Creative Story Writing: Head or Heart?

---Source: Twitter

—Source: Twitter

By Babajide Michael Olusegun

I don’t think I have a bold answer to this question but I must say it is more rhetorical than interrogative. Perhaps, a prefatory short story to the subject is better told. So, here we go.

It started in those days when the senior certificate class of St Bernard College were organizing extra classes for Biology on Saturdays. All students were to come in mufti. A student would discover the economic status of his colleague through the elegance or inelegance of the wears s/he had on to the Saturday classes.

As for me, the sensual part of my boyhood wasn’t yet discovered by me; I discovered my ability to fall in love with a girl (a reality which till today remains a mystery to many of my classmates who always called me Father Clem) in Junior Secondary Class 1. My real name is Clement Ogunsola.

I wasn’t sure if it was that topic in Biology called Reproduction that stimulated or perhaps lured me into the feeling, a feeling I would regret ever feeling, later on. She was my first love. Her name was Shekinat. She was a spell cast on every eye; no wonder my sanctimonious eyes were seduced by her beauty. Right from nowhere, that feeling I could not explain began to pester my heart so that every night I planned fine and exotic ways of asking her out. I added this to my bulk of home and school duties. But she was not meant for one; she was to be tasted by all. I thought I was her one and only boyfriend, but I was wrong.

I would not realize for many years a strange sameness in my love life until I did a series of poems that told the stories of my love joys and travails — the poems were titled “Seven Kisses: Lusty Love Lost”. What I tried to do in the poems was simple—to tell a fictional story of how I had fallen in and out of love, to recreate the facts of my love escapades and adventures; my aim was simple, to reach the point of a literature-inspired catharsis from the pathos of my failed love experiences.

It wasn’t strange that I tried every trick I knew to prevent my readers from being tempted to link me with the stories that were told in my Seven Kisses. No wonder before I embarked on posting the poems on Facebook, I designed for myself a conceited Author’s note, and one of the things I said was this:

This work is completely fictitious but entirely designed by the plot of facts and figures. All resemblances to real life statements, settings and characters as suggested in poetic verses and inter alia are deliberately accidental and accidentally deliberate.

It must be noted from the aforementioned that I already gave my readers an opportunity to sniff reality and correlate my real life with the stories I told in the poems and that was why I was not too surprised at the questions two of my readers would ask after reading them. Their questions were the same; they both asked: “Clem, are these poems from your head or from your heart?”

I must confess; I tried to avoid answering the question. But when my manoeuvring would not pay me, I resulted to sophistries. I remember one of my interrogators pestering me for further information on the poems by asking: “Clem, I think I need to know the inspiration behind these poems, I think there is some serious reality behind it.” She would go further by saying, “I can tell when a poem is written from the heart or from the brain… you always write from your brain and that is why I read your poem hoping to learn something new or looking for the lesson or content but this poem is written from your heart, I know; it flows spontaneously.”
I chuckled silently. How could I have written without my head? (I thought.) I was not ready to admit that I was the main actor in the poems. The kisses, the romance, the voyeurism, the sexual explicitness, the deceits, the foolery, all these; was I to be associated with all of those? A “reverend father” for that matter, I thought.

So, instead of accepting that the poems were driven by my own personal love experiences and that the plot was borne out of the consequences of my seven failed emotional realities, I preferred to answer my inquirers from my head and not from my heart. Though the poems were poured out directly from my heart but answers to the questions, doubts and suspicions raised by the poems were forged from my head. So, I ask myself now, From the heart or the head?

MICHAEL BABAJIDE is a poet and spoken word performer. He is a graduate of Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and was long-listed for the Uganda-based BabishaiNiwe (BN) Poetry Prize in 2015. He is the Associate Editor for Literature Segment on the Bravearts Africa Team.

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