I get in the Discovery Hall where my workshop is five minutes after the start of my session and blank. No. Not my mind. The room. Aside from the interns for Storymoja who are coordinating everything there is only one person who has turned up for my workshop. This is a far cry from 10 in the morning when Teju ‘Mos Def’ Cole did his workshop. Then the house was so full that some people had to sit on the tables at the back. I have never suffered from as much ink envy as I did then. Also Nigerian envy. And Faber & Faber envy. And penis envy. Because at this time I am certain that I would have had a full house if I were a great male writer published by Faber & Faber of Nigerian descent.
But then I recall the words of one of my friends. “If you have one person or three people, treat them as though they are the most important person in the room and give them as much attention as you would do a full room.” As you may have guessed, my friend is also as much of a loser writer as I feel at this moment. But I make the best of a bad situation and I talk to this woman.
I ask what she does and why she is in the workshop. She tells me she is a yoga instructor. Just what I need at this time. Someone to bring me peace. As I am about to ask her for relaxation tips on how to be happy at the lack of an audience, people start trickling in. And as more people walk in, we can no longer have everyone introducing themselves because we need to get to the issue that brought everyone here. The room is soon full. I realize that the reason why everyone was on time for Teju’s panel and not on time for mine may just be because they were observing African Time. After all, even I did not make it on time.
We are soon talking about all things writing. We laugh. Questions are asked on what differentiates creative nonfiction from fiction (I have my answer, what’s yours?) and we even get morbid once or twice as everyone in the room chats about how they would like to die (a little exercise to see whether something as serious as death can ever be spoken of in a humourous way. When we are done we all agree, death is funny.
Before I know it, the intern at the back is telling me I have five more minutes left. You may want to claim it was because people arrived late but I like to think it was because we were having a lot of fun. Cheers Storymoja.