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Apr. 6th, 2013

At the 2013 Writer's Digest Conference East

I arrived New York around 3:00 a.m., and sat there till 8:00 a.m.,when I walked to the Sheraton hotel where the conference was being held. So fucking cold dragging my bags across Times Sq., an Broadway to be here.

There were plenty of writers here, and we did the pitch slam around 11: 00 a.m. It was like speed dating: we each lined up based on individual literary agents that represent our specific genre, and we talked for 3 mins of what our novels were about. For me, I talked about my novel, 'The Rabbit's Man'.

I told the agents of my work with the Nigerian navy, and as well as a hostage negotiator to expatriate workers. Some of the agents were interested and I got six business cards from separate agents to send them a query letter as well as a fifty-page sample.

I'm getting my bags and walking back to Penn station. So tired and hungry right now, I'm close to fainting. Whoever knew this would be life?

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Mar. 20th, 2013

This Writing State of Mind

2013-02-04 23.03.19

Most people want to talk about what they love to write about, and why they choose to write it. There's so many books on writing and of perfecting one's means of writing than there ought to be writers out there. I reckon the more people read books on writing and haven't yet written anything, the less encouraging they're going to be about writing. It gets even harder learning about the rules and the 'Dos' and 'Don'ts' of what's involved in producing a fictional story. Also, there's plenty of writing programs in various schools and institutes, and they've even created dynamic software to aid people with their writing.

Makes me wonder how come I never found any of this before I ever thought of writing. Maybe the reason why was because where I'm from, nothing like this ever existed. There wasn't anyone around to assist me with perfecting my writing, no mentors, nothing. There was just me with my pen and notebook in my hand. I graduated first from writing poems, and then gave that up because a lot of idiots were always wanting to tell me where to fix a simile and what not to do with a metaphor, like they'd ever written anything in their life ever, except spell their names correctly.

But poetry was a real help. It made me love the usefulness and intention of words, both on the surface as well as underneath.

I learnt the truth the hard way: You can't learn to write if you don't pick up a pen and make a try at it. Yes, there's going to be a lot of stumbles and hurts and pains when you start, but that's like saying a baby learns to walk without ever once falling on its fanny. There's times I hate writing, and plenty of times it takes my mind away from my immediate concerns, like the one I'm having right now about getting a manuscript published. I'm sitting here waiting for some good news to appear in my inbox saying that so-and-so agent wants to sign me up. But it hasn't come yet, and my time to remain in the U.S. is racing fast before my eyes. So, what can I do to take my mind off things if not come here and write a little something, at least since it's the first day of Spring.

Mar. 15th, 2013

The Sun Shines Through

2012-06-21 19.49.39

I was in a taxi driving through Rochester, New York, last summer, when I took this snapshot. Every time I look at it, it never fails to make me happy. It leaves me buoyant with the feeling that even at my worse whenever I'm feeling down, even at moments when I suspect the world is against me, that the sun shines through, no matter how long or how hard you try to block its view.

Where there's darkness and a feeling of lost hope, somewhere, somehow, the sun ALWAYS shines through.

Mar. 11th, 2013

There are Depressive Days . . .

Contemplation #12

There are those days when I feel alive. When I feel free. Some of those days come when I'm sitting in front of my computer writing. Then there are the moments when depression hits me like a wall. I feel so alone, so lost. Those moments usually come whenever I'm done and finished with a story/novel I've been working on. It just sort of saps me of all the energy I'd used up during my time of writing, and when that happens, I feel so drained, so weak of inability to do anything. Everything becomes like a deliberate effort, even just to leave the computer and do something else.

What do I usually do when such moments come to me? I usually leave my apartment and go out for a walk. Hopefully a long walk. I go anywhere that's far from me wanting to be near my computer, or where I can't at least get to it for another hour or longer. I don't have much friends, and where I'm at right now, I lack any friends around, thus no one to help take my mind elsewhere.

It's hard getting rid of my depressive state. No, it doesn't leave me suicidal, though it does make me feel empty inside. Once I'm done writing down those words, I can't think of anything else to occupy my time with. Even now I'm worried how long before I start thinking up what next to write about. But before that happens, I need to head out somewhere. Maybe take the Metro-North train and head into the city. It's either that, or I take the bus to White Plains. I don't know anyone there, neither do I know of anyone in the city or where to go when I get there. Just the thought of being far from where I call home will do.

For now, it will.

Mar. 10th, 2013

Cast No Shadow

The little boy was crouched under the awning of a rooftop away from the pouring rain, hugging himself, shivering from the cold that was around him. It had been raining incessantly for over an hour now and with the clash of thunder echoing above his head, it didn’t look like it would be stopping any moment soon.

