My bout with self-doubt
I feel that being able to write is a gift. Sometimes I get scared that I’ll lose that gift and I won’t be able to write anymore. I panic whenever that thought crosses my mind.
Working with words is life to me. So if I can’t get to do that…
At 25 years old, I believed that I could make writing my world, even though a popular Nigerian journalist told me that it wasn’t worth it. Maybe it was youthful exuberance, but his words didn’t affect me at all.
Then, I signed up for a home study course in creative writing with the Writers Bureau UK.
I had nothing but two readers’ letters (one in a newspaper and one in a tourism magazine), and a readers’ winning article to my publishing credit — results of my writing course assignments. Armed with these, I went to confidently pitch my ideas to Bola Atta, editor of True Love West Africa, using the steps I’d been taught in my writing course.
True Love was the leading women’s lifestyle magazine in Nigeria at the time. It was a monthly glossy, with the most beautiful cover pages. The features covered a wide range of topics from career, to health, spirituality, and relationships.
True Love West Africa magazine was really All A Woman Needs — which happened to be the magazine’s tagline. The editor loved my ideas and was impressed with the professionalism I showed, even though I didn’t have much experience. I eventually ended up as the magazine’s staff writer.
That was how my writing career started.
Fast forward almost 15 years later, and I’m letting myself get slapped by self-doubt, imposter syndrome and fear. Why now? Where did this come from?
When it started happening, I decided to go back to the past. I went back to the beginning, when I started my writing course.
My non-fiction tutor, Alex Gazolla, had this to say about my work:
“You’re a good and natural writer, and you will never lose that, and can only improve.”
Fancy that. Keywords — “You will never lose that.” Ok, I am definitely holding on to this.
Then I delved into some of the email exchanges when I was pitching ideas to Bola Atta. I had presented an outline for the Mother Love column of the magazine, which usually featured articles on parenthood by foreign authors.
Here, I spotted some more keywords —
“Pleased to have a Nigerian writer do that column for the first time.”
C’mon, ain’t that bragging rights just there, and as a rookie too.
After True Love, it’s been a continuous world of writing for me and like my tutor said, I can only improve and have been improving.
Sometimes, when we get lost, a visit to the past and doing a reboot may be all we need to see things more clearly and appreciate the journey and the processes that have refined us.
Day 1 of the Not Enough Writers 30-Day Writing Challenge