Al Kags

Getting off my ass to write

I am an avid advocate for people to write. In fact, I push people that I mentor to write often. Yet here I am, finally getting off my ass and out of my way to write after a lull of several months. What happens to me when I don’t write for a long time is that I have many, many ideas of things that I want to say, and those ideas come out perfectly in the most inappropriate times – during a shower, at 3 am when I momentarily wake up to turn or in the middle of a meeting in which I must concentrate. When I finally sit down to write, my mind downloads all of the hundreds of ideas that I have been storing away or meaning to put down in a mad cacophony – like someone dropped a tray of silverware in a quiet room.

It isn’t writer’s block; it’s more of an inability to move—like sleep paralysis. The mind is awake, but the body will not cooperate. Meanwhile, my friend David Sasaki is admirably consistent—his substack, the Time Capsule, comes out like clockwork. Irungu Houghton, a friend that I look up to, writes a newspaper column every week without fail, and he has done so for years! I have been reflecting on an Irish Catholic priest, Father Gabriel Dolan, who landed in Turkana, Kenya, 42 years ago. He built a formidable career as a Human Rights advocate, fighting for the rights of people in rural Kenya for all those years. For at least 15 years, he wrote an opinion piece in the newspaper every week without fail. I see my mentor, Prof. Bitange Ndemo, regularly write a think-piece on Linkedin associated with his post as Kenyan Ambassador to Brussels.

Tenacity and discipline

The two men I admire most for their dogged writing tenacity have departed. Dr Yusuf Kodwavwalla (pen name: Yusuf Dawood) wrote a newspaper column, the Surgeon’s Diary, in Kenya for thirty-eight years. The articles were encapsulated in a series of books. Over at the BBC, Alistair Cooke, a British man who moved to the US wrote a 15-minute radio show called Letter from America from March 24, 1946, to February 20, 2004 – just about a month before he died.

What discipline is that? What tenacity? Neil Gaiman allegedly said that the trick is to put “butt in chair” and start with one word and then the next. “It’s that easy and that hard.”

I want to write like these great men. It would be so fulfilling to have the quietness of mind and the strength of character to write regularly and persuasively in ways that will influence the growth of ideas and contemporary wisdom.

I wish upon a star.

Exit mobile version