Greek Gift – Beware of Greeks bearing gifts 9 mins read “I fear the Greeks
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking its good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.” – Octavia E. Butler
"T he Kidnap”
I was a little over 10years old when I wrote my first “book”. It was co-authored by a bosom friend of mine, Sola Olowookere. It was a play titled “The Kidnap”. We barely knew each other well enough at the time but worked on the storyline and plot together. Unfortunately I can’t recollect the story line or what it was about especially because it was conceived about thirty years ago!
My father must have believed there was indeed a talent somewhere in there and that the piece of work held promise, because he got a secretary at his office to type out the entire handwritten script and had it binded in hardcover with our names emblazoned in gold print. That piece of work was truly my first expression of a gift I was to explore many years later.
I have faint recollection of those moments after getting my copy of the play, but I certainly remember taking the unpublished work to high school to show off to my friends and then handing a copy to Sola. I had my copy for many years as a constant reminder of my effort and shot at fame. I nursed the dream that I would watch that play on a stage someday.
This remains to be seen as I have been searching for a copy of that book for months now, somewhere in the relics of the shelves and wardrobes in my old room at my folks place in Lagos.
When I find this copy of mine, it would be a testament of the starting point of my sojourn into storytelling further lending credence to my self-styled title of “The Duke of Small Talks”. This will surely complete the chronicles of my journey thus far.
I am in particular excited by the prospect of figuring out the thought process of an 10year old and the story that can be weaved off the little life experience at my disposal at the time. I believe this will truly fascinate me for many months.
But that was the first attempt and not the last as I explored this bit of talent even further in my teens with Mayflower school providing a different sort of readership.
The Instrument of Total Destruction
I gave it another shot and wrote another “book” (unpublished of course) two years later titled “The Instrument of Total Destruction”. This was a fictional story and had the full trappings of violence, car chase, kidnap, castles and fortresses, betrayal and even a fair dash of romance. When I think about it now, even that title amuses me.
I figure that as a teenager constantly inundated with the version of violence our generation had the privilege of watching on television or in VHS/Betamax cassettes, it wasn’t far-fetched that the theme of the book had violence dripping all over it.
To put things in perspective, in the early 90s’ we watched mostly martial arts movies, a lot of Indian (now Bollywood) movies and a good many American action and thriller movies. The storylines were nothing but love, even with a bit of romance but certainly a good dose of violence with scenic explosions, loud gunshots accompanied with martial arts at its very best.
The scenes would become predictable as the years rolled by and the circle of actors became smaller as movies where they featured received good marketing efforts and promotion in Nigeria. Those years you had to either exchange movies or rent them off the many video rental shops within a walking distance from home.
Anyone with a great memory may remember keenly their teenage years and the struggle and intense battle against oneself to form and define their identity and to assimilate all the new stuff thrown at them without restrain every day. Aside from grappling with sexuality, music, friendship and academics, there was so much to explore about themselves that may go unguided, ill-advised and even reckless.
The manuscript for this second “book” was a hardcover 200-paged notebook that offered even more room to express my thoughts. And so I wrote in chapters and shared the book with my close friends only, at first, after every chapter had been beautifully scribbled in my small lettered hand writing.
The sterling and encouraging feedback I got after every chapter was all it took to write more. Some of my friends would suggest an alternate plot to the story, while some expressed disappointment at the twist and turns of the story in a love-hate but suspense-filled sequence.
Those comments and many more spurred the completion of that story even with an additional hardcover booklet titled “Part 2”.
That book and story had a strong following, despite the tight academic schedule as I advanced in class. I would squeeze time out in between classes, stay up late to write an additional chapter, tear off pages to re-write the plot and then share the notebook in the morning to teeming followers, many of whom are still my very good friends till date.
But that booklet soon got missing. Someone wasn’t going to share with others and the book never saw the light of day. The whole nine yards, hard work, storyline and characters are forever lost in print but etched in my memory for eternity.
Undeterred by this setback, I started yet another story, this time it had a subtle theme and the story matured into intense sexual content. There I was describing sexual and passionate scenes in the new story when all I had was nothing but hearsay with barely any sexual experience. My content this time was fueled by the movies of our time that had sexual scenes sandwiched between the violent ones and detailed narratives of the experiences of some of my friends who were willing and free to share their exploit between the thighs of a woman.
