Today, 10th of January 2020 makes it exactly 10 years ago when my first book, The Salvation Journey was launched. (Work is ongoing to release a 10th-year anniversary edition, revised and updated.) In the past decade, I’ve worked on a number of book projects some of which are unpublished eBooks which I gave out for free as a giveaway. They include:
- The Salvation Journey (© 2009, launched 2010)
- 13:13, The Numbers of Life (© 2012)
- Alive: Living in the Power of Grace and Truth (© 2013)
- Me, My Thoughts and My Nation (© 2014, ebook giveaway)
- #Peaces: I Will Wait (© 2016, ebook giveaway)
- Bumpy But Sweet (© 2017, ebook giveaway)
- Waiting Compass: Finding God When He Seems to Delay (© 2018)
- #Unaddicted: Finding Freedom from Sex-related Addictions (© 2019)
- Is This Opportunity from God: 7 Checkpoints for Discerning Divine Opportunities (© 2019)
- Marriage in View: Ready? Sleep. Go! (© 2019)
- Young and Found: a Devotional for Young Adults (© 2020)
Besides these are over 150 Facebook Notes, tens of blog posts and hundreds of #iRemember reflections on Alive Mentorship Group. I thought today is a good day to share a few of the lessons I have picked up along the way on this writing journey.
Lesson #1: Discover Your Call to Write.
I think one of the strengths and weaknesses of the advancement in the ICT world in the past decade is that it has made virtually everyone that has access to some media platform a writer of some sort (even if that means copying and pasting or sharing unattributed broadcasts). Suddenly, anyone can choose to pursue writing irrespective of what that looks like. But really, I’m persuaded that some people are really CALLED into writing. Some people are called to use words to shape lives and influence positive transformation in the lives of others. While I’m yet to ‘arrive’ as a writer, I am convinced that I am called to write.
“How do I know if I’m called to write?”, you may ask, and I will answer that in a bit. But let me retrace and reframe my writing journey story for you to further underscore some of the points I will be making later.
My engagement with words—as far back as I can remember—began when I was in Primary 2 (I should be about 6 or 7 years old at the time). I got The Wedding Photograph (a kids’ novel) as a gift for topping my class and I finished reading the book at one seating. As I read the book—I can repicture the scene in my mind even now—I imagined myself writing such a story. I imagined how I would have changed the plot in some ways and what words I might have used…
When I got to Primary 4, a teacher whose name I can’t remember (who, apparently, was a temp in the school—a youth corps member) formed a Press Club and in a curious series of events, I was elected to be the editor-in-chief of the club. I found myself writing articles which were displayed on the school’s notice board virtually every other day. Besides, I was gathering news headlines and compiling news bulletins which we broadcast every week on the school’s assembly ground.
By the time I got to JSS 1 (age 10), I started writing my first novel. I still remember the weird title I gave it: The Overreachment. It was a story of a secondary school student who, as the ‘head boy’, impregnated the ‘head girl’ without even ‘having sex’. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say it was nothing short of what someone that had absolutely no clue about sex could have written. It’s a good thing one of my classmates who had the manuscript relocated to another city and I never saw the manuscript again.
When I got to JSS 3 (age 12), I remember a senior student bringing me an erotic poem she was trying to put together. She wrote a stanza and got stuck. I picked it up and finished the poem for her, and it was indeed erotic.
By the time I got to Uni, I made a friend in my first year; her name is OREOLUWADARA. In the same year, I became resolute in beginning to live out my new found faith and I joined the team of Bible Study teachers in the Christian fellowship I was a part of. This was the season I returned to writing, but with a redeemed passion to write ‘for God’ and not for selfish or erotic purposes.
All of these was happening without my sense of a call to write. Until one day.
I was in the library reading. I had earlier written a poem—a Christian poem—and left the sheet of paper on which it was written lying on the table as I studied. Then my friend, Oreoluwadara (a gift of God indeed, and my first crush), came by. She was leaving the library and wanted to bid me farewell. Then she found the poem I had left on the table and read it. Her response was overwhelmingly shocking.
“You wrote this?! Oh my goodness! You should write more! This is bla bla bla bla…”
She went on and on about how good the piece was and how inspiring she thought it was. I had not thought of the poem as anything special. It was just a poem as far as I know. But she saw more than that. And as much as I knew her, the last thing Ore would do is flatter anyone. She’s virtuous like that. So her comments got to me.