From out of the darkness of the alley, a dark figure appeared out of the rain and approached the boy from behind. The boy couldn’t have known how long the figure might have stood there beside him, but when he turned his head and noticed the strange man, he nearly screamed out in alarm.

“Rain’s good for the cooling down the earth,” the tall dark figure said broodingly. The sound of his voice was soft, clipped, yet foreign. “Isn’t it, little one?”

The boy had nothing to reply him with. For all he knew, the man could have been talking to himself and not to him, and he was still badly frightened. The man was dressed in a black cloak with a hood over his head. He was tall and slender, with wide shoulders and a bony, pale-looking face. There was no emotion on that face. When the man gazed down at the boy, his eyes seemed to shimmer with animation.

“You look lost, little one. Are you indeed lost?”

The boy could only nod his head; he was still scared of the man. Something about him just didn’t feel right.

“And your parents, whatever happened to them?”

“I … I don’t know where … where they are. They left without me.”

“Such a lost soul you are then, aren’t you?”

Once again the boy replied with a nod.

“Perhaps you should come with me then. Away from the rain to where there’s food and shelter. A hot cup of cocoa is good for shivering bones, don’t you think?”

“Yes,” the boy said. His throat was parched, he was hungry, and a cup of cocoa sure sounded nice; anything but being here out in the rain all night.

The hooded man stretched out a slender hand from within his cloak at the boy. The boy looked at him uncertainly for a moment. The man noticed this and curled the side of his lips into a smile.

“No harm ever will come to you, boy. As long as you’re with me, I promise.”

That seemed to distil the boy’s fears and he reached for the man’s hand and pulled himself to his feet. The man draped his cloak over the boy and together they stepped into the rain.

The boy came awake into darkness and once again fear leaped into his heart momentarily. Though the fear gradually went away when he remembered where he was – the hooded man’s home – and how he’d come to be there. Though that part had been kind of baffling. Through a warren of alley ways after another, through dirt-ridden junkyards and even under a stinking bridge, under the downpour, they’d arrived at an abandoned factory building. Through one claustrophobic doorway after another, the man had lit an entire row of candles so as to brighten the place for him. Though the man had done nothing to get rid of the sight of scurrying rats and hundreds of cockroaches that littered the place. Cockroaches so many, the boy wanted to scream aloud, but for some reason all that came out of his lips was a dry croak.

Instead of a scream, he had fainted. But now he’d come awake, back to face the reality of where he presently was.

There was a thick candle burning a few feet away from the mat where he lay. The candlelight was enough to make out the room he was in: small, but bare. The walls were filled with cracks and so also was the ceiling; a open doorway lead out of the room past a lengthy narrow corridor to God knows where. Something tiny scurried over the boy’s feet and immediately he sat up and slapped whatever it was away from his sight. He got up from the mat and made his way out of the room.

The floor of the corridor was lined a foot apart with candles; the walls felt clammy to his touch. The boy made his to the end where the corridor gave way into a larger room. There was a table at the end of the room surrounded with chairs; a line of broken windows lined the wall to the right and there the hooded man stood with his arms folded behind his back, gazing out at his kingdom of the night. He turned his head the moment the boy stepped into the room and smiled at him.

“Welcome, boy. Your sleep was eventful, yes?”

The boy replied that yes it was.

“Good. You must be famished. Come, let’s eat.”

The man came over and led the boy towards the table, which to the boy’s surprise was laden with all sorts of food: chicken, roasted lamp chops, vegetables and assorted fruits. The man pushed back a chair for the boy to seat, and together they ate. Or rather the boy ate, while the man simply sat on a chair, holding a glass of wine to his hand while watching the boy eat. The boy tore through his meal with ravish; the man refilled his glass of water for him each time the boy reached out for it. Less than an hour later, the boy’s tummy had grown an immeasurable size and he left his shirt open while he belched.

“Thank you very much, sir,” the boy said to the man who nodded his head at him.

“The pleasure is mine watching you eat.”

“I didn’t notice you eat any.”

“My meal comes of a different variety,” the man answered. “Your parents are dead, are they not?”

The boy looked at the man. “How did you know that?”

“I know of such things, boy. Tell me, for how long do you wish to keep living out in the street?”

The boy shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Perhaps you would care to live here then, after I’ve gone. So nice it would be for someone such as yourself taking care of it for me when I leave.”

“No thanks. The place gives me the creeps.”

The man smiled; the glow of the candlelight danced and reflected in his eyes. “Such were words I had used a long, long time ago. But don’t worry, in time you too will see it differently.”

“Who are you, mister?” the boy asked.

