Guest Post by Uwem Umana
Writing to me is a hobby. A hobby that de-stresses me, a hobby that positions me as a creator, a hobby that sees me contributing genuinely to the corpus of knowledge and literature, a hobby that elevates my mood and that of others as well. As a short story writer, I realize that people live in the day and age of ‘at a glance’. People sometimes are reluctant or hesitant to read long works of fiction (because of lack of time discipline or lack of reading culture) and as a result, wouldn’t mind reading shorter stories that still capture the essence of a full-fledged fictional piece.
Writing a short story can be very demanding because it means you have to craft a condensed version of what would have been a longer tale.
Where do I get my inspiration from?
I get inspired by things I contact on a daily basis, that is why I never run out of ideas. I get inspired by my students, I get inspired from the things I see around me, nature, people in the supermarkets, people driving on the motorways, family moments, the list is endless.
Jotting down my inspiration
As soon as I get inspired by a topic, I have to stop whatever I am doing to write it down straightaway. If I forget it, it takes me a long time to get it back if I ever do. Hence the need to travel about with a writing device(notebook, phone, etc)
I then type out my first draft during my writing session which is after work every working day. Every story when started is a work in progress. However, I always have a scaffold where I write a sort of different elements that I would like to weave into the story. I have a notebook for this purpose. The aspect that I have to pay attention to is the conflict in the story and how the conflict will be resolved. In my opinion, what makes a story beautiful is my ability to arrest the attention of my readers and sustain it, making them not want to stop until they get to the last dot. I call this literary orgasm.
After the first draft, I incubate the story for a while, maybe few days, a week, a month, sometimes 6 months before I revisit that story. It depends on the depth and level that I am operating on.
I will revisit the story and rewrite it and pay attention to the details and the craft. I will read it over and make changes till I am pleased with myself. I will always ask myself the question, if this story was written by an unknown person and presented to me, would I want to part with 30 minutes of my time to read it?
At this stage,I would send off the draft to my illustrator who will read through the story and design a cover page for me and send it for my approval/amendment.
I would incubate the work for the second time, this time for a day or two or thereabouts (or even more) and revisit it again and make final editing and changes.
Depending on what the purpose of the writing is for, sometimes I send it to an editor to proofread and check it out for me.
Since I am more or less in charge of my website, I then put it on the queue list to publish on my website / other websites either as a blog or short story.
At every point in time, I have to always have 10 stories in my bank waiting to be published.
I keep an account of all the stories I have written and where they have been sent off to or published.
Final note: just like I am writing every day, so must I read a short story at every point in time. There must be a short story I am reading at every point in time. There is no better way to better my craft than reading other people’s stories. More importantly, stories that have won awards or made success out in the reading world.
When I receive emails, messages, and comments on my story(ies), I feel encouraged and it’s like a fuel that surges me on.