Writers Write,Write and Read.

The best way to become a good writer is to keep writing, writing and reading. The more you read, the better you become at writing. The more you write, the better you will get. Reading grows your mind while writing expands your soul. I am a regular reader of books, magazines and newspapers for pleasure and empowerment but at the same time I do a lot of reading about the topic I am writing about for the blog. Good writing comes from good reading. Each article I write helps me to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As I read, ideas come to me and that is how I get to choose what topic I should write about. It is not surprising that when I am not sure what to write about I just pick up a book or magazine to read and this usually starts my creative juices flowing. A notebook and a pen are my handy writing tools. Writing things down in my own handwriting tends to clarify them for me.

As I read, all my senses including imagination are stimulated and my mind comes up with new ideas. I get immersed into the author’s thoughts and feelings. Reading makes me empathetic and this makes me understand others’ thoughts and feelings better. It improves my vocabulary and refreshes my memory. I gain greater knowledge of literature, science and practical knowledge.
I tend to feel exciting new experiences; others force me to revisit my childhood while others help me to see things as though I had never seen them before.
Vera Nazarian an Armenian-Russian writer said: “ Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”
Proverb 15:23 of the Book of Proverbs of the Bible says: What a joy it is to find just the right word for the right occasion.
Sometimes what I am looking for is a simple word or phrases to slot in my post and on most occasions I find it in a book, magazine or newspaper that I am reading. You may not be able to imagine the smile on my face under such circumstances.

Studies done in USA and Europe have shown that a lifetime of reading preserves mental ability, preserves memory and slows down the signs of dementia.
To fully enjoy the benefits of consistent reading, one must start early in childhood. Maya Angelou’s advice still holds true. She said that : “ Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.’’
For any avid reader, it is exciting to be alive during the Digital era. The Digital books can be easily downloaded using your e-reader, smart phone or a mobile tablet. The biggest challenge now is finding the time to read all those books.
The writers will continue to write the best books they can and we the readers will go out there to buy them and read them for knowledge, entertainment, adventure and fun.

Thank you for reading this post. I would love to hear how consistent reading has influenced your life. Feel free to share this post with family and friends.

 

Obsession With the Written Word

Reading books has been an integral part of me as far as I can remember. I started off with the simple, timeless Lady Bird books and before I knew it , I was reading newspapers daily then graduated to the African Writers series. I can never thank my late father enough for giving me this great gift. Each morning he would buy the London’s Daily Mirror, Kenya’s Daily Nation, Uganda Argus and the local Daily. We read for pleasure but as well as to understand and late in the evening to discuss the main issues with him. The Missionary school I attended for all my years of formal education had one of the biggest school libraries in the country and this boosted my obsession. I was introduced to classical literature, poetry, biographies and fiction novels. These books captured my curiosity and imagination and I cannot remember how many times I was found hiding in the pantry literary on my knees and immersed in a book after the 10:00pm Lights Out siren. I always served the punishment in silence. Since then I have read books on public buses, trains, planes, in washrooms, in a clinic while waiting for the next patient to enter.

As a teenager, I experienced wonder as I read the books and over time, I was touched by them. I learned much about life, was changed by what I read and was greatly empowered. They say that: Knowledge is power; I have always acted on the knowledge I had acquired to improve my life.
Reading has helped me to keep abreast with scientific breakthroughs, literature and global events. Through the books I have visited almost all the countries in the world. For the price of a novel, I had become a global citizen long before the Internet came along. At one time I was a self-appointed tracker of the Cambridge Five. These were British intelligence members led by Kim Philby who worked as double agents .Then I followed the Nazi War Criminals who fled to South America. The capture of Adolf Eichmann the Holocaust mastermind and the trial of 94 years old of Oskar Groening, the Book keeper of Auschwitz are among the most captivating reads. A few other war criminals now in their nineties are still alive and I am still following them in print. Currently I am following up a number of other historical events locally and globally to make sense of them.

Then, in come the Internet and this changes how we read, write and share information forever. I can now follow anything, any writer or artist that I am interested in. The e-books offer a steady supply of books to read on your fingertips. I am a member of Scribd, a digital library, e-book and audiobook subscription service. On many occasions it offers me to read free a number of novels of my taste for 30 days. My biggest problem is finding the time to read even two of the Top Picks for me. Having said that, it has never been as exciting as it is today to be a voracious reader. I am really spoilt for choice. As I get older, my preferences change, I now read more biographies than fiction to learn from real experiences and attain more wisdom. What I know for sure is that I am now an unstoppable reader.

