Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to ” take your inspiration, like our featured interviewee did in the chapbook she co-authored with Ross Gay, from the act of letter-writing. Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.” The A to Z Challenge letter is O for GoodRead’s quotes and I’m combing these prompts with Roger Shipp’s FFftPP.
“These bits of paper are covered with lies. They poison your minds. And so long as they exist, you cannot hope to see the world as it truly is.(…)You turn to them for answers and salvation. (…) You rely more upon them than upon yourselves. This makes you weak and stupid. You trust in words. Drops of ink. Do you ever stop to think of who put them there? Or why? No. You simply accept their words without question. And what if those words speak falsely, as they often do? This is dangerous.”
― Oliver Bowden, Assassin’s Creed: The Secret Crusade
Thanks to the lovely and gracious Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW this last week.
Violet read the letter her daughter had sent her in disbelief. To fathom a girl of Elizabeth’s quality of breeding would do this to her family was unimaginable.
Harsh Victorian society could never know the truth of what Elizabeth had done and Violet wasn’t sure she could bear to keep in contact with her daughter.
She would focus on her other children. Violet’s sons had married well. Three of her daughters were also married suitably and having more children. Her two youngest daughters were courting wealthy gentlemen.
Elizabeth if not cut-off from her family, could ruin them all. Violet reread part of her daughter’s letter once more in disgust:
“Did you know Mama, there is such thing as a circus? Freaks of all kinds, but I love them because they’re genuine, not like the society you so desperately try to trap me in. Years of dance lessons have left me flexible. I pirouette far above the ground and dance in the air; I ride the elephants.
It’s amazing travelling the world and I won’t be returning to London, except for an occasional visit of course. I’ve married one of the men who runs the circus. He is like me, gentry who has run away from a society of judgement. I love you and hope we can write, but I can’t be the woman you want me to be. . .”
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for this week’s Shadorma alternative a “Baker Street” themed after Sherlock Holmes and the popular show on BBC with Sherlock Holmes.
“The rules for this alternative to a Shadorma called “A Baker Street” are: Each stanza has three lines. Line 1: 2 syllables. Line 2: 2 syllables. Line 3: 1 syllable and includes a “b” in the word. You may choose to bend the rules and substitute any consonant or vowel for the “b” – so long as you use the same consonant or vowel in each third line. There are no specific rules regarding number of stanzas, rhyme, meter, linking stanzas, not linking stanzas, etc.”
“What are you writing Uncle?” Chad asked Sam.”And why’re you using a calligraphy pen? Carry that in your back pocket?”
“Chad, you shouldn’t be joking.You’re going to give this letter to a trusted bicycle courier. My friend I’m writing can help us; he knows my writing. Pretend the courier outside the hotel side entrance is a buddy.” Sam instructed.
Chad grabbed the letter. “I have a lot of questions Uncle Sam, about my Dad and about why we’re in trouble.”
Sam nodded. “Go meet the courier, then we’ll talk. I’ll sweep the room for bugs while you’re gone again. I don’t think they’re any, otherwise . . .”
Chad gulped, quickly leaving the hotel room. He walked to the side entrance of the hotel expecting a guy his age on a bike.
Instead, he found a trashed bicycle. There was no courier, only drops of blood.
Chad ran as fast he could back to his hotel room terrified. He thought he had taken the right turn, but when he turned around he saw he was at room 395 and not 305.
“Are you lost hon?” A smiling hotel maid asked him.
“No you’re not. You are definitely not fine Chad.” A deep voice said.
Chad peered behind him to see his Uncle Sam standing there. Sam shot the maid through the head and collected a gun the maid had hidden in her uniform.
“You can’t trust anyone.” Uncle Sam told Chad harshly.
Chad followed his Uncle out of the hotel, clutching the calligraphy written letter in his hand.
1. Wow, you’ve brought scrumptious, mouth watering, sinfully fattening, cupcakes to work, however; there’s a problem or three with the cupcakes you’ve bought to share; first of all, the cupcakes are small, if you’re going to allow us all to indulge in a cupcake, at least make the cupcake full size, not mini; cupcake are not a delicious treat most of us have often so please, don’t leave us wanting more ( a second cupcake) when you’ve only brought enough for one each.
