A writer is anyone who writes. It’s that simple. If you can string meaning words together and put them down, then you’re a writer. You become a professional writer when you start earning from your writer.
This is the story of how I transitioned from being a girl who loved to write her thoughts and how her day went in her diaries and blog, to a girl who now gets paid to write.
How It Began
I had just moved to Lagos after resigning from my radio job with the hope of becoming an actor and TV presenter/host. I had been YouTubing for a while before that, but I wanted more than that. I wanted to be on TV, and nothing was going to stop me from pursuing that, so I came in to join the couple thousand other young and passionate Genevieve, Adesua and Nancy Isime wannabes in Lagos.
Few months after my move, I finished my training in Presentation, and it was time to face the hustle squarely. I was at almost every presenting and acting audition I could afford to attend. All I got was, “We’ll get back to you” too many to count per strand of my currently red-wine-golden black pepper seller-looking dread. The few times I got callbacks, it was either I didn’t make the final cut or the project never kicked off.
It was a hard time, and honestly, your girl was barely keeping body and spirit together, but week in week out, I kept showing up at audition venues.
On a fateful day, I entered one of the rooms in the hostel I was staying and heard them gisting about how the audition they went for that day went. I was surprised because I didn’t hear about it and truthfully, I was a likkle pissed they didn’t tell me about it, seeing I had already been dubbed Miss Audition.
The girls informed me that the audition was for a reality show and it was still on till the next day. I sat in their room that evening listening and laughing to all the stories they shared from their audition. I knew I had to be there the next day, even if I had to trek.
Before 8 am the next day, I had already written down my name and was seated at the venue. Typical of many auditions, it was an exhibition of talents. We had the upcoming comedians trying their best to outdo one another. There were the British-accent-Agege presenters, the American-accent Ikire motivational speakers, the Warri-pidgin noisemakers, the drummers, the dancers, the actors, and the hunters. The hunters are those who go to auditions mainly to hit on girls or find new boyfriends.
The witty ones like me are those who do not actively participate, but we show off our wits by dropping smart comments and punch lines now and then. The last set of people is the quiet ones who rarely display their talents. They just sit there smiling, laughing, pressing phone or forming too posh to mingle with the rest of the lot.
At some point, before the audition started, I noticed two guys at my table were conversing with another lady as though they had been friends before the audition. The journalist in me (that code for the G name… LOL) moved in to hear what they were talking and laughing about. When I heard set, blocks, director and all that, my interest was further piqued, so I politely asked them what it was they were discussing.
It turned out they were part of the cast and crew of Borokini, (a Yoruba telenovela) and they were talking about the schedule for the next shoot. The lady was one of the lead actors on the series while the guys were scriptwriters. Never one to miss an opportunity, I asked how I could be on the set, as a cast member of course. I didn’t think my Yoruba was good enough to act in a Yoruba soap. I was just thinking about an opportunity to be on set and help out in whatever capacity.
When they told me the series was set in Ibadan, I knew I couldn’t afford to travel to another state, but that didn’t stop me from exchanging contacts with my new friends. The guys left not long after. One of them, Olumide Kuti, who I later found out was the head writer for Borokini, didn’t even audition before leaving while I went on to audition with the super-talented Damilola Oni. Hopefully, I’ll write about the audition soon.
The audition went well, and I left for home with the usual, “We’ll get back to you.”
A few days later, I think I must have been speaking with Damilola on the phone when she asked if I had spoken with Kuti since the audition. I told her no and promised to reach out to him. I buzzed him up after the call, but the fish was acting like I was hitting on him –at least, that was the impression I got.
About a week after that, I buzzed Kut-Kut (that’s what I call him now) again and said something in the line of, “Why haven’t you buzzed me back, do you think I’m hitting on you? 😕”
He apologized for not reaching out, promised that would change, and that was how he invited the sweetest, most annoying and naughty human into his life… LOL. But on a serious note, I brought sunshine and laughter into his life (he’s going to protest this but pay him no mind), and he ushered me into the new chapter of my life.
