This is a difficult post to write. Some part of me feels that I shouldn’t bother coming here to explain what I’m about to share, that I can hide it and keep on like nothing is happening. And that would be typical of me. But I think it’s only polite to let you all know about this major change in my life.
For everyone who has followed me closely on this blog, you would know how much writing means to me. You also know that I quit my job to concentrate on my work. One of the reasons I quit, apart from this, is to be able to spend quality time with my kids – an act that I don’t regret, having suffered enough in the hands of maids and nannies.
Writing, however, is a difficult terrain to journey through in Nigeria. I don’t blame those who look at writers and ask if writing is a job, because seriously, the average writer earns next to nothing. There are exceptional cases, and even I, with my popularity, can’t find myself on that list. From January 2016 to this moment, counting sales on Okadabooks and the PDF copies I have sold, and from also literary jobs, I have not made up to a million. A daily job would have seen me earning way past the profit I got from my books in a year alone. But did I celebrate my milestones? Of course! I am also so grateful to God and to everyone who helped me get there. I did what a lot of people weren’t able to do and set the pace for other writers to follow, giving them hope that a literary life is not so crappy after all. However, with the present government and the way things have gone awry financially in Nigeria, writers have found themselves at the bottom of the food chain. This is why I will not advise any writer to quit their job to go fully into writing, unless it’s a writing job and it pays well monthly.
2017 was a difficult year for everyone. For me, it was tiring, and I can’t wait for the shittiness to come and go, biko. For the first time in years, my husband and I found it difficult completing our rent. For the first time, we didn’t pay school fees immediately school began. For the first time, we weren’t able to do any charitable work. I can go on and on. Writing In The Name Of Papa didn’t come with the usual excitement I always have when writing my stories. I pushed hard to get to that place where my writing gives me bliss. And when I got in there, I lost myself in it because I needed that getaway to extract myself from the stress burdening me. Still it was hard. I knew that once I dropped my pen on that book, I was getting into another phase of my life.
And this is why I’m here, talking about this. In The Name Of Papa would be the last book I’ll be releasing in a long while. Maybe for years. I don’t know how long. I am taking writing as a hobby once again because I’m going into business. My kids have to eat, they have to be comfortable. This year, they went without some important needs. I don’t see myself doing that to them again next year. I don’t also see myself returning to an office and going back to the stress of a day’s job that made me almost abandon my writing. I’m not telling you a quarter of how much I went through. As an adult, you have to learn to smile and brace through the storm, no matter how deeply you’re sinking. This sums up my life in general. I didn’t even have the luxury to be depressed because I was hustling harder than I ever did.
So my dears, I’ll be dropping my pen for a while. I’ll still post, as I have promised, but this would be exclusively for members on the site. This is not a gimmick to get you to become a member, if you aren’t yet. No. I’m making myself accountable to someone in my writing journey. It’s the only way I know I will not completely leave it to fully pursue my business life. I want to make that money so that I’ll invest it back in my writing, because in case you don’t know, everything is about marketing today. You want to be a bestseller, you have to market yourself with all you’ve got. You somehow make it to the top without much effort, it’s harder to remain there. A good case is The Fourth Finger. It didn’t take me and Okadabooks much to have that type of success in sales, but with In The Name of Papa, we have to push hard to beat that record. Do I want to do that? Do I want to invest so much and get little in return that cannot meet my needs? That’s the dilemma we writers face today. Well-meaning people like Tomilola, Anthony Kennie (writer of Knocking On Heaven’s Door) and another friend who doesn’t like to be mentioned have done everything to see me moving into the movie industry with my stories, but that’s like starting all over again. It’s not something I’m so passionate about right now. I have been approached by a good number of producers, directors and content developers, but it’s the same shit you keep being served. They take your work and value it as if it’s nothing, as if you didn’t stay up late at night writing month after month. People tell me to manage what they give me and just enjoy the thrill of having my name on screen. LOL. That’s not Sally. Maybe I’m too proud, but I already made that sacrifice on my prose journey and today I’m here. I reject that template as my life’s story in Jesus’ name. If these producers came to me, it’s because they felt my work was awesome. Nigerians should learn how to value quality work abeg. I won’t be the one aiding producers to keep exploiting writers.
Forgive me for digressing, but I needed to let you in on what I have been going through. I’m tired of people going, ‘why don’t you put your work on TV?’ Same way they say ‘why don’t you publish in harcopy?’ If it was that easy, trust me, we’ll all be doing it and nobody would need to push me to do it. I was there way before anyone had the idea of telling me to be there. I even have a forty-five minute production (which I’m never going to share with anyone, lol) I did in 2008, written and co-produced by me. In fact, one of my stage plays has made it to Nollywood and I was accused at that time of stealing the script. So, it’s not like I don’t want to do this. I just no get energy for am.
Fam, it took me a lot to be here. Reality is that writers get crap in Nigeria and we’re always undervalued. Very few hit that mark and stay hitting that mark. I do want to be one of the few, but I have kids to take care of and a heart that is tired of struggling with feelings of inadequacy. I need to live. I need to put all my effort into a place where I can see my dividends. The other time I talked about writers I started with who had dropped out. Some of them didn’t drop their pens completely. They simply used it at their leisure because they concentrated on making a living first. And that’s what I’ll be doing from now on. It was a very difficult decision I had to take. I was unsure about it and kept praying, even before I started writing ITNOP. Even now, I know how much I am going to be missing a huge part of me. But please don’t blame me. Blame a country that has plunged its citizens into difficult times, a place where intellectual property means very little to people. I hope we get to a time when writers would be given the respect they deserve just like it happens in the Western world.
For upcoming writers who look up to me, don’t be discouraged. I always say, ‘Keep writing…’ That is what I’ll keep doing. The fire can never burn out in me. I just need to get to that place where I can write and not think about money anymore. Yes, I miss that place. I enjoyed breaking away from the daily hustle to be lost in my stories. It was all about the art for me. But if I have no means of survival, all I’ll care about is the gains I’ll make from my pen and the accolades that come with it that would lead me into making more gains.
To my fans, I’m still here. But very lowkey.
If all things go as planned, Stranger In Lagos will debut on Okadabooks before this month runs out. So remain on Moskedapages. We are still active here, for as long as that series runs. But please, forgive my silence and withdrawal from social media in the coming months. I might resume, I might not. I’m just becoming a really different person these days and some things don’t matter as they used to.
Thanks for being here, and for the patience to read this.