2. The second issue I have is, your cupcakes aren’t chocolate; a most grevious error on your part, I don’t know who decides to bring cupcakes to work and doesn’t buy chocolate ones; chocolate is beloved by the majority of people and vanilla is boring (even if it vanilla does smell delightful), vanilla isn’t chocolate, it can’t compare; you’ve unknowingly offended at least all the females in our work area by bringing cupcakes which aren’t chocolate; in fact, I’d say my day is ruined, having seen the cupcakes and realized, they weren’t chocolate or even chocolate iced.
3. My third issue has to do with the icing on the cupcakes; I understand, you’re not the baker and you don’t ice the cupcakes yourself, but the icing is the best part of the cupcake; a slightly stale cupcake can get away with being stale, if the icing is to die for; vanilla icing could be satisfying but again, chocolate would have clearly, been the wiser icing choice; as well as choosing cupcakes which were “fully” iced; the baker’s icing style has much to be desired because the baker did not ice to the end of the cupcake, to the cupcake paper edge; icing is the most imperative aspect of a superb cupcake, perhaps, in the future, when you visit this cupcake bakery again, you will choose cupcakes with more icing; while the icing was delicious, there was far to little of it.
I’m no cupcake expert, but I know what I like when I taste it.
“Personality wise, I would describe myself as a simple, deep-thinking, friendly, inquisitive, and vivacious human with multiple layers which baffle me at certain times” – Jacqueline Oby- Ikocha
1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.
My name is Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha. I’m a Nigerian born, Dubai (UAE) resident, of Igbo heritage. The Igbo’s are a hardworking, industrious, nomadic and proud tribe of Nigeria whom can be found in almost every nook and cranny of the world, even in places that you would least expect to find them. We strive to thrive wherever we are found.
Personality wise, I would describe myself as a simple, deep-thinking, friendly, inquisitive and vivacious human with multiple layers which baffle me at certain times.
I’m an ambivert, a people person, an outspoken, and focused woman. I can own up to being a loyal and upright person and you can take my word to the bank. Hard work doesn’t scare me. I truly believe in encouraging others to be the best that they can be. I’m also a wife, a mother, a writer, a perpetual learner, a life-enthusiast and a die-hard optimist. I don’t believe in the word impossible.
2. When Did You Begin Writing and/or Blogging?
I actually have no conscious date as to when I started scribbling. I use the word scribbling because I would write drama series at a very young age and designate my siblings to roles that I deemed fit. I was both the story writer, the film director, and everything in-between. Sometimes my siblings fell out with me because they weren’t particularly enthused about one role or the other.
However, I consciously started taking my writing seriously and away from the realm of a hobby two years ago. My venture into blogging started on May 6, 2015 as I searched for areas to help harness my writing and opportunities to interact with like-minded people.
“As some people resort to drink or other vices of choice, writing is my vice, which is only possibly matched by reading” – Jacqueline Oby – Ikocha
4. What does writing/poetry mean to you? Why do you write?
I write for vision and clarity. I process things better when I write. I write to share thoughts that I may ordinarily not give voice to. I write to deal with issues that bother me. As some people resort to drink or other vices of choice, writing is my vice, which is only possibly matched by reading. I wouldn’t know how else to be.
My reason for writing is so strong, a lot of times, when I need my husband to understand a point that I’m probably not expressing vocally as well as I should, I write him a letter.
My heart has known peace through my writing. Some of the turbulence I experienced earlier in life have been manageable due to writing. It’s a voice that God gave me. A lot of times my husband, children and friends marvel at the speed at which my fingers fly acrossthe keyboard even without looking at the letters. Or they marvel at how quickly my pen flies across a journal endlessly.
It’s the way it is for me. While some people say they experience ‘writers block,’ I’m yet toexperience the feeling. What I experience is insufficient time in any given day where I’m able to write the words, thoughts that flit through my mind. I have many otherresponsibilities which have my name written on them.
