Ripple Effects

I imagine briefly, how I would write that – the boy who sat on the left of the room, sticking the tongs of a serrated knife into a piece of yam was (insert name). I immediately think of Ted. Ted and his book full of Dekker-effects and Dekker-sentences. Sentences like, Dead by Billos. Sentences like, One of his many names. Sentences like, To say he was fat was an understatement. He was obese.

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I.

It is night. I am holding a letter in one hand. A note. A piece of paper stained with words. Debbie’s words. A bulb casts an orange hue on the white sheet. The blades of the fan creak with each rotation, jutting downwards and pulling upwards, and briefly, I consider leaving the room before the inevitable would happen.

But I do not budge.

I unfold the paper and smoothen the creases, lingering my finger on each edge, as if by doing so, the words in the paper would vanish. I settle on a stool and begin to read.

Dave,

It’s been a while. Scratch that. I’m angry at you.

How are you? How is home? How is writing? How was your semester result? Oh. Ayo mentioned you hadn’t seen it yet. Your school’s so… Sometimes, I’m glad we are only in the same institution, not in the same school. Well, I just wanted to say hello. I know your head is bobbing in disbelief, so I’ll just state my grievances.

How could you? We were close, Dave. Friends. Whispers of our relationship laced every dialogue, so much I had to pray myself into caution. We talked about writing and about family, goals, church, love, Father, everything. And you just vanished. Like a satellite hacked off the feeds.

That doesn’t work fine, Dave. It doesn’t (sigh). It’s break now. Holidays are good times to rethink and reorganize. The clothes are on the line. The smell of harmattan lingers in the air, thick as strong brandy. My mum’s cooking rice. She asks of you every morning, just after family prayers.

You know the implications.

Hmm. The hellos have been said. I should go now. Mum calls. Give your brother a wave for me.

Love, Deborah.

I hold the paper at a stretch and suspend breathing. The next few moments, I think, are important. Important in preserving her voice, the smile on her face, the scent of her words, the spoken and the salient.

The door opens and Brother peeks.

“Dinner’s done.”

I nod. “I’d join you.”

He catches the note but plays blind. When the door bangs shut, I ease up and tuck the note in a pocket of my backpack. The bulb fizzles. I fumble out of the room.

II.

“Christmas,” Mother says. “What’s your plan?”

I gaze at her. Gaze her over. “What else.”

She sets her spoon at the tip of the plate. “Seriously, Dave, you need to think about doing something tangible with your life.”

“Mum, please.”

She looks past me to Brother. Brother nods and forks a neatly cut yam. I imagine briefly, how I would write that – the boy who sat on the left of the room, sticking the tongs of a serrated knife into a piece of yam was (insert name). I immediately think of Ted. Ted and his book full of Dekker-effects and Dekker-sentences. Sentences like, Dead by Billos. Sentences like, One of his many names. Sentences like, To say he was fat was an understatement. He was obese.

A smile wiggles unto my lower lip.

“David.”

I sit straight. “Yes, I intend getting a job, if that works out. Also, I am sending samples of my works – not writings – to people, hoping they would be interested in hiring me. Also, I’m trying to see if I can mentor someone in writing. I have some books to study too.” Confusion fills her eyes. “Books of the bible.”

She smiles.

“And of course, there are notes to familiarize myself with. 200 level notes. How’s that?”

She picks her spoon and begins to eat. Brother rocks his chair. No one says anything for a while.

Wait. That was a Dekker-sentence.

III.

The clock strikes midnight. I tap a button on the phone and close my eyes. I do not say – Thank you Jesus for a new day. Instead, I say – Lord, I need help. I talk about the letter and Debbie, about writing, about how my fingers are growing and soon, my Sunday School teachers would be curious as to why I haven’t mentioned any plans for marriage, about the need to, yes, do something with my life?

“Should I stick with writing, Lord?”

A reptile hisses in the distance. I turn over and continue the reread of Blink of an eye. I consider the hero’s dilemma – having precognitive powers yet facing attacks from all angles. Midway, the precognition’s spell dwindles. What’s worse, he’s trapped on the road with a Saudi princess. And no, they aren’t eloping lovers.

They are just about to be.

Something about the story strikes me – the hero explaining the limitations of his precognition as, “Presently, I can see a squad car heading towards us from Fifth. But, the squad car can decide to turn right at the next junction, which produces another future.” His princess looks with blank eyes.

I too, for a trice.

But then, it connects. Ripple effects. Like a rock plopped into a pool, there’s one central action and surrounding actions. If, right now, I pick my phone and text Debbie – I am sorry. Can we meet tomorrow? – and she shows up and a month later, we are dating and on a night of wild drinks, there’s an exchange between us, the pregnancy that might result would not be because we drank too much, it would go back to the text I sent.

