Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A Creative Writing Jump Start- Writivism Festival 2017



From now until the end of the year, I am supposed to spend 10 minutes free writing every day, so in true-aspiring-writer-fashion, I have been avoiding my notebook and pen this week. I attended a writing workshop last Sunday, it was part of the Writivism Festival. At 10.00am, I arrived on time for the workshop in my fave grey marble print dress and new L.A Girl matte pigment  lip gloss 'Black Current' with daunting and catastrophic imagined expectations in mind. The night before I had dreamt about all the worst possible scenarios, so I was hoping both the dress & lip gloss would help my confidence, because the one fear most writers have is reading their work in front of other people (people who are very talented). I was frightened that I might have to read my rejected story out loud, since they had asked me to bring a print out. So the dress and lip gloss were meant to be my Armour, but thank God I never had to read my story.

 Any who....I discovered that I actually have a lot going on in my mind and this free writing exercise  during the workshop allowed me to sit and spew out all the unnecessary clutter, no longer restricted by grammar. Free writing is when you write down whatever is on your mind without editing yourself. You just write and write and write, within your specified time limit. Sitting in a room surrounded by fellow writers of different nationalities and cultures,  I wrote possibly 150 to 200 words uncensored, real (and maybe a bit raw)in just 10 minutes. We were tasked to write about our names by the facilitator from Short Story Day AfricaEfemia Chela. And when she shouted "Time's up! Pens down." you can just imagine the struggle that took place between us the writers, our hands and the pens. We had all enjoyed our freedom without our internal editors breathing down our backs  and were reluctant to give it away once again.

The Writivism festival took place at The Square this year, which is most definitely an interesting building. I can describe it in four words greyish, blackish bare and huge. You can't deny the fact that the place was constructed for creatives. It's a structure located in the industrial area of Kampala that one can mold into what they need for the time they are there. The festival was dynamic as always.  Each time I attend I leave with my renewed enthusiasm for African writers. I attended the #MEIREAD session hosted by the Ugandan publishing house  Sooo Many Stories and listened to a lively discussion on the book Black Ass with author A. Igoni Barret,  now I MUST get that book!  I am so happy that the festival gives us access to books that we might not find in our usual book shops; not only access to the books but a chance to meet the authors and understand their creative process. It makes my reading  experience so personal, a purchase for me becomes an investment in the future of African literature. Our grandchildren will be overwhelmed by the choices, I am elated about that.  I bought  some books I am looking forward to devouring πŸ˜‚ Shout out to Turn the Page and the Writivism Crew for  ensuring they were available. I would have bought more but many of the books that were launched were sold out by the time I got there...

Yes, this photo was taken at night so I used a flash..

                       
Can we also talk about the Salooni exhibition by Darlyne Komukama? It made me proud to be female and Ugandan. Dare I say.... I think our ancestors would be proud of these amazing photos? I do believe they REALLY would be. 


from the Writivism website


One thing I was looking forward too was the creative rush, imagine a sugar rush but substitute sugar for creative energy . The energy that makes us paint, animate, design, photograph, even write... is it the same as the muse? Although it doesn't feel like the muse. It feels more like jump starting your internal creative vehicle, because each person will still has to go away and do the work. The jump start just gives us the visionary spark of electric energy. There is something about being around like-minded people that makes your mind dig deeper for the story, and hopefully helps you produce your next best work if you remain committed and intensely focused. So I highly recommend festivals, workshops or writing retreats cause we all need that creative push every now and then, before we lock ourselves away in solitary confinement to passionately labour away on the next great hit.

This post was initially a free writing exercise but 
I have edited out around 100 words so I could post it. 😀

In  the comments below, tell me, have you tried free Writing? How do you get your creative jumpstart? Have you bought any good books lately?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How to Deal with the Social Butterfly Who's Secretly a Bully...



They get along with everyone except you, and you just can't figure out why...They are often cold and manipulative when interacting with you, and yet they are the complete opposite with everyone else. Other people describe them as warm, caring, fun  and bubbly but for some reason you can't  quite pin point how you are experiencing someone else altogether...

First before we go any further let's acknowledge what bullying is and that there are different types of bullying.  Here's a definition of bullying from Google, 'The use of superior strength or influence to intimidate, typically to force him or her to do what you want.' And here is another definition of bullying from Wikipedia, 'The use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others.'  Then just to make the discussion more interesting, there are four main types of bullying which I shall list below, however I am guessing if you were studying this topic you would probably find it broken down further.


