Three things I learned about writing this week
Every time I embark on a new project, I go through two key emotions: fear and happiness.
With fear, I become the ultimate risk manager and pessimist because I spell out and define and even live through all that is wrong about what I want to write about. On the other hand, the happiness is often well defined that I still have it, I can still write and that’s it.
I came back from a five day vacation at the Coast of Kenya and while walking along the shores of the Indian Ocean, my feet in the white sand as I sip coconut water.
I had to accept three things about writing and how I write and they are:
- I am not like every other Writer and that is okay.
- Writing is personal and there is nothing wrong about this.
- Each project is different from the previous one. Just like the books I have written, each though written by the same author, explore different themes, different worlds and that is beautiful.
Now all I have to do next is actually follow through with this new project, set my schedule, write as much as I can and refine it with time.
The world I yearn for is not the one I wake up to.
It is the light I long for that I work for,
The buzz of brightness, a spark per second, per thought, per memory as it floats away.
The world I yearn for is not the one I wake up to.
It’s my heart that I renew every waking moment,
My expectations, my dreams, my actions, my plans…they flee from me when I am distracted, and so like a firefly I keep my eyes on them, chasing them.
Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich
Heddi gets a letter from Pietro, her first love, years after leaving Naples and this marks her journey back in time. Back to her days studying, traveling, her friends and life in Naples and more so the dreams and future they’d dreamt of while in love.
In Pietro’s letter, he admits he was wrong, afraid and not brave enough to choose life with her.
For where the publisher states that “In this poignant, atmospheric coming of age tale of first love—of a place, of a person—languages and cultures collide while dreams soar and crash in spectacular ways”, it was surprising to note that most readers and reviewers did not finish reading it. Most found the pace too slow and others stated that the book did not make such an impression on them for them to continue reading it.
I read it to the very end.
I love the prose. There is a way in which the author brings to life the streets and terrain in this book that as a Writer, I’m envious of such clarity. It’s not just the details, it’s the senses that she evoked in me with her descriptions.
The pace is slow, it’s not a page turner and anyone hoping to be swept off their feet will struggle to get past page 80.
The family dynamics in Pietro’s lineage, the expectations of his parents and his understanding and desire to be the good son, is also another strong theme that was clearly explored with the fact that Heddi was an outsider, an exchange student and was able to see the burden on Pietro.
Rating: 4 stars
Where you can buy the book: Amazon or if you’re in Kenya- Text Book Centre
About the author: Heddi Goodrich, originally from Washington, D.C., spent a decade growing up and wising up in Naples before moving to Auckland, New Zealand. Lost in the Spanish Quarter is her first novel, originally released in Italy as Perduti nei Quartieri Spagnoli (Giunti, 2019).
Politics is not my thing and other stories
It is twenty-two days since I voted in the general elections here in Kenya. It was my fourth time voting and having experienced the post-election violence the first three times, I was both hopeful and fearful.
Hopeful that given how tough times have been since the pandemic that we wouldn’t have to run for our lives and fearful that there would be election irregularities and this would mean another loss for the candidates I voted for.
I am a young woman here in Kenya and for years I have firmly held the belief and lived by the mantra that “politics is not my thing.” However, when you truly unpack the history and purpose of politics from Aristotle, it simply means “affairs of the cities,” and this is more about how decisions and duties of people affect those directly and indirectly in contact with them. That in history, politics was public discourse- it was more about people gathering in squares and arenas and sharing their concerns and passing laws with the consensus of others- and with time, this evolved to the grasp of a select few.
Over the years and with being on social media, I learned how to disagree while weighing the value of my disagreement. Because, I would read the comments on other people’s posts, especially if they were female- and some would include snide remarks about how they looked, requests for their phone numbers or simply being told to stick to make-up and forget about politics.
I’d admit for years thinking that I was safe not speaking or posting my opinions on politics and over time, this fear made it less my thing and more the thing that had power over me. Until, I started working with communities and schools along the Lake Victoria, then I felt what politics- policies and laws did to the quality and access to basic education, health and security did I start speaking up. Public primary schools were inaccessible due to poor roads, when it rained pupils and teachers would fail to make it to school-and miss out on lessons. Books were inadequate, there were few classes and most pupils were taught under trees-if it started drizzling everyone including the teachers ran for cover.
I started reading up on policies and the government administration. I asked about who to reach out to, which departments to engage and soon engaged in a policy fellowship training to learn how best to hold the government accountable. What I learned during this process is that there are ways to engage public officials and also maintain a channel of communication that holds them accountable for their work.
It is indeed twenty-days since I cast my vote and I am yet to see my country governed by the first female Vice President. From the first time I voted in 2007 to date, having experienced loss and fear being involved in three instances of post-election violence, and picking up and getting onto other things-I have learned that trauma is an event. It is what happens after surviving that determines how I am doing psychologically and more so, now I cannot say that politics is not my thing, it is.
6 Books I want to read this September
September is six days away and I am looking forward to residing in a new town, and reading more books.
There was a recent sale hosted by Text Book Centre and I went all in to secure some books that intrigued me.
Come into the light
I have always yearned for a space of my own. A place where my thoughts and opinions are interwoven using the words that only I can express best.
The first thought was of setting up a podcast. I created one but couldn’t go beyond three minutes listening to my voice, so that failed because I did not fully commit to it.
I tried with Medium and posted three opinion pieces and got at least 30 claps for one, 11 likes for another and gave up because the grand stage of adoration was clearly not my spot.
So, when I was working late into the night this month, I said, why not. I am on the cusp of youth, because 34 is just months away from 35 and by legal standards, I would not be labelled as young anymore- so I got up the next morning and set up this blog.
Achieng’ is my middle name. It is a Luo name assigned to girls who are born when the sun is up in the sky.
So, I decided if I am going to step into my own, and finally set free these opinions into a world full of them, then I could as well do so in honor of who I am.