balaraba-ramat-yakubu

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu

The image of the writer hunched over a notebook or scribbling deliriously for long stretches of time at a lamp-lit desk is a fantasy in more ways than one. For many, the act of writing takes place in the most bizarre places, in part, because life is messy and time is scarce.

If you’re an aspiring writer and still dreaming of that perfect place, time, and condition for writing, the chances are that you’ll stay dreaming for a really long time. Let Balaraba Ramat Yakubu inspire you to take a more guerrilla and in-the-moment approach to your writing.

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu is the bestselling Nigerian novelist you’ve probably never heard about. She is popular among readers of Soyyaya novels—romance fiction written in Hausa.

Aljazeera recently profiled her and revealed a lot of fascinating details about her life. Yakubu was pulled out of primary school at 12 and married off to a 40 year old man, who divorced her soon after. An illiterate divorcee at 14 or so, Yakubu went back to school, but in secret. She told her father that she was attending sewing school.

We are talking about a woman who realized early on in life that she had to be improvisational in her approach to life. In spite of a really rough start, she went on to help invent the Soyyaya literary phenomenon. One of her nine novels, Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home, would become the first Soyayya novels to be translated in English and to gain global recognition.

balaraba-ramat-yakubu2

Just as Yakubu fought her way to getting an education and becoming a successful writer, she isn’t one to wait for ideal writing conditions.

As the Aljazeera article reveals:

When Yakubu starts writing, she writes everywhere: in the kitchen, in the car, and even on her phone when there is no pen nearby. Her grown-up son Muhammed remembers how he and his siblings would know their mother was in her writing mode. They would find her on a mat in the living room, resting on a pillow: a pen in her hand, lost in her story. [read full article here]

That right there is the adaptive spirit essential to becoming a successful writer. Writing is a very soldierly activity. It takes being ready to work anytime, everywhere, and in whatever condition. Your writing process should adapt to the irregularities that life throws at you.

Seek out ways to write on the go. Be creative about making time for yourself to write.

 

*********

Post image by Femke van Zeijl/Al Jazeera via aljazeera.com

Tags: ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “Balaraba R. Yakubu Writes in the Kitchen, in the Car, on Her Phone | A Lesson for Aspiring Writers” Subscribe

  1. Chestlyn Draghoender 2016/03/11 at 14:28 #

    Truely an inspiring story for me. I’m humbled by this women’s determination and willingness to work hard and chase after her dream of becoming the writer that she is today.

    Great article!

  2. Kay 2016/03/12 at 12:30 #

    If you’re an aspiring writer and still dreaming of that perfect place, time, and condition for writing, the chances are that you’ll stay dreaming for a really long time.

  3. CluelessWriter 2016/03/12 at 13:07 #

    Wow, when you write till your hand bleeds#writing goals

  4. Rachel 2016/03/17 at 05:59 #

    Now that’s determination!

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

On Cultural Intersectionality and Familial Love | Interview with Angela Ajayi, Winner of the 2017 PEN/ Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize

Angela 6 LARGE (1)

Two weeks ago, we announced that Angela Ajayi was one of the twelve writers who won the 2017 PEN/ Robert J. Dau […]

Read Kwame Dawes’ 13-Point Twitter “Memo to Poets”

unnamed

In the space of one month and one week, from February 6 to March 13, Emmy Award-winner and Prairie Schooner […]

Transition Magazine’s Latest Issue 122 Is a “White A$$holes” Response to Trump

Transition magazine has released its hotly awaited Issue 122 and it’s a confrontation with US president Donald Trump. Titled White […]

“Writing Africa Now” | A Johns Hopkins University Literature Class Interviews Masande Ntshanga

masande

Dr. Jeanne-Marie Jackson is a literature Professor at Johns Hopkins. In one of her literature courses dedicated to contemporary African […]

Dear Genevieve | Twelve Steps to Becoming a Writer (pt. 10) | by Pa Ikhide

These are really interesting times we live in. As a voracious reader who writes occasionally, I am often asked by […]

Brunel International Poetry Prize Unveils 2017 Shortlist of Ten

AfricanPoetryPrize920

Ten poets have been named on the 2017 shortlist of Brunel University’s International African Poetry Prize. The announcement was made […]