I’ve been blogging for some months now and have finally settled in to being a ‘blogger’ of sorts. Its been great. I’ve shared more of myself and my work with the world, made some efriends over time. But the truth, is I’ve been hiding a crippling fear from myself and you, my readers – I am afraid.
I have a lot of fears- hell, the dark, failing my math courses, but this fear has been one of my most enduring and paralysing. I’m afraid to fail at writing. I’ve mentioned a number of times that my dream is to be able to write for a living in my adult life. Not when I’m 50 or 60. I mean as my first and maybe only career. Writing for me has been my second air for almost 7 years. Writing for me is on par with eating and sleeping. I doubt I’ll ever stop writing. Sometimes I think the last thing I’ll ever do is write my final thoughts in a poem. I’m serious.
But beneath these dreams is a scared young girl who wants to be heard but doesn’t know how. I’ll be 18 in a few months. While that’s exciting, it also scares me. It reminds me that this just got real. When I was asked what I wanted to be, I had a million answers (doctor, lawyer, dancer, artist, fairy princess). The beauty of it was that it was all possible. The actual success or failure of those dreams was years away. Now they feel like tomorrow. I’m in my second year of college now and in 3 years or so, I’ll be entering the job market. In my perfect world, I’d be having my first book published and beginning my career as a writer. But at times, I fear thats all it’ll amount to. A dream. it’s not the writing itself. That isn’t the problem. Its getting the writing out.
I’ll let you on about some things in my life. When I first decided that I wanted to be a writer, I was in the 9 grade. I’d written my first novel and a book of poetry. I’d shared some with teachers, friends and family and decided to share it with the world. In the summer of 2010, I sent out my first query letter to a publishing company here in Nigeria, inquiring about possibly getting published and heard nothing back. I then began researching more online a found that to get your book with reputable publishers, it was best you got an agent. I spent a total of 3 years pitching my work to agents in the US, UK, Canada etc. One of the reasons I stopped was that I had gotten to the point that I couldn’t find agents or agencies I hadn’t queried already. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that they hated my work, actually, a good number of agents praised my writing before saying no ( which once made me throw my blackberry in anger). Eventually, I gave up after running in circles for so long. Then I decided that I’d submit to literary magazines. I’d never felt that my work belonged in those publications for some reason. I was right. Off the top of my head, I submitted my poetry to 30 or so literary journals and magazines and received enough rejection letters to wallpaper my room. For a while I withdrew, and didn’t write for a while. I decided that I had to be the worst writer In the history of life. If not, why was everyone rejecting me? Picking myself up, I decided that I’d try online avenues. I started with the mainstream publications and got one of my poems in the Huffington Post in 2012 and not much else. Most won’t even read my submission (I’m beginning to think people don’t like me) .
It was at the beginning of this year, someone suggested I start a blog. It wouldn’t be my first. I’d tried starting a blog on two occasions and quit after two posts. But somehow, I stuck with this one, learning as I went. Its been good so far. A big thank you to you all. You’re angels.
Back to what I was saying, I’m scared. Truth be told, I have to convince myself every month not to close my blog, stop submitting and give up writing altogether. I haven’t so far. Which is good. Its hard to keep your spirits up when you can’t seem to get published anywhere (I’m actually a bit embarrassed about the places I’ve inquired to submit to. Places that have nothing to do with writing. At all). I’m still trying, I’m very stubborn which helps.
Thanks for listening to my rant for the day!
by Tokoni O. Uti. if you’ve liked this post, please like, follow or comment. Thanks!