An Emotionally Interesting Weekend

emotional weekend

So I attended a friend’s wedding at the last place I ever thought I would – a catholic church.

Having grown up in a catholic home, it brought back lots and lots of memories, most of them painful and depressing.

If you need context, imagine the father figure from Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and you’re not far from what my dad was like. Little surprise that I grew tired of the hypocrisy quite quickly. And I was glad to be gone and done with everything catholic.

The last time I stepped foot in a catholic building or even came across anything remotely catholic was over 9 years ago. I’ve diligently kept my distance. I rarely even think about it.

But the memories all let themselves back in on Saturday. I didn’t even go in the hall until I absolutely had to. I stayed outside while the priest said the familiar prayers and made the familiar gestures – the prayer of the faithful, the hail Mary, asking the laity to share the sign of peace, the prayer before and after communion. I still knew them.

Upon seeing people approach the altar, kneel and accept the eucharist, I remembered a time I took communion every Sunday while my dad made sure I ate the bread (I had developed a habit of spitting it out immediately after as a sign of rebellion).

So many memories, most of them bad.

I was shocked when I blurted out, to myself (cos I was the only one standing outside),

” I hate this place. I hate everything this place stands for.”

I was shocked. I chided myself. I never hate. But even more curious was the fact that I didn’t feel bad. I knew it was the truth. I peeped into the hall where the mass was being held and smirked.

Again I caught myself thinking again, “What a load of crap!”

I hated being there. The only reason why I attended the wedding was because my friend was a really close pal. He got me through some rough times when I was in school.

I looked at the priest, dutifully saying the mass and genuflecting and making the sign of the cross. I felt contempt. In retrospect, he’s probably a nice guy. He looked like a nice guy. I’ve met a lot of nice Catholics. Some of them are even close friends (my personal editor is Opus Dei).

But it all counted for zilch at that point.

I knew I was biased. I knew and I didn’t care. Those memories hurt till today.

Suddenly I understood a few things.

I suddenly understood why some folks hate Christianity so much. It’s not their fault. Some of them grew up in abusive environments, and their only model of a Christian was the perpetuator of such abuse. For some, their parents lived one way at home and turned into totally different people in church. That kind of hypocrisy is hard to ignore or get over.

I understand.

And for those who try to “convince” such people that Christianity is good, not bad, you’ll probably have better luck trying to convince a bird that it’s a leopard. Words are mostly useless. There’s nothing you could say that could win them over. No words could have won me over. We know the lingua; we can speak it. We know the doctrine; we can practice it.

The best you could do is pray for such people. Words mean zilch.

In case you’re wondering, I gave my life to Jesus Christ a few months after I left my dad and the catholic church. I worship in a Pentecostal church. I’ve been happy. Fulfilled even.

I’ve always wondered why people who grow up in church sometimes end up leaving and hating the church. Now I know. I understand.

If there are any such people in your life, you should love them, pray for them and be the best example of a Christian you can be. It’s the best anyone can do.


Great Minds…Maya Angelou…

The first time I heard this song, I was listening to my friend’s playlist. In the midst of Master Ace, Linkin Park, Funk Masta Flex etc, this song lunged at me. My friend is sort of the “hardcore” type and this song being on his playlist was odd. I guess even hard asses have a sentimental bone in their body.

The lyrics are powerful. And so so transcendent. I fell in love with it immediately.

Little wonder that Maya loved the song so much, she wished she wrote it herself.




Writing Advice from Max Brooks

advice for writing

Writing advice will never ever go out of style. It’s always trendy. That’s because writers will always need a lot of encouragement and coaxing. Don’t mind them; Big babies.
Anyways, Max Brooks, author of World War Z had some words of wisdom-

1. Just do it. Writing, like anything, takes practice and discipline, and I’ve found that discipline comes from a lifetime of repetition. I started writing when I was 12 and it’s made the action as normal as any other activity.

2. Drafts. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank page. Writing in drafts helps to diffuse some of that pressure. My rough draft has one goal; to write “The End.” I have the next 200-300 drafts to make it good.

3. I always write for me. I write what I want to read. I have no idea what will be popular, but if it’s a story I like, at least I can guarantee that it’ll have one fan.

4. I’m very careful who I let proofread my unfinished work. Too often people will want to rewrite the entire story or take it in a direction I never intended. Vetting proofreaders over time allows me to find eyes and brains that want to help me get where I originally intended to go.

5. I married the right person! That’s the most important tip I can give to any artist. It’s hard out there, unpredictable, distracting, and, at times, heartbreaking. My wife knows me better than I know myself and is critical in keeping my mind and heart on the right track. Without her as my battle-buddy, who knows where I, and my work, would be.

This is the first time I’ve agreed with a person’s opinions, a hundred percent.

Not to become a repetitive chorus, I’ve blogged about some of his points already:

Number one is similar to this post. I blogged about number two recently.

Number three is something I have been practising for the past two months. I write what I love reading. That doesn’t mean I dont challenge myself. Afterall, my most recnt short story is about a newly wed couple going through money troubes but with a fantastical twist. I’m not too big on the relationship aspect of stories but the story is shaping up really nicely. Not only am I excited about each story I now write but fresh ideas don’t seem to relent.  Note taken.

Number four…. Aargh! I’m sure it’s a massive club where we go to scratch out our hair and yell obscenities when well-meaning beta readers try to “improve” our work by offering plot directions. No. Just no. Don’t give your story to just anybody. Let it be to people who get it and appreciate the genre.

Number five. In a few months, I’ll marry the love of my life. Hopefully. She already gets me and my ideas (mostly) so, Homerun for me!

Have a great weekend folks.

Max Brooks tips taken from Publishers Weekly here.