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Author of Too Close to Home, Iwundu Wisdom, sits with us today on Making Monday Mild. In this interview, he centres on the uniqueness of introverts and why writers need to network and collaborate with people of the writing and other industries. Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself.
Thank you for having me. My name is Iwundu Wisdom. Many people would rather call me Derek. I am the second son and third child from a family of five children. I finished secondary school in 2011 and haven’t been to the university ever since.
During this time, I became a writer and developed a career as a mindset coach with the emphasis on helping individuals and organizations create mental strategies for success by unblocking the subconscious and offering them the chance to recreate their realities.
I’m presently pursuing a course in CBT and NLP.
What inspired your book Too Close to Home?
I would absolutely qualify Too Close to Home as an invention that was being provoked rather than inspired. I say this knowing both terms can be interchangeable. Provoke is just the stronger word and seems like just the right way to look at it in this context.
Too Close to Home was written and compiled because I was infuriated by the growing politics in the African literary scene, especially in creative writing. For a while now I’ve left fiction writing, but I didn’t want everything I’ve written over the years to remain scattered over the internet. So I decided to compile some of the best among them into a book.
But I wasn’t just writing fiction either. There was poetry and a couple of disruptive nonfiction, so why not incorporate all three?
Give us a little lecture on what introversion means, striking the misconceptions and how they can be resolved?
You see, the reason why we stigmatize people is because our subconscious mind thinks in patterns.
When we were all born into this world, we met a preexisting pattern of living and inured ourselves to it. This pattern becomes internalized, even without our knowledge, and shapes all our choices going forward. As we know, patterns are hard to bypass. So when we encounter something different from the pattern already absorbed by our subconscious, we react to it.
Our subconscious mind is very curious and sensitive.
First, it evaluates if it’s something that is entirely new or if it is an update to an existing belief. If it is an entirely new event, it opens up to assess and draw conclusions. This is a very dangerous state, especially when it’s not under your control, as the inference it draws may be wrong and misleading. But you don’t even know this. You just begin to make decisions based on that.
Now if this event tends to challenge an existing belief, well, you can imagine the picture. Resistance.
That’s what happens with extroverts finding it hard to accept introverts.
That’s why you can rarely find a black African casting racial slurs on another black man, even in diaspora. Because we all grew up around black people and our subconscious cannot detect any pattern that suggests there is a reason to hate blacks. The pattern considers black a safe zone.
Now, in a world that is predominantly extroversial – where people’s subconsciouses are programmed early to appreciate outgoingness – it’s understandable why introverts are finding a hard time fitting in. But we’re not supposed to fit in. We’re different. We have to understand this.
The more we grow in strength and ownership of our difference, the more we remain who we are, the greater the chance of reprogramming the pattern of the extrovert’s subconscious to accommodate the introvert’s lifestyle.
But this is a wide bet and some extroverts have their pattern buried way too deeply into their subconscious already. What can be done?
Originality is the first step to take. Remaining who we are, then pronouncing it. Sometimes you hate some adverts on TV, yet you find yourself getting fond of it. Introverts can employ this strategy of continual presence to effect inclusion and acceptance.
Now, who’s an introvert?
I think pop culture has also influenced dictionary definitions on this subject.
For example, I find it aggravating that Merriam Webster defines introversion as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life” and yet define the introvert as “a shy person: a quiet person who does not find it easy to talk to other people.”
The disparity is so sentimental and this is the famous misconception about introverts: this label of shyness. And it’s so wrong.
The first definition is from a psychological slant and has more defining power.
So, shyness is not exclusive to just one personality type and we can make the world know this by just being introverts.
How did you come up with this story that explains perfectly the pathetic condition of introverts in our society today?
Well, here’s the thing. I didn’t come up with the story. It really happened. I just made it magical and compelling. So, how did I do that?
Easy. I wrote it.
Your book seems well researched. How long did it took you to write Too Close to Home?
It took me two whole days. And that was because it was a compilation of pre-documented stories. But of course, there was a bit of research that went into it – like the quality time I spent on Google, finding the perfect classical song to listen to while I write.
The thing is, I’ve always learnt principally from observation than from well-written research. This is how my creative stat looks like: 70% observation and inference, then 30% research.
How do you write nonfiction so explicitly?
The first step of any creation is conceptualization, and that goes on in the head. If you do not completely conceptualize before writing, what you have is an accidental product. You may produce a great content, but that’s not a bankable construct and you may have to struggle to stay consistent.
So I always try to create first in my head, then I flesh it out in writing. I also repeat some sentences verbally to evaluate their authenticity. If it doesn’t sound right to me, then it will confuse the reader. So I shred it.
That’s all I will reveal for now.
What’s your writing genre?
The best advice in writing any writer can get, especially commercial writers, is to employ conversational and hypnotic elements in their stories. Both writing techniques stimulate the mind to consider the reader first while still keeping the writer’s opinion and intentions relevant. This is what copywriters use in all the engaging adverts on radio and TV that compels you to check a particular product out.