So, I should…

I snap awake. The phone reader glows. I tap the reader close and trail my last thought. Yes, Debbie. Central action.

I send her a text – Hi, Debbie. I have read your letter so much my head hurts. I will call tomorrow. Good night. Michael. I hit send and rest my head on the pillow. Puff a breath.

The sound of a ticking clock fills the silence.

******

Hi. Thank you for stopping by to read. There’s something else I have to share with you today.

Christmas was drawing close and the air was thick with carols. The neighbors chattered about chicken, rice, and what else. I, however, was thinking about writing. Another year was wrapping up and I was yet to hit that 10-pointer. In came CFW.

I remember responding to the call for submissions and how, weeks later, the two stories I sent were accepted to be published. The magazine came out in January and marked over a thousand downloads.

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This time, there’s a new magazine. Freedom Magazine, published by Creative Freelance Writers. The stories in these magazines are fresh, not because they’ve clinched some Caine, but that they are narrated with unabashed voices. You wade through the poems, the story titled Lotanna and the story told from the POV of a weapon, and you wonder how, indeed, some writers are willing to put in the work. The bonus is, there’s no charges on downloading. Just visit CFW and find the download link (it should be up here as soon as I can access it).

What’s more? There’s a second publication. An anthology. Long Walk To Freedom. Thirty stories with a central, salient cry – Home is where freedom lies. The price of freedom costs more than rubies, yet the editors have decided to put up the anthology at an affordable price. Hit us at CFW to find out more. Each download matters simply because, essentially, our stories are worth telling.

And worth reading!!!

… For the Craftsman in Us

Thinking back, that thought came not because the story was fascinating (it kinda was, but the plot had enough holes it’d house a dinosaur) but because I enjoyed wasting so much minutes.

​”This day would come. You’d complete a task and slouch in the seat and consider how soggy the task seems, yet, you would be powerless to ignore the fluttering of your heart, the aches in your finger, and the numbing feeling that you enjoyed what you did. The day you feel this way about any craft, it is then that you’ve found what to do” – Michael Emmanuel. 
I remember with stunning clarity the morning I knew I would be a writer. It came like every other sunrise. Dawn broke at 6:15am. A soft wind swept our compound, and by the next hour, there was a thousand chores to tackle. The sink stunk of unwashed dishes, crumbs of spaghetti dotting its interior. Two mugs lay face-down, butts smeared with liquid soap. A row of ants crept in and out, having a fill.
In the bathroom, half a dozen round-necks were stacked against the walls. The tiles could use a scrubbing. A broom, parted at the middle, stood at the entrance, considering the mess and making mental notes. It would file a complaint with the chief.
Question was, how? How would it reach the chief but through me?
Oblivious to the discontent, I sat by the window and chewed a pen cover, suddenly feeling dumped. Before me was a new note, one page filled. As I stared at the tree behind the fence, I concluded I had judged wrong. Perhaps everyone could write, so long I wasn’t a part of everyone. 

Thing was, I wasn’t green in the field of writing. My first original story was an assignment. I got nine of ten marks with a ‘See me’ addendum. The examiner wanted to be assured the story was my brainchild. Yes, I said, flushing. Two years later, I found a small note and wrote three – or two – pages of an intriguing novel and forgot all about it. Three years from that first submission, and with age beginning to chisel my face, I learnt how to write a story that wouldn’t have you puking. My resolve lasted a week 

In fact, I grew certain it was my last try… 
… Until this awkward morning. Watching the trees and wind, I felt I could do it. So, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote, till my fingers stiffed. A bucket of relief soaked me when I let the pen rest. Finally, the bestseller had come. 
Thinking back, that thought came not because the story was fascinating (it kinda was, but the plot had enough holes it’d house a dinosaur) but because I enjoyed wasting so much minutes. 
The clothes still hadn’t been washed. One row of ants had become a thick black mass attacking the kitchen. The sun had reached its peak. My stomach was groaned and growled. I borrowed comfort in the hope that the story would make gazillions of crisp notes. 
It obviously didn’t. I’m clueless as to the location of the aforementioned note. But one thing has remained – my fingers still ache from writing. 

Writers don’t put up this type of posts till they are well grounded (that is, sold respectable copies of books, snagged a few awards, spoken at a busload of events, etc…). I did this because, 1) it didn’t feel wrong and 2) my next birthday is under my nose and 3) someone needs to see this.
That person may be me. 
Since that Monday two years back, I’ve studied a couple books on writing, read novels till my eyeballs shrunk, typed and typed, dug up story ideas and flipped them out, followed some blogs and opened one, applied for a handful competitions, grown up, gotten this disturbing beard, made new friends, and written…
Summary: Being a craftsman is unlike planting. If a woman drops six seeds of maize in the ground, she expects a matured plant half a year later. Anything else and she’d get on her prayer gears. Writing, like singing, like painting, like photography or designing, doesn’t work that way. Some achieve success quickly. Others learn to queue. 
But, if we do it right, and do it well, and do it with intent, we won’t always remain unknown. This, I firmly believe. 