  • Physical Bullying:includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing, or damaging property.
  • Social/ Emotional Bullying: also called "relational bullying", includes behavioral actions designed to harm a child’s reputation or cause humiliation, like lying and spreading rumors, playing mean jokes to embarrass or humiliate , mimicking the person in a mean way, encouraging social exclusion of a person, etc.
  • Verbal Bullying: includes name-calling, insults, teasing, intimidation or verbal abuse.
  • Cyber Bullying: includes taunting or humiliation through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or the Internet, cruel websites targeting specific youth, humiliating others while playing online games, verbal or emotional bullying through chat rooms, 


For this blog post I am personally writing from my experiences as an adult. I feel like it is a necessary topic to discuss. In the same way we can be victims, we can unknowingly  participate in bullying and not know the long lasting effects on the individual. I have never personally experienced physical or cyber bullying so the steps I am providing would probably not be useful in those situations. I am also not an expert,  I  am writing based on the coping strategies that helped me get through some challenging moments so please bare that in mind. Here are my ten tips for coping with bullies:


  1. TAKE A STEP BACK~ Usually when we are in the midst of getting bullied, we get lost in the overwhelming emotions of feeling inadequate and inferior. Take a deep breath...take a mental step back and see the situation for what it is. Is there really a problem or is someone trying to convince you that you are a problem? 
  2. STAY CALM😢~ Don't let your emotions get the best of you. This is the best advice my father has given me. Sometimes this person will use triggers, they will find ways to frustrate you and humiliate you in front of others. It's important to learn to remain calm and as mentioned in step one, take a step back and start seeing the situation for what it is. 
  3. 'ALL ATTACK IS A CALL FOR HELP' πŸ’£-~I think this comes from a A Course in Miracles. Hurt people hurt other people. In this day and age of social media, we have become experts at editing our life into what we want people to see and know about us. Unfortunately this means that some people never feel safe enough to admit they are hurting or they need help. It isn't your responsibility to help the bully but you do need to know that their behavior is a refection of who they are and not who you are. They will try to convince you, that you are the problem, stick to steps one and two. Remember this isn't about you...this is about their inability to cope in healthy ways with situations they do not like. After all the bully is a human being. 
  4. PRAYπŸ™‡~ meditate, pray, find your quiet amongst all the chaos. It will help you think through steps 1,2,and 3 Whatever works for you. Consulting with God helps me in my daily life
  5. TALK TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST~Find a confidant who is not emotionally attached to  the situation and discuss it with them. Sometimes this will help you see everything from a fresh perspective and they may have advice to help you cope better
  6. DOCUMENT WHAT HAPPENS ~ Write it all down, write everything that happens, so you don't feel like you are going crazy. Social/relational bullying can be very subtle and the victim may often feel like thy are overreacting. Write it all down. It may help you assess whether you really are being bullied 
  7. DEVELOP A STRATEGY IF YOU NEED ONE ~ sometimes ignoring the behavior helps, because it shows the bully that you will not stoop to that level. Sometimes confronting the bully in an assertive face to face discussion helps, because strangely enough some bullies are afraid of confrontation, because weirdly enough they are victims too.😜 Either way you need to assess the situation, do some research , seek professional help if possible and decide what is best for you  ( I have used the word 'situation' toooo much in this blog post πŸ˜‚)
  8. DON'T LOOSE FOCUS πŸ’ͺ ~ This is what the bully wants you to do, loose focus. Forget your purpose, dull your shine. They need to feel better and they think that will happen if they come for you. Make a list of all the things you need to achieve if you have too...re-focus and get your tasks done. Don't waste time focusing on the bully. Remember to find small things that bring you joy, like reading a book, meeting up with friends, watching your favorite series etc. Your  life is bigger than this moment. 
  9. HEAL & FORGIVE πŸ˜‡~ Bullying can leave a person with a lot of unhealthy side effects,  for example depression, anxiety, panic attacks, isolation, headaches etc... It can often feel embarrassing to admit that someone has had such an effect on you. Seek professional help if you need too. Find time within your life to heal and forgive, so that you can move on. 
  10. SELF- EVALUATE ~You might be a bully too, or you may participate in bullying behaviors towards others. Take the time to know yourself and the people around you, make an effort to stop bullying behaviors in your circles. 


“You should be nicer to him,' a schoolmate had once said to me of some awfully ill-favored boy. 'He has no friends.' This, I realized with a pang of pity that I can still remember, was only true as long as everybody agreed to it.” 




Comment below with your coping strategies, I would love to read them.