Comment on On writing honestly by Yahya (Baba)

A tough one. I think once inclined to tell a story, any story, the urge to get it out, like ambitions, gnaws on psyche and if unexpressed lingers on the surface leaving a hint here, a hint there, little snippets drop subconsciously and that, i think, is what makes a writer, the insuppressible conversations/emotions/ideas that flood the mind and yearn for space to meander and overflow, an outlet if you will.

If you want to write, you must write and unburden yourself on the page, for ideas escape, positions change, fresh insight corrupts and all sorts of things happen to the mind, so get the writing bit out of the way and ponder upon the questions on privacy later. If it were a subject too close to heart and one not comfortable addressing publicly yet, id use an archetype with aspects of realism and because these conversations stem from a place of genuine attachment, as writer you’d tend to be clearer and convincing in your characters and as a reader, it would resonate more for us. It is a rule of thump in literature that every writer have so of bits of themselves in their work, thats why when studying the works of prominent writers a lot of the critical analysis of the text is devoted to the writer’s background and life circumstances and politics of that society at that particular time so that a bit of context is generated. However, the balance is needed, should one use themselves up entirely or leave some for reflection and analysis.

Some of us read for pleasure and do not necessarily bother psychoanalysing the writer unless it were a sensitive subject, some just scratch the surface out of curiosity and depending on the nature of text and go beyond the words on the page to get a glimpse of writer’s politics and frame mind. In the end, it will be about a delicate balance deciding how much of yourself should go into your work and what point.

I wouldnt worry about how it will be received, writing for me is about experimentation, its about trying different styles with form and narrative to see what works, obviously, it is important to have the occasional second third fourth pair of eyes for honest feedback and perhaps even redrafting of material before the piece is released to the jungle but once its out there, let people make what they will of it. The best of writers were people who were ostracised for their views at the time. I hope it makes sense, and please write, if even you dont publish it, it will evolve and take a life of its own and grow and engage you, get it out on paper and have a conversation with it in the comforts of your privacy and only release what you are comfortable with.

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