P.S: I’m nursing the thought of putting fiction here for the next few posts. Thinking of consistency. Pray for me, reader. I’m entering a new age. 

What Happened On Saturday?

Hello.

I have been away for so long, so long blogging feels odd, like a beginner taking the first strokes in a swimming pool. I intended to break the silence with a post entirely different from what you are seeing, but it is. And what can the petite me do to twist the fingers of fate?

Well, today’s Saturday, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Makes it a special Saturday. And I’ve written about this Saturday. What exactly went down on Saturday? That Saturday?

Please, this is entirely fiction. Do not draw historical conclusions. Thank you very much. Soon, I’d get back to blogging, and stating the reasons for the absence. Enjoy.

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“Saturday was smack-down. Right before the smash, no one predicted the outcome. It was unprecedented, yet predestined.”

The boy giggles. “Father, you’re speaking literature.”

Josiah smiles. “Forgive me.” He sips from the bowl on the table. The boy turns ever briefly to consider the trembling water. It is calm after a few seconds, as if it was never disturbed, much like the sea of Galilee responded when Christ gave the command.

Josiah walks to the shelf pushed against the north wall of the room. “Samuel, come.” He’s speaking the boy’s name for the first time, and it tastes sweet. Honey

“You have a kid story on this festival?”

Samuel stretches his fingers to the second row and runs them along five, ten books, stopping on a hardcover. The book is coated in dust as expected, a problem Josiah handles with a rag. He moves to the table and shifts the bowl of water.

He raises his head to find Sam by his side. Hunger bites the kid’s smile.

“See, Good Friday. Enough historical research and opinions. Ashterah, Easter eggs, buns, blah, blah, blah.” Josiah feels the anger in his tone before he looks at the boy. “Sorry.”

Sam shrugs.

He turns two leaves. “And the resurrection, which occurred on Sunday.” Three pages were dedicated to the happenings on that day – the attire Mary had on while she approached the tomb, how she could have observed the angels with naked eyes, debates ranging from what Peter said to how John reacted.

“What do you want me to see, father?”

“This.” Josiah jabs a finger at a page filled to the half with words. Saturday. “Nothing much is said of Saturday, except that it had to pass.”

“But…”

“But showdown occurred on Saturday. The devil thought he was winning, and the next snap, he was under Christ’s feet. Christ had won. He was raised by His Father. It’s like having a two wrestlers tug, with one bound for defeat. In a thunderbolt, the condemned has forever knocked his opponent out.” Josiah exchanges a glance with Samuel. “How does that sound?”

“Surreal.”

“It was real.”

“Yes, Father. It was.” Samuel watches the grandmother clock nailed adjacent the doorpost. A quarter before seven pm. Almost dinnertime. He turns slowly. “Father, why did Jesus not rise on Saturday? Why Sunday?”

“Why not Monday?” Josiah asks. “Did the Lord require forty-eight hours before the resurrection could take place?”

Samuel stares.

“No, don’t answer. As you know, son, the details of his death, burial, and resurrection, were recorded to the details by the prophets.”

“And by the psalmist.”

The passage came to Josiah as if he were just reviewing it. I am poured out like water… My bones are out of joints… They pierced My joints and feet…

“The twenty-second psalm,” Samuel says.

“The twenty-second psalm,” Josiah says. Hence, The Lord is my shepherd. Because he rose… the twenty-third psalm.

“He rose on Sunday.”

“Oh, He did.” There’s a gurgle in Josiah’s throat, like wine signaling to burst. “He did, so we live.”

There’s a knock at the door. “Mother,” Sam whispers.

Josiah, leaning on the wall such that his view is to the window, nods and shuts his eyes. Footsteps fade.

“What happened on Sunday?” Sam asks.

“Rejoicing. Rejoicing in heaven, rejoicing that’s not an everyday occurrence.” There’s a steep silence, then a soft whoosh.

“Rejoicing,” Josiah whispers again, eyes unopened. He sings into the darkness.

The Joy of Finishing

Yay.

Whoo-oh!

Whoop-de-doo!

Eureka!

Ever had one of these moments? When time ceases and a lungful of air lasts a minute and your eyes, heavy as wet blanket, become wings, flapping into the cold night. When your back snaps in a bid to sit up yet you pay it no attention. When your mum calls that dinner has been ignored enough but you do not mind her.

