“Find your voice and your style” – Interview with Nneoma Mbalewe

“Find your voice and your style” – Interview with Nneoma Mbalewe

TABLE TALK

“Find your voice and your style” – Interview with Nneoma Mbalewe

As we anticipate the fourth edition of Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest, we had a chat with Nneoma Mbalewe who won the flash fiction category of the third edition.

Nneoma is an award-winning writer who was shortlisted for the Creative Freelance Writerz (CFW) prize last June. She currently studies Law at the prestigious University of Ilorin, Nigeria. Nneoma discusses the inspiration behind her winning entry “Ayomide” and also shares some tips for young writers.

Enjoy the read!

Kreative Diadem: Who is Nneoma Mbalewe? Tell us briefly about yourself.

Nneoma: I’m an avid reader and zealous writer. Besides that, I’m a law student at the University of Ilorin.

Nneoma Mbalewe

Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: When did you first discover your passion for storytelling and what inspired you?

Nneoma: I would say in primary school. I was a ferocious reader (still am) and with such reading, grew my desire to tell stories.

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer and what steps do you take to overcome them?

Nneoma: I would say timidity and lack of confidence in myself. I read some stories/novels and they’re so good that I begin to question myself. Is writing for me? It pushes me to want to better my work and spend time trying to be a perfectionist instead of actually sitting down to write.

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you and your work?

Nneoma: I have a lot, actually. Internationally, I read a lot of James Patterson, Sidney Sheldon and Karen Rose. I also look up to Elnathan John, Chidera Okolie, to name a few. But I don’t limit myself and my favorite figures change very often.

“Find your voice and your style. Just because someone writes the way you like does not mean that style is for you.”

Nneoma Mbalewe

Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: Last year, you won first prize in the flash fiction category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. What was your reaction like?

Nneoma: I was surprised, honestly. I hadn’t wanted to submit Ayomide because I felt it wasn’t ready but the deadline was approaching and I really wanted to submit something. Winning made me elated.

KD: What was the inspiration and meaning behind Ayomide?

 Nneoma: Ayomide was birthed by the question,” How do we prove our worth if we do not even get an opportunity?” If Ayomide was born elsewhere, at his age, he probably would have gotten a college degree being a prodigy. Besides that, no one else has noticed his genius, except his teacher. A lot of people we meet are talented yet have no way of letting the world know. That’s the story I wanted to tell.

KD: Do you have any other published works aside from Ayomide, as well as any other achievements you’d like to share?

Nneoma: I have very few published works. I was shortlisted for CFWriterz June 2019 prize and one of my stories was published in their magazine. Apart from flash fiction, I have won two essay competitions.

KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer?

Nneoma: I still see myself writing years and decades from now. It’s something I really love and I can’t let it go just like that.

KD: Any forthcoming works or publications?

Nneoma: I have a few incomplete works that I would like to flesh up soon.

KD: What advice would you give to young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?

Nneoma: I’d say, find your voice and your style. Just because someone writes the way you like does not mean that style is for you.

Any final words for Kreative Diadem and its readers?

Nneoma: To Kreative Diadem, thank you very much for this opportunity. You guys are awesome. To the readers, don’t you ever dare quit reading.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

WRITING FOR SUBMISSIONS: HOW TO INTERPRET THEMES by Samuel Osho

WRITING FOR SUBMISSIONS: HOW TO INTERPRET THEMES by Samuel Osho

Writing for Submissions: How to Interpret Themes

by Samuel Osho

To achieve homogeneity of creative voices, a theme is selected to drive the focus of an issue. It’s like a furnace of artistic embers cooking a meal spiced with all sorts of literary condiments. The overarching idea of a literary work is simply its theme. It is the author’s perspective on a subject and intentionally foisted on readers via the evolution of characters, the twisting of plots, realistic dialogue, and neatly woven literary devices. 

Interestingly, readers are the judges. Readers are responsible for interpreting the theme of a literary work. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, a literary work’s theme is deciphered through objective lenses, an interpretation that is void of judgments, discrimination, and prejudice. 

If you are submitting an entry for an issue, how do you align your content with the theme? And what are the editors looking for? 

Kreative Diadem 2020 Issue - Isolation

How to Align Content with Theme

Emotional

Compelling stories all share the same traits – they spark curiosity and evoke emotions in the readers. A writer that knows how to move his readers will never be out of business. Words void of emotions will never touch the hearts of readers. But more than harnessing the power of emotions, a writer must find a way to reveal the theme of his work through the feelings of the main character about the main subject. In other words, the writer’s opinion is unravelled subtly through the rumble of feelings and emotional drama of the story’s main character. That’s a way of unpacking and thrusting a theme on an audience.

