Sunday, 24 September 2017

SHORT STORY: Journey of Hearts

Related image

(A Short Story by Poet Razon-Anny Justin)
It was a sultre afternoon. The noise of the hawkers rended the already hot air into bits. They cooed and hissed and whistled; attracting passengers and passersby to their wares.
The bus was uncomfortably hot too. It would’ve been better if she was not sandwiched between two men- a greasy one to her left- by the window and a sweating one to her right. Both-Mr. Grease and Mr. Sweats, were as fat as Elephants. But her uncomfortability did not totally come from the bulkiness around her. It was an emotional thing- a deep seated depression.
The bus had gently eased out of Itam Metropolitan Park. She was leaving Uyo. The town lay there in all its serenade- with cross-matts of neat tarmacs criss-crossing each other at different angles as they snaked into the suburbs. The greenery of lush tropical vegetation in the backdrop and cured roadside lawns made the city a paradise for the eye-tour, but its lull failed to woo her. Omenna was leaving Uyo. Maybe she will come back someday; but now, she was leaving all of it. Leaving her newfound Lover behind too- the reason she commuted to Uyo from Lagos five days ago.
She thought hard; tears formed a mist below her eyelids; her vision was dimmed by it. The screams of the bus- preacher could not distract her. Neither could his prayers comfort her too. There was no succour to be found in Words. She intermittently mopped the gathering tears from the corner of her eyes with a pink hand-crafted handkerchief (another gift of his) she clutched in her right hand, putting efforts to make it look as ordinary as possible. Nobody must know the emotions in her. Nobody had the right to know that the turmoil inside was whelling up fountains of warm tears from her lacrimea. Nobody. Not even the Pachyderm-like men besides her.
She reminisced more. His face beemed in the remote shadows of her befogged mind. She pictured it- as he hugged her the last time, looked away, strolled back on wobbly legs, returning to the Toyota Corolla sedan car he had driven her to the park few minutes before; and zoomed off.
Maybe he was feeling the same way she was feeling now. It might explain why he looked away. Maybe he had tears tucked at the corners of his eyes too.
The other passengers echoed the last Amen and the preacher settled down. The bus was calm once more.
Then came the chill. Omenna felt it once and felt it again and again. It was a feeling of uncertainty. She felt it again- same feeling she felt five days ago while coming to Uyo. Now she was feeling it on her way back.
Five days ago, it was an uncertainty of going to a place you haven’t gone before; to meet a person you barely know.
She went, she met him.
Now it’s an uncertainty of knowing what the future held for her.
“What happens after now”, she queried her heart.
Will he be able to stand the distance?
Will I see him again?
Will I be able to stay without him- now that I’ve consummated the love I felt for him?
Will he find out elsewhere about the secret?
How will he react if he does? Will he ever consider her?
She sobbed as guilt swept through her.
“Omenna! You should have told him”, her conscience exhorted.
But how could she? It’s unbelievable that it worked in the first place. More intriguing that she commuted this far South for someone she barely knew. Someone she met on an online social platform. A facebook crush.
How could she tell him? She had been love starved for so long. It would’ve been folly to tell him the truth at this stage of it. Not only would it have murked-up things, he would’ve been freaked out.
At Ikot Ekpene, the bus pulled into a petrol station for a refill. The murmuring passengers tongue-lashed the driver for not filling gas before the commencement of the long trip to Onitsha. Their time was on the tracks and racing away. Omenna didn’t partake in bad-mouthing the driver- her mind was far away. She fed her eyes on the environmental scenery. Ikot Ekpene, though a smaller satellite town was beautifully landscaped and developing. Like Uyo, it had a plaza- a recreational park that stood at its heart. Akwa Ibom state was really a beautiful place. Its people were equally fine, and the cuisines superb. She would’ve loved to stay here. He had pleaded with her to stay a bit more. “Few more days, Mon Cherie”, he had said.
But she couldn’t. The more time she spent, the bigger the temptations to tell him of her issues; and the longer she stayed, the more broken he will be if he gets to know. He genuinely loved her, and his love was deepening by the day.
She remembered the last session of their love-making. He was so caught up, he didn’t want to use protection.
She shook her head in silence as if it would clear the dark clouds gathering in her mind.
“Men always make these mistakes”, she thought.
They’d meet a woman for the first time, insist on using protection during sex; and subsequently, in no time, feeling they’d known her so well and in their bit to affirm trust, throw caution to the wind.
If she had not insisted on him using it, he would have made that fatal mistake.
But he truly loved her and meant good.
She couldn’t hold it back this time- the tears flowed like hot larva that had escaped a volcano down her cold cheeks. It soiled her make-up; creating two rivulets across her face.
She had longed to make love to him with no protection. To feel his skin as he plunged deep into her. She had wanted to scream “fuck Gold Circle”. But she couldn’t. She had to save him from herself.
She could not bear to be the one that infected such a pure loving Soul with HIV.
The bus pulled out from the petrol station en route Onitsha. In Onitsha, she will board a Marcopolo to Lagos.
She mopped the tears and her spoilt mascara.
“How am I going to tell him of my status”, she suddenly asked the Greasy man by the window. Mr. Grease turned, stared confusedly at her, startled by her questions. Omenna, smiled at him exposing a set of china-white teeth.
“O! Never mind. I wasn’t referring to you”, she offered in a manner of apology.
The bus speed away.
The End.