5. Where do you find your inspiration and motivation to write? Is there a time of day you prefer to write?
I see inspiration in everything. I could see a mustard coloured car and a story comes to mymind. It could be the way someone wore their clothes, spoke, smiled, or didn’t smile. Inspiration just comes. Sometimes I ask God’s Spirit to lead my hands.
I enjoy writing in the wee hours of the morning before my entire household rises, but such opportunity is becoming less. Someday’s I write late into the evening after work and other chores before I knock off to sleep. I normally wake up at 4:00 to 4:30 am and put in an hour either prepping my blog or writing something before I prepare for school runs, work, and the rest of my day.
I’ve learned to write on the go, anywhere and anytime, otherwise I’ll never find enough time during the day to write. My notepad is always ready in my bag and I can tune out if need be and scribble. I scribble all the time. Morning, afternoon, evening, night, sitting, standing, even riding the train or bus.
6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Have You Published Or Are You Planning to Publish Any Work?
Presently, I’m working on a collection of stories, two novels, an inspirational book, and another poetry book. I’ve decided to take them one at a time because it was getting crazy. I want to focus on one work, have it finished, and then move on to other projects.
Out of The Silent Breath is my first published poetry book. I’ve done freelance writing in the past, writing content for others, as well as ghost writing. However, I’ve decided to focus more on my own works. I still freelance when the right briefs come, but I’m planning on having my second book published by the second quarter of this year.
I honestly haven’t gotten around to submitting my works for external publication. It’s a plan in the pipeline, but for some reason, having my writing published in a magazine or otherwise,hasn’t been a driving point for me. Possibly after my second book, my mind will be more attuned to that.
” . . .[t]he joy of having one’s work published, far outweighs the challenges. The hard work involved in self-publishing, shouldn’t deter anyone.” – Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha
7.Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Experienced Publishing Your Work?
To publish in itself is not difficult, yet it isn’t easy either. Being self-published is twice asmuch the hard work. It includes writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and accounting (etc); however, the joy of having one’s work published, far outweighs thechallenges. The hard work involved in self-publishing, shouldn’t deter anyone.
I’ve been writing for a while and sometimes when family or friends read my articles they ask me why I’m waiting to publish them. Getting to the nitty-gritty of choosing the pieces to publish, trying to edit my material, and do all the formatting myself, was where I experienced difficulty.
My days are filled to the brim. I realized that if I had to do everything myself, it would probably take forever. I outsourced the cover production and formatting to a professional. I focused on the writing and marketing; marketing is a a big job.
As well, I couldn’t afford professional editing since it doesn’t come cheap, so I sought out beta readers among friends. With that said, I think that having an editor is important, especially when one embarks on writing as a career. Now I am working on a compilationof stories about 40,000 words and also motivational handbook which should hopefully be published at the latter part of this year.
To break my publishing process down:
Sourced beta readers.
Tried to do publishing myself (which took me ages).
I then outsourced the book cover, formatting, and uploading to a publishing firm.
I don’t have a writing process per se. I try to write early in the morning before I get busy with house chores, school issues, and work. Sometimes, it means setting the alarm to wake up at 4:30 am to 5:00 am and work on a story for an hour before my family wake up.
Through out the day, I find minutes to center my thoughts and scribble. After dinner when everyone is settled, I blog or write until around 10:00 pm to 10:30 pm, then I retire with the present book I am reading and hopefully, fall asleep within the hour.
I write as the thoughts flow and then edit after. Many times, I find myself rising in the midst of sleep to write something that’s running around in my head.
“My reading and writing is eclectic as my personality.” – Jacqueline Oby- Ikocha
8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing Styles or Genres?
I’ve found that I’m no longer finicky about genres because having read various genreswidely, I have learned information from different scenarios. I would actually refer to myself as a cross-genre writer and reader. My reading and writing is eclectic as my personality. For me, it’s what catches my thoughts of the moment. My writing could be descriptive (mainly for poetry), narrative, or persuasive to sway thoughts.
