Writer's Journal: Lessons from Top 5

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson in Top 5

Grandiose foolishness is a difficult thing to admit. In light of this, I will not declare that the reason for my silence is foolishness.

The lessons that life tends to teach are without compare, greater than any that can be taught in a classroom. They come to us in flashes, unexpected moments of truth. Those who listen and learn enjoy a certain level of contentment. Those who don't are struck with unique confusions that are incomprehensible to any but they themselves.

My grand confusion was that I had come to believe that I could no longer write. This, after one of my tutors, Roger said, "Afam you write really well."

His delivery was casual, but the words struck me like a bell. It was validation beyond any I'd heard before.I was struck dumb. My mouth squeezed out a thank you, but my hands froze. Everytime I wrote, I'd see the old white man who spent two decades at Reuters looking over my shoulder and wonder if he'd approve.

Every attempt to write something led to new failures and frustrations. They didn't even have the kindness to be selective. A paragraph about Ryan Lochte was as difficult as an essay about Lagos. All the while, I felt as useless as a spayed bitch in heat.

As I write this, there's a little monster kicking my chair. He's singing let it go as loudly as his pre-manly tenor will allow. I would be apathetic about his behaviour if I wasn't sitting between an Emporio Armani watch wearing man whose girth could have used an empty seat beside him, and a Nigerian business man who seems to be the brains behind a liquor smuggling operation. He has this list that says, Star - £1000, Gulder - £1500.

I was about to start gnashing my teeth and whining internally, when I remembered a line from Top 5, a film that Chris Rock both acts and stars in. His character said something like, "just think of who you want to sound like and copy them."

I did one better. I opened the copy of Anna Karenina on my phone, and began to write.

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