What we learnt in the writers’ workshop

Participants during the writers' workshop at the Village Market. PHOTO/Courtesy.

When Lucas Wafula, a seasoned writer and editor, published on his Facebook account that he would be facilitating a writers’ workshop at the Village Market, I became interested.

I saw it as an excellent opportunity to meet and greet this editor of great repute who likes the content I create and share on social sites.

I also remember fondly that when he was one of the Kendeka Short Story Prize judges, he urged me to seduce serendipity by submitting a tale.

So, on Friday, 22nd April 2022, I was privileged to meet this editor with a pleasant personality.

I was glad and grateful to join other scribes at the Village Square to imbibe insights and ideas from one of the finest in the sphere of publishing.

This convocation was convened by Moto Books and Arts Festival 2022, powered by Half-priced Books, focused on firing African literature.

The event started on 21st and ended on 24th April 2022.

It gyrated around various activities, like books exhibitions, dinner, moto prize, moto book club, book readings, charity work and masterclass themed: How to write a book.

As someone with great interest in the sphere of writing and editing, I chose to attend and learn more about the publishing process and procedure.

This was important.

The good book puts it aptly in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron.

So, a man sharpens the face of a friend.”

Again, Alvin Toffler warned us, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

Therefore, attending the writers’ workshop was the best decision for men and women in the business of welding words like yours truly.

Lucas Wafula, the hawk-eyed editor with a cache of expertise, experience and exposure, talked about a lot of things worth writing about, which is in line with the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”

During that meeting of minds, we learnt that real writers just sit and write right.

There is no magic wand, elixir or philosopher’s stone that a writer can rely on to master the mechanics of weaving words.

This, of course, lends credence to Dan Roynter’s deep reflections, “If you wait for inspiration so as to write, then you are not a writer, but a waiter.”

Moreover, as Wafula deployed his God-given abilities to build our capacities, something was clear as crystal: Writers are avid readers.

He never admonished us to look for books and read voraciously, but the environment replete with books acted as a silent curriculum to all and sundry.

Mr. Lucas Wafula, a seasoned writer and editor speaking during the event. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The fantastic facilitator also laced his impeccable presentation with copious quotations from classics.

So, it is true that what a certain sage said on stage is right: Reading is breathing in, while writing is breathing out.

I can abut this argument on Stephen King’s words of wisdom, “If you want to be a writer, you do two things above all others: read a lot, and write a lot.”

Over and above, Lucas Wafula drew a dichotomy between traditional and self-publishing.

He urged us to surge to the fore and publish books.

Albeit, from his submissions, he had a soft spot for traditional publishing, where authors develop manuscripts and then submit them to well-established publishing firms for the remaining labyrinthine process.

This is the best way to go because quality is guaranteed.

The publishing firm helps in marketing, distribution and sales, as the author earns money in the form of royalties spelt out in the contract initially signed.

In a larger sense, people who access success in book production hone the skill of using the written word.

People who trade with words mind how they write.

They know that words are currency.

Words welded well attract bountiful benefits.

They can make the writer famous and wealthy.

More so, the writer can cut an imperishable niche in a particular area.

Consequently, it befits the writer to decide the genre to stick on like a tick and clearly define who to write to – the audience.

Writing is never easy, more so when the writer is oblivious of what to do and how to do it.

In the whole scheme of things, writing is rife with stiff competition.

We see that in the call for entries into writing prizes. Meritocracy outshines mediocrity.

Those who buy your books want the best from them. They look forward to interacting with an excellent text.

Serious readers buy books that make sense.

This calls for writers to evince excellence when they decide to put the pen on paper.

Excellence is attained when the writer brings out originality, ingenuity and creativity.

Excellence calls for high standards, clock-like precision and meticulous attention to detail.

There is an imperative need to say no to mediocrity, which is the state of being average.

A participant contributing during the writers’ workshop. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Lastly, writing is making music with words.

When the rhyme and rhythm arouse intense interest, the editor(s) will get the beat without a tinge of struggle.

To churn out work that can withstand the test of time, writers must learn to edit and proofread their work of art before they submit it for publishing.

This can be done through what, in the lingo and language of research, is known as ‘space rehearsal’.

Editors gravitate towards manuscripts that are well-written.

Failure to adhere to that golden rule means the writer will always get rejected, leaving dejected like a wet hen.

The writer is an editor, orator and author. vochieng.90@gmail.com

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Mr. Ochieng' is an editor, orator and author. His contact: vochieng.90@gmail.com


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