As a wordsmith, you are only peaceful when you are fully immersed in your own words, your thinking process.
Immediately you release your literary works to the public, they take lives of their own and you cannot decide how well or badly they are interpreted.
Kenyans hate crybabies, losers or whiners and they can easily tell the difference between someone who is fighting for the common good or a person who is at war with him/herself
The good thing about being a writer in Kenya is that you are just, well, a writer whose face very few people recognise.
And, if by any chance you are introduced to people who religiously read you, they will still ask you what you do for a living.
“Of course I write,” you remind them, or your ego tempts you to remind them.
It could also happen that you are too busy thinking about your next piece and cannot entertain their ignorance. Which, therefore, stops you from answering questions that lower your intelligence to the level of your inquisitors.
Even when your modesty gets the better of you and you do not answer them, they still insist on talking to you and irritatingly asking you what it is that you do as a writer.
Annoying? Do not shout or lose your cool. Do not throw your pens out of your pockets to prove to them anything, for they might just take it that you are throwing your toys out of your pram because you had a troubled childhood — and a troubled adulthood too.
They might, and rightfully so, even think that you have refused to grow up; that you are a self-made person who adores his maker. And when others do not genuflect at your maker, your feeble, overblown ego gets bruised, after which you become belligerent and throw tantrums.
Even if you are the one who wrote the most important speeches in the history of this country, speeches that made prime ministers what they are, and without which they will not become presidents, keep your cool, otherwise when you start being incoherent, you will be considered feckless. Even those who cannot read will heckle you and then laugh at you as police officers lead you away.
It is a real zoo out there, and as a writer, you are only peaceful when you are fully immersed in your own words, your thinking process; when you are writing, that is. Immediately you release your literary works to the public, they take lives of their own and you cannot decide how well or badly they are misunderstood.
When you follow up your literary works with long-winded explanations, chest-thumping and overall gloating about how short a time it took you to write them and how good a writer you are, then you take attention away from your work, and instead of them being reviewed, you will be reviewed and become the subject of ridicule.
There are very many illiterate Kenyans, no doubt, but when you go around explaining to them what you have already written — like how you herded cattle in your youth, how you slept hungry, and how poverty-stricken you were, then you are not helping your cause... or theirs.
In the process of running around like a headless chicken (oops, that is an insult to all chickens), you become the laughing stock and you end up having sleepless nights while wondering why you are not being taken seriously, or about which other marketplace to visit to convince people that you attended much more than Sunday school.
In Kenya, writing is such a thankless job. Many people think it is just putting pen to paper. Well, that is the easiest part.
The amount of thinking involved is mind-boggling — and time-gobbling too. Thinking is the part of writing that never ends. After you get published, you do not even have the energy to call press conferences and interview television presenters in their own shows.
However, if you have (the energy) to do all that and more, like launching diatribes, flailing your arms, hurling invectives the size of Canada, shouting yourself hoarse and being a source of perspiration and not inspiration, then you have failed in your objective because your work should speak for itself and announce to the world, to Kenyans at home and abroad, that you know what you are talking about.
Real writers, and that is real thinkers, do not offer after-sales services and their works do not need readers’ manuals. The world’s best thinkers, people whose ideas changed the way countries are run, did not travel the globe to explain nor market their works, yet during their time the world was not blessed with as much information technology as it currently is.
The Karl Marxes, the Platos, the Socrates and other great men and women did not embark on voyages to explain themselves, yet their thoughts transcended oceans, outlived generations, were translated into different languages, transformed lives and defined the way we govern ourselves.
Granted, the marketing scene has changed and literary works, like any other product, must be promoted aggressively, but we have access to technological tools that allow us to do that at the touch of a button or two from the comfort of our pricey homes and still reach billions of people in nanoseconds.
The Steve Jobs’, the Bill Gates’, the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Jack Dorseys, the Evan Williams’, the Biz Stones, the Larry Pages, the Sergey Brins and many geeks of the modern world have not been seen physically or listened to by 99 per cent of planet earth’s population, but they have reduced the world to a global village and changed the way intellectuals communicate and conduct business.
The only Kenyans who lack the mental capacity to understand how the world has changed are politicians, the lowliest of the lowlifes, the most illiterate of the illiterates who cannot even understand their own manifestos. They can be forgiven for traversing the land to thump their chests, displaying their ignorance, selling their rhetoric and pitting communities against each other.
There are so many angry, hungry and suffering Kenyans, and this country is in dire need of visionary leaders, not people who live in their own minds, in the past. It does not need people who seek recognition and sympathy by force, chaps who, when ignored, throw hissy fits.
Kenyans hate crybabies, losers or whiners and they can easily tell the difference between someone who is fighting for the common good or a person who is at war with him/herself. And there is no bigger and dangerous loser than the latter.
(Oh, I am a writer — and I will not be available to answer your questions or explain myself further because I am already thinking about my next piece. Thanks for understanding.)