How I Crushed My Biggest Writing Project to Date


So I began this ghostwriting project for a client early January this year. It was a real growing experience for me. For one, it was the first time I would handle a book of that magnitude, both in terms of subject matter as well as calibre of client.

The client was a part of the previous political regime and the book focused on policy, youth development and the African narrative. It was a big picture book, with a lot of new terms and concepts, a lot of history, a lot of case studies.

I began talks with his team in early January. A week or so after I had taken the job and contracts had been signed, the man dropped a big bomb on me:

He told me he’s been trying to write this book since 2012. And somehow the project always falls apart.

Yeah, that did wonders for my self confidence. 

Anyways, I prayed asking God to make me a solution to this man’s problem. Rather than become another statistic, another failed attempt to write this book, let me be the one to take the project across the finish line.

It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I’d glance at the interview logs I had done, the notes I had taken (enough to fill 2 notepads), and then the blank pages in front of me waiting to be filled.

It often felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew.

After several false starts and four sleepless months, several back and forths with the editors, FINALLY, the book launched on October 2, 2017!

It was a really emotional experience for me seeing the book in my client’s hand.

I felt like a surrogate mom and a midwife at the same time.

I guess ghostwriting is a bit of both.

I’m still reeling from the euphoria! And I’m eager for even bigger challenges .

The last thing I’ll say is, my writing tutors were right – there’s no project that can’t be crushed. It may take time, but Goliaths will fall if you keep lobbing stones at them.

I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, and to all of us who face frequent episodes of self doubt – Keep going.

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Dealing With My Messiah complex, and a Farewell to a Friend

Messiah Complex – (also known as the Savior Complex) is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that he or she is destined to become a savior.

For a long time, I’ve had a fascination with broken people.

Addicts, sick people, the depressed, the confused, the abused, the oppressed, the depressed, the alienated, those who struggle with a sense of self worth, those who struggle with thoughts of condemnation. If you check my browsing history, you would think I have suffered from every considerable mental illness and addiction you can imagine.

In case you’re wondering why, here’s the science behind it (yeah I also Googled extensively what it means to suffer from a messiah complex. See the pattern?):

The messiah complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.

On the surface, it looks and sounds noble.

The do-gooder with a heart of gold, saving the world one person at a time, one problem at a time. A modern day superhero, saving folks for no reward whatsoever, many times not even a thank you.

The problem with this habit is:

1. You will get taken for granted, alot.
I dont even want to go into this too much. I’ve had people call me, ask for a favour, and practically yell at me about an hour later just because I was running a little late delivering on the favour.
Shame and pain will not allow me to dig up some more extreme situations I’ve experienced.

2. Secondly, its not really noble.
It’s not. You’re not really doing it because you are that altruistic (at least I wasn’t). I just wanted to be a nice person. I wanted to be useful. So, I end up giving and giving until it hurts, and if it doesn’t hurt it feels like I’m not doing enough.

Today, I can say that people with this Messiah complex are also broken people.

We really are.

Nobody is created to solve the problem of every single person they run into. Even worse, nobody can handle the guilt that comes from not being able to solve everyone’s problems.

I have realised this for a while now. And I have been gradually working up the courage to turn down requests. Man, you don’t know how much of an addict you are till you start trying to break a habit.

It has been uncomfortable saying no. Sometimes, the strongest urge to overcome is calling the person back afterwards to apologise and render the help requested.

I know, I know

But mentally, I have burned that bridge.

I am not the solution to anyone’s problem.

And I am not a messiah.

The world has had one already.

It doesn’t need another

[Curtain call]

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Warning: Sad news (and feels) ahead

People react differently to the news of a celebrity passing. Personally, I’ve only been emotional twice.

First time, it was Michael Jackson. And I was with the second biggest MJ fan I know – my dad.

I remember that Thursday afternoon in 2009 like it was yesterday. I was visiting my dad in the hospital where he was admitted. I remember the news coming in on the TV and we both sat silently for almost 20 minutes afterwards. There were no words, just the occasional sighing and shuffling of feet.

The second time was on Friday when I heard about Chester’s death.

The news of Chester Bennington’s passing hit me hard.

