Checking In: October Week One

Nine days into October and this is a reflection on what I’ve done so far:

Read 4 books

Started compiling a short story collection

Bought two sets of gym wear and installed the 30 Day Fitness Challenge app, but I haven’t worked out even for a single day.

Completed watching the K-Drama: He is Psychometric

Changed my phone ringtone.

I’ve had a serving of chicken flavored noodles every day since 3rd October.

Started drinking tea every morning

Prepped and ready to take part in NanoWrimo 2021. By being ready it simply means that I bought new stationery, a tote bag full of colorful notebooks and new set of highlighters.

Love this quote by Dorothy Parker:

I will be on the road tomorrow looking forward to an activity filled week, so until then, have a lovely weekend. PS: If you haven’t been watching Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha on Netflix, check it out, it’ll make your weekend swoonworthy!

Monday in Motion: 5 things I did today

I am in awe of how fast time flies. We are 10 days to October and I went out and about today doing things I love.

  • Bought earrings
  • Bought stationery: 2 notebooks, a sharpener, orange highlighter (my absolute fave color), a 15-centimeter ruler and 5 writing pens.
  • Got two new books to read: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World by Bolu Babalola
  • Read these posts:
  • Cleaned the house.

5 Writing Gems I found Online

I came across these five insights on writing that I absolutely love and I hope you do too.

Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.- MJ Bush

Write until you surprise yourself.

You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.- Truman Capote

What would you write if you weren’t afraid?- Mary Karr

A drop of ink may make a million think. – Lord Byron

Have a great week and I hope you surprise yourself too!

Updates on the writing, reading, Covid-19 and everything in between

It’s the last week of August and Covid-19 containment measures have been in effect in Kenya for 524 days. We have had lockdowns, curfews, issues and we are still experiencing the upheavals and grief.

A few minutes past midday on a sunny Sunday and I am on my second cup of coffee listening to Usher’s song, Trading Places, thinking of how best to share what’s been going on in my life in the past two weeks or so.

I got to travel to Nairobi twice, sometime in Mid July and on August 13th and discovered art and food at The Nairobi Street Kitchen eatery in Westlands.

On Writing: If there is something I have been loving this month, it’s writing and rewriting scenes of a book that I thought I would not publish but something about going back to a story you let gather dust has me loving the characters and working on completing their story.

On Reading: I have been reading more books this month. Perhaps the greatest shock to me was how brief Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain is, 55 pages! I nearly had a heart attack just wondering how a 2hour movie could be born of 55 pages! Other books I’ve read this August are:

I am currently reading: The Illuminator by Brenda Rickmann.

Aside from enjoying reading and writing, something that I have been deeply committed to is watching Korean Dramas on Netflix and this August, there have been awesome shows that kept me glued to my phone late into the nights and let’s just say that once you start watching a K-drama there’s no stopping until you get to that finale! So, here are some shows that I absolutely loved this month:

There are rising concerns about the spread of the Delta Variant and for someone like me who has to work in communities visiting public schools, I find myself always traveling with hand sanitizer and masks, so much so that now when I get home, I shed off my clothes and take a bath before doing anything- somehow, I find it interesting how people in the rural areas respond to Corona, one old woman told me that ‘death is the one thing all of us experience, if we live in fear, always looking over our shoulder, we may stumble and fall to our death because we look back and not forward.’ Schools will be taking a break for 3 days from this coming Thursday and I look forward to traveling home, just to have tea and evening walks with my Mom, maybe she’ll weigh in on the current book I am writing.

Have an awesome week ahead!

A Hundred Little Things

For as long as I can remember, I have been responding to the name Benjamin.

A lot of people say that my mother loved her Bible lessons more than she did her own culture. So, inasmuch as I was born at midday instead of according me the name Ochieng’ she declared me Benjamin and added in my father’s last name Ooko so people could know who I belonged to. This seemed to please Reverend Father Augustus but never my father or his people and sometimes when I think back to everything that I have experienced, it seems that lighting started striking me the moment she gave me that name.

My Father, Ooko, what of him? Well, on the day I got tired of staying enclosed in my mother’s stomach, he was deep inside Nya Lela, his new wife who reminded the thing between his legs of how stiff it still could be. I remember all the men singing praises of Nya Lela as the only woman whose breasts remained firm even after bringing forth four children with my father, one after the other, you would think it was like eating and dispelling ground nuts.