I always read a myriad of books. My book purchases in a month usually encompass books of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, romance, thriller, adventure, motivational, and self-help (etc). I try to keep it balanced.
9. Do You Have Any Advice to Aid Other Writers?
My advice would be: What is that piece of thought and writing that keeps you up at night? Which makes your inner engine rev in anticipation? Don’t give it up!
Some days, it will be hard and almost impossible to find time to sit down and put pen topaper;sit down anyways and type nonsense. Type as the words flow into your mind without any sequence. Each day, find time to write. The time doesn’t have to be in one huge block, a lot of us don’t have such leisure. You might find a half an hour of concertedflow far outweighs an hour or two without any flow.
As well, never listen to the naysayers and please go with your heart. Fashion your own writing and leave trying to be the next whoever to someone else. Just be you. When you write from within, writing flows and is far more compelling than trying to imitate someone else. It can be done because your words count.
10. Please Share With Us Some Of Your Writing.
I have no particular favourite piece of writing and I don’t understand why. I’ll share with you several which people have read and enjoyed. I do hope you find my writing pieces interesting:
Thank you so much to Jacqueline for doing an interview for me on my blog. I would love tointerview you too. Please let me know if you’re interested in sharing yourself and yourwriting. You can reach me on my Contact Page.
Thank you to Sonya of Only 100 Words for hosting the 3 Line Tales photo prompt. For writing 101 our prompt was to write a letter.
Dear Dad and Mom: I’m sorry I left the way I did years ago, angry and confused, upset at the way my life was going; I shouldn’t have ran out on you two; I should have asked you for help but I ran away and joined the army and I serve my country now.
I’ve learned a lot out here in the desert fighting insurgents who oppose democracy, everything we all hold dear in life, our civil rights and our families, and our liberties to do as we please; here it’s so different and in the blink of an eye, one of my best friends and his platoon was wiped out by a road side bomb, but I have more to say:
There is a girl I married while I was at odds with you two; she begged me to invite you to the wedding but I refused; we married a year ago and she’s had your first grandchild, a tiny boy named Samuel, 7 lbs 3 oz on August 22nd; he is sweet and innocent and I don’t know if I’ll make it out of here to see him soon enough but you should go see Lana my wife, and Samual my son, meet your grand baby and with Lana’s parents, watch over them both until I come home; I’ll write Lana’s address on the back of my letter.
“Hey girly. Such a good girl. How about a belly rub? Last one for a few months, I’ve got to go fight some bad guys. Seems as if there is an unending supply of them. That’s life, eh Emmie?” my Dad Dylan says.
Then, he kisses my Mom Kristine.” It’s going to be alright, Kristy. You know how well we’re trained for these missions. I’ll be back in a few months sweetheart. Email me, you can write me an old-fashioned letter even.”Dylan remarks soothing Kristine.
“What if this is the time . . . I never see you again, and it’s only Emmie and I? I’ve only had five-years with you. It’s not enough.”
Dylan hugs Kristine tight and they both cry. I feel their sadness and cuddle between them to comfort us all. I whimper and I lick their salty hands.
“Emmie, you sucky girl. I’ll be home before you know it,” Dylan tells me giving me one last pet and kissing Kristine hard.
“Don’t go Dad, don’t leave us. Mom’s sad, I don’t want her to be sad. You didn’t walk me today. Mom will be too sad to walk me….” I yap to Dylan. But he leaves.
Ages pass before I hear Dylan whistle. I bark in delight; he came home.
It is a great deal easier to write about my worst qualities then my best. Mostly, because I am aware of my faults more than my best characteristics. There are two things I do that are my worst qualities:
My, first worst quality has to do with my ability to not be able to contrentrate long or be multi-functional anymore. I am not blaming my health for it; I am saying my health intensified the issue.
I can do one thing at a time and it is often frustrating when I am working on writing up a paper or blogging about a subject, and someone starts trying to have a conversation with me. It makes me angry because I can’t multi-task, the person talking to me is interrupting my ideas and line of thought. And you know how if you are a creative person, ideas often flow out of you when they do; you have to write, paint, or do whatever you do to get your burst of creativity on paper. Meanwhile, a person is still talking to you none-stop and asking you questions and it is annoying. At the same time, I feel bad about being irritated.
