The Kwani? Manuscript Project has shared its second piece of writer’s advice in the run up to the submission deadline for their new literary prize for African writing. Manuscripts must be in to email@example.com before 17 September 2012.
Approaching this deadline, Kwani? is publishing passages of writing advice from several African authors. The first in the series was by Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love, and the latest piece is by Leila Aboulela, author of Lyrics Alley:
Polish you intention. Why are you writing? What do you really want to achieve? I once picked up a book of poems by Les Murray and the dedication said, “To the Glory of God”. Other writers feel that they are bearing witness or that they are born story-tellers or that they are activists, entertainers, reformers, artists or that they want to challenge perceptions or shine a torch into a dark cave of wonders. There is no harm in starting out with the highest of intentions – if luck strikes it will keep you grounded and when disappointment hits you can still keep your head up high because you had picked up you pen for the sincerest of causes.
Write about anything, what you know and what you’re curious to find out; what you understand and what you want to figure out. The subject matter doesn’t really matter. What is crucial is your own fascination, your own angle, what keeps you awake at night, those words that can’t stay inside you anymore, those feeling that must take shape, that scene you’re itching to draw, that journey that needs to be mapped. Write about anything and everything but write with love and sharp eyes.
- Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
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Image courtesy African Success