I had never set out to be a writer, but I always have this undiluted love for books. I have always felt a connection with books and so, I am an avid reader so much so that I do not have a favorite genre and call myself an omnivorous reader. Although I have an uncanny love for books, I never thought I would write one day.
I grew up as one who prefers the company of books to that of humans. I usually lived in a world of fantasy where I would always imagine the faces of the characters in any book I read, and live with them. I feel their every emotion and feel like I am a part of them.
I only thought I had a passion for reading, but unbeknownst to me, I was actually building skills in myself. Skills that would manifest without any effort as time went by- I didn’t have the slightest idea that I was building a penchant for writing.
People who knew about my romance with books would often tell me that they were waiting for when I would publish a book. I would in turn deride them and never took them seriously since I prefer reading to writing. The aphorism that readers are writers was substantiated in me. I noticed that the more I read, the more I could write with ease.
Right from 2016, I had made a tacit pact to read at least 50 books in a year. Amazingly, I was able to read 60 books in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdown. Reading has unconsciously brought out the writer in me. Now, I love writing so much.
I took to writing and posting in some groups on Facebook and on my timeline. I was almost running out of ideas about what to write when Peace Habila told me about Cmonionline Competition. Someone had tagged her the day the announcement for the kickoff of the competition was made, and she tagged me too. I laughed when I saw it, thanked her, and thought that I would never participate.
However, I found the idea intriguing and so, decided to follow Cmonionline and watch weekly as participants churned out educating, entertaining, and mind-blowing essays. I then noticed that, like me, Peace Habila did not participate in the weekly competition until several weeks later. I was battling with I-am-not-good-enough syndrome and it went several notches up when I discovered the quality of essays that came in weekly. To say it mildly, I was so intimidated that I felt that I wasn’t good enough to participate.
Week 17 topic for creative writing attracted me and I defied my fear, summoned courage, and wrote a piece. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the email address and it bounced back. I was discouraged and didn’t submit for Week 18, and then I tried again and submitted for Week 19 (creative) a post titled: My First Love. The reassuring feedback I got from the judges dismissed whatever inferiority complex that had crippled me and my confidence was buoyed several notches up. I submitted for Week 20 a piece titled: Culture Shock, and no mention of my post was made. I felt deflated and discouraged and almost did not submit for Week 21. It was unbelievable and was over the moon when I discovered that I had won on my third attempt.
The truth is, I love the money, but I discovered that the feedback from the judges is what I had always looked forward to. Every word meant so much to me and had helped me grow immensely on this writing journey.
I have submitted a total of seven (7) essays so far, five of which were creative and two were politics/current affairs. I have won once in the politics/current affairs genre and two in the creative genre making it three wins altogether. It has been an astounding journey and I have grown in leap and bounds within this period.
I have always looked forward to the weekly topics expectantly and the topics are usually the motivating factor for whatever genre I decided to settle for. I had once written on both political/current affairs and creative and didn’t know which to settle for. I finally settled for the politics/current affairs and I won! I just wish I could turn back the hands of time; I would have been part of this amazing journey right from the beginning.
It is no longer news that reading culture is dwindling amongst young people these days. Something needs to be done fast about it. Reading is one of the spines of a society. For this journey to be made more interesting, I will suggest that we encourage reading a lot. I have heard people say, “I write but I don’t like reading.” That is an oxymoron as one cannot give what one doesn’t have. Imagine if everyone should sound like that, who will read the essays, stories, or whatever the person saying that had have written? It even sounds egoistic. Reading can be encouraged by suggesting books that writers on the platform can read and probably give a review of what they had read.
In addition, the corrections that were made on my essay and sent back to me meant so much to me. I learned from my errors and I doubt if I will repeat the same errors. Correcting and sending it back to the writers will go a long way in shaping the way they write. It will also develop us in this interesting journey. Let the admin make it a point of duty to send corrected copies of each essay to the writer.
Lastly, it’s fascinating that this competition has been going on for 26 weeks and the organisers and sponsors have been dishing out money to winners weekly. Please keep the good work and keep soaring.
Roselyn Sho – Olajide works with an Audit Firm in Jos, Plateau State. She loves reading and writing and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org