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Writing battles: Six battles that every writer must fight

3 Oct

Writing is like a battle. I take writing as a war and strategize about it the same way lieutenants in a battle filed would do. Just like battlefront, writing industry has many casualties and has killed the passion of many great writers. Writing is not for everyone I can affirm, it mainly favours those who take it as a fight and battle diligently, courageously and consistently. The following are battles that every writer must fight.

  1. The battle for self-belief. It is the belief that you can do it whether you feel like it or not. Writing industry has no masters or experts. The first step is accepting that you can do it and then doing it. Believe that you are the best and you have what it takes.
  2. The battle of Reading. Great writers are also great readers. You cannot effectively write if you fail to read. The main aim of writing is to inform. You must be well versed with what you are informing others about. This is done by thorough reading. Reading widely and wildly is the true mark of a great writer. Great readers have a lot to inform others. They have more knowledge that would interest others to read.
  3. The battle of fear of criticism. Even with your self-belief, self-doubt and criticism from clients and readers usually tend to put writers down. Writing is tedious and not exciting especially when writing for clients. To be a great writer one must possess a thick skin and ability to overcome criticisms. Once the writer has acquired a can do it attitude, the writer can pen about any subject whether they are experts in it or not. However, it is much easier to write a topic which you are most conversant with.
  4. The battle of words. Sometimes one falls short of words and topics to write about. Every writer experiences writer’s block, when there are no forthcoming ideas or inspiration to write. It is the writers’ responsibility to be inspired and motivated. Sometimes I have to listen to music or just write blank words for me to overcome this challenge. I must admit that writer’s block is every writer’s nightmare. It comes with inability write and lack of inspiration to write. Write even when you do not feel like it. Feelings will come later.
  5. The battle of relevance. In the process of writing, sometimes a writer may write materials which are irrelevant and out of sync with the topic of discussion. The writer must always seek to remain relevant and fluent in writing so as to make the readers understand the subject matter with ease.
  6. The battle of grammar. Grammatical mistakes are not taken lightly by readers. They consider them as a mark of incompetence. I may not be an expert about grammar since English is not my first language, but proofreading and re reading the material at least two times helps in eliminating such mistakes.

The above battles are not one off battles; they must be fought consistently, simultaneously and confidently.


Debt is an enemy

1 Oct

One day I borrowed some small amount from a friend to start a business from a friend. From my estimation I was certain that I would make some good money if it happened to succeed. I labored and worked to profit but unfortunately the returns were very minimal than I had anticipated. I did not even accumulate enough money to pay myself. This is in consideration that the money I had used was borrowed. The friend I had borrowed money came to demand his share. I had to explain that I had no returns from the investment and that I was dead broke to repay his money on the agreed date. My good friend would hear none of it, the money I had borrowed was intended to pay his sister’s school fees and had diverted it to assist me. I had to repay the money, by nook or crook. Luckily, I didn’t have any tangible assets to be auctioned except a smart phone which I had bought earlier on. I had to auction it to pay a part of the debt and pacify my friend’s wrath. I could not imagine that a good friend could be so harsh to me. My friend still demanded me to pay the debt in full if I was ever to make peace with him. Having no assets and no sustainable form of employment I could not access any formal credit neither could I do anything to fully settle the debt. Never in my life have I felt so low and ashamed like at that time. My dignity and sense of self-worth was highly diminished by this incident. I had to labour and do anything within my ability to settle the debt. I used every resource and ability within my disposal to settle the debt without incurring any further debt. I painfully repaid the money with tears but the lesson I learnt will last a lifetime.
Since the occurrence of this incident, I learnt a major lesson that debt is an enemy. In twenty first century many people have indeed fallen in love with their enemy. Our countries, nations and government too have fallen in love with the enemy called debt. At first debt appears like a friend in need who comes on time to help. The pleasure of having access to free money and gratifying one’s desires instantly without sweat but based on your ability to repay makes many people feel good. They count on debt to fund their luxuries, lifestyle and necessities. There are even cases of people who have succeeded using loans and setting successful businesses. Almost all banks and financial institutions consider loans as their major source of income and fiercely advertise how they have the best repayment terms. Nations especially in third world countries count on debt to build their infrastructure and pay their workers. In other words the world is becoming driven by debt.

However, debt irrespective the name used to refer to it is never a friend. It is a foe who should be fought off with determination and dedication that one can expedite when fighting a cruel enemy. Debt is the modern day tool of enslavement and financial inequity. You cannot succeed on debt. Debt is a cunning enemy who allures the prey with fantasy and instant gratification but strikes when least expected without mercy. Sometimes I wonder what would happen in the world if the same effort put in repaying debt is put in accumulation of wealth, good relationships and integrity. Debts steal ones dignity, sense of self-worth and make the person with debts a modern day slave. There are many people whose only motivation to wake up is the mortgage or car loan. I have identified companies that thrive on debt instruments. To speak the truth there are slave institutions, companies, businesses and countries, whose management work hard to please and pay the master creditors. Treat all manner of debts like an enemy and with the suspicion it deserves. When you realize that debt is an enemy who seeks to disempower you and take away your purpose, sense of self-worth and dignity you will slowly but certainly pay all debts and keep them off. May you succeed in fighting this enemy. May Heaven grant you the wisdom to be content, patient and delay gratification.