Furthermore, readers who share similar views with the writer can relate to the emotional struggles or victories of the main character. It’s like inserting a key in the keyhole of a giant door, there is a connection and then an opening for further exploration. Another advantage of emotion is the broad spectrum of its capabilities – comedy to tragedy, rejection to approval, condemnation to praise, guilt to innocence. This shows that writers don’t always have to be the devil’s advocate but have the freedom to see the bright side of things. The way you do this is being deliberate about the evolution of your character’s emotion.

For poets, you tinker with emotions by choosing the appropriate literary devices to convey your opinion.

Dialogue

Dialogue is an exciting tool in the hands of a writer to repeatedly solidify an idea or communicate a stance that eventually morphs into the theme. Through realistic conversations, you can unravel riveting discussions about polarizing issues. It can be used to convey the opinion of the writer vividly.

Based on best practices, a theme should be in the driving seat and dictate the form and content of dialogue that ensues between characters. Conversation unveils the thoughts, beliefs, and ideologies of characters in a story. As the story evolves, the theme takes shape and becomes the significant fibre that binds everything together. The characters are free to pitch a tent anywhere – conservativism, liberalism, and centrist. But of course, the writer has the final say – they are the metaphorical potter with the freedom to mould clay into any shape or form. Check out Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (A Book on Writing) to improve your storytelling skills and most importantly learning how to construct engaging dialogues.

What are Editors Looking for?

Novelty
Clichés deserve the attention of no one. When creating content for submissions, pitch your tent far away from hackneyed phrases. You lose readers when you dwell on what they already know; the same is true for editors. Often, inspiring pieces are void of banality but are doorways into new ravines of insights. Can you offer a unique perspective on an age-long subject?

Creative writers know the aesthetic value of injecting novelty in their works and are aware of the mind-numbing vulnerability that comes with it. It takes courage to present literary pieces in an unusual form, but that might be all you need to get the attention of the editor. A creative writer is never afraid to swim in uncharted waters or seek refuge in controversial climes. The works of daring writers jump from pages of text into the editor’s mind, sit in their subconscious and never leave.

Offering Value to the Readers
Literary organizations are in the business of content creation and distribution; they have customers craving for value-adding products and services. What’s the value proposition of your piece? What value does this piece add to a reader that is interested in the theme of the issue? What will readers curious about this theme want at a time like this?

The editor’s lens probes an entry and painstakingly establishes the quality of value it will add to the issue. This value can come in various forms: inspirational, educational, entertaining, and provocative. Several factors come into play here – from the editor’s bias to the type of readership that the magazine caters to.

 

Before You Submit

  • Check previously published entries in the literary magazine: This will give you valuable insights into the type of content that the editorial board applauds.
  • Study Literary Styles: Most literary organizations have their published grammatical style guide. Reviewing the guide before writing can steady your ideas along the right path. Check out the submission guidelines, too.
  • Self-Editing: Use this for the first three levels of polishing the first draft until it shines.
  • Request for Critiques: Allow trusted writing mentors or colleagues to offer you constructive criticisms about your work. This can be a way to embrace new perspectives that will further enhance the quality of your entry. Mastery of any skill is impossible without feedback.
  • Early Submissions: Submit on time and follow all the submission guidelines.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samuel Osho is an award-winning writer, a public speaker, and a professional mechanical engineer. You can find some of his works on TheCable, Sahara Reporters, YNaija, ScoopNG, The Manitoban, WRRNG amongst many others. Asides writing, his creative side expresses itself via photography and website designs.
Osho has a personal blog where he frequently shares his thoughts on writing, life, creative work, and personal development. Find him on social media via @iamsamosho.

Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (1st Position – Poetry Category)

Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (1st Position – Poetry Category)

Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (Winner – Poetry Category)

Poetry Category

1st Position –  Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu

I wish that I could capture brilliantly the art that was 21 road yesterday
Of the lone fueling station surrounded at all angles by hundreds of cars waiting for fuel.
The sweat trickling down the brows of the tired fueling station workers
Hands cramped up from hours of injecting fuel into cars and jerry cans
I wish I could capture the ebony coloured face
Of the little child still scurrying along the streets of Festac at night
Jerry can in her hand and determination on her face
Desperate for ten litres to last her madam’s family the night
I wish I could capture the sigh of the tired single mother
Gazing at the empty fuel sign in her car
Thoughts on the absent father who won’t provide
And on the children for whom she can give so little
I wish I could capture the controlled expression of the middle class worker
Foreseeing another night of darkness
Of rumpled clothes and hot pure water to drink
Another day the children have to take a public bus to school
I wish I could capture the worried look of the bus driver
The frustration in his eyes and slight crease of his brow
Unsure of his tomorrow
Of the empty seats that will greet his now empty fuel tank
I wish I could capture the teary eyes of the little boy
Riding shotgun in his father’s car
Thinking no cartoons for the night
No excited squeal when his father draws the rope that pulls the generator
I wish I could capture the determined gait of the market woman
Wrapper half undone, trailing along on the dirt road
Making her way along the zigzag route of long car lines
Hand absently on her bra, stuffed full with crumpled Naira notes.
I wish I could capture the graceful strike of the match
Of the teenage girl lighting a candle from the flat across the street
Younger siblings clustered around her
Resigning to the fate of another day without light
I wish I could capture the tired smile of the grandfather
Entertaining his grandchildren with stories on the veranda
With just the moonlight to shield them
From the darkness of this night

