I had become weary with hurt as my eyes watered my bed and were consumed with much pain. My hurt heart wished I had never gotten admitted into my school as I picked up my pen to write what I felt an ideal school should be. I imagined a school free from punishments from wicked seniors and full of great friends. I cried as I wrote.
They say every man is born with a book in him. They say it takes a moment of extreme emotions to release the creativity, of which mine was released after serving a punishment meted out by Senior Sonia. A full book was born from that punishment. I penned down my thoughts and gradually they became a High school story my friends could not put down. My storybook was passed from one classmate to another. Senior Sonia must have been the midwife aiding the birth of a writer, for I can never begin my writing biography without reference to her. For that, I forgave her of all the unnecessary punishments and till this moment, my best comes when I am overwhelmed with emotions.
My name is Oluwaseun Osanyinro, and this is my writing journey.
Like a full tank, I poured out my thoughts into books at every slight opportunity and began titling my short stories. From a nameless story to ‘My life at 360’ to ‘Switched’, where I reunited lost twins, I had become a writer from the cradle. Yet, a full tank never refilled would finally run empty and mine ran dry in two years. I settled for writing the best stories in exercise books and emerging as the best in essays. Oh! How I remember those euphoric days! Days my English teacher would read my essays over and over again and wonder what I was doing in science class, my friends would argue over what they believed the next chapter should be and days I realized I am a lover of creative writing, particularly fiction. I remember being called out and applauded for writing heartfelt essays or analyzing literature books. I am sure this is how great authors like Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Adiche and others began their lives.
I basked in the euphoria of the little celebration but that was all. My tank was running out slowly but steadily. The only drop of water was my consistency. I wrote. On any little exercise book I found, and on pieces of paper. I may not have had a tank full of water but I did not abandon my tank. I, however, left my tank empty for years. The dark ages, I would call them.
I always wondered where I would have been if I was trained from that very age. Maybe a Nobel Laureate or a World class author. Do not be amazed, I am a writer. I dream big. Maybe my dark age was also my fault as I viewed writing as a major distraction when I moved to attain a University degree. I was a Science student after all and we dealt more with numbers, names of body parts, animals and invisible microorganisms. No one wrote stories around me, no one read stories around me. Our focus was to achieve A’s, the first class and jobs in prospects. Then, writing was a pastime and an art student’s task. Fiction writing was not for serious students. As with a hand that is left forgotten, I soon forgot what writing was all about, save the snippets I wrote in a book somewhere. Yet a hand left forgotten for a while jerks back to function if taught its use again. Slow and steady.
“You can start writing online”, my friend said to me one day. “I have seen so many people write on Facebook and get a lot of followers”, she continued. My life had moved from the naïve 13-year-old writing on any exercise book to a young woman about to test the waters of online writing. Life had moved digital. I must have laughed to cover my fear yet she persisted. “I am not sure about this”, I replied out of fear. “Who would read it?” I also asked. “People. You just write.” She not only convinced me to begin, but she also made sure I took the first step to train my forgotten hands to function once more. My life as a writer leapt for the first time in years as I opened my Facebook page and posted in 2019. My tank was about to be full again and has remained full because of friends who love to see me succeed. Every writer needs a friend who gives the external push towards greatness.
One of the pillars of lasting long as a writer is to actually begin because of your passion for writing and not the benefits attached. The benefits might dance as fluctuating waves yet passion will keep one consistent. Write because you love to write, because you have stories to tell, because you want to impact lives and because you want posterity to remember you walked on earth. I had written despite the dancing waves of followers, likes and comments before I realized one could get a monetary benefit from writing. By the year 2020, I had planted, and my writing tree was already sprouting. I opened a blog on WordPress during the pandemic and it became my electronic paper. That was where I first launched my e-book called SMS (Save My Soul), a short story on the power of intercession and help. At this time, I gradually started gaining friends and followers that liked my genre and supported my work. My tank was getting full.
As the cliché says “Garbage in, Garbage out”, I realized that I needed much more than training my hands to write. A full tank without knowledge creates a gaping hole that would drain all its contents. For me to be a great fiction writer which has always been my passion, I had to read from other great writers. I had to mend every hole in my tank. My decision brought me to the tables of Chimamanda Adichie, Francine Rivers, Frank Peretti and other award-winning authors. If I garbage in excellence, I would stand out too.
My quest to become better launched me into the competition phase. I submitted entries nationally and internationally. I may not have won any but I gained experience. My diligence paid off the day another friend introduced me to a Facebook page called cmonionline in August 2020. It initially looked too good to be true as I was skeptical about Facebook pages yet I submitted my entry. My first entry did not win which dampened my mood. Instead of giving up, I went to read the winning essays and was impressed at the style of writing. I was in competition with extremely good writers. In my second week, I improved and poured my best into my entry. I won.