While researching material for this post, I looked up the benefits of reading consistently. I was not surprised by what I found for I have known them since my junior school days.
Reading keeps the brain active and engaged and slows down the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It opens you up to new ideas; renewing your mind and heart.
Losing yourself in a great story reduces stress and relaxes you.
It improves focus and concentration. This is important in this digital era where we all tend to be multitasking.
It equips us with analytical thinking skills. As you read you have to weave things together.
It gives us knowledge which we can use to overcome challenges in life. The earlier you start to read consistently the greater the benefit. You just keep growing and no one can take that knowledgeaway from you. On the other hand, reading is a form of free entertainment.
For emerging writers like me, reading teaches us better writing skills: you hone your skills by learning from the masters of the craft. The more you read, the better you write.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o ( formerly )James Ngugi , East Africa’s most prominent writer said:
“Stories, like food, lose their flavor if cooked in a hurry.”

I conclude by inviting the young and old who have not yet developed the habit of reading consistently to start after reading this post. It is never too late to pick up a good habit. You are missing out greatly on acquiring knowledge of literature, science and practical knowledge.
Victor Hugo said: “ To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled is a spark.”

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. May it inspire you to continue reading consistently. I would loveto read your comments on how developing a reading habit has transformed your life. Please feel free to share the post with family and friends.

 

 

A Catalogue of Names

A few years back , I stood in a queue with my daughter at the Zambian border. It was a warm, sunny day with clear blue skies. Both of us were dressed in blue jeans, T-shirts, sneakers and baseball caps.
Call it perfect timing, there were not more than ten travellers in the queue and before long, we were handing in our two passports to the immigration officer. He greeted us with a smile then combed through our passports one at a time.
As he handed my daughter her passport he said, “ Young lady, with this catalogue of names; you’re either the only girl in the family or the eldest child or the youngest .”
My daughter smiled, “I’m the only girl and the youngest of the three children.’’

Before setting off, I checked my daughter’s passport. She had six names in all compared to four in mine!
I even do not know how they had managed to copy all the names on the birth certificate straight into the passport. Instantly I remembered how we had arrived at these six names; her father had given her his maternal grandmother’s name, one of his aunt’s name and I had given her my mother’s name and one other name I had always admired. A week after she was born, one of the paternal grandmothers had come to welcome her into the family. She had taken one look at her and said, “Oh! She looks like my third sister. She should take her name.”
On seeing their interest and amusement , I accepted. For the aunt, a child symbolized the future while a grandchild symbolized continuity and conveyed permanence.
Names give us identity, roots and a sense of belonging. Each one starts off as an individual belonging to a family, community and a country. Belonging is being accepted as a member or part. The psychologists tell us that a sense of belonging increases meaningfulness of life. You go through life without feeling alone and this boosts your intellectual level, social skills, mental health and physical health.

I for one was the eldest girl in the family and I was named after my paternal grandmother, my only paternal aunt and my mother’s best friend in the Nursing and Midwifery Training School. The aunt also ended up as one of my godparents. She took her responsibility seriously and as I grew up, she became my friend, mentor and sponsor. She made sure that I grew into a well behaved, disciplined and helpful young woman. I admired her relative independence in the home and her kindness. I learned a lot of good things from her like sharing the little you have with others, putting your family first and using your talents and skills to lift others up. Looking back now, I have to admit that she influenced my life positively.

The names we are given give us multiple dimensions of our identity. The surname or family name links you to your family and lineage. This has been going on for generations and in the Bible when the boy who later grew up to become ‘John the Baptist’ was given the name John, the friends and neighbours were surprised. They raised their concern, “But you have no relatives with that name!’’
Marcus T. Cicero( 106BC-43BC) said: “ The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.’’
The living has to pay attention to the names he/she is given and grow into them without losing her/his identity. Indeed you belong somewhere and it should make sense to you.

Thank you for reading this post. I would like to hear the story behind your names. Please feel free to share this post among family and friends.