Often, it is my Mom who is trying to talk to me. Before, I was ever ill I remember being so mad because I would be researching, writing up a paper, or working on a spreadsheet from work and she would pepper me with questions. But I knew she only wanted to talk to someone after a busy day at work about what went on good or bad. She wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in her office life and get my opinion or view on a situation. She wanted to be able to talk about the people at her work, honestly. She wanted to ‘take a load off.’
I want to be able to talk with my Mom and others. But if I am busy or worn out after doing activities all day, I will brush people off. I will tell my Mom to stop bothering me. I go to my room and finish what I’m doing or sleep if I’m tired. I want to be chatty and happy but I feel bothered and drained by people talking at me and asking countless questions at times. So my first big flaw is I am irritable and single-minded. I am working on actively being a better listener. But it is hard at the time of day everyone gets home from work because I am worn out from the day and my medication is wearing off. I want to listen more and be involved in the conversation and not tune it out or walk away. Sometimes I able to be a better listener and sometimes I’m too irritated to pay attention.
The second flaw I have is something I try to attend to before it becomes worse. I have a tendency if I get mad or angry to let the issues I’m upset about build-up inside me. I get stressed-out when this occurs. I will sort through issues in my head trying to solve them. “Problems to solutions that don’t even exist,” I was told once. But the issue is my problems are real and bothersome. And I attempt to be a nice kind person so I don’t usually tell someone off or ask them to stop doing something unless they are especially bothering me.
An issue arises, however; if someone is repeatedly doing a hurtful action. Or if a person keeps doing a whole bunch of bothersome and hurtful actions all the time. I try to tell myself it is no big deal. I pray about it. I practice yoga and meditate sometimes. I write a lot as you know. And often writing helps a ton. Sometimes if I write something up and even if I don’t post it because it’s too personal or mean about another person, I feel better.
But every now and then someone pushes my buttons and I explode into yelling and tears. I’m a soft spoken reasonable person so when I yell and scream people are surprised and usually offended. Maybe, they didn’t realize something was a larger issue to me then they would have thought. Maybe, I am blowing the situation out of proportion. And maybe, I genuinely have the right to be so upset at someone.
I scared and hurt a friend in Vegas once when I erupted with anger. My friend T and I needed to take L aside and talk to her before the situation got worse but neither T or I did. L had been treating T and I badly the entire summer. Not to mention, she wanted to do all these things with us in Vegas but didn’t actually have the money to pay for it so T and I ended up paying for L, on many activities we did. Also, the fact L had a wonderful boyfriend who was our friend too, and L was flirting and making out with other guys made T and I angry.
I have told this part before: while we are in a club, T became so drunk she was sick and we had to leave the bar. We tried to get L to leave because we promised to stay together, all three of us. L kept telling us to wait and I finally told her T and I had to go, the bouncer was about to carry T and I out the back exit. L chose to stay with two guys she had been flirting with all night.
We finally saw L again as we got back to the hotel room. She was angry too and tried to blame it all on us and said we had abandoned her at the club. I knew T would never stand up to L because she prefers not to handle situations head on. T used to let a person treat her badly, instead of standing up to them. Luckily, she has become better at this over time.
I was so mad about L’s behaviour all summer. I exploded. L was shocked and she asked me why I would even want to be her friend if I thought so badly of her. And I told L how bad she was treating her boyfriend and if she didn’t stop, even T said she’d tell L’s boyfriend on her. L had been treating T and I badly too. L left our room with all her stuff. She wouldn’t talk to us the rest of the trip.
L made up with T because she hadn’t yelled at her, even though L had been a bad friend to T, ditching her for guys countless time. After many emails and some time L and I were friends again three months later. I finally apologized because she wouldn’t. And funny enough, she became closer to her boyfriend. L saw how valuable he was, and ended up becoming engaged, and marrying him.