I wrote my first script ever in two days
He kept to his promise and called me back. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked if I could write, I told him I couldn’t, but I had a blog which was more like an extension of my diaries. He asked if I’d like to write professionally; I said no.
But bruv was adamant like Pharoah, he went on to tell me he was the head writer on the Borokini series and had the conviction I could write. He said he was willing to try me out. I wasn’t confident about the adventure, and I told him that. I just wanted to keep diaries, blog, act and present and do whatever but nah, writing professionally wasn’t on my table of content.
He wasn’t taking no for an answer. He asked for my address, and the next morning, the brother was at my hostel. Heheheee… like play, like play, he spent thirty minutes or less installing and showing me how to use Final Draft, gave me the breakdown of a scene and left me with, “You have two days to turn in my script.”
I was convinced he was high. Who travels such a long distance, early in the morning to take a girl he just met a crash course on how to use a scriptwriting software in less than thirty minutes. Y’all, this cute-bighead only showed me how to use Final Draft, and there he was asking me to deliver a script in two days! I didn’t even jot down half a page, to tell you how rushed the class was.
Oh, did I mention that I was to write the script in English and Yoruba?
I wanted to disappear; the only thing that pushed me to write that script was the money involved. The hunger pangs in stomach proved they were stronger than my village people. I had no choice but to face my fear, after all, I was practically a broke creative with no support from anywhere trying to make it in a new land, and here was someone promising me an amount more than my monthly salary at the radio in just two days.
With my heart in my mouth, I sent him my first draft. He reviewed it and gave his feedback saying something about having a good structure and how that surprised him. I was like, “What the heck is structure, bruv?” He also commended my Yoruba. Actually, he said I was writing with ancient Yoruba, set awon “ng,” “sh,” “kp.” Can you even believe that?! I was convinced he wanted something more from me because there was no way on earth I was ready to believe that he had anything good to say about the crappy job I did.
Of course, he gave negative feedback. He gave tonnnnssss, that I told my roommate I was sure he wasn’t going to pay me for the script after all the criticism he gave.
People of God, after two trials, he okayed script and that was how I began my writing career. Writing those episodes of Borokini that aired on Africa Magic Yoruba is a quest I’ll always be proud of.
My second writing job – Animation Scripting
A week after Kut-Kut dragged me into writing; he called me for yet another writing job. I told him point-blank there was no way in Ekiti or Kaduna I was taking it. What? I started writing a week ago, I haven’t even found my way around it, and now you want me to what? No way!
With all my agidi, I still went. Y’all, although I successfully masked my nervousness during the interview, I was fidgeting on the inside like a chick beaten by rain. Maybe it was the air conditioning sha *side eye*
Let me not even lie, I was a nervous wreck, and I failed that interview woefully. One of the interviewers, Mr. John, kept asking me so many technical questions I was this close to blurting out that I only began writing a week ago. Thankfully, I got the job!
Within a week of starting my writing career, I was writing animation scripts by day and Yoruba telenovela by nights/weekends. It was a tough ride, but I loved it. Besides,
the pay wasn’t that bad at all, the pay was everything!
See ehn, I’m proud of myself. I am a Queen, and that’s on period!
I celebrated my first-month as a writer with a box of pizza shared with my bosses (three of them) and colleagues even if it was only Kut-Kut and I that knew what I was celebrating.
I’ve been writing for two years
For the longest time, I had impostor syndrome and couldn’t refer to myself as a writer. My journey felt like a fraud. I had days I doubted my ability, I still do but there are days I also feel really proud of how far I’ve come. Being a writer has saved my life more times than I can even remember.
What if I didn’t listen in on their conversation that day? What if I didn’t ask questions? What if I had formed ‘big girl’ and not called Kuti? What if I hadn’t pushed myself to write that script? These are some of the questions that cross my mind whenever I look back at my journey as a writer. Either I accidentally stumbled on writing or not, I AM A WRITER and I’ve been for two the past two years.
Click here to read more stories about my life in Lagos
I hope my story inspires you to never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. In another post, I will be sharing some of the life lessons I’ve learnt on my journey as a writer.
Do you have a similar story? Please share in the comment section.