I was surprised at how emotional the news made me. I haven’t listened to Linkin Park in years and I wouldn’t call myself their biggest fan.

Maybe it was the fact that depression claimed another one. Maybe it was my “fanboyism” seeping out after many years. But I fell silent for a while and the guy occupied my thoughts.

Linkin Park got me through my undergrad days. As a kid growing up feeling like an alien everyday – misunderstood, ignored, occasionally depressed, angry, wanting to fight, wanting to break something – Chester’s voice always brought me relatable words. Soothing words.

Anyone who loved/s Linkin Park will always have a soft spot for that voice (just as fans of Evanescence will always have a soft spot for Amy Lee).

I still remember the long walks I took with my trusty old Discman (remember those?) and I would load it with my songs from all their albums – My December, In the End, Krwlng, Breaking the Habit, Somewhere I Belong.

But my favorite was always P5hng me Awy.

This song.

THIS SONG!

There are too many things that rock about this song, Chester’s voice tops the list. Also, the fact that the jam starts with a very simple tune/beat and then a new intrument/sound is added every 18 seconds all the way till the end….

This was/is my jam.

Thanks for the memories Chester!

 

Photo Credit: Film Jackets

How I learned not to overwork (the hard way)

Time to ‘fess up.

I’ve been running on autopilot for a while, working my ass off, sleeping little and eating like a junkie.

Working for 3 different startups eventually takes a toll on you, even if you’re Ibukun Taiwo (good genes be damned).

And so, on Wednesday night, my body called for a strike effective immediately. Headaches turned to fever, turned to vomiting, turned to loss of appetite. I practically did not want to be in my body and my body showed me the feeling was mutual.

Everything job-related took a halt. And I burdened my innocent family with nursing me back to health. Honestly, I just wanted to get better so I could get back to working. But God had other plans.

Relegated to a bed all day for 3 days,  I got the chance to “think about my life”. And I obviously wasn’t heading the way I wanted. My addiction to work wasn’t doing wonders for my health obviously, nor for my relationships especially with God. So right there on the bed, I started making adjustments, canceling appointments, engagements etc. Found the time to connect with a few people over the weekend, went for a retreat, taught a bible study.

I’m grateful for pitstops like these, even though it doesn’t have to be something life threatening to get you to pause.

Work can be invigorating and empowering but ultimately it rings hollow. Even if it is something you “love to do”.

Next time, when you need to channel some energy into something, don’t let work be your first refuge.

Your Love Was Tame

Photo Credit: StockProject1

The calls were the first sign that our fire was going out

Calls of convenience

Like a chore, a bore, a dull activity needed to be done

How did it come to this?

From our endless talks about nothing and everything

Now all we have is the rare and awkward exchange on twitter, on Facebook

Now, all you’re good for is blog fodder

I caress your face and walk with you down the halls of memory, just to write about you.

You came, saw what you wanted, not what was there, and you left

I wish I could hate you but I can’t

I wish I could hate you, it’d be so much easier

Hate is a very simple emotion. It’s straightforward

But this… what I feel now does it even have a name?

My stupid brain is at it again, laying the blame on the only person who’ll listen – me

I should have run after you, sometimes I tell myself this

Broken down the doors as the picture of tomorrow I’d built in my head of us together went up in flames

My call logs say different.

They tell me I did – I fought, I waited, I prayed

You still left

You left me with only time to take care of my aching heart

Now I realise, leaving was for the best

Now I realise, your love was lukewarm

I wanted to say I’d rise again like the phoenix

But did we ever burn bright? Are there even ashes for me to be reborn?

You did this to us

I’m done carrying your scars

You used to be part of me. But no more

Now I’m whole again

I’m whole

 

5 Things I’m Grateful for at 32

This will probably be one of those long ass articles I’m prone to write once in 5 months. So you know the drill

Introvert. I spend a lot of time thinking, reflecting, having conversations with myself and replaying conversations with others. During my trips down memory lane, I rarely venture beyond a few weeks out.

It’s my birthday in a few hours though. And so, the “reflect on the past 5-10 years of your life” elves have been visiting.

