Plagued by Author Envy

Writing your debut novel? Here are ten points on how to get started. That is a typical motivational speaker introduction. So if that is what you are waiting for, sorry to disappoint you but I have no pointers. I have just been wondering what makes a good story. I Google searched, watched YouTube videos, and I discovered…drum rolls please…that what makes a great story is not the genre, size of the book or the author’s fancy exotic name. It is just being able to transport your reader into the world and life of your story; imagination.

Writers block

I have been reading stories, and exploring authors and I felt bad when I saw some of the names in this year’s Storymoja Festival authors list. Why? I recall speaking to Ciku Kimeria at an ATM and she rambled on about not being able to stop writing.  I encouraged her to keep at it and took the liberty to share that I was working on a manuscript. And I had a blog as well, typical lazy Rose lip service.  Ciku sent me her work to read, guilty, I didn’t, and then on 1st January 2014 I got an SMS.

“You can now get my book on Amazon.” I was having a blast in Mombasa with friends and family when that bombshell was dropped. I hadn’t finished my manuscript and I was all over the place with it. And after an ATM visit encouragement she took my advice and got published? It took a while to shake off the shame, self hate and guilt for my laziness. It was like salt on an open wound and then rubbed in my eyes when I saw Ciku, a 2014 Storymoja Hay Festival author, I wanted to die.

I am slightly jealous but most of all, feel guilty for not being more disciplined in writing a book. Ciku kudos! You know what? She loved it, she wrote her heart out and it’s all about being consistent and getting it done. I have learned my lesson and I have maaaad respect for her.

So what is the point here? I don’t actually recall it just went out the window, I guess I feel ashamed actually. I know I am not the only one. I started another manuscript, but every time I write I keep feeling like the story isn’t good enough, no one will ever read it, save for my supportive mother. But I keep forcing myself to do it.

I keep thinking of Ciku, it is all about consistency, putting it all down. I keep reminding myself it is all about being able to imagine a world and transport the reader there. Then a voice yells out, “don’t do it!” And then a mental WWE match erupts and then I pause to calm down. I guess at times the real fear is rejection and inadequacy. Investing all that time and energy and seeing a publisher shred it to bits.

But hey Chimamanda, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Beatrice Lemwaka, Ben Okri, drew us in to their worlds, and they didn’t have fancy vocabulary. They just wrote, I will keep at it and take my time to write. Boy do I now have a new found respect for ANYONE who has ever authored a book.

First published on


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