Why do you write?

Because it’s the only thing I deeply like and care about. All that excites me.

But you are in the sciences?

I grew up in Nigeria and it was science or art or commercial. You are smart or not. You are to be one and that’s it. I try to get rid of some of those dampening mentalities. Plus Nigeria is full of unemployment and that influences a whole lot of career decisions. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D even. Nigerian to do.

You do have quite a bit of experience and recognition for a teen writer? You are trying. People your age don’t really care about literature.

Do I even know how to write? I’ve just kept trying. I want to be visible and stable, but I don’t really care about popularity. I write trash a lot of course, but I’d grow, won’t I?

I don’t think there’s a demise with literature though, there are thousands of young people writing. I just think more forms of expression are rising and people are on different paths really.

What inspires you? What do you think about inspiring other people?

I struggle to understand how I’m inspiring anybody. It sounds cute and big and I cringe a little thinking of that. As for what inspires me, too many to count.

What was engineering school like?

I never really wanted it. I just wanted to be cool and smart and rich. It was too much. Depressive gibberish. I wanted to enter the ground by my second year. Everyday, applied mathematics, physics. I wanted to do away with it. I was literally scratching my head and I was burning. I really don’t know why engineering is so respectable, it was so draining and dreadful and pressurizing.

Did contacts in your life really foresee a writing career? Or support enrollment in writing programs?

Of course not (not my immediate family though). Few of them even read my work and it’s okay honestly. I’m Nigerian. If you’re looking for money, don’t write. It has to be for other reasons and give you much more meaning I think. I’m not a fan of student loans for a creative writing degree but maybe that’s because I’m Nigerian. Writing is cross-sectional really, so find what works for you. Until you’re quite accomplished, if you aren’t strong-willed, being a broke baby writer walking about daydreaming implausible writer dreams is a risk. You want to spend your life reading and writing fiction, what’s that? How is that one going to give you big money? Or respectable job prospects? If you have neither, then you’re to be real and sort yourself until a breakout. The prophecy was that I’d be a doctor. Some people would have given more nods if I said music but writing? What? Are you Chimamanda? You have to reach a level of recognition or independence before you can parade yourself as a writer. Not that people don’t care, but you write, so what? Not many writers are celebrities anyway. I mean the odds of publishing and literary accalim- ugh – it takes time and you can’t particularly determine how it unfolds. I mean people start lying they’re proud of you if you win big or become a literary star but if not, omo, you’re on your own. If the opportunity doesn’t knock, you build the door.

When did you start actively writing?

November 2015. I’d been interested in books literally all my childhood though. I wasn’t a loud child. Actually, I did not like talking much. It wasn’t a lack of confidence, it was more of a distrust of the world. In solitude with books, everything was a beautiful multitude. As a child, when I was upset, I’d just stop talking and write. And then my loved ones would peep and I’d close it, hiding my scribbles. I did talk more as a teen though, and I had my people.

Did you stop blogging /posting your drafts on social media?

Yes. I started from there and just transitioned to doing longer work that meant more time and more revisions. I still pop a few updates on the blog, but it’s largely only people who subscribe by email who see it. I’m barely on social media anymore. I have an Instagram for announcements and that’s all.

What’s the journey like?

Hard of course. Six years and I’m still not there yet. Have a long way to go.

You do not get the assuredness and pedestals people who want other paths get until after many years. You have to fight for your dreams as a writer, to go after the doors with your full chest. I mean it’s one thing if it’s a primary interest for you and you want a career out of it, or if it’s just one of those things.

What’s next for you? What do you look forward to?

A front page New York Times feature. An editorial role somewhere great. Big writer things, you know. I always dream big. I love big things. I Iove screaming in my room. Yessir.

When is your book coming out and what will it be about?

Let my writer friends agree that what I’ve written isn’t trash first.

What’s one interesting moment for you as a writer?

I did this competition back then in Nigeria, and the prize was a mattress. I was in high school. I somehow missed the award ceremony.

Why are you all Nigerian writers amassing clout from the West?

So somebody cannot enjoy clout? I should be collecting mattresses and begging literary organizers to remember to keep to their deals or to even send the prize? Please no. I like the West if it funds and supports my interests, thank you very much.

Are you a Christian writer?

Hmm yes. But not in the You are going to hell and here am I saving you sense.

Who are the emerging Nigerian writer friends or acquaintances are you thankful for?

Ernest Ogunyemi is fire. Good lord, his poetry is breathtaking. And he also encourages me too when my writing isn’t going well. Confirms my trashy doubts. Fiyinfoluwa Oladipo, my first critic. And there’s David Emeka, who also has an engineering background and an obsession with STYLIZED PROSE! I mean, he’s a semicolon and syntax king. I once wrote my longest sentence of about 1000 words not long ago, a flurry of expressions with flexing semicolons and commas thrown about, not so good, and then he sent me some gorgeous piece he’d been working on, so skilled. I was intimidated.


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