Even though, L was misbehaving, she didn’t deserve to be yelled at so loudly and L didn’t deserve to have everything T and I were mad at her for dumped on her. People are imperfect and you have to pick and choose your battles. Some things about your friends you have to accept; just as you have flaws so do they. The best friends love you after you’ve shown them your worst side and you love them after you have seen the worst of them. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing your friend or choosing to be right.
I am careful now because of this situation in Las Vegas when I was twenty-three, to not let my anger build up. If I have a big problem with someone or something they are doing, I am honest. And I try hard to tell people how I’m feeling in such a way that isn’t accusatory but rather focuses on how something is hurting me or causing me to feel a certain way. The truth is people do not always realize they are being hurtful. Often, you need to tell the person who is damaging you to stop treating you a certain way and they will listen and cease.
Not letting issues build up helps. I also have learned to let some issues go. I try to get someone else’s view on the situation, Google the general problem, or pray about it. For many situations I find looking at them from a different perspective is helpful. If you see the situation differently it won’t become a problem that will build up. I have also learned that you have to say goodbye to some people or take your issues with a person to a higher authority. But since we are adults, there is usually no higher authority, unless it is a work issue or an issue of crime.
So for instance, I had trouble with a girl who was editor of a magazine I volunteered to write for. She didn’t understand why I was upset about her editing my articles to sound entirely as if they were in her voice. Some of her other editors were being taught to do the same. I didn’t find out until later when I took actual editing courses, what this editor was doing was incorrect and rude. You always try to preserve the voice of the writer and the way the article is written as much as you can. I was confident enough in my writing skills, my BA in English Literature, and the couple hundred articles I had written for her magazine previously. My ideas and my writing style wasn’t bad but my grammar and spelling needed work.
The editor wrote me a letter saying I had to work on my grammar and spelling, which was true. And she had tried to let me improve but I wasn’t, so she increasingly, cut down my article writing until I was only writing one article a week; before I was writing nothing. I exploded to her letter with a nasty email. She thought this was exactly how I was going to react. She probably had the same issue come up with past contributers to her magazine. I ended up apologizing to her for being ageist because she was more than five years younger then me with no degree, so I didn’t trust her writing or editing experience. Honestly, I had good instincts with her, despite my hasty email.
In truth, she was being manipulative and I finally recognized, she didn’t like my writing style. She was looking for people who wrote how she wrote on her personal blog and in her articles. And she didn’t want me to write for her magazine even when she needed writers. I was offended but I knew I didn’t want to be a writer like her or for her. She said the magazine was expanding and the writers had to expand or become better with it. I agreed but still had problems with how she chose to write and what she focused on in her magazines.
I didn’t like how she regularly wrote about cheating with men and women and ruining relationships. Although I support LBGT people, I was offended that she rarily had articles pertaining to man and woman couples, boyfriends and girlfriends. I found this editor to be selfish, micro -managing, and immature despite her attempts to appear professional.
She didn’t want my writing but wanted to use my blogs to tweet and post. She wanted to stay friends but didn’t want me to write for her because I was offended by her note. I had every right to be.
So, I let her go. I stopped supporting the magazine by buying the quarterly issues. I wouldn’t let her use any of my writing for her magazine. I unfriended her on Facebook and Twitter. I stopped taking her text messages and didn’t give her my new number when it changed. I unsubscribed from her blog and anything related to the magazine. It was a great decision.
I don’t know where she is at now. I hope she is well and has worked out some of her life and issues with the magazine such as finding writers. It was mean of me to write her a nasty reply to her email. She didn’t deserve it, even if she lacked a degree or experience. But I couldn’t be friends with her after how she talked about my writing, how she treated my skills as if suddenly they were useless. I knew from professors, writing articles in the Edmonton Journal in University, and even strangers my writing was good. It didn’t mean my writing didn’t require improvement (it still does and will forever) but I didn’t like how she belittled my skills and my person. I let her go.
So, I have learned some tricks to working off stress and dealing with problems before they become so large I explode in tears and screaming. Every once in a long awhile, I can’t help it but I am getting better. We cannot always overcome our flaws but we can try to manage them.