As word would have it, my father saw me when I started making use of my feet.

There are things that to this date do not seem like truth but if you’d have been born in that home, under the rule of Senior Chief Ooko, then you too would believe me. When my mother told me about this, I laughed, sometimes when she would want to cry about the way he ignored her, she would go into her kitchen and carelessly adjust the logs that she fed the fire.

Excerpt from A Hundred Little Things- which is long overdue for publication!

Ushering in a new month: Writing goals

We had some light showers this morning and I am happy I got to stay indoors. August has come with its blessings and call for action when it comes to writing.

I did get to read a book I have always wanted to read: A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar 🧡 and he narratses what it was like growing in Afghanistan, when war broke out, factions increased and what it meant to be on the run in your own home in 389 pages and towards the end he is right. He did bear this grief all his life and he passes it to the reader in such a way that it I couldn’t help but wonder how many times he broke down writing this book. If you could spare a moment, look it up online and buy a copy from whichever retailer you can access.

I am learning to call myself out on writing that needs work and this is because I got to read what I had written so far before submitting it for printing and it fell short of my expectations.

This week, I get to focus on revising that draft and following through on publication and I can’t wait to see how it’d turn out.

That’s all I have in my mind today. Have an awesome week!

6 Lessons I keep Learning as a Writer

I am a Writer.

It has taken me twelve years to say that out loud without cringing or wanting to disappear. I take on a different persona online and maybe that’s why it was easier for me to add “writer” or “author” to my profiles on social media but not easily utter the word when in conversation with someone face to face. However, the good thing about life is that lessons assail you from every direction and if you happen to procrastinate, like me, then these lessons sometimes come with a nudge from gravity and late nights.

Someone recently asked me, “what can I do to be a better Writer?” and I nearly choked, because it’s a struggle we face, the desire to be better and to be acknowledged for being good, better, the best and so on. So, thinking back on everything I have been doing over the years, I keep learning that to improve as a Writer, there are six things I keep going back to:

  1. Write. Writers write, so whatever day you are having, you have to write something- a sentence or two, just make sure that you write.
  2. Read and not just your favorite writers, read widely and vastly. Magazines, journals, memos, fiction- chap books, you soon find that words are like taste or touch, they linger longer than you expected when they resonate with you.
  3. Observe. My Mom says that writers are travelers. It is true, for you to create a character or setting, your observation skills would come in handy. So, take time and truly listen to others as they talk, observe people in the street (without being too creepy), or at a restaurant or even your favorite actors onscreen- watch how they talk, laugh and what they do- do they tap someone, laugh while covering their mouths and so on.
  4. Challenge yourself. It’s not enough to write just a sentence a day, how about trying to write a novel in a month, or a poem, or writing in some genre outside your comfort zone. It does not have to be perfect, however, it is your way to seeing how far you can go and what that feels like.
  5. Study your craft. Well, this is one thing I struggle a lot with because I may love creative writing classes, or workshops but just attending them or following through on assignments is tough for me. What I find encouraging is that I am always learning something new from every lesson, or speaker and that in itself is way better than the assignments.
  6. Finish. Look, every Writer has numerous story ideas that never make it to published book, however, if you start out a story, try your best to tie up loose ends, to finish it just because there is something satisfying about completions that mean you can look back and gauge your performance.

What’s great is that these are insights I gained from my experience and they are not the only insights, if you think that’s just talk try looking up “Advice for Writers” on Google and you’ll know what your ancestors started saying long before you even picked up a pen.

I love that I get to write and can share my writing with others and hope I’ll be vastly read. Have a great weekend ahead!

Yesterday

I cannot hear your voice,

Not in my memory.

I see your face when tears adorn my face,

And it hurts because I cannot remember why I forget you.

I cannot recall what it was that tore us apart,

You grace the heavens, I tell myself this because to imagine you anywhere but there is beyond my soul.

Today I saw you Dad,

I was at work talking to a colleague and there you were…across the fence, in the man talking to his daughter,

reaching out to hold her hand while smiling.

I know it was you because I couldn’t stop the tears,

I cannot hear your voice, heaven knows I have tried to hear it- recall it- feel it- sound it…everything.

The heavens call you their own,

Yesterday was not as tough as today…

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