My Parents Fear For My Future As A Writer
Syncity NG presents the Literary Lords and Ladies Show; a show that introduces the finest literati from Africa to the rest of the world. These creatives have excelled in their different fields and we will be asking them to share the secrets of their success.
This week, our guest is Nebeolisa Okwudilli. He is an award winning poet, a focused young man and a literary lord. Nebeolisa Okwudilli was a joint second place winner in the Okot Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation. His poetry and prose works have appeared in Commonwealth Writers, Threepenny Review and The Cincinnati Review.
If you missed the tweetchat on twitter, here is the excerpt.
Chief Synner: Hello, Nebeolisa Okwudilli. Nice to have you here. Let’s begin. At what age did you decide you were good at poetry?
Nebeolisa O: I don’t remember but I think I decided I’d be a writer at the age of 16.
Chief Synner: 16? Wow! I thought you would say in the womb! That’s the common lie these days. How old are you now?
Nebeolisa O: I will be 25 on the 15th of September.
Chief Synner: 25? What?There’s no way you can be 25 with a bio that impressive! Wow! How many International publications do you have to your name?
Nebeolisa O: Honestly I don’t know. I don’t count. Most likely ten or thereabouts.
Chief Synner: Answer me honestly. Are you ashamed to be known as a poet amongst family, friends and other “wealthy” professionals?
Nebeolisa O: I was in the past but now I just say I write and leave it there, hoping not to explain.
Chief Synner: From your answer, can we say that your family isn’t totally comfortable with you being a poet? Do they see poets as hungry?
Nebeolisa O: Of course my family is very uncomfortable with my being a writer. They fear you my future.
Chief Synner: Let’s talk money. How much have you made from poetry? I’m sure people want to know how ‘lucrative’ it is.
Nebeolisa O: It’s not lucrative. I’ve made very little. But then the highest I have been paid by a journal for a single poem is $200 and the least is 5,000 naira.
Chief Synner: What’s your daily regiment like? You churn out so much poetry and bag so many awards. What’s your secret?
Nebeolisa O: Daily Regimen — 1. It’s not daily, it’s more of a night thing when I can get as much quiet as I can use.
2. The secret to good writing is constant reading. You have to look for what works for you.
Chief Synner: Drop a message for your editor. Something you can’t say to his/her face.
Nebeolisa O: Sometimes you’re so mean that I want to not let you see my work again!
Chief Synner: You just dropped a sub for your editor. Are you any poet’s editor?
Nebeolisa O: No. I actually don’t have a poetry editor but someone who is willing to read my prose works because she is like a mother to me.
Chief Synner: A follower wants to know if posting works on social media is a good idea.
Nebeolisa O: I discourage it at a certain point. You’ll mostly get the kind of comments you want, from friends. Not much constructive.
Chief Synner: Another follower wants to know your favorite songs and where you get inspiration.
Nebeolisa O: Like I said, I’d prefer favourite artists. I get inspiration from images. That’s where most of my poems start.
Chief Synner: What’s your last word to upcoming poets? Do you accept mentees?
Nebeolisa O: I have never mentored anyone. I’ll be too harsh on that person. No one mentored me. You have to do it on your own and read a lot. A lot of good journals are free online.
Chief Synner: Thank you so much Nebeolisa Okwudilli. It was such an insightful session. From all of us at SynCityNG, we say thank you.
Nebeolisa O: Thank you very much. I had a good time and wished it was longer.
This interview was originally held on twitter. Follow the #SyncityNGLLL to be a part of the conversation.