The Writer and His Sins


We are having a convention soon. In my neck of the woods, that is. The association of Nigerian Authors is holding its convention in another three months in my town.

That is not the news but the fact that I will be able to answer a few questions for myself. It is your fault really. You guys gave me such a thirst that I find myself hunting every cranny I can peek into for news about books, authors and what makes them tick. For me it is odd, never thought I could be a member of an association, never mind learning to sit still and listen to club talk.

The Writer and His SinsHonestly, I have itchy ears. Each time I had been asked to be a member of something or the other, I find it never lasts. Oh I could be there for a month or two, but I tire very quickly when I see the first sign of an attempt to order my thoughts.

No need to raise your eyebrows and wonder if there might be a more interesting blog to read next door. Okay, let me finish okay?

I don’t like associations, yeah you heard that before, but seriously, do authors have a set way of writing? It is like your thoughts you know, kind of private and just yours. That is what I used to think. I am looking forward to meeting quite a lot of authors across the country, but I am also worried.

You know I will be expected to smile and nod to quite a lot of people. That in itself is scary. Reason? I am not so good at keeping my thoughts to myself, particularly if it is on a subject I feel strongly about. I am hoping one particular does not turn up. Why? He wrote quite a load of rubbish about women. It was supposed to be under civil war situations and I am not so sure I believe half the rubbish he wrote.

What got my goat was that the book was recommended for junior secondary. It was my first time to read that book as a mother of a teenage daughter. I was enraged enough to go see the Literature teacher demanding to know what they thought they were doing asking young minds to read that rubbish. I still get angry remembering the shrug and the casual answer that they could do nothing about it as the ministry had recommended the darn book. I hardly slept for weeks. I was in agony trying to think up ways to correct the perceived damage to my daughter. You are mystified?

The book described in some embarrassing details the various males who had raped, used and exploited a woman whose husband had been captured by the opposing army. The husband when he was finally released was bitter and led her to a murder along the village path. I was disgusted. I mean, females had been portrayed as expendable, and my daughter was being asked to read such nonsense when I was busy trying to drum into her young mind the necessity for female dignity. Now I have a problem, what will I do if that darn author should cross my path? If it was left to me, I would probably just be pleased to box his ears until he goes deaf, or have claw up a pole while I tan his backsides blacker than his heart. Excuse my language; I am really still pissed with that darn author!

Now he might just be coming for the convention, and as an officer I am having nightmares in case I am asked to give him a welcoming speech. But it set me thinking about quite a lot of things. As a writer, do we have any responsibility? Is it okay to spew murk into young minds? Will there be repercussions? I have been going over the stories I had written in the last 34 years and wondering if there might be a parent angry with me over something I may have written, produced or presented too.

It made me wonder too about some of my Western friends who simply have no idea what side of the street I have grown up and what decides my type of stories. Will a moral book be boring? Heck, I really would not want my books to be boring. I tried writing a romantic book and still feel uncomfortable about describing intimacy in it. My editor laughed that I am from the Victorian age, says I am too prudish. Not so sure I like what she wants me to do. By the way, I have come to some peace about the question that plagued me for years. Should I self-publish or stick with a traditional publisher?

Will share that conclusion soon. Chat soon 🙂

  1. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    Bless your heart Biola. I haven’t laughed so much in ages as I did just now reading this article. The thought of that author being chased by you, the irate mother, threatening to tan his hide made me roar with laughter.

    Good for you. I really hope he is at that convention, if only to hear whether or not you did manage to corner him.


  2. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    I can honestly say I haven’t laughed so long and hard as I did imagining you catching up with that writer, giving chase and tanning his hide. Thanks for such an entertaining article my friend. 🙂

  3. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    Weird – the first comment didn’t take until I added the second one????

  4. Avatar of Cynthia Niswonger
    Cynthia Niswonger says

    Biola–these are interesting questions. I wonder myself sometimes. A lot of my writing settles on one issue. The way I have grown and shifted over the years is evident as I look back on some of my past work. I think my writing “then” still has validity as it marks the journey I’ve been on, which was my singular intent at first, but I do wonder if some of the infancy of my feelings would be offensive to others. Good points here—Good luck at your association meeting and do tell if “he” is there!

  5. Avatar of Paula Boer
    Paula Boer says

    I don’t think the author is solely responsible for your daughter being in the position she was – surely the ‘ministry’ and the teacher are also responsible? Isn’t that why books (certainly in some societies) are classified? Was the book in question classified as suitable for young people? If so, then that is certainly a problem. If it was for adults only (not that I would want to read it), the onus is not so much on the author. A tricky one.

    Meanwhile, I’m with Jack – I hope that author is at your convention and you get to share your thoughts with him. Good luck!

  6. Avatar of Biola Olatunde
    Biola Olatunde says

    Thanks Jack, I am sincerely hoping that darn author will not come. It is part of the corruption, and I still will love to give him an earful but… I am supposed to be a nice host.. Paula, the ministry of education that certifies books for age graded schools sometimes can’t tell its backside from its greed. So you have the answer there.
    Cynthia, we learn everyday and I think if we are the lucky few, who have retained readers over time, they will mark our journeys into maturity with us. Best wishes to all writers, the sense of wanting to impact on minds of all ages. Will write feedbacks from the convention proper and hey maybe ‘report’ about the progress we make towards it. Might be able to get a few interviews.

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