by Bethany Namukwaya Makumbi

Transformation. This is when someone becomes a better version of themselves. The African Writers Trust Emerging Writers workshop did a lot to help me improve my skills in writing and taught me new ones. It helped me achieve what I had been chasing for a long time: recognition. For the first time in my life, I was recognized for my talent. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by fellow writers.

Honestly, I never used to be so confident in my writing. I was never sure if people would like my books or not. I used to feel like I didn’t belong because everyone in my family is talented in sports or math. I was talented in writing which wasn’t recognized until recently this year. During the workshop, I felt like I belong, as though I had finally met my people.

A room full of writers. We also had people from British Council Uganda visit us during one of the sessions.

It was a thrilling experience to hear everyone’s story. Everyone had a unique story to tell about their writing journey. The workshop was refreshing because everyone was open-minded. At first, I was feeling nervous because I knew I was the youngest writer there. However, I soon learned all were welcomed from the beginners, like Michael, to the already published writers, like Doreen. The interaction between us young writers was interesting. In no time we were talking as though we had known each other the whole time and were not strangers who had just met.

In terms of personal development, I was able to get a deeper insight into the editing and publishing process. I had no idea it took that much work to create a paperback. I used to think it was as simple as printing the book but I was wrong for a thousand miles. Hotsprings Villas itself impressed me. It was comfortable and welcoming. Not to mention the delectable meals prepared by the chef and the beds that felt like clouds and made me want to sleep in all day. I was satisfied, to say the least.

 One of the sessions that stood out for me was the zoom meeting with the lead trainer, Eric Ngalle. Although it wasn’t in person I was glad to have the opportunity to meet such a renowned author. Hearing him explain his struggle intrigued me. He also advised us on character, setting, plot and point of view. I was able to realise that I needed to improve my character description. I also picked up a few tips, for example, characters can introduce other characters. Going to the workshop made me realise my dreams of becoming a writer were not over but were just beginning. The workshop helped me get more exposure to different types of writers and writing styles. I met people who wrote children’s books and people who wrote scripts. I became more enlightened on how I should write my books.

Eric Ngalle during one of the online sessions.

Writing and reading have always been a part of me. I love to read because words tell stories that can’t be said. When I read The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, I was touched. It was a story that had to be told. I would like to tell my story.

When presented with an opportunity take it. I only live once. I couldn’t imagine having not taken this chance. Thank you African Writers Trust for this amazing life-changing opportunity. I am a better writer thanks to the workshop.

Lunchtime at HotSprings Villas.
Fun with the girls and only boy during the workshop.?
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