Those moments.

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I had one thirty-seven hours back. I finished my first full-length novel. I did not yell. I did not scream. I did not sing Eureka. I did not bob my head to the left and right like a happy-go-lucky child whose mom has obliged to his long-standing request. I did not dance.

I smiled.

A wide grin.

It’s been eighteen months plus since I picked a Big pen to jot my first real writing words. I wrote five pages that day. Six months later, the manuscript was complete. I duly typed it, and… forgot about it.

It is an accepted belief in the publishing word that your first work isn’t the one you publish. Sometimes, not the second.

Between then and now, I’ve absorbed knowledge. In writing books, I’ve studied eight. In novels, over a hundred and counting. Blogs, I could not bear to keep count. Summary; I stand way better than I was last year.

That may or may not mean I’m prepared. It depends. Not every day do we see Santa. All that said, it’s good to be diligent. To put efforts. The overnights. The doses. The laptop carrying. While I haven’t earned a monetary gain, I’m joyful. I have a finished work.

In this short journey, I’ve come across a lot of advice. Two that contend for top-of-the-list award are: Write who you are, not what you know. And. Write when you are drawn and can’t not write. In ignoring the former, I should be writing about living in a Close with neighbors who commence vigils at daylight and finding that you have a crush on a girl four months after you thought you did not.

But I obeyed. And it’s all good.

There are three types of writing exercise.

One. Writing when it’s like an inspired play, according to Stephen King. Or when you are drawn. Or when you’re in the flow. They all are the same. It’s on these days that you are so immersed in the characters – who essentially are you – that you do not notice your love interest entering the room and sneaking up to you. You do not notice the chattering of your siblings.

Two. Writing when you do not feel like, until you enter the flow. On these days, you have to write. Because everyone knows you as a writer. A storyteller. An artiste. And you do. Though your fingers are like bamboos and the laptop screen feels like a zombie’s mirror, you sit. And write. Twenty-five words per minute fall to twelve. To eight. To none. Then the boost. The flow. You get lost.

Three. Writing when you do not feel like, and the flow is on leave. You sit. You remember that a writer writes. You have a deadline. A submission. The alarm bell warning you to write. So you draw near the pad. And stare long at it. And the page stares at you. Winking. You cannot wink. Your heartbeat’s rate is twice Usain Bolt’s after a 100meter dash. Ten minutes tick into an hour. Three hours later, you swipe a look at the measly five hundred words. And hiss. A long hiss.

Take a poll. Ask creative people. They have more of three and two. One is a scarce commodity that can be bought. For two weeks now, I’ve tried, and not succeeded, to write an article. It took two hours to write a three-hundred word editorial. That is not me. But it is a part of the work I do.

Having said all these, two things. One. This post should actually be The Joy of Finishing A Novel. Two. I want to engage your help. In the following paragraphs, I post excerpts – not more than a hundred and ten word each – from the first three chapters of the novel. Note, I have not given it any edit. I have a book on self-editing, but I have not even opened the page.

So. Judge mildly. Leave comments. Share. Like.

Thanks for reading.

Excerpts

Twenty three minutes. That was how long he had.

The first time Martin faced a countdown to survival, he failed miserably, and it cost him more than he ever thought. The countdown had been coordinated by a voice who introduced himself as Roger. Roger. Copy. The price for failure was Luke, his dad. The price for failure this time would be Anne, a blonde, whom he had talked – or rather coerced– into the storage. The notion of failure didn’t settle well with him, yet a way out proved evasive.

“If there’s an emergency?”

#          #          #          #          #          #          #

Miles away, in a modest Starbucks, Davies Stanford watched the Secret Service Agent drop two perfectly cut cubes of ice into a cup of cappuccino, like he always did. The agent took a pen-size teaspoon and stirred thoroughly, took a sip, then placed it back on the table. He was ready to discuss.

“This doesn’t make sense, right?”

The agent, James Holden, raised his head from the table and gave his trademark smile – flat nose growing a bit, cheekbones extending outward, lips tending a bit inward. “It does not have to, Davies. So long is something we should be running.”

#          #          #          #          #          #          #

Roger opened his eyes and beheld his face in the mirror, the one he’d specially erected in a third room the estate agent had called ‘guest room.’ He knew, without reflecting, that he hadn’t shaved in two days, that his black cropped hair was growing beyond the nape of his neck and curling at the fore, that his nose was well defined, not too pointed or too flat.

He knew he had blue eyes, those pale eyes that seemed to spoil a master work of art done on his face. If only he had brown, or hazel green, violet, or even black. Not pale blue. He removed his eyes from the mirror before voicing one last thought…