It’s not so easy to pull this off, especially in creating and maintaining the hypnotic factor as a writer. Luckily, I have a crash course that demystifies hypnotic storytelling and teaches you how to sell your ideas to just about anyone. Whether your employer, employee, a big firm or any listening audience. Just anyone.
What inspires your writing on a general note?
Hypnotic. You’re just breathless until it ends.
Nonfiction. And if we want to narrow that down a bit, didactic nonfiction.
At the present, two things inspire my writing. First, a desire to help, to correct something. Second, a desire to correct something, to help.
And if the question were what enhances it, then that would be music and aloneness. But that’s my unique formula and everyone can have theirs.
Where and where have your works been published? And how many contests have you won lately?
I have been featured in several publications. Some of them are BellaNaija, Y!Naija, The Kalahari Review, African Writer, Brittle Paper and The Huffington Post.
I have won a couple of literary contests, but most of them were either burgeoning or small independently organized events. And about literary awards, I wouldn’t say that was or have ever been a major endeavour for me. They were things I casually just entered for.
So lately, none. Because I don’t enter for any. Maybe that would change in the future. Maybe not.
Aside from being a writer what other career would you settle for?
What other career? Easy. Psychology. But I’d be studying electrical engineering in the university and enrolling for other human behavioural and language programming courses online.
Give us a little talk on being a writerpreneur, a coach, writer or a public Speaker.
The truth is that you can be anything, but you must never wait to be perfect before you start.
The best investment you can make in pursuing these individual careers will be to hire a coach to manage you. Then frequently attend events relevant to your interest. Don’t just show up there, network. Connect. Seek collaboration.
And above all this, be prepared for all the naysayers. Some of them will be those you look up to and it will hurt.
In this case, reinvent your inner circle.
Surround yourself with people who have done or are doing what you want to do. Or else, you’d soon grow contented with being the best among the worst. Or vice versa.
If you were to pick any author from among your facebook friends or writing groups whose works inspire you the most, who would it be?
Emeka Nobis is that one guy. I don’t think any other writer on my list would inspire me that way at this stage.
Emeka Nobis is different. He takes writing as a business. When you asked about monetizing writing earlier, Emeka Nobis came to mind. It’s a good thing this opportunity came again to mention him.
Added to the fact that he is revolutionalizing the writing business ideology, he is also very good with words. Pen and Ink Masters is one very informative Facebook group he has kept relevant for serious writers.
What has been the best part of your book writing journey?
I’m very specific about popular definitions. When you say ‘best part’, I really wonder what you mean.
Well, if I were to look forward to reliving an experience I had while writing the book, that would be when I had to decide what to include and what to take out.
The stories had already been written, you know. Getting to select finally felt like I was working.
What do you think is the best way for writers of this time to make money?
There are mighty many ways to make money as a writer today, but it all boils down to one thing. Collaboration. And the possibilities are growing.
The rising inclusion and expansion of online businesses today widens this window.
When you think of making money online as a writer, the most important thing to do is to collaborate. And you also have to narrow down your niche to be more visible, except you’re doing freelance jobs. But collaboration is the primary tool every writer needs to acquire and cultivate.
Network. Meet people in other industries. Offer your writing services convincingly. They do not even have to want it. It is your job to make them see why they need it.
In five years time, what do you think would become of Nigerian writers and the demand for writers?
When Facebook writing was still a thing, all we wanted to do was to enter for contests and hopefully publish a fiction book. We were all Chimamanda and Achebe fans.
But I think there’s a rapidly increasing awareness among writers presently about the global disregard for the intensive effort we writers actually put into writing. It’s relieving to see writers begin to take this radical step of departure from the unwholesome stereotype about writers.
Over the recession, we experienced a dip in demand for writing jobs. So the economic dynamic can influence this transition.
I think we haven’t started early fighting for our own inclusion into the professional, but the odds look promising for the future.
Five years is a short time but, in five years, I see writers getting into the professional space more confidently and also having their works increase in market value.
If you were to be in a gathering were you are to address first-time writers/authors who want to profit from their writing, what would you say to them?
Frankly, I’d say enroll for my storytelling course.
If I didn’t say that, I’d say it’s good thing they are first-time or up-and-coming writers. It’s the perfect time to decide on what exactly you want to write. Then study what others are doing in your field. Meet the standard, then raise that standard.
But if you’re looking for a detailed guide on making money from your writing, that guide would include:
One, creating a community around your writing.
Two, writing a book.
Three, marketing your book. (Surprisingly, many writers suck at this).
Fifth, repurposing your content.
And lastly, follow Emeka Nobis and join his Facebook group.
These are all very good in theory, but will need physically intensive involvement to implement.
Just show up.
Thank you for inspiring us today.
She’s a Port Harcourt based Accountant, Creative writer and Poet. The CEO of Making Monday Mild, a platform that’s dedicated to promoting writers and their works through captivating interviews and reviews.
You can find her on Facebook @Depiriye Rwita Ggeorge, Instagram @depiriyegeorge and you can also follow www.facebook.com/makingmondaymild to check out her Making Monday Mild page on Facebook.