I began to write more poems and articles, and guess who I send them to for feedback? You guessed right. Ore. Ore would read the write-ups and offer her often very constructive critical feedback. I was becoming a better writer without even knowing it.
By 2009, I made ‘publishing a book’ one of my final year goals. However, I didn’t know I was going to be called to serve as the leader of the Christian fellowship I was a part of. (It wasn’t customary to call final year students into such offices as the final year is busy enough as it is with research and dissertation among other things.) Thankfully, we had a 4-month break as a result of lecturers going on industrial action. I maximised the time with my desktop computer with an HDD drive capacity of 4GB (how I managed to install all the software I had on the PC is still a wonder, considering it had such a small memory capacity). By the time the strike was over, a book was ready.
I sent off the manuscript to my mentor for feedback and editorial recommendations. As soon as I took the step of writing it, God began to orchestrate circumstances and events to favour the publishing of the book. I met with willing editors. I was linked to a willing publisher. God supplied the finance. He announced the project to my Area Superintendent who decided to drag the church to the book launch willy nilly on Jan 10, 2010.
By the time I got to Gombe State in 2011, I had come to realise that “I’m called to use words to shape lives.” I remember praying one evening and God said to me, “I’m giving you the key which I gave Max Lucado in 1979.” (Max Lucado is my favourite author). I went online and searched for everything I could find about Max Lucado and 1979 but I never found anything striking. In any case, I continued doing my bit writing via every avenue I could manage. I started blogging on WordPress and Blogspot. I began to publish notes on Facebook via their Facebook notes platform. I opened a personal website in 2012 to do some more blogging.
And through it all, I never stopped reading.
It was years later that I got to find out the key God gave Max Lucado in 1979. And I discovered I’ve been doing the same thing. It was CONSISTENCY. In 1979, Max was serving as an associate minister of a downtown church in Miami, Florida. One of his tasks was to write a weekly article for the church bulletin. “Many ministers dread such tedium,” he would later write, “but he grew to relish the task.” Because he was single at the time, he stayed in his office until late at night, writing and rewriting the pieces. The bulletin was small, so his essays were brief. He had no thought that the articles would ever be read outside of the church. But the pieces were read outside of Miami. He began receiving letters from people around the country requesting copies of the articles. For the first time, he was exposed to the power of the written word. The pen, he realized, would speak to people he did not know, in places he might never go, in ways he otherwise never could. Those articles were compiled to form his first book: On The Anvil. He was amazed.
So am I. Every day! Just by the CONSISTENCY of leveraging on social media to write the thoughts God was laying on my heart or something I’d gleaned as I read a book, many doors had been opened. I’d received messages from Muslims who speak of the transforming power in the words I’ve written. I’ve engaged in countless chats with countless people who reached out because they read one thing or the other which I wrote. I have received a call from a Facebook friend who felt blessed by my writings and turns out to be the one God will use to orchestrate the journey that landed me in the UK as I continue to explore and fulfil God’s call. My first time of visiting the United States (in 2018), as I have shared with some of you before, was also because of my call to write. I could go on and on and on.But I’ll circle back to the question:
How do I know if I am called to write?
- God will bring you many OPPORTUNITIES for you to explore writing. While you may choose to ignore the opportunities, I’ve found God does bring such opportunities.
- I believe you will have an innate connection to and with WORDS. Most ‘called’ writers I know also love READING and/or LISTENING to well-crafted words.
- You will receive CONFIRMATION of your call to write. This can come as testimonies or positive feedback based on what you have written.
- You will have a burning desire for the TRUTH. Those who are called to write are messengers of truth and they know it. They are passionate about it.
- You will be TEMPTED to MISUSE or IGNORE your writing gift. For me, it was the lure of writing erotic nonsense at some point. Thank God for redeeming the gift and helping me begin to unleash it at His appointed time.
- MONEY won’t matter AT ALL if you are called to write. The financial gain that comes from royalties won’t be your motivation.
- God will surround you with PEOPLE that can bring out the writer in you.
These are 7 quick points that I can think of as I reflect on my story and the story of a few others that I know who are called to write.
If you can resonate with these 7 points and you are yet to come to terms with the fact that you are called to write, think again! Take some time to ask God some sincere questions about your calling; He is ever-so-willing to answer.
I hope this helps someone today.
PS: #iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.