by Lorraine Rukundo
I saw my father’s car arrive at the parking yard of HotSpring Villas at around 5:15 pm. I was so excited that I could not help but run down the staircase of the reception building towards him and embrace him warmly. I could not stop smiling.
“How have you been, my daughter?” He asked me as I took a step back from him.
“Daddy, I have a lot to tell you,” I replied as I ran to collect my luggage.
My father drove as fast as he could and we were finally home. I opened the car door and my mother held out her hand to help me out. She embraced me and led me to the campfire where she had prepared dinner for me. We sat around the burning wood as we feasted. I enjoyed the attention everybody was giving me. After dinner, I helped my mother clear the table and they were all ready for what I had to say.
“So Queen, how did the workshop go?” My father asked, giving me a go.
“The workshop officially started on 7th October, at around 4:20 pm.” I started. “Our facilitator, Eric Ngalle, talked about the essential elements of creative nonfiction writing. I learnt that using the sense of smell is rarely used by writers and yet it is a strong technique that invokes a feeling of reality to the reader. He also talked about the use of dreams which should enhance the plot of the story you are writing. He later gave us an exercise and told us to imagine a place in which we have lived for so long and what each one of us would take and leave behind in case we were to leave that area. I wrote about my classroom and said I would take only my pen and leave my books.”
I bent down and pulled out the notebook in which I was noting in, opened for them my first assignment, and handed it over to them. My father held the book as they both read. I stopped narrating so that I could give them a conducive atmosphere to contemplate my story. I wanted them to visualise and imagine what they were reading. I could not stop looking at the beautiful smiles on their faces.
“This is interesting. How were you able to write something so short and still include all you wanted to say?” my father asked as he handed over my notebook back to me.
“I’m glad you noticed,” I replied with a warm smile. “Eric also told us about word selection. He said being so verbal can bore the reader, so we needed to introduce the major events as soon as possible.” My father nodded in the affirmative implying that I had appropriately answered his question.
“Finally, he talked about description and use of music. He narrated to us a story about how his mother used to sing a specific song in his mother tongue in case she had not cooked food. This was humorous.” This brought laughter to both of them.
“That’s impressive. He still remembers his childhood memories even after the numerous hardships he went through.” My mother complimented.
“They are called memoirs. Eric also talked about that on day two of the workshop.” I looked at both of them as they enjoyed my narration.
“But before that,” I continued, “we had a group discussion about his memoir, I Eric Ngalle, relating it to what we had learnt the previous day. I learnt that one can use anything to refer to time. Specifically, Eric used the italic font while he was talking about his past.” I pulled out the book and handed it over to them. They smiled at the fact.
“When it was 11:00 am, Eric talked about memoirs. He said memoirs are factual stories. Did you know that one can be arrested for writing something false in a memoir?” My parents looked at me with terror when they heard about this. “Yes, meaning if you’re to write a memoir, you need to collect information from the right sources.” My mother nodded in the affirmative.
“Later in the evening, we had a session on peer reviews. This was my best session because I found out what I thought I could not do. All along I thought that people who have lived miserably were the only ones with stories to write about their lives but thanks to Madam Goretti, the director of the African Writers Trust, she was able to get different stories from each of us. My story was about our trip to Kenya.” My parents smiled at this.
“I was able to narrate everything I thought I could not remember. This gave me the courage to write about Aunt Grace’s story from my perspective as a fourteen-year-old.” My mother nodded in the affirmative.
“How will people get to read it; I mean those that are not your relatives?” she later asked.
“Your question has come at the right time, mummy.” I replied. “Finally, on our last day, we were taught about the publishing process after writing your story. This time around, Precious Kemigisha, a Ugandan writer, publisher, and editor told us about the editing process which is quite a long one. She also talked about the different types of publishing which include traditional, partnership, fully assisted among others. She told us how each of these publishing houses works and I came to a conclusion that if I were to publish my book, I would use the traditional type because the publisher handles all financial and creative risks. Lastly, Precious talked about the editing process. I learnt that for one to be accepted by a certain publishing house, he or she must have edited work. This can take four to six months, or even more.” This came as a disappointing remark to my parents because of the look they both put after this statement.
“Yes, “I assured them. “Your editor is not your enemy but your friend because he or she wants the best for you.”
I concluded my narration and my parents were both proud of me. They both embraced me and we headed to the house and called it a night.
Finally, I extend my sincere gratitude to African Writers Trust for the opportunity they offered to me and my colleagues and we promise not to let you down. Thank you.