To Hell with
Creative Writing; or, Politics:
Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike
“To be a writer is to acknowledge the secret wounds
carry inside us.” – Orhan
They will feel shocked. They’ll feel saddened. It is
for the good of the literati, you hope to convince
them. The general community as well. YOU ARE
QUITTING. Not because creativity has turned into an
exhausted oil-well. You just can no longer live
among the ghostly legion that yanks the imagination
in all directions or the riot of phrases – phrases
that strive to outwit each other. You. Are. Fed up.
The self-flagellation, all of it. You have
recognized that the more you try to conceive and
juxtapose words and worlds in your head the more
demanding writing becomes, more insatiable than the
grave. Though you’ve started to drag yourself out of
the wetlands of angst, you feel so powerless you
just want to lie in it.
Sometimes creative writing is the paradox of the
flame and the moth. Reality is suspect, and the air
is the crypt of a thousand simulacra. It is
magnetic, but you have willed yourself, at least for
now, not to succumb to the pull of penning The
End to your life.
On countless occasions though, migraine and fever
assault you from every angle. You bear the attacks
as stoically as a Zen disciple. Silence in pain
promises inspiration, a threshold to an artistic
nirvana never before experienced, you readily
fantasized, calming the spate of self-doubts
churning in your heart. You’ve often glared at the
peaceful beauty curled up next to you. The kolanuts
of insomnia are more acerbic than wormwood, and
though you abhor it, you are compelled to chew it at
full tilt. Because of your impotence.
You’re unable to thwart the skirmishes of characters
badgering for attention. Can’t turn off the fervent
cries of characters whose souls you’ve crushed, like
a mixer, and tossed into the bureau of ephemera. How
long can you keep on, smothering and smiling – when
the world about teems with such sunshine that you
feel like choking the person nearest to you? How
long can you live with the demons dashing about in
Barbiturates are familiar as your blues. There are
nights you long to empty the bottle down your
throat. Moments you feel so dark it seems leaping
off the bridge or in front of a speeding vehicle is
gratifying. Can’t remember the number of times you
want to twist the naked electric wire round your
This is crazy, life. Even Sigmund Freud failed to
explain his self to himself.
Nobody knows the torrents in your mind. They don’t
know. None of them, not even those dear to you. Or
close. But all this would later change.
All along you were committed to writing,
particularly since you alighted at the Cedar Rapids
Airport. Less than 48 hours later, you took to
absorbing sights and sounds as a wife takes to the
kitchen, dutiful, eager. Read as widely as possible.
Wrote just as frenziedly too, pounding away at the
keyboard until heavy-lidded you slumped into the bed
and slept like a whacked janitor. Once complained to
your family that you’ve been sleeping for only 2 or
3 hours, and they expressed alarm, told you it was
pointless and vain. Besides, why were you driving
yourself so hard, they queried. You would have
laughed, but fatigue in your bones tightened your
jaw. Pensively you replied: What about those
thousands of Nigerians in
U.S. slaving away on a job they despised?
Sand, sea, sun, and sex.
You’ve watched Will Smith’s video of Miami in 1998,
the same momentous year the infamous Abacha passed
on, the dictator who inspired you into escapism, an
alternative opiate. You swore to visit the Magic
City, whenever you set foot in America. A decade
later, the opportunity fell – Plop! – into
American Airlines flew you to Miami via Chicago.
That evening, the weather was one unapologetic
sneeze from the skies, and drizzly. The road echoed
the nocturne of the rain. Yet, safe was the flight.
Straightway, your guide chartered a Chrysler car at
the Enterprise lot, and, as you hauled your luggage
into the trunk, you caught sight of a
baroque-looking building. The Embassy Suites,
sky-high and expansive, just across the road.
Every architecture has its story. You took some
shots. Then the soothing cruise down to Miami Beach.
Minutes later, you are face-to-face with another
structure. Before you admire its splendor, a likable
Hispanic bell-hop said, “Bienvenido,” and
assisted you with the luggage. In a while, you rode
the elevator to the eight floor in a backdrop of
jazz – so hypnotic you almost nodded off. You slid
out through the lush corridor into your suite.
Lips cracked open. The butter-cream spaciousness
captivated you with a burst of aesthetic
singularity. It surpassed the last 5-star-hotel you
spent a weekend in, back home, an ocean-view though.
That instant you imagined Will Smith whispering in
your ears: Party in the city where the heat is
Fling your carry-on to the floor. Leap to the large
window. Place your palms against the glass panes.
Fix your eyes on the partying below. There, the bar
throbbed with Calypso. Couples and friends sated
their appetites in drinks and banter. Some people
lounged by the blue pool, books and magazines folded
across their legs. And beyond, the sea gleamed as
molten gold, the incandescent sun half-swallowed by
the sedate horizon.
There’s more to living than writing, you observed.
