Everyone was good at something, Stan had his blog, Vicky her music and fashion was taken by Kate. We would gather every evening in front of the compound of Chief Ayo, one of the few men who could afford to buy a generator, charging our phones and talking about whatever we could think of. Amidst random discussions, Vicky will talk about how sunday’s music presentation was going to awesome, and Kate will say she made the beautiful dress she was wearing. All I could do was smile, not out of happiness but of regret that I had no talent to boast of. I wished I could also talk passionately about something I was good at.
Although serving in a village had never been part of my plans, it wasn’t in my nature to bribe my way through hardship. So, when I was posted to a village where electricity and internet connectivity were uncommon luxuries, where bicycle was the major means of transportation and if you are given a penny for every car you saw, you wouldn’t have up to fifty pennies at the end of the year, I choose to stay and serve my country.
I wasn’t one who enjoyed the rush of busy cities, but I would have gladly chosen it over life in a rural area a thousand times.
Daily activities were routine – Wake up, go to work if you felt like it, cook, eat, play games, fetch water, charge phone, sleep and the next day the whole cycle continues.
I had a lot of time and nothing to do with it, so out of frustration, I wrote. I wrote about my feelings, I wrote about the crush I had, I wrote when I fell in love, I wrote when my neighbor’s husband died, I wrote about my dislike for some corp members. I wrote in a book which I would hide immediately after writing. But one day I forgot to do so and Emma read it, then Vicky read it, they said my essays were very good. So later when Stan would ask “Augusta, what can you do sef” I would say, “I can write”, even though I didn’t believe it, even though I felt like a fraud for calling myself a writer. Still I kept up the deception, whenever someone would ask, what are you doing whilst waiting for a good job, I would say I am a writer, a creative writer, a content creator (who had never completed a single story).
The Pandemic came and I had to go back to my state of residence. Unlike the village that had nothing worthwhile to spend on, I now had within my reach the variety I craved for. I needed money, and being someone who disliked asking friends or family for money, I surfed the internet and social media platforms for ongoing competitions and came across Cmonionline on Facebook. I was impressed with the consistency of the competition so I decided to try it out.
When the week’s topics were posted, I had no idea what to write about. I would write a sentence or two, delete it and start all over again, this went on for days and on the day of submission, I still had no idea for a story.
At 7pm it was as if a writer’s spirit possessed me, I started writing the first ever story I had ever completed, as the deadline was almost near, I read over it twice and submitted by 11:56pm.
I waited in anticipation for the winner to be announced and when it was, I wasn’t one of them. I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough a writer, and thus it was foolish to keep referring to myself as one. I was ready to give up, but then Cmonionline sent a response to my essay where my grammatical errors were highlighted. This made me rethink my decision to give up writing as I thought it may have been the errors that deterred my victory.
I wrote two weeks later, this time around it was easier. As I wrote I could see my characters, I could feel what they felt, I could smell what they smelt and see what they saw. I had my sister proofread my work and I no longer submitted minutes before the deadline, it was now hours.
It was like the feeling one gets when something desired for a long time is finally acquired. I rejoiced like someone who had won a trip to Dubia. As I saw my face and essay displayed as one of the week’s winner, my joy knew no bound, not just because I was some thousands richer but because I felt validated as a writer as the second story I had ever completed won a competition.
Since then week after week I would carry the topic at the back of my mind and every time I was inspired, I would write, in the bus, at work, on the road, whilst cooking, whilst eating, I would pen down the ideas for my stories.
Two weeks later I wrote and won again. I was blushing when I saw the post which made a colleague ask if I was proposed to over the phone. I screenshotted the part where a judge described my imaginative power as out of the world and sent to my siblings.
Then I wrote again I didn’t win and I didn’t know why, so I thought that if Cmonionline can introduce a platform where writers can come together and criticize each other’s work, it would help all writer identify their weaknesses, mistakes and strength and adjust accordingly.
Cmonionline yet again choose an amazing topic that made it possible for me to share my story, so I decided I must write.
I must write in appreciation of the platform given to me to showcase my talent as a writer.
I must write in appreciation of the judge, whose description of me motivates me to keep writing.
I must write in appreciation of the sponsors, who sacrifice to encourage creativity.
I must write in appreciation of other writers, whose work I learn from each day.
I must write for my readers, without whom I wouldn’t be.
So, I wrote.
Augusta Ndeche is an Accountant by profession, but also has a passion for creative writing and Fashion designing. She hails from Anambra State and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org