The Beginning of a new journey

by Patilda Gabriella Baluka

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a step ~ Chinese Proverb

The African Writers Trust (AWT) Emerging Writers workshop has been an ecstatic learning experience that has left me in an ebullient mood, I must say. For long, I had always been reluctant with my writing ever since I discovered that it was my talent in 2020 during The Mentorship Class self-discovery month. It is also when I found out that words of affirmation are my love language, so journaling, taking gratitude notes to drop in my gratitude jar and writing to people, especially family, became my trait. I didn’t really give writing much of my time, effort, energy, love, attention, strength, soul and might, probably because I was watching for the wind for me to grow my talent and put it out there. It so happens that the winds didn’t come until one day, when a family friend gave my mother a jingle and blessed us with good news about an upcoming Writers’ workshop, being organized by AWT. It sounded like music to me. I applied as soon as I could and mentally prepped for the hybrid mode training that was ahead of me.

The workshop rekindled my joy and passion for writing. I was revved up even before we commenced. We were given two books: I, Eric Ngalle by Eric Ngalle Charles and The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil to read ahead of and during the workshop. This helped me improve my reading pace and analyse the different writing styles; how and why they were applied.

Me reading Eric Ngalle`s book during the set reading time.

I was satisfied to the maximum as well as exceeding my expectations, which were all met right from the hospitality to giving honest peer reviews. My areas of personal development and accomplishments were: learning how to portray my story as a written piece while using the elements of writing. Before the workshop, I always found poetry and fictional writing a conundrum but I was lucky to learn from the best: my fellow participants, Bethany, Lorraine, Michael, Doreen and Alith; and also from the AWT facilitators, Ms. Goretti, Racheal and Lillian. Now I can trust my intuition when it comes to writing poetry and fiction.

Peer review session

All the sessions left me exuberant. However, the sessions that stood out for me were: learning how to write a list poem and poetry, in general. This was led by Eric Ngalle Charles, the lead tutor, where he asked us the participants to attempt writing a poem titled: “My Mother’s Kitchen”. This task kept me up half the night, pondering what to write. In the end, it turned out well.  Another session that caught my eye was ‘Understanding the Editing and Publishing Process’ led by Precious Colette Kemigisha, a renowned Ugandan writer, editor and publisher. Precious enlightened us about the whole procedure, from the writing stage to attaining a well-crafted story; and finally, to when the book is on the shelf, the benefits and costs shared between the writer and the editor/publisher, etcetera. I was glad that all this knowledge filled my tank to the brim because I aspire to start a publishing house in the future.

Eric Ngalle during one of his sessions on day one of the workshop.
Precious sharing on the editing and publishing process.

Racheal Kizza, an award-winning blogger was keen to listen to my personal story and guide me on how to write it out. This emboldened me to reach home and dust my notebook that has prospects of book titles with a tad bit paragraphs that I intend to resume working on while applying what I learnt from the workshop. She advised me as well not to look at the clouds and launch my blog sooner.

As an emerging writer, I always endeavour to revise the notes/handouts and have my nose in a book in anticipation that I will become a world-renowned best-selling author.

In drawing to a close, I look forward to commencing to write my first book while applying what I have learnt from the workshop; writing my thesis and hopefully publishing it too; give poetry and fictional writing a go-ahead; reigniting the joy of writing for those who had lost its spark and most importantly, sharing my progress in my transformation story as the journey continues. I am thankful to God and AWT for granting me this opportunity to meet fellow writers who were not judgmental and assiduous in helping polish my craft in writing.

Allow me to conclude with a quote; “First lines did not define last pages in real life the way they did in books” ~ Stephanie Butland.  With that being said, I believe that this is just the beginning of a great journey that lies ahead of me.

I received a certificate of participation at the end of the workshop. L-Goretti, R-Mildred Barya,AWT board member.

If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it. ~ Muhammad Ali

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