Life has to be lived till it brimmed over like the
bubbles of fresh palm-wine. Life has to be redeemed
from all encumbrances. Go and dominate, the
first man was instructed. Let your seeds run
wild, you added for fun. Writing is a grind, no
doubt. How tedious it is, you sighed, to burn
precious time caught up in surreal landscapes,
conjuring up a facsimile of creation, aiming for
some cathartic and redemptive goals, when eventually
humanity dismisses you as just one more result
You couldn’t think up how you would go about
living life, how to afford the luxury. Tried to
come up with a means, but your mind was just
too-dazed, because the sense of it all now blew mist
in your face. You soon realized that literature is a
quixotic ego-trip, feeble attempt to impact
community, both local and global. Change the
worldview, probably. Creative writing obliterates
identity, pulverizes the soul. It becomes inevitable
to accept the writer’s vision as the quintessential
farce; the grand artifice.
Huddled up in bed watching Biden and Palin try to
outshine the other that night, it flashed before
your eyes. Politicians seldom get disheartened. No
matter the density of defeat, the smack of shame,
they never lose a wink. No politician, as it were,
would consider jumping into the river even when
disgraced in a fraud. He knows that even scandal can
be manipulated. Fury and fisticuffs, the politician
may yield to, but never puts a bullet in his own
Now it’s clear enough that the greatest contribution
to civilization is not through literature,
but through embracing the sun-dried excreta that is
politics. The politician is the change-inspirer, the
revolutionary, the iconoclast, the legend, all you
have dreamed of and toiled for.
That same night you still tried to discredit him as
you’ve done all these years, because for the past
decade or more, you found politics as shallow as it
is stomach-turning. And when you tried to name some
politicians who had shortened their lives, what came
to memory was Hemmingway. Rabearivelo, Plath, Nortje,
Gumocia, Lindegren, Urmuz and Jonker. Then the world
almost tumbled over when Wallace took the road
Back to the beach where the epiphany started. The
sands still sponge your back, while the cherry
petals of the sun brush over your ecstatic face. To
evade the dénouement that awaits the writer, you
conclude that politicians don’t cogitate, or dwell
on the mysteries of things. They don’t let ideas and
circumstances disturb them. They respond as
instinctively as possible, quick and smart. That’s
why someone as international and fatherly as McCain
would say, “That one.” That’s why your former
president exploded at journalists who tried to feel
his response about the Ikeja bomb blast because they
had disrupted his libidinous salad.
Ordinarily you hate politics. But it’s a pastime
that is so arresting you’d have no moment to nurse
manic thoughts. Very occupying indeed. So forget the
hate. Forget the stench and wallow in it like a
swine. There are pearls beneath the rot.
The problem with writers, though, is that idealism
tends to skew judgment into nebulous dogma. They
romanticize and don’t politicize, so much interested
in being heard and read as if the world was simply a
two-act pantomime. Ha, a writer! – as though
the mere mention of that could incite orgasm.
The writers who had encouraged you all these years
will call you a deserter; regard you worse than a
pedophile. Down with the turncoat! Luckily,
you wouldn’t suffer cast-the-first-stone scenario
that woman whose husband couldn’t satisfy her went
through, when she had to scratch the incurable itch
against another’s man groin.
Let them know that there is no greater misery than
writing. And you just cannot go on treading uphill.
You’ve decided to caress your crumpled bitter
self. Therefore, farewell to the careworn cavern
of bookworms. Don’t give a hoot about effeminate
reactions, because he who hits gold the world
They’d support your resignation and hail it as
timely, an auspicious omen, if they are wise.
Whatever you amassed from the national house would
service the aspirations of nascent writers and the
entire coterie; that would certainly be an immense
contribution to the old constituency.
Obstinacy is one of the things you should eschew
when you finally register with a political party.
Obstinacy, the classic Mephistopheles. It mars and
never makes. Politics is about making not distancing
alliances. Although it is in the nature of writers
to be assertive, because, for goodness’ sakes, not
only do they spend most part of the day evoking how
best to give voice to expressions and project
impressions, but also because the creator is also
the fiddler of fates.
Now everyone has accepted the reality that the
national house cannot be cleansed complete of its
cherished soot and stink. Most of the “aliens and
usurpers,” (whom you’re more qualified than) who do
not possess the basic qualifications, would continue
to parade outlandish degrees such as Yoruba
genomics, Igbo empiricism, Hausa pyrotechnics, Niger
Delta toxicology, and other gobbledygook degrees in
the sacred chambers!
So wipe the wrinkles off your brow. In due course,
friends would again rally round you. After all,
yours is a nation where crooks become celebrated,
charlatans become commemorated, pastors become
politicians, and politicians become pastors.
And the tagline?
The more riches you stockpile in Switzerland and
other open lands, the more protégées you attract.
Not to mention the august fame. The media-hype as
On a final note, always remember that politics
demands extreme creativity too – and the more
imaginative you become the closer you get to
appearing on Forbes list of enterprising young black
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