“I am that which is only thought of but never said by man. I am that which stands between two worlds – the living and the dead. I am a vampire.”

Silence fell upon the room. In the blink of an eye, the man left his chair and instantly appeared by the boy’s side. The boy tried to jump out of his chair, but the man held his arm in a tight grip that wouldn’t budge. He then noticed how long and curved the man’s fingers were, and when he stared at his face, his worse horror was immediately realised. The man’s eyes were now as black as the new moon – they didn’t reflect the candlelight – and as his mouth came open in grin, they revealed elongated teeth at either end. Instantly the boy felt all the food he’d just eaten turn to mush inside his stomach.

“Oh G–” he wanted to cry out, but that was before the man brought his head forward and sank his teeth into the boy’s neck.

One second, the boy was alive. The next, he was in eternity.

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Feb. 28th, 2013

Son Came Back

Dover Beach

There came a high rustling sound that sounded like a horse carriage being drawn to a halt, followed by the neighing chatter of horses—Father was home.

Mother left the table, taking the lamp with her, and hurried towards the front door of their cottage. Father had jumped down from the carriage and was busy stumping mud off the sole of his boots when Mother came out to the porch to meet him. Father looked up and caught right away the worried look in her eyes; immediately he knew something was wrong. He was about to enquire this question when Mother came to him, placing a hand on his chest as if to prepare him for the worse.

“Son was here,” said mother, then added: “Please don’t be harsh.”

Father was speechless. He looked past her at the open doorway that lead into their homestead as if expecting to see Son stumble out after her. A pressing wind blew at his face.

“When did he—”

“This afternoon,” Mother answered. “He was here this afternoon. I was attending to the farm with the extra hands that came from town when he showed up.”

“He didn’t stay for supper?”

Mother shook her head. “He wanted to ... but he was afraid of you.”

“Yes,” Father muttered with a huff to his breath. “He has every right to be afraid. The little fool. I promised breaking his neck if next time he showed his face around here.”

“Please, Father ... enough. He’s still your son.”

“Wrong, Mother. He was my son, once. That was before he began loving the Book. Then he had the nerve—the stupid nerve—to call me ‘ancient’. No ... no, son ever should call his Father such a word and then expect to remain my blood. Not now and not ever.” He resumed stumping his boots.

“But it was you who gave him the Book—remember? You promised long ago that when he turned fifteen, you would give him the Book, and that was what you did.”

“Do not lecture me on promises I made and kept, Mother,” the man barked at her. “Yes, I made him that promise, and by my word and honour, I kept it and gave the Book to him ... just as my Father too gave it to me when it was my time. But I was never consumed by it the way Son was. The Book swayed his mind ... took over him and turned him away from us.”

“Face it, Father, we could no longer keep him to ourselves. It wasn’t in our interest to keep doing so.”

“Nay, it wasn’t. Why else do you think I wished he’d never been ours in the first place?”

Mother couldn't think of what to say to this. Father returned to the carriage and rode the horses around the back towards the shed where he then uncoupled the carriage from the horses’ handles. He locked up the horses for the night, leaving them with enough hay and filling up their bowls with water before taking off his jacket and returning to his home. Dusk had arrived; the crown of the sun was but a speck in the horizon, gone the next minute. The moon had taken its place.

Mother had drawn a bucket of water for Father in the bathroom and passed him a towel as he entered the bedroom and began taking off first his boots, then his work clothes. Mother left him to clean up and went into the kitchen to see about supper. While she worked the stove, her mind went to her son. How many years have passed since last time she and Father saw him. Since the last fight both men had and he’d promised running away and Father had sworn to bludgeon him if ever he caught sight of him again. Not a word had been exchanged after that. The following morning, Mother had gone searching for him in his room and found his bed empty. He had taken nothing with him, no clothes, nothing ... except for the Book.

Father, done with having his bath and now dressed in his house clothes, trundled off to the kitchen where Mother had laid his meal in readiness for him. She sat across the table from him, a sad look on her face, and watched him settle down in his seat. Father unfurled his napkin, picked up his knife and fork, and without further ado, bent his head and began attacking his food. The lantern stood on the table between them. Outside the evening was dark and gloomy; a wild dog barked endlessly in the distance. Mother, seeing he was nearly through with his meal, got up and poured water into a cup for him. Father reached for the cup without a word said, and drained it down his mouth. He muttered a belch, half raised his rump and farted, then kept on devouring his meal to the last bone. At last he looked up at Mother, wiping snot from his nose.
“Did he say anything about when he’d be coming back?” he asked.