LIGHTS OUT (1st Position - Poetry)

by Chiamaka Nwangwu | Creative Writing Contest

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chiamaka Chukwudire Nwangwu is a contemporary Igbo-Lagosian. She is currently in her fourth year of a romantic relationship with the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. She is a budding public speaker. She loves to read but particularly enjoys reading contemporary Nigerian fiction, history, and poetry.

Her poem, “Defiance in Death” was published in the 1st edition of the top 100 poems of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize Anthology, “The sun will rise again” in the year 2016. She won 1st place in the Kreative Diadem Poetry Prize for her poem “Lights Out” in December 2017. Her essay, “Savior” was published in the “My Book Affair” section of the literary blog, theafroreader.com

Chiamaka is absolutely certain that she is supposed to write.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba (2nd Position – Poetry Category)

Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba (2nd Position – Poetry Category)

Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba (2nd Position – Poetry Category)

Poetry Category

2nd Position –  Breast Cancer by Omobashorun Agbalagba

My pride.
Prominent beauties.
Soft areola tissues.
Recipe for sanity.
Smooth contour.
Like a thief in the night;
It was just a lump.
Cyclical pains.
Irritating melanin.
Tainted redness.
Defacing beauties;
Life threatening.
Seizing breath.
Radical mastectomy;
No left over.
Frigid fraternity.
A beautiful man.
My breast cancer story.
Ayanfe

BREAST CANCER (2nd Position - Poetry)

by Omobashorun Agbalagba | Creative Writing Contest

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Ayanfe and I’m a writer; a poet, songwriter, scriptwriter, and I also do spoken words. In a nutshell, I’m sentenced to form a sentence. I’m  African by ancestral lineage; a Nigerian to be precise. I’m 21 years of age,  I hail from Kwara state.
I’m a graduate of Anatomy, faculty of basic medical sciences, college of health sciences, University of Ilorin, Ilorin Nigeria.
I love arts in various presentations. From the written to the visuals. I do a lot of writing, from poems, short stories, to seasonal stories, which I post daily on ayanfepens.com.

 

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin (3rd Position – Poetry Category)

Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin (3rd Position – Poetry Category)

Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin (3rd Position – Poetry Category)

3rd Position – Things Your Uncle Left Inside You by Stephen Ogunfoworin

Your uncles touch you while you sleep
And the walls wail as they mangle your innocence
You are eight
Olatunji sneaks in at midnight
He pulls down your underwear
And thrusts two fingers into the flesh between your thighs
You listen as his breaths quicken and thicken
And pretend that the sound is your mother scrubbing the kitchen floor
You are twelve
Olarinde comes in the early hours of the mornings
While the Imam calls out to Muslims to say their prayers
He gently spreads you open
And you hold your breath, quietly awaiting his entry
Olarinde never lasts more than seven thrusts
You know this because you count them.
One. Two. Three. Four. Faster. Five. Six. Seven.
When he climaxes, he cries into your hair and begs God for forgiveness
He closes you up again and scurries off into the darkness
You are fifteen
Adebola visits on Thursday nights
While everyone is watching Super Story in the living room
Bola uses his tongue
Or his tongues perhaps, it never feels like one
Sometimes your body betrays you and a moan escapes your lips
Sometimes he shoves himself into your mouth
When he finishes he whispers into your ear
‘Don’t pretend you don’t like this’
This confuses you
Because you almost believe that you do
And when you finally tell Mother, you tell her everything
You do not spare any detail
But you soon realize that this is a mistake
Mother, who is a deaconess and a spiritual leader
While you talk, she holds her head in her hands
And bellows like an animal in agony
She takes you to church, where the evil spirits are flogged out of you
Your uncles touched you while you slept
It has been seventeen years now
And you still have nightmares about the things they left inside you.

THINGS YOUR UNCLE LEFT INSIDE YOU (3rd Position - Poetry)

by Stephen Ogunfoworin | Creative Writing Contest

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

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