Shakespeare wrote about the darling buds of May in his ever popular sonnet. Gabriel begins this piece from the not so darling buds of May 2018. I was in my messy room, which I shared with almost 9 individuals, in the boy’s hostel staring at my “Best Speaker” award in awe, but not the awe you know, it was awe-ful. I steadily pondered on how I managed to even pull that off; my first ever official debate and I won Best Speaker. I asked myself, Were the standards low? Perhaps not. Was I surrounded by an unintelligent lot? Definitely not! Was I just that exceptional? Probably. I still feel mixed emotions till this day. How can something feel so deserving, yet underserving at the same time?
A couple years go buy and I win more in similitude, I thrive. I become complacent, I fail. It gets boring and uninteresting, rinse and repeat, the cycle continues. Time flies, then it hits me! “Of course being a public speaker is good but do you know what is even better?” Being a writer! I have always had a love-hate relationship with writing, most times it is this surreal conduit that transports me to a different world laced with solace and satisfaction, then it just gets genuinely exhausting sometimes. I have always admired consistent writers and always wished that I would be one someday, any day. I knew if I was good in speaking, writing shouldn’t be an issue right? Write. How myopic of you Gabriel. I underestimated the art of writing. I predicated its ease on my vast vocabulary, and yes to be honest; that counted but my mistake was thinking that is all I needed. I was wrong, I needed more. Reading the works of seasoned laureates, David Akindolire’s thoughtful pieces on Meduim and most particularly synopses of various movies (especially vintage ones) enchanted me the more in my quest to be a writer and spurred my new found love for it.
Notwithstanding, something in me told me I might catch on to this, I sought not to over exaggerate my new budding venture, I remained optimistic. Now, my problem was not whether I knew how to write well, my problem was I did not just want to write well, everyone writes well. I wanted to write beautifully, profoundly. I wanted these words to resurrect Shakespeare. Yes, admittedly, I am a natural orator, I enjoy speaking more; but you see, as a law student, it is advised from early that you equip yourself in all three areas to be the “ideal lawyer”. What are these three areas? They are: Public Speaking (Advocacy), Writing (Legal, Creative, Academic etc.) and Research (Legal and General). I was already well equipped in the first and third, the second needed to be beckoned. It could be said tacitly, implied almost, that my desire to not be complacent incentivized my urge to start writing.
And so I began reading, reading and more reading; because why not? A writer who does not read is like a bee which produces no honey— valueless. I began practicing. I wrote raps, I wrote songs, unrelated I know, but it made my efforts less meaningless, fruitful. It made this new found craft more convenient to adapt to. I practiced more. I read more. Law textbooks were also an inspiration to hone my craft the more, oddly enough. I wrote more articles in this regard and I took all my assignments seriously as though they were postgraduate theses, each and every single one of them. In the creative spectrum of things, I found Chinua Achebe’s books to be highly resourceful throughout my journey, especially “Arrow of God” and “A Man of The People”; as well as William Golding’s “Lord of The Flies”, and Horace Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto”
I developed a quirky but interesting habit of reading plots and synopses of movies, rather than just watching them. I love movies, but there is something about reading the plot that just gives me inner fulfillment and ignites my creative desires. I highly recommend the indulgence of that, as well as watching these Christopher Nolan movies : “The Prestige”, “Inception” and “Interstellar”. Also, Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island”. These proved useful tips for me throughout my cause, and it gave me certain relative edge over my peers. I realized I enjoyed more of mind bending and mind boggling movies. I always wondered what went through the head of those script writers when they wrote these movies, I wanted it to go through mine, which is rather big. I wanted to write movies like this, you know, the thrill and goosebumps you get when you discover something phenomenal, like a plot twist or easter eggs. I wanted to create that. I began scriptwriting, had a brief spell and decided I would return to it at a later time. You know how procrastination can be so powerful, so comfortable, yet deadly.
However, I moved on from that, with the resolution that brief stint was just bad timing, perhaps next time. I delved into competitive (essay) writing and honestly it was disheartening, depressing, exasperating to say the least. I am not sure I had up to a 3% win rate for all essays I have ever applied for in my life, I tried my best and cried my worst in all these times. I started to develop a self serving bias—blaming the respective organizers for their supposed lack of foresight and inability to recognize talent. Who was I to say that? Gabriel Iloh, who is he? what makes him so special? He was just full of himself, making a fool of himself. I even remember bringing tribalism into the play of things as a factor of my failure. My God. How stupid of me.
I spoke to a certain senior who talked me out of quitting. Indeed I was very close to. He encouraged me to be relentless and resilient; I just wanted to rest. But I kept pushing, now here I am, my words before you fine readers, writing another essay, in another competition, hoping to win. And of course you could only hope, in competitions, you can only do your best and hope; hope that your best is manifested in whatever the end results may be. I remain optimistic in light of the optics.
In hindsight, I would like to apologize to any essay competition organizer I might have wrongly and unduly blamed for my failure back in my early days of competitive essay writing, as I exhibited unhealthy ounces of self-serving bias. I sincerely and genuinely apologize, I went back to read my works and if for anything, I should have been even disqualified, not only for sending subpar works, but for backing it up with an undeserving, entitled and brazen attitude when I did not win. Gabriel was not supposed to win but Gabriel thinks he deserves it all because he often suffers from an episodic main character syndrome. Like other contestants did not put in as much work as he did, potentially even more. Gabriel’s entry needs more work, more time. I have utilized that time. I hope it reflects and manifests in this work and my prospective works to come. Sometimes the whole point of it is the journey, and never the destination, as odd as it may sound. For in the journey do we lose ourselves and find ourselves; we remind ourselves on purpose, of our purpose.
You know the thoughts are escalated when you are all alone and in the dark. On my bed I lay and strive to improve on my craft, I often think about my journey in ink.
About the Writer
My name is Gabriel Iloh, a 500 level law student at Enugu State University (ESUT), Enugu State, South-East of Nigeria. I am also an Enugu State indigene (Oji River), although I reside in Apapa, Lagos. I am 21 years of age. I am a highly innovative, analytical, ambitious and creative individual. I am a goal driven and detail oriented stalwart who offers optimum value with an impressive work ethic. I am highly resourceful and I possess high profile problem solving skills. I write brilliantly. I speak exceptionally well, with a good proficient command of the English Language. With my profound speaking abilities I have been able to emerge victorious in a substantial amount of competitions I have engaged in.