FEMRITE Regional Residency for African Women writers
The writer in me was re-born at the Residency
I missed the first two FEMRITE Regional Writers Residencies, but I was lucky to be on the third one, and bang, it was done. The writer in me was re-awakened.
The story relates to the FEMRITE's Regional Residency for Women Writers. FEMRITE organises and hosts a residency for women writers from all over Africa annually.
The writer in me was re-awakened.
I missed the first two FEMRITE Regional Writers Residencies, but I was lucky to be on the third one, and bang, it was done. The writer in me was re-awakened. It’s amazing how we think we know it all as seasoned writers, until we are exposed to works and comments of other writers in a closed working environment like a residence.
I turned up, proudly with a novel-in-progress and a short story which, to me as a writer, were near perfect! However, during the Residency, I sat there, watched and listened as other writers opened my eyes and ears to a whole lot of different angles and styles that would turn my writing into a fast-gripping and spellbinding piece of work.
The diversity of the cultures represented at the Residency had a lot to offer. While writing rules are similar in many ways, the different cultures taught me that I have not yet seen it all, and that the richness of a piece of literature cannot be explored to its fullness if the writer is confined to a narrow perspective. I was fascinated as writer after writer narrated what such and such meant in her culture and how it would be handled if it ever happened. As I listened I realised that my mind was writing stories from the different cultures, and that the element of the “writer’s block” was being eliminated. The mix of young and not-so-young writers was also enriching in its own way and it gave me a glimpse into the minds of others and helped me understand how their age affected their writing.
I also got a chance to critique work from several African countries, which was a very enriching exercise. Being able, not only to point out shortcomings in others, but also providing solutions that would lead to better writing was something that made me feel more of a writer than before.
The most rewarding part of the Residency was the opportunity to make corrections and incorporate other writers’ comments into my work immediately. There was a good amount of time allocated to individual writing and I used it fully for that purpose, as well as adding a few chapters to my novel. Outside the Residency, I would not have had that time immediately, meaning there would be the ever-lurking danger of ignoring these very important comments.
I must commend FEMRITE for identifying experienced writers to facilitate the Residency. We were all given a chance to have a one-on-one discussion with them. I used this opportunity fully, and I was speechless as I listen to Ellen Banda telling me how to improve my writing. I say I was speechless because she made writing sound so easy that I wondered how I could have failed to see things from her angle in the first place. The way Ellen and Doreen directed the workshops was also commendable.
To put it mildly, the writer in me was not only re-awakened, but actually re-born at the Residency.