I must give kudos to Jackie Collins for her effort at corrupting and poisoning my teenage mind with romantic thoughts. Her novels left nothing to detail. It starts off with a racy description of a sex scene right from the very first page with every single detail explained in high definition piggy-backed by my imaginations. Every page of her novels simply had lust dripping off it. Amazing novelist!..lol
Her books prepared the foundation for the Mills & Boons of our time. The Mills and Boons novel series swept young girls off their feet offering constant doses of near explicit romantic stories ensuring that they had their heads in the clouds, lost in moments they would probably only find in their dreams.
The new book and story was my own version of these authors’ novels, it was absolutely imaginative with its theme weaved around romance, violence, crime and betrayals. But this time, the story was shorter and always ended abruptly and somewhat inconclusive. I let the readers fuel their own imagination with alternate ways they would rather want the stories to end. So each time I was done writing, I would get the readers asking me how it really ended and why I didn’t conclude the story the way they would have liked.
I wrote a good number of these sorts of stories till I completed my secondary school education. It gained traction and the readership increased exponentially. The stories also got lost in transit just as quickly as I finished them. But I kept on writing.
And then I stopped writing altogether. For 22years I abandoned this passion. I turned my back completely on this talent. It had no place in the higher institution. It was time to explore those interesting concepts I often wrote about and not to write about them again, I thought.
Not once did I write any sort of book, prose, poem or article throughout my stay in the university. It was as though I resented it with the same passion that I wrote just years earlier.
Whenever I run into any of my old friends, they never fail to ask about my books or writings. They wondered if I had written half a dozen books already and if I had moved on to exciting and perhaps fulfilling times. Their enthusiasm was almost annoying. But I simply switched conversations, parried the questions and buried the thoughts. I literally allowed the ink to dry off! Or so I thought.
The only times I managed to write would be to express extreme frustration and anger at decisions taken by my folks where I felt very helpless, hapless and without a voice. It was my outlet to vent and it came by natural default. I simply picked the pen and a plain piece of A4 paper and scribbled away my thoughts.
I will publish some of these thoughts as soon as I find the manuscripts. I can’t wait!
I like to remember this hiatus as time spent to garner life experiences, wisdom, knowledge and new learnings worth sharing.
In 2019, during a telephone conversation with a high school friend, he expressed utter disappointment that I had abandoned a talent that he was convinced was worth a lot more than I had done with it. He couldn’t believe I didn’t harness or sharpen this talent and he was, for lack of a better word, livid. He was vehement in his reproach and it struck a chord, an almost painful chord somewhere in my head.
I tried a feeble attempt to defend myself from his barrage of guilt ridden darts. In response, I told him the talent was already in use throughout my engineering career in writing justification memos, proposals and even preparing executive presentations. It’s not wasted I tried to tell him.
He wasn’t having any of it, he went for the jugular, saying he expected that by now, I should be going places, learning and competing with and complimenting peers with similar talent and making a strong social impact in the Nigerian space.
The phone call ended with lame promises of doing something about it.
When I gave it a thought hours later, I realized that Nuvie Orode was very right. It appeared that he was more convinced than I was about my writing skill and if he still thought so highly about it 22years after he read the last scripts then I should at the least test the waters again.
Thanks Nuvie. I probably didn’t get to say that to you enough times! But that phone call made the difference.
I shared this particular story to encourage a few of my friends (they are reading this for sure) to get on board. There is no better time to start than NOW. If it was fun back then, then it is even an amazing experience at this time, not with the open access to information highway and a global readership available from just our smartphones. That proverbial ink apparently never dried up when I picked up my pen two decades later. ..well if it did, the laptop came in handy.lol
If you have a talent for something and you are passionate about it, do not waste time dilly dallying, look inwards and re-awaken the giant inside. Don’t let it lay to waste.
The talent we have inside is God’s gift to us, how we put it to use (if we ever) is our gift to the world!
Take that bold step and let your imagination lead the way.
Please read my post on “How to discover your hidden talent”, and you will find practical steps to lead you back to famed glory.
Thanks for reading. Please share
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