6 Things You Need To Know If Farafina Didn’t Take You.


It is that time of the year again. The time when a new flock of celebrity writer hopefuls are invited for the prestigious Farafina Writing Workshop. I have said my bit about the workshop (Google: Farafina Workshop Lottery) so I won’t say anything about the event now.

Now, I want to speak to those who applied and somehow didn’t get on the list of 24.
I have a word for you and this is it.

1. Rejection doesn’t exist

I know that sounds ludicrous but would like you to think about it. If every entry the judges got was excellent and they chose solely by merit they would still have just 24 slots to fill.

That means that not being taken might not be a reflection ofyour talent or skill but just a question of feasibility.

Or maybe your writing sample on a gay romance fell into the hands of a homophobe.

Or the slush pile sorter had a Twitfight with you once.

Whatever it was, don’t take it personal. If you sent in your best work after writing 2-4 drafts, making all kinds of ammendments, passing it through 2 beta readers and an editor, then that’s all you can do. Rest. Don’t sweat it, it is out of your hands now.

2. Keep getting better

I can’t say this enough. Being a writer means writing.  Being a great writer means constantly improving.  If you let this break your heart and your will and mess with your dreams then the joke is on you.

But, I guarantee you, if you keep working on your craft, improving your art and building your publication credits, one day you will look back at this event with a smile.

You’d have graduated from attending workshops to hosting them.

3. Workshop not magic wand

Workshops are great. They can create space for you to look more critically at your work. They can make you more visible. They can even lead to being published.

Workshops are not magic wands.

They will not make up for the fact that you haven’t read anything this year but Tweets and Facebook posts.

They will not fix your grammar.

They won’t earn you a loyal, loving, vocal follower base that yearns to read your next release and make it viral.

They won’t sit your bum down to finish that wonderful book you’ve been planning to write for ten years.

A workshop is just a workshop.

You are the one with the magic wand.

Only this time the magic wand is work.

You have to do the work.
No workshop will do the work for you.

4 . The world is bigger than Farafina

Believe me, there are so many people and places out there that want to read your work. Especially if it is fresh, tight, polished, and finished.

Start small.

Write for your Facebook friends and get feedback.

Consider joining sites like Naija Stories.

Finish the works you have in progress.

Send your work to magazines blogs and journals.

Send some of your work to us. (we pay by the way).

Get a beta reader, get two beta readers.

Get an editor.

Mbue Imbolo, a Cameroonian, sold her debut novel for two million dollars and she has never been to a Farafina workshop.

Use the resources around you to find ways to be read. Don’t look down. Look up. Look around

5. Channel your pain


It still hurts that you won’t be there to drink at the divine fount of literary genius.

You are still refreshing your email, ransacking your spam, drowning a pint, and nursing a pot of anger in your belly.

That is good.

It means you have fuel.  You have something inside you that can be channelled to create
more work,
better work,
stronger work.

Some of the best art comes from a place of pain.

Don’t waste your energy. Re-channel it.

6 . Try Again

Yup. Don’t give up. If being on the Farafina Shortlist is still important to you, then don’t give up.  Try again.  Try next year. And the next and …


But even if you have sworn never to let them hurt you again then try again still.

Try at a different place.

Try having bigger writing dreams.

Try placing yourself on a strict daily/weekly writing schedule and being faithful to it.

Try setting writing goals for 2016.

Whatever you do, however you feel,

Don’t give up.

Don’t give in.

Don’t get bitter.

Get better.

Keep writing
Keep dreaming
Keep trying

Keep being the great writer you’re were born to be.


Edward Please Call Me

The first time he heard her voice, he was in awe. It was a fount of fresh water, refreshing and teasing him all at once. From then on, it became his daily companion, his addiction, on the long ride from Palmgrove to Ajah each day. Its soft, sure lilt made him smile, made him wince, made him laugh aloud.

Before long he knew her schedule, had the outlay of her programs tattooed on his mind. ‘Dream, Live, Achieve, Praise’ on Mondays, ‘Celebrity Spotlight’ on Tuesday, ‘Know Your Self’ on Wednesday, ‘Be The Change’ on Thursday, ‘Kisses and Knocks’ on Friday, ‘Rock it Hard’ on Saturday, ‘Vessels Of Clay’ on Sunday.

When she was away for three days of casual leave, his world veered off orbit.

When she resumed, it revolved again.

When she got a Youtube Channel. He was one of her first fifty viewers. She was as he had imagined her: brown, beautiful, full figured and feisty.

He took in every inch of her honey brown skin, her earthy smile and the slight squint of her right eye. He would give anything to be closer to her… there were no takers.

That is how he would have remained– a faceless, irrelevant online admirer–if she hadn’t opened a Twitter account.

When she did, the dice rolled in his favour, he had clout there and he made it count.

Using his twelve odd accounts he got her 1000 followers in two weeks, it was easy from there. Soon she was an OverLady, ruling over a virtual kingdom 10,000 followers strong.

She followed him, at his official account, but still, it was hard to make the leap. What was he to say, really? The truth would make him look like a common troll, a lie would toss him into the bin, along with all the celebrity mention seekers…

As he re-read the direct message before sending, he wondered why words were such inadequate things, when they were all you had. With two deep breaths and prayers to Cupid and Fortuna, he pressed ‘Send’.

She never acknowledged the message. After a while he sent her another one, again there was no reply.
Impatience gnawed at his gut, and Rejection nibbled his liver. His carefully planned transition from online admirer to real life lover was turing into a Hungarian horror film.

He disliked the thought of mentioning her, of being so obvious. In the end he had no choice, and even then, it made no difference.

The pin that burst his balloon with a bang was waking up to find that his main account had been suspended. Over 6,000 hours of wit, networking, quotes and favourites, wiped out like they had never existed.

