Nearly Half a Decade With Poetry & Here is What’s Next!
People often ask when I tied the knot with poetry. In response, I would raise two or three fingers. But this year I am having to raise four fingers. And I can hardly believe I stayed with it so long. Many times in this year, I have had to ask myself, “you mean I have been with poetry for nearly half a decade?” Then I begin to take stock of all I have done. I do a mental count of the poems I have written. They should be just a few hundreds by now or crawling up to a thousand. I shrug, “that’s not good enough!”
A number of people have asked, like a furious Nigerian mother-in-law, “when will you invite us to the naming ceremony of a child (an anthology)?” I want to make an excuse or say that I am not ready. Then they cut me short, “we see that you are fertile, your fallopian tube almost always has an ovum (shelled by ‘deep’ poems) hanging from it. If you are on the pill. Stop it now and give us a child (Book)!”
I have to admit that I have been on the pill- capsules of fear and tablets of self-doubt- just like many other young writers. I just don’t feel enough! I never feel like I am ready to put out a book of poems even though I tried in my teenage years to publish some heavily religious text that I sure would not have been proud of by now. I think I am beginning to make some progress with conquering the fear of whether a book will meet the open arms of the world or will become dust collectors on bookshelves.
However, I am not certain about when to hold my manuscript in my hands, plant a gentle kiss on it and release it to a publishing house for consideration. The thought of it scares me a bit. The weeks of waiting which mostly grows into months of hoping in the face of uncertainties. Imagine, it is a rejection, it would be as painful as a miscarriage. You will consider a hiatus. Your muse might just hibernate for a couple of days as you try to bounce back. If it is an acceptance, you have a cluster of congratulations hovering around you but when time tunes down the volume of that excitement you will realize you have another title- “author”- added to the little weights which pull men down with expectations.
I need just about a month of intensive writing to tidy a manuscript. But I cannot sit behind a desk for 30 days without having sorted out all my 90 meals, a means to fix my thick kinky hair, to buy internet subscription (for research and to bridge the gap between me and my readers), to fuel a generator to run anytime the crippled Nigerian power supply falls off the track, and all the other necessities. This is why we pause our writing to find something that can fill our purse. Since very few people will pay for poems, we melt and recast ourselves into molds branded “content curators”. We take up 9-5 jobs and writing gradually becomes secondary, as we return exhausted and doze off on our writing pads.
One of the realities of adulthood is that you must at some points leave the track where fulfillment is the prize to run in the track where survival is all you get when you reach the finishing line.