Anny Justin Udofia, 30; is a Nigerian poet published in the Red-Parrot Magazine and extensively on e-zines like the Kalahari review, allpoetry, poemhunters, I_am_not_a_silent_poet blog, southernibid's wordpress and many others. He holds the 2014 Creative Writer's Association of Nigeria, CWAN award in the poetry category and was a finalists in the highly rated 'BB10 Poetry Slam' held at University of Ibadan in April, 2015. Apart from poetry, Anny writes fiction and short stories. His stories have appeared on MyNaijaStories, Nairaland etc. He speaks Ibibio/Efik, Igbo and English. He blogs @ E-mail: Phone: +2347036647700 Twitter: @Poet_Razon

On the road: Nobel laureate Soyinka to teach in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka says being a traveling teacher has become “a way of life” as he takes up a post as visiting professor at the University of Johannesburg.
The 83-year-old Nigerian playwright and author told students and journalists at the South African university on Friday that the benefit of encountering different cultures during his journeys is that “one does not stagnate.”
Soyinka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986, has lectured at universities around the world. He said he and his Johannesburg students might create a play together, as well as discuss history and international relations along with literature.
“Absolutely nothing is outside the scope of my interests in this interaction,” Soyinka said. He drew laughs when he added: “What I don’t know, I’ll pretend that I know.”
The university said it hopes Soyinka’s periodic presence on campus will boost plans to set up a creative writing program.
South Africa is a traditional hub of migrant literature and art, including theater, according to Soyinka. A fierce critic of past Nigerian military rulers, he was jailed in the late 1960s during the country’s civil war.
“I am very much an itinerant teacher,” Soyinka said. “And so moving from one institution to the other has become a way of life, not planned as such, but that’s the way it happens.”

20 Writing Tips from Bestselling Authors

 Image result for writing tips images
Writing success boils down to hard work, imagination and passion—and then some more hard work. LiteMag fires up your creative spirit with 20 writing tips from 12 bestselling fiction authors.
Use these tips as an inspirational guide—or better yet, print a copy to put on your desk, home office, refrigerator door, or somewhere else noticeable so you can be constantly reminded not to let your story ideas wither away by putting off your writing.

Tip1: "My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt." — Michael Moorcock

Tip 2: "Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you." — Zadie Smith

Tip 3: "Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution." — Michael Moorcock

Tip 4: "In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it." — Rose Tremain

Tip 5: "Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever." — Will Self

Tip 6: "It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." — Jonathan Franzen
"Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet." — Zadie Smith

Tip 7: "Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 8: "Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear)." — Diana Athill

Tip 9: "Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." – Anton Chekhov

Tip 10: "Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted 'first readers.'" — Rose Tremain

Tip 11: "Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 12: "Don't panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends' embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there's prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too." — Sarah Waters

Tip 13: "The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can't deal with this you needn't apply." — Will Self

Tip 14: "Be your own critic. Sympathetic but merciless!" — Joyce Carol Oates

Tip 15: "The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 16: "Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful." — Elmore Leonard

Tip 17: "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." — Neil Gaiman

Tip 18: "You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished." — Will Self

Tip 19: "The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." — Neil Gaiman

Tip 20: "The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’" — Helen Simpson
Even famous authors sometimes have a tough time with writing; they also go through periods of self-doubt. Despite this, they always manage to come up with the goods. So take a lesson from them and stop putting off your writing plans and get started on your publishing journey today.
There has never been a better time than now to realize your dream of becoming a published author. Let your voice be heard and let your story be told. Never let your passion for writing wane.

Let Black Tower Publishers help you achieve your ambitions »

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Have Your Short Stories Posted Today On Our Blog

You can now have your short story (3,000 words and below) published on our blog through the weekend and posted on Black Tower PublishersFacebook page. This is to give amateur writers an exposure, and give them the chance to meet other writers too. Every weekend, we will be posting 3 short stories, and writers that which to have their short stories featured can apply and submit their short stories. Interested writers should forward their short stories, one photograph (optional), short bio/contact info and N2,000 or N1,500 editing fee (we professionally edit all short stories before posting it. N2,000 for over 2000 words, and N1,500 for below 2000 words).

See previous short stories here

Submission ends 9pm every Friday.
 Contact or SMS 09030331314 for instant response.