‘First time writers should be ready to be cheated’ – Umar Abdul
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- ‘To be successful, writers need to treat writing as a profession’ – Vincent de Paul
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- “Don’t write with the intention of making money” – Zahraddeen I. Kallah
- ‘First time writers should be ready to be cheated’ – Umar Abdul
Last Updated on November 20, 2019 by Memorila
Umar Abdul, author of The Broken Moon, advised first time writers to focus on improving themselves before focusing on making money.
You are on Memorila’s #WednesdayWritersWorld. May we meet you?
My name is Umar Abdul. I am a lecturer with the department of Theatre Arts, Kogi State College of Education Ankpa.
Why do you write?
I’m a playwright so I write plays. Sometimes I write poems but I know that I am not a “poet” so to speak because I do more of plays than poetry.
Where and when did you cut your writing teeth?
I started writing a long time ago. I met Mr. Francis Odiniya (a poet) with a manuscript in 1999 and he introduced me to Literary Club International (LCI) where I met boys and girls of like minds. The likes of Paul Ugbede, Edinor Kingsley, Fedoje Friday Peters, Wanyo Akpata, Ajeh Joshua and many others. We improved our art and act of writing together but I had my first publication in 2007.
What is your best writing genre?
Like I said, I am a playwright so I enjoy plays more. I like reading and writing plays.
How many published works do you have and where can they be accessed?
My published work are Kings Darling, Stray Bullet (2007), Soyinka Lied (2011), The Making of Tomorrow (2013), The Broken Moon (2014), The Surrogate (2016), Owailo-The Monkey’s Paradise (2018) and Ashes (2019).
Apart from writing, what other profession would you have chosen?
Apart from writing it should still have been writing for me. I enjoy writing so whatever job I find myself doing I think I will still be writing because it takes nothing from me. So for me, apart from writing it is still writing.
Why do you love co-authoring your books?
I love to coauthor because it improves my writing. I learn from others. My first publication King’s Darling was coauthored with Sam Inyanda, I also coauthored The Broken Moon with Dr. Ologun Ekundayo, and my latest work, Ashes, I coauthored with an American, Kenneth Weene. From all these works, I learnt new things and ways to enhance my writings.
Why did you write your first published work?
My writings are down to earth. That is to say I am inspired by my environment. King’s Darling and Stray Bullet are reactions to what were obtainable as of the time of the writing. Hike in fuel price and disunity in the land inspired my first publication.
I have been confronted because of my writings. I have been asked to kneel down and insulted because of one of my plays. I have not published that play for the fear of the unknown
Is there any of your works been adapted into a movie or performed in a theatre?
Yes, The Surrogate has been turned into a movie by the department of Theatre Arts’ final year students of the Kogi State College of Education Ankpa but the movie is of a low key but it was one of their projects. As you are reading this, Ashes is being worked upon as a movie by a production house in France. And for the stage production, my plays are being performed here and there, majorly in schools such as universities and colleges of education. The recent performance of my play is that done at Nasarawa State College of Education, Akwanga (Baker’s Share).
In the next ten years, what do you think will become of writers and writing profession in our climes?
Writers in the next ten years will be accepted so to speak. Writing has always been there. Since the birth of literacy, writers have been recognized and celebrated but in our generation television took over reading and affected writing. The advent of social media hit it hard again drifting readers far away from reading. To meet up with these challenges, books are now produced in soft copies. Readers can now access books on their mobile and in the next ten years we are going to have more readers and as they read, writers will be celebrated.
How can reading culture be encouraged?
“Catch them young” is the answer. Our children should be introduced into reading at young age. We should train them the way we desire of them and they will not depart from it at their older ages. We are the one to nurture them.
Who are your role models?
Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Francis Odiniya for me. I also admire Ojo Bakare Rasaki. I love the fusion of music and dance in his drama. His, is the total theatre and I love it.
Among contemporaries, which writer(s) influences you most?
Paul Ugbede influence me a lot. Paul is my friend and his writings are deep. His plays, Mr. Chairman Sir! and Our Son The Minister are classic. I have read his other plays that are not yet published. His plays are always topical.
What is the hardest challenge you have ever faced as a writer?
At one time or the other I have been confronted because of my writings. I have been asked to kneel down and insulted because of one of my plays. I have not published that play for the fear of the unknown. I have also been threatened over the phone severally because of one of my published plays. To me athese are challenging enough.
If you were to address first time writers who want to master the art of writing, what will be your advice?
As a first timer, be ready to be cheated. Don’t focus on making money from your writing. You have to be established as a writer first of all and to be established you need publication, to be read. And whoever takes your work for publication will want to make money from it. Allow them to cheat you because that is when they will agree to publish your work. Note that before you reach the stage of being published or not, you must be a good writer. And to attain this, you must learn to improve on your writing every day.
How can one benefit, financially and otherwise, from writing?
The first thing you get from writing is fame. The money will come but don’t focus on the money. Work upon improving yourself and money will come in the form of royalties and sometimes you are commissioned to write for one group or organization or the other. That is how your money comes.
Which five fictional and/or non-fictional books have impacted you most?
Palmwine Drunkard by Amos Tutuola, Secret of the Night by Francis Odiniya, Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, The gods are Not to Blame by Ola Rotimi, Drums of War by Ojo Bakare, and many others.
Thank you for your time.
Thanks for having me.