Work is a friend

29 Sep

I have been reading the works of George Clason  ‘The richest man who lived in Babylon’. I do not intend to write a review about it but I must indicate that it is a classical of financial wisdom. The ideals conveyed in the book are as applicable to the Gen Y  as it was applicable to the baby boomers and those who lived in nineteenth century. One aspect that caught my attention and left me meditating is a discourse on making work a friend. The book identified that work should be viewed as a friend and not an enemy.
Many young persons of our generation have described work as an enemy and work because it is necessary to pay their bills. Work does more to your life than paying bills, it is the very essence of living. Life would be very boring without work, or engagements that ensure that our mind, bodies are put into use. Work therefore puts the creative energies and potential in to use hence ensuring that life is meaningful and interesting. Idling and lazing around makes life uninteresting and makes one suffer from want and ill health. Out of personal experience, I can say that work whether mental or physical has rewards and should be taken positively.
Einstein, one of the geniuses that have lived on earth disputed that he was a genius and said that genius is one percent luck and ninety nine per-cent perspiration. Effort and energies must be spent and spent in right courses even though they may not have direct reward; eventually every labour has a profit in it. One of the major causes of unemployment in third world countries is not lack of education or skills; it is idling, and failure to work. Work is not having a job as many people would want us to believe or being employed by someone. Modern day thinking considers work as any effort that earns money. However, work is not only any effort that earns money, but rather any effort undertaken with diligence and thoughtfulness. The bible commends work and notes that ‘In all labour there is profit.’ Proverbs 14:23. Therefore one should not be afraid or ashamed of working and using energies to do what is right and doing it diligently, whether it pays immediately or not. This understanding helps one to put out efforts in the right pursuits with diligence and it guarantees that that all manner of work will have rewards.


2 Aug

I love teachers. I admire teachers. I was born by parents who were career teachers. I am a product of teachers. I therefore sympathise with the plight of teachers. I understand that they are not well remunerated compared with other government workers. I know that they are sneered and not appreciated by parents of the children they tirelessly teach. I know that teaching is not a career of the faint hearted and for self seekers. I also hold entrepreneurial interest in the education industry. I have therefore sided with teachers in their endeavour (STRIKES) to have their meagre salaries increased. However majority of the colleagues and general public are of contrary opinion and I sought to find why the public would be against people who equipped them with knowledge. 

Even as teachers seek to engage in another industrial action to defend their pay, I would like them to know that public opinion is not in their favour. Kenyan youths who are jobless are very bitter with teachers. They blame them for misleading them by teaching them irrelevance. How can one be jobless after spending seventeen years in school courtesy of teachers’ exhortation that good grade will secure good employment only to find out that employers are not interested in grades but experience and skills?  I wish every teacher’s goal was to ensure that what they taught was relevant and that each of their student succeeded or at least got employed in life. Teachers would be heroes, everyone would appreciate teachers.

Kenyan parents are equally bitter with the current crop of teachers in public schools. Recent survey by Uwezo Kenya indicated that majority of class seven pupils could not compute basic mathematics. The quality of education they are offering is not satisfactory at all. Absenteeism of teachers from class, conducting personal businesses during work hours characterise many teachers. This has made it difficult for teachers to defend their pay increase on the basis of performance. Teachers also refused to sign performance contracts which they would have used to convince public that they already have results. As it is now, the quality of education in public schools remains poor and unacceptable.

It is surprising that private school teachers who are paid lower salaries produce more impressive results than teachers in public schools. The public cannot accept the theory that students in public schools underperform because of teachers are poorly paid. Teachers should therefore justify why they should be paid more through good performance of their pupils.

Teaching is a career that is defined by morals. The public expects teachers to have high moral standing not only in words but also in deeds. The same teachers who punished us whenever we went on rampage in high school and in university should also be punished when they engage in an illegal strike. Otherwise teachers will lose the moral authority of punishing their students when they engage or go on strike. The double standard applied by teachers has created a sense of impunity among Kenyans where majority of Kenyans are law breakers. If you want prove it go anywhere with this sign “ Usikojoe hapa” you will be shocked with what you see.  Teachers are the moral compass in the society, they do not teach us skills alone they are responsible for instilling moral values. Picketing in the streets is inappropriate for teachers.

To cut the short story, teachers should know that teaching is like preaching as my father would say. You don’t do it because you are paid; you do it because it is a divine calling. Every teacher with divine calling is a great teacher. Teachers who teach because it was the most available job that they found are usually ineffective.  Teaching is not a career for every Tom, Dick and Harry and those who join it should not do it because of the material rewards. Even Saint Paul warned against having too many teachers, because teachers will be judged by a higher standard than the students. Teaching profession should be for those who derive much satisfaction from seeing their pupils or students becoming more knowledgeable, informed and educated. Material rewards should serve as a compliment.  

To all selfless teachers who devote many hours in their noble calling, don’t lose heart, keep at it, it is only God who can pay you.

Regards to Mrs Lucy Kimani, my lower primary school teacher, Mr. James Gichuru for instilling in me arithmetic literacy, Mrs. Rachael Kimani for your care, Mrs. Beth Maina for discovering my abilities; Mr. John Onguso my high school teacher for restoring my esteem. I esteem all of you highly.