Month: May 2019

Ok, fine. I cheated.

Remember a few months back when I vowed to read only 12 books this year because I wanted to “study” and fully fathom the writer’s intensions? Well, I failed, DISMALLY! I was very determined to go by my list, and I tried, believe me, I really tried but then new books began to show on my raider. I cheated on my list and to be honest, I do not regret it.

For someone who does 85% of things by the book, this was a bit out of my element, this cheating. I only managed to read 2 books from the acclaimed list: The Narratives or Fredrick Douglas and The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I enjoyed both, took my time to savour the words on each page, took a minute to ponder. I did all that to try and buy time but I ended up realising I am book junkie.

From January till now, I have read (still reading) 7 books. 5 of them were not part of my list and to be quite honest, I knew I was setting myself up for failure. How was I going to read 12 books in one year?! Gosh, 23 year old me was naïve and should have known better.

Let me tell you how it all happened. So, as I was busy committing to my list, someone I follow on Twitter posted about An American Marriage. Me being me, you know, respectful and courteous, I did not want this person to feel as if they were not being heard. You know Twitter can be a cold place; no likes or retweets et cetera. I opted to look at the book, see what it was all about, no harm in that. I was even holding Frida Kahlo at the time, we were about to spend some time together. I quickly read the reviews and even went on to peep at the #anamericanmarriage thread.

I did not mean to, but 3 days later, I found myself in a bookstore buying the book. I do not know what happened, but in 4 days I had read the book from cover to cover. It was so good, like the forbidden fruit, I savoured each word and pleasurably engaged in discussions about it on Twitter. I thought about the characters for a long time, I held on to the last few pages of the book because they were to decide the fate of the characters. I forgot about Frida, not because she did not matter but…

I fell into a rabbit hole and before I knew it, a few days later I found myself at a book discussion. I found out about it on Twitter ( I am beginning to think there is a pattern here), about the highly acclaimed and controversial House Of Stone about Gukurahundi. This one has already stolen my heart, as I write this, it is in my gaze and I have been confined in its pages for the last 5 days, drinking every word. I think this is the only book so far, that has challenged me to know more about my history. My parents history, what kind of people they were before they became my parents; how were their lives altered by the Second Chimurenga; did they have hopes and dreams et cetera. It provoked me to question history and to also realise that Zimbabwean and black history, is also world history, no filter!

I began flirting around with Jazz by Toni Morrison, which has been hard because Jazz demands fully and undivided attention. I appreciate Toni Morrison’s way of writing, she said that she writes for the black audience. Her writing is highly intelligent and supreme, she forces you to look up new words and better yourself. She shows that black people are as smart and intelligent, fearlessly.

I messed around with Ordinary People, it was a window into living in London as a black person. I could see everything that was being described, not that I have been to the areas which the writer was writing about, but because the description was so vivid and crisp I could almost taste it. It was a glimpse into marriage, how at times, love fades and people fall for other people whilst married. Cringe! I am still reading this book, it is welcoming and warm. Takes you through an emotional rollercoaster of love, pain, confusion, guilt and anger but its worth it.

And then last by not least, I have been on and off with this book. Not that there is any bad blood, but because it is mandatory and suitable for any season. It is my go to when my Spirit man is parched. It guides me and helps me find my strength. I feel freer and more hopeful in my faith because this book for the last 2 years has helped me realise I need a personal relationship with God than just being religious. My anxiety is almost nonexistent ( but it shall be HALLELUJAH), I am more hopeful of my future and more confident in who God says I am. It has helped me relearn how to pray and to read my Bible more frequently.

So, this is how it all went down. How I ended up cheating on the other 10 books on my list. I feel them gawking at me from the shelf. Longing for me to flip them open and spend time with them, hoping for me to smile into each page and stain words with my tears. I too hope for that day, not now but soon, because as we speak, my Amazon basket has 19 books waiting to be checked out. I admit, I am a serial cheater but please do not save me.

You are doing great sweetheart.

Hey there!

