Monday, March 6, 2017

The Writing Process: A Guest Post by John Ukah

The Writing Process:
-        Making the transition to published author in a country like Nigeria
-        My writing hopes for the future.

by John Ukah

My name is John Ukah. I grew up in Benin City, Edo State of Nigeria. I am a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, Benin City. I have just published my first book ‘Murder at Midnight’.

There are several motivations for writing. Sometimes a story needs to be told and comes to you.  I have always kept a personal journal. Writing is cathartic and exhilarating for me. A number of authors have influenced or inspired me especially detective crime novels by Agatha Christie and Stephen King’s books. I am inspired by talented writers who are masters of the craft of storytelling. Superb writers who create vivid and unforgettable characters. I am inspired by books that are a voyage of self-discovery. There was no conscious decision to be a writer. Writing has always been a part of me.
The writing process for me begins with my imagination. I have a natural tendency to write stories. My writing is inspired by conversations with others and personal experiences. A fertile imagination gives wings to such experiences or conversations. The story in my first book took shape after I was awakened at night by unusual footsteps outside my door. My imagination took flight. The story is about a young lady who discovered a dark secret and was murdered in a guesthouse at midnight.

The writing process requires focus and doggedness. Much like any other endeavor, writing evolves and gets better with constant practice. We get better at what we do constantly. The hardest thing, in my experience, is the ability to make space or time for your writing. Life happens and other things distract or compete for your time.

As the story takes shape and the characters become solid in my mind, I do some research and make a lot of notes. I prepare broad outlines and chapter plans. I write a few chapters at a time and not necessarily in a sequential order. I edit them over and over again. It is useful to get feedback from a reader.

The characters often take on lives of their own and your carefully arranged plot takes a different hue or direction. This was what happened when writing my first book. The story turned out differently from what I planned from the beginning. I had to stay true to the characters I had created.

Every book is an adventure of its own. The process can take anywhere from a couple of months to several years. The rough draft of ‘Murder At Midnight’ was completed in about five months. Interestingly, I did not publish the book until several years later.
Publishing is not an easy road in Nigeria. Rejections may come from publishers and keeping focus is important. Even when you think the work is good, it can still be better.  It helps to meet the right people who are willing to assist in the publishing effort. I had a ready manuscript and my publishing company was interested in my kind of work. We fit like a glove. My publisher made it a seamless process. I had no major challenges after we met and agreed a publishing deal.

Readers can expect more exciting books from me. I am currently working on a detective thriller. It is a saga of love, pitiful criminalities, investigations, assumptions and deceits.
‘Murder At Midnight’ is available on Amazon. If you are in Nigeria and unable to order off Amazon, it is also on Okadabooks.com

My social media links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/john.ukah
Twitter:@JohnUkah


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