Twitter admin cited user abuse and said he had been reported as spam.
Did he mention a certain account more than five times in two hours?

Liquid rage ran up his throat and erupted in a groan as he flung his phone on the bed. The hardy N900 nokia split into three wholes without a qualm. No! No oo oo ! He screamed as the fury rocked him like gunfire.

In the coming days, nothing soothed the pain: not music, not whiskey, not insanity workouts, not the news that his study leave application had been approved.

He logged out of his other accounts and deleted his Youtube App. With the renewed verve, he focused on reading for his professional exams. He did well in them, his scores soaring above those of his course mates,fuelled by the his rage.

A year later, he got an offer to work as Public Relations and Social Media Consultant in a multinational telecommunications firm. It was another welcome opportunity to bury himself in work. He gave it his all.

One saturday evening, at a dinner, he saw her. She was just the way he remembered from his Nokia N900 screen–a burst of colour, animation and bright smiles. A fresh jolt of pain hit him, but he braved it and smiled back.

“Very nice to meet you,Yemi. ” He managed.

“It is ‘my’ pleasure Mr Edward.” She gushed with a wide smile and a flutter of her borrowed eyelashes.

When she left, an usher slipped him her card.

Edward, please call me. It said.

Committing the number to memory, he squeezed the card into a ball and threw it into the nearest basket. At last the pain began to ebb, in its place there sprung a delicious dash of freshly ground revenge.

As he left the dinner that night, he tuned in to her program again for the first time in years. Things were going to be quite different this time, that, he was sure of.


Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.

Please also take a moment to support our Dressed Like A Prince bid by voting here: http://www.etisalatprize.com/dressed-like-a-prince

Vote under the story by clicking : Vote For Me

Share: you can also share the link to friends and family.

Voting is worldwide (with any internet-enabled device) and free.

Help us to keep telling you good stories.

Oh, and please share this post too. 🙂

Thank you. God Bless you.

To The Grieving Writer

Let me kiss away your pain,
Pull out the needles that torture
Your heart.

Let me sing again your praise,
Remind you that you matter,
You are talented and special
There’s just one you.

Let me count the ways
You encourage and bless me
Nourish, embrace me–
Been my redemption
And my friend.

The salesman lied;
This is not your last chance,
Opportunities abound
Like fresh grass…

And I will wait.
For the night to fade
For you to smile again.

For you
To cry, hurt, wail, bleed
And heal.

So we can walk
Into the light of tomorrow

When There Is No Reply.


What do you do, when your favourite African writer, rejects your workshop application without a word?  You’ll want to whip out your pen, pencil or keyboard and begin a total annihilation of their Caine prize shortlisted stories while copying the entire Twitterverse. Better still you might want to sponsor some hideous reviews and tweet them directly at their respective handles with unsuspecting titles such as:

1. How to find Nigerian food in London

2. How to sound good on a BBC interview

3. How to avoid losing your way in British cities.

You might also be tempted to go the opposite way. Throw away your pen , and bury your talent in an unmarked grave. Burn the work in progress and remove yourself from the torture forever. There will also be the allure of other less demanding hobbies, football, knitting, gossip, TV. These temptations you must resist knowing that there has never been anything of value placed on shallow sand. Diamonds must be mined. No matter what your cheerleaders say, it hurts, but you must be strong and look past the pain.

You must remember why you began writing. Why you spent hours working on a story when you could easily be shopping or watching a Nigerian movie. You must remember your successes so far. Even if all you have is one reader that visits your blog as faithfully as the office canteen. You must remember the progress you have made. That now, you know the difference between a story and a fragment, a showing and a telling, a comma and a colon. You no longer submit first drafts. You are weeding out your adverbs. You are getting better, creating better, writing better.

You must remember that Shakespeare never attended a workshop. And neither did Chinua Achebe. That the gift for words inside you predates any venture designed to ‘discover new talent’ or make a buck for old. You must remain true to yourself and to your gift. Reaffirming to yourself the reasons why you do this. Reminding yourself that no one else has your voice. That even if they tried, they could not be you and could not tell your stories the way you do.

This is when you must forgive and forget. You must move on to new stories ,articles, blog posts and poems. You must keep telling your stories . Keep reading, keep asking the hard questions and letting your search take you deeper than devils dare to go. Knowing that no matter what anyone else says or thinks about your work, in the end you only write for yourself and for those who love reading your writing. No one else can judge the talent you were given and how well you have honed it. No one else can say if what you have done is your best. You can. So you must and while you are at it, save this somewhere to encourage someone else.


There, so now you know what to do if it happens to you. I trust that you will put hat thought to good use; even as I pray you won’t need to.

For the past month or so, I have struggled with writing reviews for the Caine prize stories. Part of me feels that the How To Write A Caine Prize Storyseries were the zenith and anything else I say will be drivel sliding into a pool of mud. Another part feels repressed, after all, there is still so much to say about those Caine prize stories, so much to discuss, highlight and question. There is also the small matter of having given my word –informally at least to be a part of this years blogathon. Aaron Bady might not believe in God but I am sure he appreciates reliable, God-fearing people. 😛

So, I will put up my reviews right here over the next few days. Thankfully I have been spared the task of reviewing some of the stories I didn’t like by some talented writers–@Kelechixyz and others. Follow the blog or drop your Twitter handle in the comment section for alerts. There’s a saying in my place that the last morsels in the pot are the tastiest. Makes sense, they’ve had time to mature and ‘marinate’ . I hope our thoughts will add to the debate. I pray they aren’t too late. More importantly I hope they will encourage you to read the short list and to push your own boundaries, as a reader, a writer, a critic or all three.