I am not going to take much of your time but just a quick reminder: YOU ARE DOING GREAT! You know when you feel like you are a failure and you are just pathetic at what you do? You think you are the definition of failure and dead end? If not that’s great and I commend you for that, but if you are, like me 90% of the time, I just wanted to let you know, tell the committee in your head that tells you that to zip it!

Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it and do not succumb to the fear of failure. Just to put it out there, I am talking about heinous crimes like tax invasion or bank robbery. Please, I do not want to be an accomplice and end up being quoted in the Court of Law. I am referring to hopes and dreams that bring peace, joy and all the fuzzy feelings that leave you giddy. That thing that keeps you going and is always on your mind.

I have heard it being said that failure is a bruise but not a tattoo. You are not your failure and it does not define you. I always try, after a few days of ugly crying and wallowing, to find a lesson in my failures. Where and how can I be better? It is not easy because I do not always want to be positive. At times I choose to dream than actually put in the work, and I believe, actually, I am certain that is the one thing that kills most dreams. We spend so much time imagining and fantasising how it is going to be like but hardly put any work towards it. Most people die dreaming and to be honest, that is my worst fear. Well, it is actually a draw with human trafficking, but you get my point.

Do not dream but do. You will feel like you are not good enough, that is guaranteed but just do. Everyone is not going to like your book, song, drawing, dish etc, but just do it. Do it when you do not feel like it, do it when you definitely feel like it. You are the one who knows what is in you and what God has trusted you with. A few months ago, someone suggested I should write in a certain way. That I should structure my writing in the way people would like to read it. As always, well usually, I am open to criticism ( I am working on not taking everything to heart) but the way it was relayed to me, it implied I had to write what people want to read. To be frank with you, I spiralled into a minor identity crisis, I felt like the way I was writing (the authentic and purely Zimbabwean me) was not good enough to produce quality material. Each time I sat in front of a keyboard to write, the words always took precedence to my ideas. I was stuck and every idea that did not go inline with what is perceived as “good”, I quickly eliminated it. I lost myself and my writing lost meaning to me.

It took me time to get back up ( I am still picking myself up), but I realised I was only fooling myself. I am not saying do not take criticism, by all means do. However, be very careful of some of the advice you get. If it involves you completely changing yourself or craft to fit certain people, you might need to take a step back and reevaluate. You more than anyone know what is in you. You know what God whispers to you behind closed doors. You know what you want to say and what you want to be. So start, now and it is guaranteed you will be rejected and sidelined BUT keep going. You are doing amazing and please, do not die with your dream. The one thing that keeps me going is, every day I am quite aware I might die. The worst I can do is die without fulfilling God’s purpose in my life. I do not want to be the servant who buried his talent.

Also learn to take compliments, you might not be used to it, it takes time. At times you do not realise how good you are because you are used to yourself. You do not see your importance because you are ordinary to you but not everyone else. With that in consideration, do not wait for other people’s validation or approval, give yourself validation and permission as Ava DuVernay once said. You do not need permission from anyone but yourself. So start now, start small, start unmotivated. Do not wait for motivation, create bad craft because there is beauty in that. Allow yourself to be crappy and bad, you will get better eventually. I have not got a hold of it but I working towards it, so brace yourself for some bad and crappy stories but I will keep going.

Oh, before I forget ( I wasnt really going to forget but anyway..), I met Novuyo Rosa Tshuma recently and she encouraged me to keep going. I was so happy and what moved me was that she saw something in me. It ignited in me the fire that was almost out because of doubt. It was not validation but more of recognising yourself in someone. Check out what she said:

I know right!? I geeked out for a long time. I just want to thank God for making me go, He knew I needed it. She is one of the most popular Zimbabwean authors and a kindred spirit. She started working on her book when she was 23. She has walked so I can run, just like the other women who inspire me Tererai Trent, Shonda Rhimes, Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Luvvie Ajayi, Maya Angelou to name a few.

Keep pushing and pray for God to show you the way forward. Be a doer and put in the work, because you are doing great sweetheart.

P.S: Sorry it ended up being long, thats how much I believe in us.