Anybody who tells you that Jand is easy has the wisdom of a roll of toilet paper!
Here, if you are lucky enough to be in a job—and I mean any job—you have as much chance of getting a raise as Kris Okotie has ditching his dictionary. In fact, most Nigerians never hesperrerit expected it to turn out this way, but some select few have found a way to diversify their hustle. As your friend, I’m here to help you look at other ways to make it in Jand…this week, ladies you can become a Nigerian writer.
Stop relaxing your hair
You read me right, yes. Throw away your relaxer, and be sure to call it “creamy crack” henceforth, as no female Nigerian writer who wants to be taken seriously calls relaxer, well, relaxer. How else are you supposed to prove to the world that you are a deep, angst-filled soul with so much to pour on the page if you are busy traipsing through the salons of Camberwell and Peckham??!
It doesn’t matter if the only sentences you have written so far belong in a shopping list for your relatives smuggling foodstuffs from Nigeria. Chop off the relaxed hair, grow a TWA (Nigeria female writer-speak for Teeny Weeny Afro) announce you are working on “new material” and buy some time by tweeting about your “hair journey.”
Now would also be a good time to delete all pictures of you wearing synthetic weav-on you bought from Paks from your Facebook page. Failing to do so would be like getting married and forgetting to change all your exes’ names to female ones on your phone. You dig?
Marry a white man
If you are single, make sure you marry a Caucasian. This helps to add an aura of mystery to you, and will be a good tool you can use to retain attention in the Nigerian press in-between dry spells of writing. In fact, you will leave many Nigerian readers in so much awe that even if you turned up to sign a couple of blank pages they would form an orderly queue just to gawk at you and your partner. Yes, be sure to keep referring to him as a “partner.” Don’t ask me why because that is how it is done in Jand. We have partners, not husbands. Just do as I say and all will be well.
What’s that? You are already married to a Nigerian man? Well then you must at least refuse to answer his surname. This is to show how much of a feminist you are, and to prove to potential foreign publishers that you are sufficiently angry enough at patriarchy in Africa to write many angry books that show Africa is one big country. Lastly, for those of you who are not married to a white man and are answering his surname the best I can say is: for goodness sake at least write a book where there is an inter-racial couple. These type of books win prizes.
Go for every single book reading and festival organised/curated by Nigerians
Networking is key if you want to make it as a female Nigerian writer in Jand. Do not bother expanding your horizons because that is a waste of time. Learn from your superiors who have made it in this business and stick with attending only events organised by your Nigerian friends, Nigerian friends of your Nigerian friends, or Nigerian friends of the Nigerian friends who you hope will become your friends. Be sure to know that just as in Nigeria, there is a pecking order. You must therefore duly tweet about their events: be servile but call it admiration; congratulate them on any Prizes won; gush about their kids/home/partners or dressing and also turn your Facebook/Twitter timeline into a running billboard for their newly-published rants opinion articles and short stories. If someone becomes their enemy on social media, then make them your enemy as well. Remember these things have the power to guarantee an invite to the next festival or book reading so keep plugging. Your time will come. Hallelu??!
Change your “screensaver” – Grow some dreadlocks
So you’re getting accepted into the Nigerian writing circle, but find that even though you have moved from writing shopping lists to piecing together paragraphs, they end up as best as a very short story, nowhere near a book. I mean Tyrion Lannister kind of short story as in…really short, whilst by now you should be at a Brienne of Tarth long book. Sweetie, you need to ramp up the screensaver at this time. Grow some dreadlocks, or at least refuse to comb your hair because for Nigerian female writers, nothing says “I am working so hard at a masterpiece of a book” like long dreadlocks and an unruly afro. You’re welcome.
Finally, once writing takes off, there are aspects where you need to pick a side. As the viral meme says: “Pick a struggle. You cannot be broke and ugly at the same time.” So here goes:
Lose weight or Gain weight: You can decide to lose humongous amounts of weight and go down the “model-writer posing in sexy pictures on rundown African streets” route to hype your book. Do throw in a somewhat constipated look. Added to a mix of Ankara fabric, designer wear and killer poses you will look the part. Or you can be the “I am so into my craft and deep that morbid obesity can’t kill my swagger” type of Nigerian female writer and hype your book with pictures of the book or an arty shot of nothing but your dreadlocks. Whatever your pick, the hustle ain’t tripping so…OWN IT.
Go Igbo or go Abroad
The best Nigerian female writers are Igbos. Unless you speak the language fluently you don’t stand a chance of getting away with claiming this status because the hustle requires you to tweet/Facebook in Igbo from time to time. Stick with saying you are half-Nigerian, half-anything else.
Refuse to call yourself a writer, then…
These things aren’t called humble beginnings for nothing. At the short story/first book stage refuse to call yourself a writer especially in interviews, saying you are just a simple girl who felt the pull of a story…and any other bull you can muster. At some point between when you start breaking into the 1000-follower mark on Twitter or winning the Nobel Prize feel free to declare yourself a writer. By this time you are made so…whenever you’re ready, Genius. The world can wait.
Sadly I can’t. Because last week reader Enajyte suggested it’s time to get a new crowbar so one must now go and obey her. If not, how else am I to extricate my tongue from my cheek, ehn?
See you next week