“He didn’t say,” said Mother, getting up and taking his plate to the sink. Her hand picked up the sponge and lathered it with soap. She looked out the window while her hands washed the plate and cutleries. “Didn’t say either if he would.”

“Hunh. I wouldn’t expect him to either.”

“He’s still your son.”

“Not anymore is he.”

“All right then ... he is still my son. I still love him.”

“You can love him all that you want,” Father snorted derisively. “I don’t care. Just as long as I don’t get to see his hide again under this roof.”

Mother turned from the sink to glare at her husband; tears stemmed down from her eyes. “Don’t say that, Father,” she snarled at him. “Don’t you dare say that. Of course he’s welcome to this house whenever he wants. It’s his house, too.”

“So you say?”

“Yes, so I dare say, and more.” She became deflated, having expended her anger for the time being, and turned around to resume her washing. Her voice became sombre once more. “He’s our son—yours and mine to love and cherish. Yes, he did wrong calling you names, but so where you. You and him need to sit down and talk to each other—Father and Son.”

“Would he want to ever talk to me,” asked Father who was now fighting to remove a morsel of food that was caught between his premolars. “Remember he cursed me that day. Said he regretted the day he called me Father. Is that what a son is expected to say?”

Mother, having washed the plate and cutleries, placed them to the side to dry off. She picked up a napkin to wipe her hands dry before turning around to answer him. “It matters not what’s happened. That’s all in the past, and that’s where it should remain.”

Father got up from the table and approached the back window, staring at the doors of the shed with its roof-top light that acts as a solitary watch to the building.

“How did he look?” he asked. “What was he wearing?”

For the first time since she set eyes on her son, Mother’s lips turned into a smile. “He was looking very different. He has grown fine and handsome. He had on a brown suit and a hat ... the way he stood there by the front door with his hat on ... he looked far different from last time I saw him.”

“It’s the Book,” said Father, turning around to face Mother. “It’s the Book that’s changed him. The Book almost always does that when you start soaking up its words. It has a strange type of power, that Book has. Father too was like that whenever he read from it. Once I asked him about it. He said the Book is truth. The sort of truth that never dies.”

Mother looked at Father astonished. “Your Father said this?”

“Aye, this and more he told me.” He returned to the kitchen table and dropped himself back on his chair. There was a contemplative look on his face as he pondered on the past. “He said the Book wasn’t one to be trifled with. And that it belonged to the people ... whatever he meant by that I just don’t know.”

Mother brought a chair beside Father and sat next to him. “But Father, all the time you had that Book, never once did I see you read from it. Why?”

“You know why. That Book is strange ... but cursed. Cursed, I tell you. It would have changed me. I would have been ... different. I was afraid of it ... I couldn't make sense of its words. So I locked it up.”

Mother didn’t say anything. Father looked at her and gave her a reproachful look.

“The Book was dangerous, I’m telling you, Mother. It would have changed me—taken me away from you like it did with Son, and I couldn't let that happen.”

“You’re saying the Book was what took him away?”

“He said it to my face that day we quarrelled. He said something about going out to spread the Word, whatever that meant. But I got a feeling he meant the Book. He said others needed to hear of what the Book was talking about. Even then I knew I couldn't stop him ... but I so much wanted to. I mean, who’s going to tend to the farm and the land once we’re gone?”

Neither of them said anything; their fears wouldn’t allow them to. Father noticed the flame of the lantern was starting to waver and grow dim.

“The kerosene’s almost finished,” he said. “We’d better go to bed now. Let the morning come and the day will take care of itself.”

He took Mother’s hand and helped her up. Mother and Father gazed into each other’s eyes for a moment, and saw the love they had for each other ... and for their son who wasn’t there. Mother picked up the lantern’s handle and together they made their way towards the bedroom. In the distance, the dog’s persistent barking filled the night but was soon swallowed by it.

The Artist Speaks . . .

Good morning everyone!

Thanks for stopping by my journal. I know this is a shaky start, and I hope you'll forgive me if our first meet doesn't run smooth as one expects it to. We're strangers in a room right now, and only in the next couple of postings after we've shared moments and hours of talk and exposure (actually, that will all be coming from me) will we learn to bond better.

But anyway, this is my journal page, my first post here. I am a writer, and my journal is meant to reflect my thoughts as regards to how well my writing is going, and how far it has come. It's been such an amazing journey, and I'm still in awe over it. Some of it good, too much of it bad. But we'll try and talk about both as we move along. There will be times when I reflect through poetry. I used to write poems, and in a way I still do, though never published any. I lost the appetite for it and instead decided to concentrate better on fiction writing.

Anyway, that's my intro for now. We'll talk more afterwards. And I pray you do get to stick around.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.