By Hauwa Sangjat Machunga.
The week July 8th-14th was a life changing experience for me. Fidelity Bank organized a Creative Writing Workshop and I was privileged to be chosen as one of the participants. I’ve never written so much within a few days like I did during the workshop. I’d usually just wait for inspiration, which takes forever to come around. I like to say that it’s like a girl, you know, fronting and all.
I thought of a good time, but I didn’t think about an amazing time. It was like a week in paradise. I met the most wonderful people and I had the honour of learning under published and famous authors.
It was a “stress-less” and no-pressure week, more or less. All-expense paid workshop—nice hotel, great food, and all we had to do was write (which we love doing, by the way) and at the end, we still got a token (in monetary value). Almost too good to be true!
And when I picked my pen to write, the words just came…
The workshop kicked off on the 8th of July, 2012. I arrived early Sunday evening at Dover Hotel in Lekki, Lagos State. It was a serene environment, beautiful and private. Stepping out of the car, I immediately knew that I would have the time of my life for the next few days. Everything played out well, I checked in and picked my workshop materials at the front desk and went up to my room, without any stress.
I was up throughout the first night; anxious though relaxed, anticipating what the workshop would hold for me. Frankly speaking, I took my presence there for granted. That changed come Monday morning when Mr. Uche (the amiable facilitator from Fidelity Bank) mentioned that hundreds of entries were sent in, but only 30 were chosen. At that moment, I felt totally humbled and I knew I wasn’t there by chance.
It was a privilege to meet world renowned writers, Helon Habila, Aminatta Forna and Sally Keith. It was unfortunate, however, that I could not learn extensively under each of them. Because of the duration of the workshop, the classes had to be divided into three categories: poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Poetry was taken by Sally Keith, fiction by Helon Habila, and non-fiction by Aminatta Forna.
I was in the poetry class and, needless to say, it was a wonderful experience. I learnt so much within the space of a few days and met wonderful people as well. Interaction wasn’t limited to only the participants in your class, so learning from other groups and people was a plus!
The classes held from 9 am, after breakfast, till 12 noon, with a tea break at about 10.30 am. The rest of the day was given to us; using the time to complete writing exercises, to think, to interact and do whatever you deem fit.
For me, it was a “no-pressure” few days. There was ample time to relax, do what I love to do – write, and at the same time learn. I always used to wait for inspiration before I wrote my poetry and, sometimes, inspiration takes forever to come along. I like to say that we are vaguely familiar, inspiration and I, in that she never sticks around too long. I learnt to write without this kind of inspiration; there’s a kind that you can call upon when you need it. When you have the words and the thoughts and you begin to put them down, they will keep coming to you. You may feel your work is incomplete or inadequate, but as they say, a poem or story is never really finished, it is only abandoned.
I learnt of the importance of line and structure, incorporating sound and images in my poetry, and allowing your reader some room for him/her to interpret the poetry as it speaks to them. There’s an endless list of the things I have learnt, not only from the classes, but also from interpersonal relationships with the other participants, and from the experience as a whole. Those were moments I wish I could have for the rest of my life.
On the 14th of July, every one left the hotel one by one. It’s hard to understand how you get so used to a group of people only after a few days. We said our goodbyes, promised to keep in touch and also promised to “keep the ink flowing”.
About the AuthorHauwa Sangjat Machunga was a participant at the recently concluded international creative writing workshop organised by Fidelity Bank. She loves writing and poetry and is presently completing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. You can read her blog at www.jaydablessed.wordpress.com.
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