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IMG_0669I did not grow up with computers around me. I am definitely not a first generation internet user. Much of the first creative things I wrote in my life were in long hand on rough sheets of paper, and later on an abandoned typewriter in my father’s lounge. Today there are kids growing up who probably never spent a day without getting on the computer. Whether they are smarter or more efficient than us is beyond me, but I do know that there is some kind of thrill in my current adaptation to a 24hour electronic cycle. The book is dead, I’ve heard, incredulously, and yesterday when I tried to read the current edition of Time magazine in print, I found a certain kind of lazy resistance, and some unexplainable wonder that they still make paper editions of those in this age of the internet. It must be why I spend so much time trying to to finish reading a book of just 300 pages. There’s definitely a sort of taking over by the internet, and I’m surprised to be on the train, considering that my first email address was just ten years ago.

Right now, I’m going through a phase, a certain self-examination for the purpose of blogging, wondering whether it ever replaces the need for books and publishing. What’s the line between real life and a blog that is known and tied to the writer? In ideal situations, I should send my poems first to journals and literary magazines rather than publish them by myself on the blog, right? However I’ve observed a certain sense of impatience in myself that may have conditioned a different way of behaviour that has me publishing them here first of all before I show them to publishers, asking whether they want them in their journals. Most of them say NO, of course, citing the fact that I’d already published them online in some form. I blame my e-conditioned impulsiveness to have absolute control on the when and the how. There is no other way to explain the fact that I never get the urge to write anything most times until I’ve signed into WordPress, clicked on “New Post”, and having a blank post page staring at me. A few years ago, it was a blank page in Microsoft Word that elicits that kind of mental stimulation. It was the same kind of electronically conditioned inspiration that I used to get while staring at the rusty typewriter on my father’s lounge. The question then is, what will I do with the bubbly impatience that never let go of me as soon as I complete a piece of work that makes me happy but which I can’t show to anyone? It is a morbid fear of losing it, I guess, or having something happen to me before the work makes it to the public that mostly takes my hand to the “publish” button, and I’m satisfied. I found a similar kind of paranoia in a writer William Boyd who I heard admit in a recent Youtube video tour of his writing space to having always kept his manuscripts in the refrigerator because they were safer there, at least from fire in the event of an outbreak.

For my paranoia, I can only hope to write so much more, and (ah-ha!) seek an American publisher. Maybe the blog might help in that ambitious quest. Gone were the days when the pleasure was in jotting on scrap notebooks and book margins. These days, the inspiration comes from  an e-blank page and the rasping of my Dell laptop keys. I can’t complain.

PS: My first electronically published short story will be published in an anthology of short stories from Africa entitled “African Roar” and published by Lion Press UK in January 2010. Considering that it will now be in a book form for the first time, I won’t be putting up a link to the full work online here, as much as I wish to do so right now.  Ask me for the rationale, and I’ll say it’s the dynamics of the new media. (Or what do you think, Ivor?)

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11 thoughts on “Blog, Writing and Real Life

  1. nice KT . . . though the question was meant for IVOR, I think you should leave the original unedited form online…
    Remember those days in the Union of Campus Journalists when there was uproar about publishing printed copies, rather than hand-written, on UCJ press? What do you think if that was done today? Maybe, they will still feel same . . . just maybe.

    • Yea, I remember writing on ruled sheets at UCJ. Those were interesting times, having to write many times over just because of a singular error or a badly written sentence. I can’t tell you how much I hate writing on papers. The first problem is the unforgivingness of ink. You had to write it all over again when you made a mistake. The second is the fact that while copying the original article from one sheet to another, I can never stop writing the sentences differently each time, fine-tuning them. And that inevitably leads to more errors, and another set of re-writing. Oh, those times!

    • I really don’t mind if my editors keep the story online or not. I’m for open access anyway. If I had my way, everything I write will be on the internet, available for everyone to read and share. This just felt like an apt reference, especially since Story Time is one of the boldest publishers I know, who have never been fazed by the fact of a work’s first publishing rights, as long as they are good and they satisfy the purpose of the publishing. However, for the purpose of the book’s sales, I will still wait for go ahead before I provide a link. And it’s not as if a simple search will not bring out the story anyway. Heck!

  2. Kola, let’s thank God for the opportunity the internet provides. I want to believe, however that not everybody can do excellent piece like you have been doing, using blank page and key board. Some people do better, writing or thinking on paper. You are just one exceptional and lucky guy who found yourself sandwiched between two worlds – writing on ruled sheets and writing using the key board, and then, fell in love with the latter world. But, Kola don’t you think writing on ruled sheets presents one with a better chance of immediate and accurate editing? Going over the piece at another future date makes for accurate proofreading. Anyway, I can’t deny that you have way with words-a reason for your conclusion I think. Do people still do handwriting editing on campus like it was done in those days? I can’t forget my experience with our faculty board back then. I’m sure you still remember too.

    • I used to like paper very much. But these days, I’m happy to console myself that I’m saving the environment by doing more electronic work than paper ones. Think of how many trees are felled each year without replacement just because of our need for paper. One could stretch the argument further to advocate for boycotting toilet rolls in favour of water sanitation in the toilet, but hey, I aint going there yet!
      All other advantages of paper are fading against the ease of electronic editing, storage, duplication and sharing functions. Think of how long it would have taken me to write out all my experiences in long hand, and send it to all my friends in Nigeria. As I type this, I have my head on the pillow, the laptop on my belly and one eye closed. It’s not a luxury that paper and pen provide.
      Thanks for your comments man. We had some nice times in the campus press.

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