This year, I looked back and saw so many reasons to be grateful. I crossed the big 3-0 a while ago and since I’m not in the “Have I achieved all I set out to achieve by 30?” camp because let’s face it, all I thought about before age 30 were comic books, videogames, Jesus and girls. Come to think of it, not much has changed. Anyways…

So this week, I made a few trips back in time. I recalled a lot of conversations I had with myself that were inspired by articles I had read. These were the years before I became a writer.

Let me give that some context.

It was 2011, and yours truly was studying web design and AutoCAD at NIIT in Ikeja. I was pretty enamored with the writing life as at then and would stalk my favorite authors online – reading not just their books but their op-eds, their blogs, their interviews, everything. I guess I was looking for the secret to the successful writing life (there’s none, stop believing those bullshit articles cos many of us worked hard and got lucky).

Anyways, so I spend an inordinate amount of time, especially on my trips to and from NIIT, reading tons of materials online. Then I came across an article by Stephen King, a particular statement in it would touch my heart till today.

Talent is getting published and getting paid. Did you write something for someone? Did they send you a check? If you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.

I wrote that quote straight from memory (I think it’s 90% accurate). The statement meant the world to me back then. It still does. Here’s the most recent version of the article I could find, if you’re interested.

I’m grateful today that, despite being told repeatedly by a former boss to abandon my desire to be a writer cos I’d starve, despite several false starts, after years of doing pro bono work for NGOs, today, I’m a writer who pays the light bill.

Second thing I’m grateful for. I recently discovered a truth about myself. A sad one.

Somehow I’d come under the illusion that everyone else’s happiness supercedes mine.  I’m grateful for my good friend, Chi, who confronted me and helped me realise this.I don’t know how it got there but there it was, staring me in the face.

Some symptoms were: When people are horrible to me, I rarely confront them. I’d prefer to just withdraw and simmer in pain. Pain passes, wounds heal, better not to cause a fuss over hurt feelings or bruised egos. On the off-chance I do confront the perpetrator, I end up feeling guilty when they apologise. I feel bad I’ve made someone feel bad for something they did so I end up making an excuse right there for them and telling them it was all my fault. Toxic, I know.

I dont share my personal issues with the important people in my life. I can write an epistle about sweet nothings but when it comes to sharing the important stuffs – struggles, fears, hopes, desires, pains – nah, lock up! This has been a problem in many of my relationships and friendships. The reason is the same, guilt follows talking about that kind of stuff. In my head somehow, to rant is to be weak. And to be weak is to be a crappy partner or friend.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here.

So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be finally self aware about these things and to begin the journey to recovery. Having been stuck in the horrible loop for three decades, it’s not going to be easy to fix but it will be done.

Which brings me to my next point. It’s 2-in-1.

I haven’t talked or written about my depression for a long time, either on the blog or in real life. For good reason, I’ve been doing really well, especially with avoiding triggers and embracing routines that curb the loop. But late last year, something happened that nearly dragged me back under.

Prior to this, my last bout of depression was in 2014. Since then, life’s been pretty awesome, (cos let’s face it, a day without depressive clouds is an awesome day, for those who know). But last year, a shitty boss and a broken heart nearly brought the clouds back in my life. I’m glad to say they never fully formed. I, Ibukun, looked the dragon in the face, flipped it the finger and walked away.

No more depression!

And so, I’m grateful for my support system. My amazing family – supportive, patient, my number one cheerleading squad, every win for me is celebrated with dancing and prayers and lots of food. They’re the best support system every writer should have (seriously fam, I’m considering packaging you and putting you up on Amazon :)).

Also grateful for my friends  – Gosh! I have the weirdest, nerdiest, craziest, funniest and loving collection of friends ever. They call, they visit, some actually write letters (imagine that!), they send memes, tweet random silly things at me, or even randomly plan mini vacations with me.

Honestly, God blessed me with friends and I know it.

Finally, I’m grateful to be punching in another year on the calendar tomorrow. There might be no party, but there will definitely be dancing and cake. Loads of it.

Here’s a random picture of me looking (and being) happy. That’s Olumo Rock in the background

Before you go, remember to send cake.

Thanks for reading!