What Was Your Inspiration?
When I was a kid, my mother would always say “A man never truly knows himself until he’s dragged through the mud”. She is right. I am in my second year at the university and everyone in class has a boyfriend at this age, but I am the bookworm no one looks at unless there’s a test around the corner. I love partying; it helps me deal with my loneliness. Soon, the news of the new girl who likes to party spreads round campus. One day, while attacking a boy who is pestering a friend, I get called a slut for the first time. I am yet to have my first kiss. I laugh in his face but break down in my room and cry. It takes two years for the boy to ask for my forgiveness. I tell everyone close to me to hook me up with a boy. Finally a boy calls. He likes me. He steals my phone and monies from me. My best friend asks me to dump him. My parents know nothing. I continue talking to him. He moves to South Africa. I contemplate buying a ticket and sneaking to join him. I find out on social media that my boyfriend is now a father. I buy my first diary and open an Instagram page. I begin writing, definitely not out of love for the craft. I just wanted to leave my pain someplace else.
What does it mean to be a writer?
To wrestle. To scramble for ghosts in the dark. Every piece is a journey. You never know how much it will take from you until you crank the engine.
Me. My inconsistency.
I have run through four Instagram accounts with different names and deleted each every time my identity is about to be revealed. I do not want to be the girl who writes sad poems, so I watch from the shadows.
I release my first book without my parent’s knowledge. My dad is also an Author so you would expect telling them will be easy, but I am scared. I have never mentioned my writing to them. And how do I explain bearing a name different from that which I was christened with? They are kind people, I am just not brave enough to get a no from them or face the disappointment in their eyes.
I do not like to talk about. The first, I self published, in a hurry. I am guilty of wanting the Author title so bad. I think most newbie’s all are. When you stumble upon writing, you are your own coach, so most often we have to make mistakes to learn. I always tell my friends, take your time. Once it’s out there it is out there. I love them both; I just think I have outgrown a lot of the themes in that book. I always find it hard believing I wrote them. Both “At War With Love” and “All The Things You’ll Never Know”. The latter is a free e-book and a compilation of short prose/poems I had put up on social media during my early writing days. (You can download it for free here)
I open another Instagram page. This time with a clear head and I stick with my last username “Christtie Jay”. I like the name. It oozes power. I like Christtie, she’s smart and strong and everything I want to be. I intend to stick with her. I make my first post. I am no longer obsessed with numbers, just with creating and bettering my craft. Some of my old followers find me. More artistes are recommending me. Oh, I have performed at my fifth gig and I am very happy.
The internet breathes life into a lot of people’s dreams and although people talk about ‘Instagram writers’ ( yeah, for reason i cannot fathom we get called Instagram writers not writers because we started on there) like there is no opportunity for us beyond the number of followers you can garner. There is. You just have to decide whether you want to expand or not.
I am juggling writing my Bar Final exam with ‘Spring Mentorship Programme’ where I am getting mentored. It is my first one on one mentorship program and I am having butterflies just learning to write and stretching myself. During the program I discover I do not like writing, but I do love to edit.
I make my first submission. I am elated when it gets accepted and I tell my friend. He buys me books to congratulate me. I go out for a show and get stranded. He lets me sleep on his sofa while he spends the night researching links for poetry submissions and signing me up for contests. A mail comes in. It’s my first cheque from poetry.
I submit to five journals, four gets accepted but I have to wait till March-Mid-year to tell everyone about them. Writing is teaching me patience.
What is success to you?
Freedom. Freedom with my art. It is hard I tell you. There is the constant urge to create, to impress your past self, to impress the public, the desire to have your Art referred to as “good”. I do not want to be the artist who chases after perfection.
February 2019: “Stop forcing your Art to feed you” Ijeoma Umebinyuo
I am working on two projects I cannot wait to share. I get four rejections in two weeks. Doubt begins brewing in my bones. How do other writers get published? I call myself to order fast. The first thing I do most mornings is to visit popular writing sites to teach myself poetry forms and experiment with them. I am going back to the creative I was – the one who takes break and allows herself to be still. The one who wasn’t obsessed with submission and breaking herself just to create. I still force myself to write, but for a different reason now. I am hungry for knowledge. I do get scared that time will leave me behind, but like I said writing is teaching me patience and I am still here. Still learning. Still writing.
Living. Learning. Currently I am drawn to writing personal essays and treasure hunting for poetry workshops.