A way with words.


Years ago when i was a little boy, Waithera my mother lovingly subjected me to the world of books and excellent private school education which ensured i spoke and wrote English really well. I cannot recall a time i ever had a shortage of reading material. I owned an entire collection of Hardy Boys, Famous five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and a couple of Sweet Valley High i borrowed from Mary, a girl who always gave me a run for my words in Grammar and composition.

My uncle, Jungle was his nickname, used to read James Hadley Chase, which i only looked at when no one was around coz of the semi naked girls on the cover! I did try to read it once, my heart beating and praying that mum does not catch me with it. I expected to find something vile and not suitable for readers my age; somewhere in the middle of the second chapter i realised that the story had no connection to the explicit cover.

I was done craving for Hadley Chase, never even as much as touched it again.

Somehow, even at the age of eleven words moved and elevated me beyond my imagination. There was so much power and life in the stories and novels i read that i always inevitably found myself lost to another world of characters and thrillers, drama and suspense.

I read the late Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart when i was around 13. Ok, i did not understand a thing but the thought that a man very much like me but differing in age and of course years of experience in the literary circle could string together words so powerful and deep was simply mesmerising.

I always tried to put myself in any writer’s shoes, or pen so to speak. How they created the characters and brought them to life with astounding alacrity, how they got me as the reader hooked right to the very last full stop. How they left me yearning for more, staring at the blank cover page wishing the story would continue. How i would toss around in bed after finishing a story feeling like my life had ended with it!

My grandpa whom I am proudly named after as Gikuyu culture dictates was an Engineer courtesy of lessons learnt while he was in the army. Goodness, this man could curve anything out of nothing, like he was always repairing stuff at home and improving whatever he could.

He really desired to see someone inherit his Engineering prowess since none of his sons exhibited any inkling of doing so. Uncle Kenny had taken to soccer and driving, jungle on the other hand was a jack of all trades; he was a lumberjack, mechanic, butcher, land broker, liquor dealer (he used to sell some illegal eish drink called Tornado) or rolled into one. He was like a tornado!

None of the engineering chips had fallen on either of his sons. The apple had fallen miles away from the tree!
Grandpa took to teaching me lots of building tricks but i proved to be a greater disappointment than my uncles. Man, the way i bent nails while desperately trying to hammer them into wood gave a whole new meaning to bending it like Becks! I was a total failure in that department. I however, to sooth my hammered ego, would lose myself in a novel later and he would find me so engrossed in reading that he totally gave up on the idea of using me for his projects. Besides, i had already bent enough nails to earn me a certificate of non compliance in the building industry!

I got to score high marks in grammar and composition as well; always following the teacher later asking why he wasn’t awarding me 40 out of 40 in my compositions considering there was not a single red mark on my paper. He always told me, much to my chagrin that nothing is ever perfect!

Then one year ago i started this blog after i had bumped into two Kenyan blogs which i totally fell in love with, Bikozulu and My Dear Doris. The content on these blogs was devastatingly mind blowing, eye opening even and i was like, man i can do this, i gotta do this, i MUST do this!!

My first post here was very long and i had intentions of doing a part 2…i never did! Somehow, it scared me to have my content on the internet domain getting viewed by anyone who could bump into my blog. I was scared people would find my writing wanting, devoid of life, poor in structure or grammar, perhaps lacking in style. Maybe nobody would visit my blog or even leave a comment.

Then i got a few likes and follows. I posted a few more times and the follows kept increasing. I found myself checking my blog every now and then even at night. I was still single when i started blogging so there was no crime in checking it out or even adding a post late at night.

What started as a fearful, faltering step into blogosphere gradually developed into something worth looking forward to. It became the impetus to try my hand in different kinds of writing since i was no longer scared of sharing my writing to the world, and to keep writing to improve myself.

So, really, what keeps us writing? What inspires us to continue doing so even when on our bad days we just stare at blank word documents wondering what to write?

It has to be the thrill that comes with having an idea in your mind that you shape into a formidable story, building it from nothing to something. The feeling of great accomplishment after posting something that kind of makes you feel like you have just treated your blog and followers to a sumptuous lunch. The battle of numerous ideas and characters in your head, all fighting for their 15 seconds of fame in the Galaxy of your blog.

It is the many times you find yourself smiling to yourself in a public area after an idea hits your mind and you want to put it into writing before it disappears, and any writer will tell you that these fleeting ideas vanish the moment you lie to yourself that you will remember to note them down later.

And there is nothing as heartbreaking as having an idea that could probably change the world and forgetting it just after a few minutes.

It’s the feeling that people really do appreciate your work and that you have ardent followers who even share your posts on other platforms.

I know many people out there want to start blogging. My advice to you is this- go ahead and take a chance. Fear is normal, but you never know what you are capable of or how courageous you might be until you take a chance.

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6 thoughts on “A way with words.

  1. Your grammar is pretty well, but you had ever felt scare in blogging for the first time, right? You can see my writing, I’m so poor at grammar, but I’m trying to keep my writing. It’s my process to be a writer. I don’t care about it, 😃 I meant, if I wait to be perfect at grammar, I will never start blogging. Nice experience, brother! You’re lucky, that you have good ability in English. 😊

    • Thanks for the kind comments, and no you are not poor in grammar. The singular brave act of staring a blog and improving your English every time you post is an indication that you are on the right path. Rome, as they say wasn’t built in one day and gradually you will even get over the struggles you have gone through doing your blog in English.
      And then again there is the 10,000 hour rule which states that this is the time it takes for one to master something. A step at a time is the way to go.

      Besides, aren’t we all works in progress? All the best in your writing. Never give up.

  2. I love your journey as a writer. It is quite interesting how most of us share the same story of growing up as readers. I also collected Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley series(just admit it, there was no Mary, that was your collection:-). I read Chinua and Ngugi in my early teens too and was hooked. Thank you for sharing your journey and all the best in your future endeavors. Your grammar is really good by the way, posts always so well edited.Thumbs up.

    • Thank you very much. Through blogging i have come to the realization that all writers in more ways than one share the same journey. It’s awesome!
      I swear SVH hazikuwa zangu 🙂 ….ok, i have no evidence to support my claim but si u know how girlish those books were!!
      Thanks for the thumbs up!

  3. Pingback: My most #Cherished object: A Pen | Akhy Mjanja

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