An interview with a winner of the weekly Cmoni Essay Competition, Oluremi Daniel on his view about the initiative and how the essay has affected his life.
Interviewer: Hi guys! It’s Obashina Adeoye, and as usual, I have an important guest in the building today. Having heard from a fellow writer on this platform, he took up the essay competition. His very first entry impressed a judge, winning him a prize, and his third entry made him one of the youngest writers to win the weekly essays. Please welcome, Oluremi Daniel!
Oluremi Daniel: Thanks a lot for the flattering overture(laughs)! I am grateful, and it’s a pleasure to be here.
I: You are most welcome! Well, before we move on, we would love for you to give us a brief description of yourself, so our readers can know more about you. Can we have that?
O.D: Sure! My name Oluremi Daniel Ayanfeoluwa. I am a dark, small guy of average height and I am in my late teens. I hail from Ogun State, Nigeria, where I also live. I am a medical student, a violinist-in-training and a writer. My hobbies include learning new things, watching movies, food and dogs. My other interests include fashion, photography and languages.
I: Ok! To the very important question: Is writing something you are passionate about, and if so, can you shed some light on your passion?
O.D: Actually, I do not have a straightforward answer to the passion question. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love and enjoy writing. The thing is, I see writing as an extension of myself, my intellect and my imagination. Since I was little, I experimented with many genres of writing; I had a blog in secondary school, I and a friend of mine established a school magazine and I have even composed little music pieces here and there. I believe writing makes communicating as clean and easily understandable as possible and so, in the writer’s absence, the reader can delve into the writer’s mind, but still have control of his or her imagination and interpretation of the written message.
I: An insightful response, if I must say. With that said, what is your favourite genre of writing?
O.D: My favourite genres are academic and creative writing. I have always loved learning new things and being able to simplify or flaunt it in my own way. Academic writing helps to feed that urge (chuckles). Hence, I do a lot of research when I write my essays and articles because I enjoy knowing that I can work my way through many things with the correct information. Knowledge, you know, is power.
I: That is right! And what about the creative writing?
O.D: Creative writing is somewhat of an opposite of academic writing. It allows you to make the facts yourself! You own and control the reality and you also give the readers the privilege to see your opinion, if you do it right. Unlike the unmalleable academic writing, creative writing is only limited to your skill as a writer and your imagination. Of the many forms of creative writing, I really love mystery and magical novels. I am not a big fan of poetry.
I: Ok, before we move to the major topic, I would like to test your book choices.
O.D: This should be fun! (chuckles)
I: Who is your favourite Nigerian writer and what is your favourite work of the person?
O.D: Chimamanda Adichie, and I liked Purple Hibiscus
I: Which foreign writer has astonished you the most, and with which work?
O.D: I know this will sound cliche, but J. K. Rowling is. I finished Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban is very few days! Also, she is the only billionaire writer and her books are among the three most purchased items in human history!
I: Which book are you reading now?
O.D: Apart from the tiring school books, I am listening to an audiobook of the Richest man in Babylon by George S. Clason.
I: That was great! Now, how did you get to know about Cmoni?
O.D: Actually, I was introduced to Cmonionline by one of the serial winners of the essay competition. He is a mentor of mine on many issues, and while having a discussion, he told me about the weekly competition and puzzles. He explained some things to me, and let’s just say, the rest is history!
I: Interesting. So, ever since then, how many competitions have you taken part in?
O.D: I have taken part in about 6 of them. One was however not published for exceeding the word count. My first essay was on the second wave of the coronavirus, while my most recent one was a story of how negative norms affect individuals. Except my second write-up, (for which there wasn’t anything remarks from the judges to any of the non-winning writers) I have been commended by the judges in all my entries. Also, I have won two of the Sunday puzzles.
I: Writing can be very tiring and confusing sometimes. So, what is your approach to the weekly writing challenges and how to you construct your essays? Walk us through your writing process.
O.D: At times, writing is spontaneous and smooth, but most times it takes more effort to choose what and how to write than it takes to even write. Usually, I develop my plan about a day before I write; it helps me know the direction I should head to. If it is a research essay, I get as much facts and information on the topic. Many times I write out the introductory paragraph and the ending before I even construct the body. I sort out the information, add some spice and style, remove unnecessary things, and edit using software. If it is a story, I create characters and a vague plot, and then I fine-tune everything until it is ready for public consumption. However, there is a human factor; more often than not, I start my entry on Thursday and have to rush to meet the deadline. I intend to work on that in the future.
I: How has The Cmonionline Initiative affected you as a writer?
O.D: To be honest, I used to avoid essays like a plague. I believed they were tiring and boring, and so I preferred to just write on my own, for myself and maybe few people to read. However, I didn’t know that being in a competition actually increases your experience as a writer, and makes you improve drastically. Because I started taking part in the essay competition, and I wanted to win, I had to read, learn and sharpen my writing skills within a brief period. Ever since, I was eager to take part in writing competitions. I took part in a national competition recently, and even though the results aren’t out yet, I have a good feeling about it.
I: How has Cmoni affected you as a person?
O.D: Credit alerts(laughs)! Seriously, the money I won was a sign when I was struggling to find something to do. Prior to my participation, I was writing articles and creating a social media presence on a site that paid by upvotes and AI. I earned so little, I almost entered depression! On hearing about cmonionline, I tried my luck, and I got a compensatory amount that was more than all I had earned on those sites combined! I instantly knew that I had found a place for myself.
I: And a wonderful place it turned out to be. What do you feel is your best entry so far?
O.D: You Might As Well Live for obvious reasons. I loved the transitions and the facts and how everything blended well together.
I: What do you feel is your worst work?
O.D: Awkward was actually uncreative to me, I just put something’s together and released it. It was truly awkward, but I have got better now.
I: Whose work do you feel is the best you have ever read?
O.D: This is very tough to answer, as all writers on this platform are gifted. However, Don’t Die On Your First Job by Johnson Onyedikachi (someone I respect) was absolutely mind-blowing. I mean, that ending is ridiculously brilliant. Also, Undeserved Happiness by Augusta Ndeche is the most thought-provoking entry I have ever read.
I: What impressed you the most and how can the Cmonionline initiative be improved upon for better involvement and sustainable growth?
O.D: That the competition is open to all, no matter the age, is a very nice commendable. I feel the prices should be more regulated. I noticed that most times, both prices go to creative writing entries. I would be nice if we could have little compensations for writers that go for unpopular topics and give their best. Also, the political and social topics aren’t as alluring as they used to be, so most writers just go for creative writing.
I: Noted. Will you be taking part in the competition in the foreseeable future?
O.D: Of course! I get to learn and earn at the same time!
I: What advice do you have for fellow writers?
O.D: Even though this is a competition, the primary purpose for writing should be to grow, to improve. Many of us will end up being graceful authors and popular writers in the future if, and only if we learn every week we take part. Consistency is key, and diligence will lead to exposure and promotion. And let us not forget that we are all winners!!!
I: This was wonderful! We hope to hear more from you in the future.
O.D: It was a pleasure meeting you. Thanks for hosting me. If you don’t mind, I have a test to prepare for this weekend!
I: (Laughs) No problem! Bye!!
Oluremi Daniel Ayanfeoluwa from Abeokuta in Ogun state is a young student, a classical musician in training, a Christian and a science enthusiast. He also loves dogs, fashion, photography and intellectual stuff. Hr can be reached via email@example.com