I’ve not been faithful to this relationship for a while, but like every unfaithful man, I can explain.
I’ve been trying to re-access my blogging goals: what I want to make of it, where I”m going and how to get there. I’ve been writing – a lot – and one of these days the result of this apart-time would be visible. I just hope that it’ll be worth it and we can all smile at my happily-ever-after story like the aftermath of a Hollywood romantic comedy. Wonder why I’m comparing blogging to a romantic relationship? Don’t blame me, blame Timi and her blog post: I do.
Today, I’m taking a break from apart-time to share something I learnt last year.
One fateful night, when I was still residing on the hills of Nkwelle, my sleep was interrupted by a streak of light that sliced through the darkness of my room. Electricity had been restored in the middle of the night like the power holders of Nkwelle were wont to do and I couldn’t return to dream land so, I stood up, went to the table and powered-up my PC. While I was roaming the corridors of the internet, I saw an article written by a someone, whose crazy wit I respect, about a day in life without technology. In the blog post , he posted a link to a Samsung competition on the subject. I followed the link and saw the requirements. Incidentally, I had just experienced more-than-a-day without technology, and had posted the experience on my blog, so it was easy to free-write something for the competition.
Those were the days when I still carried the silly notion that my writing was for myself so, I was not serious about it. I wrote the piece, read it once, made a few corrections along the way, clicked send, and forgot about it. Really, I forgot about it.
Once you start to publish your work on the internet, it is no longer your own. Never forget anything you write on the interwebs. It is said that the internet never forgets and that is true, so why should you forget?
A few months later, I was heading to a village in Anambra with other corps members for an outreach when I saw a tweet by a friend asking for votes in a Samsung competition for someone. I retweeted the tweet and that was it. The friend asked me if I knew that I was also on the shortlist – the horror. I thanked him for the information, followed the link and there it was: my name and the story I’d written. I read the post and I was horrified; the piece was littered with typographical errors and some other mistakes that could have been taken care of by simply paying more attention.
Never publish a piece without editing it to the best of your abilities. There are some typos that are sent from the enemy to truncate your career (any typo you see in this piece falls in that category) and they won’t leave even when you edit your work a million times and give it to friends to edit for you. However, there are others that can be corrected by simply slowing down and reading the piece out loud to yourself; don’t blame the witches in your village for such errors.
I reluctantly sent the link of the competition to a few friends on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, asking them to publicize for me. God bless their souls. Kenny sent broadcast messages on Whatsapp and I have folks like her to thank for the few votes I got. I couldn’t (and still find it difficult to) send multiple Broadcast messages, mention folks on Twitter till they are tempted to unfollow me and clog Facebook timelines by sending the link to all the groups I’m part of; that is the hustle of the aspiring Nigerian writer and I just couldn’t go through with it. I later met friends who would have been happy to do all the hustling for me if I had asked and they really thought my piece was good in spite of its errors.
Make noise and get your work out. You might think your work is not perfect, but there’s someone creating something even more mediocre but finds more success because s/he makes a lot of noise. And when you find success, please get a publicist.
As you might have guessed, I did not win that contest (I wasn’t even close to the top) but that wasn’t the end of my trouble. The reason why I wasn’t aware of the first time my piece was shortlisted was because my mail had graciously flagged the notice as spam. I corrected that error so, a few weeks after the end of the competition, I got another mail from Samsung. Apparently, the essays were going to be compiled into an ebook. Like my mother would say, my head flew. I thought of the people who would read the ebook and discover the joke that I am and I believed my writing had crashed at the gates of the hangar. I replied that mail and asked for an opportunity to edit my stuff. Did I hear you say learner? I agree. The Samsung rep was gracious enough to reply my message and she said some copy-editing would be done on the work. I’ve now discovered that this is standard practice in the literary world because people who know what they’re doing don’t leave such things to chance; but at that time, I had no idea.
Success is not made for sloppy people. However, it is because of sloppy people (like me) that copy editors go home with a monthly cheque. Hire one today or look for a friend that is gracious enough to do it for free until he discovers how much he can make from it professionally – then you can ditch that friend and find another.
Today I saw another mail form Samsung that notified me that the ebook has been published on the Okadabooks app available in Goggle’s Play Store (Sorry iPhone, Windows Phone and Blackberry users, this is an Android only party). I haven’t downloaded the book yet, but once I do, you bet the first thing would be to check if the rep kept her word and some nice copy-editor has spared my blushes. If they haven’t, I fear that sloppy night would haunt me until the day aliens beam a giant Electromagnetic Pulse on our planet and fry all our electronic devices. And who knows, someone might have even found a way to print the ebook *sighs*.
Don’t make silly errors. However, once you do, accept that you can only promise yourself not to make the mistake again and move on. Otherwise, you’ll be playing with high blood pressure and writers already suffer enough, why add hypertension to your travails?
That is my story. I’m grateful to Samsung for the opportunity and the attendant lessons. One day, when my grandchild looks at my journal, sees all my scribbles and asks “Grandpa what happened to your writing career?” I’ll pull a virtual screen out of my palm and show him this:
If you have an android device, please download the Okadabooks app (I’ll have to contact @ofilispeaks and ask him for money for the free publicity) and get a copy of the ebook. It’s free. Do this so you can tell me if the Samsung folks were true to their word and to also read the other stories while you’re at it. Okadabooks is a wonderful app, so you can thank me later when you see the content on it.
I’ll be back on the blogosphere very soon, doing what I’ve come to love. Until then, you can learn from my mistakes and please, share any similar experience of yours in the comments section so I can learn too. Thank you.