NOTES ON CRAFT: INTRODUCTION by Olakunle Ologunro

NOTES ON CRAFT: INTRODUCTION by Olakunle Ologunro

Notes on Craft: Introduction

by Olakunle Ologunro

Dear Writer,
 
Can you tell that I rewrote this opening several times before deciding on this one? I wondered how best to get your attention and hold it, how best to tell you the purpose of this letter. And of course, I tried to put a bit of style in it. You know, that literary glitter.
 
But here I am, nearly 50 words in and I don’t know if I have succeeded in doing that. If it looks like I’m rambling, indulge me. I promise you, this will make sense soon.

 

Struggling is a shared inheritance of writers. It doesn’t matter what stage we are in our writing career, there are times when the stories just don’t yield, times when the language falls flat despite all the glitter you’ve stirred into it. There are times when the characters simply refuse to come out of hiding, despite how tenderly you coax them, how crafty you are in cajoling them. It is what it is, my friend: this writing thing sometimes trumps us all. That sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Let me change it: sometimes, writing carries a long koboko and flogs us all.
 
Which is why I am writing to you today. This letter is what I (and the entire team of Kreative Diadem) hope will be the beginning of a series of letters on the craft of writing. It arose as a response to a series of letters we have received (and keep receiving) from writers who are hungry for growth, writers who want to produce literary work that will sit in the hall of fame when writing is mentioned.
 
We have drawn out a syllabus, a list of topics to be discussed: lessons on the fundamentals of writing great short stories, essentials on dialogue, character, and POV. Arguments for and against ‘writer-ly habits.’ Acceptance and rejection, reasons why your work is being rejected and what to do about this. We will do a lot of sharing too: rejection emails that cut us a little too deep, we-love-your-writing-but-we-don’t-want-you emails that left us confused for days, and acceptance emails that made us want to take a danfo to our ancestral hometown and say to our village people, “Shame on you, we have started making it.” And at the end of everything, we hope that these tips will help you produce a short story that will win the Caine Prize, or the Commonwealth Prize and all the notable prizes to be won in one’s writing career.

 

It’s true, I haven’t won these prizes myself, so maybe I am not fit to dispense writing advice, because really, who am I? Besides, I don’t think that prizes are the hallmark of stellar writing. At least not always. That sounds controversial, doesn’t it? In these letters, we will unfurl ‘controversial statements’ as they relate to writing.
 
I will not be running this series alone —  I don’t have the strength or the depth of experience required. From time to time, there will be craft lessons and emails from writers and editors who have more writing experience. They will discuss their favourite stories, their experience with submitting work and reading submitted work. Together, we will learn, and at the end of the series, I hope that one — or all — of us writes what will be referred to as that story.

 

So, dear friend. Every two weeks, there will be a new letter from me to you. Think of it as a growth pill delivered regularly. Or as the beginning of a relationship that will be beneficial to us. Think of it as a creative writing course, free of charge and with plenty of benefits. Think of it as opening the door to a grand house with an abundance of gifts specially crafted and curated for you.
 
Here’s to the beginning of a new thing.
 
See you soon,
Kunle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olakunle Ologunro is a Nigerian writer. His work has been published in Brittle Paper, Agbowo, the Queer Africa anthology, and the Gerald Kraak anthology for work that provokes thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality. He is an alumnus of the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop and a finalist for the 2020 Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship from One Story Magazine. He won the inaugural Kreative Diadem Prize for short fiction.

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