 people.’ Nigerian Irene Nwoye describes the frustration of a writer lacking inspiration while next to her another participant of the literary work-shop starts typing away effortlessly from the moment the workshop leader explained the assignment. The teacher is one of international standing: Nigerian fiction writer Chimimanda Adichie, whose work has been translated in over thirty languages. Farafina Trust, the literary non-profit organisation of the awarded author, has organised this creative writing workshop in Lagos for the fifth year in a row. It is meant for African writers – whether they are experienced or have just started – to stimulate the literary talent on the continent. Its essential that we Africans tell our own stories’, explains Adichie. The twenty participants have been selected on the basis of the short stories they entered.- this year about five hundred authors competed for a place in the workshop. The participants are mostly Nigerian — except for two writers from Botswana – and with fourteen, women are in the majority. It is a varied group. Someone like the Botswanan Lauri Kubuitsile, a full time writer who got nominated for the prestigious Caine Prize for African literature this year, participates just as intensively as Morenike Singerr, a Nigerian law student who writes for pleasure.
The first thing I miss is waking up to memories of last night’s Smirnoffs. Waking up to the thought of breakfast with my literary kindred: litres of orange juice and mounds of French toast disappearing as we lament the fact that we have been irresponsible and not typed one sentence decent enough to be read in class, much less critiqued.
I miss sitting in the Coaster bus, gossiping about our tutors as we wait for Buchi (perennial latecomer that she is) to prance downstairs so we can go for class. I miss posing for pictures. I miss how the room brightened when Chimamanda walked in bearing apples and Ferrero Rochers (because we were such great students 😀 ) I miss the laughter during lunch at the Lagos Resource Centre where we held our sessions from 10 am to 5 pm (sometimes 7)
I recently had the great pleasure of being a part of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop which ended Saturday, July 2, 2011. It was simply divine. There really is no other way to put it. It was and will remain one of the most beautiful and enlightening experiences I have ever had in my short life. To sit in a room with 19 other talented writers, who all love what I love, and who had the same fears and troubles and stories about their writing as I did, and who were all as intelligent and as keen to improve their craft as I was… wow! There are no words to describe the feeling. I felt free. I was on Cloud Nine. I felt and still feel truly blessed. So, now, a week and then some after coming back to Earth, I decided to share some of that blessedness in the form of a few creative writing tips I got from the workshop.
Ok. Here we go: