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This thing called love

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I have always loved writing. Writing is not a passing fancy, not a hobby but the very life itself. I remember when I told my friends, way back in university, that I want to write to live and live to write, the look of consternation on their faces was enough to tell me that they considered it a foolhardy quest. But I wasn’t deterred by their taunts; my iron resolve would not be broken by friends who did not understand my romance with the written word. After my declaration, some of my friends fled from me as fast as Joseph from Potiphar’s wife.

This romance with writing also affected my relationships in school; secretly, I was searching for a girl who could polish words with the skill of a diamond cutter, who could seduce the entire tribe of words and make them do her bidding. These relationships were short lived. Writing, you know, is a very jealous lover.

Luckily for me, my first job after the compulsory national youth service was in a regional paper. I didn’t mind if the readership wasn’t wide; I just wanted to write and for the first time, I was being paid to write; something I would ordinarily have done for free.

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I was over the moon when I got my first salary; it didn’t occur to me that I was being paid a pittance. I felt like Dangote, I walked on clouds. Nothing is as good as doing what you love doing and being paid for it.

But again, my friends were not impressed; their corrosive cynicism sometimes made me cringe, and it got to me in moments of self-doubt. Really, shouldn’t dreams be made of sterner stuff?

I kept my dream alive and spent money buying books written by masters of the craft. Writing is serious business, and I realised early, that 90 per cent of writing is done by reading. From Wole Soyinka to Gabriel Marcia Marquez, Ben Okri to J.M Coetzee, I read anything I could lay my hands, to hone my skills.

And this paid off. I got the exceptional privilege to write for two national newspapers in the country, Gosh! I totally enjoyed writing my interview columns for Vanguard and later The Guardian. I met people who, in their own way, convinced me I was on the right path and that, ‘‘writers are the barometers of a nation’s health.’’

Some of those friends, who taunted me, started calling me up when they saw my stories in the newspapers; one of them who now resides in London, wrote every week to inform me that he read my page regularly on the Internet. And his joy knew no bounds when we met up in a swanky café in central London, after my guest appearance on BBC Network Africa programme. ‘‘My guy na wa this writing thing don take you far o,” he said in Pidgin English.

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Now, you can imagine his shock when he heard that I had taken a job in a bank, and then left for an oil and gas company.

“What is a writer doing in the corporate world,” he queried. The news that I had moved soon spread among my friends like ink spilled on white cloth.

I had murdered sleep; my cell phone rang continuously in a staccato of jangling peal. The sound of my phone ringing gave me jitters. I had to explain over and over again why I had to switch careers. But come to think of it, do I really owe them any explanation?

Anyway, most of them didn’t know that during my stint in journalism, I had developed a passion for media strategy, a passion that opened the portals of my mind and changed my primary perception.

I am having a good time cheating on my jealous lover — writing. My love, however, is like the moon, that does not wane. This is not an adulterous relationship, but a case of a man in love with two women, and knows exactly how to handle them. A successful man creates time for everything; I attend to one lover in the still of the night when slothful men find sleep irresistible.

LAST WORD: For my people who kept the flame burning… this one is for you and you know who you are!

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