Thursday, February 22, 2018

‘Writers must listen, read more’

IN order to become a better writer, one must listen and read more.

This was the advice given yesterday by Prof Fumso Aiyejina, the facilitator at a workshop that formed part of the NGC Bocas Lit Festival held over the weekend. The workshop was at the Southern Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA), corner of Rienzi-Kirton Highway and Todd Street, San Fernando.

Aiyejina is the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine and a director of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest—a non-profit organisation. He is also an author.

He told participants they must listen carefully to what was being said around them and reading and listening “must go together”.

“The better writer you want to be, the more you have to listen to people. Listen to tones, context and what is happening around you,” he said.

Aiyejina, who is originally from Nigeria, said Trinidad and Tobago was a “fascinating place” to listen because of its variety of cultures, nationalities and accents.

“The most important tool a writer has is language. If you don’t understand language, you cannot be a good writer. You have to master language if you are going to write.”

Using former prime minister Basdeo Panday as an example, Aiyejina said he was “an articulate user of language” who connected with his audience in any forum.

Another piece of advice was to write something every day, even if it was just one line.

Focusing on fiction writing, Aiyejina told participants all stories were powerful tools that can affect the human mind and society and “are dangerous to persons who don’t want them told”.

Good stories must have conflict, crises and resolution, he said.

Details should be chosen carefully and good characters need to be created, he added.