One may be parched for a long and about to give up but at the sight of water, no matter how far, there is a renewed strength to take one more step and another till you reach the water. That was what I felt at my first win. Past disappointments and fears of writing online vanished into thin air and I was renewed to take step towards my next win. As I saw my name, picture and essay title, I jumped on my bed, screamed and did the dance. My roommate was puzzled till she heard the good news. One would think we won a lottery as we did the dance on our beds, screamed and laughed. I realized that day that nothing beats your first win. Nothing. I entered more competitions and won more. Between September and December 2020, I won 2 essay competitions on cmonionline with a Christmas gift and did more dances whenever my name popped up. As usual, monetary gifts were just the added advantage. The euphoria of seeing your creativity at the top for all and sundry to read is magical. The commendation and the satisfaction that sleepless nights were not in vain. I was becoming a bold lioness in creative writing.
The start of the new year, 2021, revealed the weakness every writer has, the weakness I denied till I almost lost an international writing competition. Every writer procrastinates. Call it overconfidence, laziness, fear etc., procrastination is their surname in writing. My boldness and search for more competitions led me to the Youth Combating NTDs essay creative competition where I submitted a creative writing entry a few minutes before the deadline. Procrastination once again. The side effect of this weakness is the inability to revise and fine-tune one’s work as the adrenaline pumping and time ticking leaves no room for revision. I began my entry in the morning and submitted it in the evening and still emerged as one of the top 10 finalists in the international competition. However, I did not make it to the final stage as a lot of errors were detected which were sent for correction. I got published, internationally recognized and selected to be one of the voices behind the organization. I had seen my first and persistent weakness. This weakness showed up once and again in my writing journey that year. Whether it was for a competition, my blog posts or my Facebook posts, I left work undone till the last minute. Sometimes, sad to say, I ended up forfeiting everything especially when I could no longer meet the deadline.
Another weakness I found was the tendency to give up if things were not going my way. I had lost an international competition earlier and I was doing the same with all others. My intense emotions were going in the wrong direction and I was about to throw in the towel. Every great man failed once, twice or ninety-nine times like Thomas Edison. Failure should be seen as a ladder rung towards greatness and I understood this as reviews began to come after each competition. I dedicated time to reading entries like mine and much more reading winning entries. To be the best, I read from the best. I maintained my uniqueness in my writing style but took time to blend other styles that won.
I also battled with consistency. I had a river of words but I shut and turned off the tap too much that I lost count of the days I did not write online. Some days I wrote unendingly and my blog, which really helped in building consistency, celebrated my streak. On other days, I remind myself verbally that I am a writer with little or no proof that month. The first cure to an ailment is to discover its name and cause. Days and days passed by before I opened up and got an accountability partner. The result of this cure birthed a book about to be published. My accountability partner is also a great writer like me who has mastered the art of consistency in writing. Not only did I get a partner, but I also set to read books on becoming an excellent writer.
My determination skyrocketed as I began 2022 with the first book “Crushing Procrastination” by Deborah Funbunwhe. It helped fuel my passion to enter essay competitions once more, avoid deadline submissions and begin the first draft of my book. I moved to “Eight letters to a young writer” by Teju Cole which was given to me by cmonioline. As I pored through the pages of this book, I realized I had been an average writer for too long. My tank had been half-full. I improved myself by experimenting on all my social media platforms and saw improvements in months. I became known as a writer, received referrals and was privileged to impact others. In crowning my efforts, I was notified of a writing retreat which I eagerly participated in. It seemed everything around me was in support of my newborn passion to strive for mastery.
In building consistency, avoiding procrastination and being the best, a writer should also recognize a period of time-out. A time-out creates a period to reflect on one’s achievements, discover gaps and relax one’s mind. As I took time to reflect on my writing journey, I realized that to keep my tank full, I had to be connected to channels that would help my flow. My friends are great supporters, of my determination to strive for the best, breaking the fear of online writing, being accountable to someone who motivates me, reading from the best and keeping company with great writers. In addition, a time-out reduces distractions and increases focus. I succeeded in taking one when I needed to complete my book. I was distracted too much and had dragged it for eight months and within two months of time-out, I got clarity enough to pour my idea and heart into a book. With that set, I resumed my blog posts on all social media platforms. Time-out is like deep cleaning. It truly helps.
I cannot omit the place of my beliefs in my writing journey for after all is said and done, there is a flavor of life called God that crowns one’s efforts with success. I prayed for every entry and for every entry I won, I knew favor singled me out. My success is because of God. He took an empty tank and filled it with much creativity to impact lives. I had become full and overflowing.
Writing is not a lonely journey, it is one full of new experiences daily as one surfs the waters of words. It has been four years of being a creative writer online, 17 years since Senior Sonia punished this great writer and for once, I have never regretted my journey and never will. When asked what I would love to be remembered for, I replied, “An author.” Men would come and go but words would forever be marked in the sands of time.
About the Writer
MPH (Child and Adolescent Health)