It has now been two weeks since I hang my coat and quit my job to become a full-time writer. I will not lie, some nights I lay awake staring at the ceiling wondering whether I made the right decision. Some mornings, I have had a difficult time affording a smile but I have pushed myself to my feet fully aware of the boiling potential presented to each of us every day.
I have taken morning runs each day. This has been the foundation of my new routine and has served great significance. Sometimes these runs have been longer than necessary and I have taken an uncharted path and followed it until I have run out of breath. I have then turned back and limped my way back through the crisp cold Kiambu mornings back to my balcony where I have tried to make a holy place for thoughts and words.
Words have not always been anxious to come flooding out.
I have written a journal every day. I took this writing masterclass sometimes back where the teacher suggested a strong custom of daily journal entries. I had a problem adjusting accordingly at the beginning but I later realised that I am old school, I can only do it when I have a pen and a book in my hands. So, every night I have found myself writing a journal entry that always begins, “Today I noticed that…”, from there, I have written so many words that I have even surprised myself. It is amazing how much you can notice in one single day.
I have taken a bird’s perspective on life and people. Tried to watch from a distance, from my balcony without being part of it all. It is no wonder that I have kept away from calls, I have watched my phone ring over and over without any intention of making it stop. Reflection requires silence and clear-mindedness and those calls have been nothing but a distraction. I have talked to Kate though, long conversations with extremely long pauses as she tries to quantify my future. Kate is an academic and also my sister meaning the standards she has left behind her at home are higher than my balcony. She has terminated the conversation with a resigned remark, “…do what sets your soul on fire”. That line has been a metaphor I have replayed in my mind a lot of times in a more urban tone, “…to live is to risk it all”.
I have taken a lot of coffee. Perhaps, more than medically acceptable, yet, even then, I have poured myself another cup. Yesterday, my heart skipped a bit into what almost became a panic attack when I realised I was out of coffee in the middle of the night. Coffee has become a tool towards the things I have tried to write and my sanity altogether.
Conversations have been smooth with Mukiri. Almost too smooth. She had earlier in the year accused me of betraying the dream we harboured for years to build our craft relentlessly. She has been speaking and what I have heard is that I should write a draft, redraft the draft, revise the draft and then rewrite the final draft. She is a perfectionist, this one. She has sounded cautious when we have engaged in conversations about the future. She is a wise one too! She understands that good craft is only half the solution while planning, hard work and discipline are the other fifty per cent.
I have thought about my plan and wondered about other people struggling to build their careers. People on that tipping point where one wrong decision bears a lot of consequences. I have found myself wondering whether these people are worried. Whether they are in relationships. What their parents think about them and what they demand from the future. I have felt the desire to write such stories. I have felt an insatiable need to sit with these people, have coffee and a conversation.
I have been reminded of the multitudes who come to the city looking for opportunities. Some have been presented with a chance to incredibly amazing careers while others have struggled. Others, the ones you do not know about, have terribly failed and the city has been a reminder of squashed dreams. I have felt an urge to let them tell us their stories. It has become important to me that I find them and write their stories.
It is imperative that I appreciate that these are stories that might not be given to us easily and freely because it is difficult to stand in the middle of a room full people and say, “I tried this but I failed”, therefore, I promise myself and them that I will do it anonymously if need be. That I will present their stories as naked as I can for us to draw lessons, motivation, insight and most of all, make us understand that we are not alone in this entire madness.
Bankers, engineers, musicians, handymen, tailors, managers, sex workers, interns, fired, self-employed, unemployed, educated or uneducated, both conventional or non-conventional careers I will tell their stories from all over the continent because I have nothing but time on my hands.
I recognize that I will have a huge problem explaining to my grandmother every Christmas holiday what I do in Nairobi and she might never get it. It could even be difficult to explain it to my parents and my friends but I have made my choice and now it is time to live with it. I have rehearsed a job description to answer to anyone who asks and I will not mind repeating it over and over to whoever asks. Repeating it to them will be repeating it to myself and making the dream clearer.
I have found it disappointing trying to contact people who have been here before in this writing career and their indifference and unwillingness to share their light and information. This has not worried me, however, I changed my career dammit, I believe I can change my role models with the snap of a finger. Like Thanos. Being provided with an opportunity is only special if you extend the same to other people.
It is an exciting journey not being sure what the next day presents. It is like an experiment where you are utterly clueless about the results. The fright, the adrenaline, the unpredictability are all forces that make me even more determined.
I have an important request.
How was it when you began your career? How is it right now beginning your career? Are you scared? Or is it your friend? Will you give him or her my email? Give us a chance to sit and have a conversation. I will be entirely grateful.
Drop me an email, a phone number, a Facebook or Twitter account at email@example.com of such stories that you think we would like to read.
Otherwise, you people are doing good? How is the traffic?