The Fear of No Audience

Imagine me risking everything I have to achieve my dream, through relentless hard work. After a long period of self-torture, I produce a novel. I get it published and sit back, waiting for the rewards to flow, waiting to receive feedback from my readers. I wait forever; no one’s reading.

Let’s put this into a more thought-provoking perspective:

Imagine me overflowing with a message I need to share to the world. I risk everything I have to get this message into a piece of lyrical art. After a long period of seemingly endless strain, I produce a novel. I get it published and sit back, waiting for people to show evidence of what it evoked in their minds. I wait forever; no one wants to understand.

There is art that is produced lightly, as art for art’s sake. Then there is art that takes tonnes of emotion and effort from you. There’s the kind of art that, after you’re done producing it, you just go into sleep so deep, anyone would think you’d just run a marathon. There’s also some art that is produced form a fire burning in you, threatening to consume you unless you find the right means to tell your message to the world – be it poetry, a song, a play, whatever.

And there’s the absurdly large fraction of the type of audience that listens to music that clashes so strongly with their beliefs, but they play and sing it excessively anyway. The kind of audience that’s most likely to say, “Oh, I don’t want to know or care what it means. It sounds nice, so I’ll consume it.” They’re the kind of audience of audience that appreciates everything about the art except for its message; the entire basis of the artistry. (I’m obviously not referring to the kind of music designed for jamming and jamming alone.)

A few days ago, I attempted to discuss the brilliant artistry of Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” album, with which I am head over heels in love – for the sake of not only the beautiful sound, but the authentic truth of its deliberate lyrics and message. The person with whom I was discussing it, however, had barely a thing to say about the entire album, other than that the Skrillex beats were nice. *facepalm*

When it comes to art, I’m rarely in the mood for ad hominem business. I have no doubt that mine has the capacity to work to my advantage. I’m Black. I’m African. I’m Ghanaian and American. And I write stories. The way these things work, I may have a steady fanbase, if I ever become a novelist whose writing is of at least reasonable quality, like I fervently pray I will, just because of my heritage – and therein lies the danger.

For the most part, I write because I have things to say; I release what I write because I want other people to hear and understand whatever it is that I have to say.

The understanding part is the problem. Behind all the “You write beautifully” and even the “Sit down, you’re not quite there yet” comments, I tend to wonder, Yes, you have obviously seen the words, but did you care a bit about what it all actually meant?

I’m partially immersed in Ghana’s poetry and spoken word scene as well, and the ad hominem is strong there as well. There are so many glorified poets – and not without reason, I guess. They’re super talented and super practiced. What gets to me, however, is when we hype up a person so much that their actual message is completely lost on us; we’re too busy fangirling/fanboying about the individuals to hear a word that they’re saying. For me, an audience like that is equivalent to no audience at all; the people merely become hype-machines and your sources of income.

I don’t just want to make money; I want to be heard. And I’m scared that I won’t be.

In other news, please go and read my story, Puppets, found here:

Puppets cover



I’m releasing a story called Puppets on Wednesday.

I feel powerless until I write.

And then I feel powerless until you read.

I’ve managed to convince myself that my restless spirit will be satisfied once this story is out, as I managed to convince myself the internal struggle would be alleviated once the story was finished.

I just want to upset a lot of people.

So I’m releasing a “novella” called Puppets on Wednesday. I could dramatize the process of writing it but that’s not relevant. It’s over 20 thousand words long, so I’ve turned into a pdf, and I’ll release the link for download on Wednesday.

Puppets cover

When I do, download it and read it, please and thank you. And, if you like, tell me what you think about it. Mail me. Tweet me. Facebook me. I don’t care. I need evidence that someone on this planet gets something from a story that took so much out of me.


Creators Suffer For Time

Bits and pieces
Of peaceful things
Coagulate into wholesome things of beauty,
As though the universe decided to pool its forces and say, “Form!”
From spontaneous sorcery.

Were our eyes suddenly to open,
We would see
The sweat and toil,
The soot that threatened to spoil
The white fabric of our favourite fabrications.

Creators suffer for time.
Creators suffer four times more
When creating is not their world’s primary focus.

Out of twenty-four hours,
No time will be given to you,
Save that born of passion
You give to yourself.
Personal drive is your only clock;
Conduct while you still have the baton.
Stolen time is saving grace
And sleep is the ultimate sacrifice.
Bringing dreams to life
Means forgoing the right
To continue dreaming.

A handful of minutes
Out of every hour
Out of every day
May compile after a while
With pieces sewn by hand
And stitched in spite of time
With patience,
Pieces of art reach completion
Though as original creators come on fire,
Second hands begin to burn.


#StateOfMyMind (THE CALL)



I might end up not going straight into why this blog post was made, if I were to start with my own depression story and currently messed up psychological health I might not even finish. So I will save it all for another time. Till then, let’s just jump right into it.

For the past couple of weeks, you would have noticed that a particular twitter trend, #StateOfMyMind, has been popping up on your timelines, with different participants expressing how they feel, sometimes jovial, sometimes really serious, and we had some very insightful and touching blog posts;

State of my mind. ” Innate Outlook ” via @kwakuanansee

#StateOfMyMind via @MsAnarfi

The Importance of the Choice (#StateOfMyMind) via @_Akotowaa

#StateOfMyMind via @sirkaymo

Altogether, you might be wondering what this is all about, and some may have figured out already. But in all situations, this post is to clear…

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The Importance of the Choice (#StateOfMyMind)

I’ve been surviving through depression for a while. I say surviving because it’s hard to truly live when you lose the desire to exist. September and October were particularly difficult months for me. At least once a week, I would wake up in tears, for the simple reason that I wished I had not woken up. My reasons for this are many and varied, and perfectly valid (so if you try to argue with me, I’ll lash you with my tongue, pen or keyboard). I really don’t want to commit suicide, despite my dwindling desire to exist. So I’d kind of hoped that God would have mercy on me and take my life quietly as I slept, kinda like Elijah felt.

1 Kings 19: 4-5 (NIV)

“He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”

Yeah, basically. God didn’t kill him, though. As a matter of fact, God didn’t kill him so much that Elijah is one of the only two people I’ve read of who never actually died. Sigh, this God! The ones who pray for death are the ones He chooses to bless with life. What is this kraa? So, needless to say, God didn’t take my breath – day after day after day, and I was in misery.

There was this one particular morning where I woke up, cried a lot, and got myself to bathe. And then I got back into bed in my towel, still naked, and could not freaking stop crying. I did not want to be alive, I did not want to go to school, I did not give a metaphorical sexual intercourse about all the stupid activities the human society insisted I “had to” do with my life, and, failing to see a way out, I could only think of sweet death.

Now ten minutes till breakfast, my roommate came over to my side of the room and told me to get dressed so I could go to school. I told her nope, I’m not going to effin’ school, I don’t want to go. And I promise you I was all ready to stay naked in my bedroom until they eventually found me and finally expelled me, Hallelujah! Do you know what she told me? She told me, “Well you don’t really have a choice.”

Okay, so I’m not a fan of anime or manga, but I know that this is exactly the point when, without Herculean restraint, I’d have gone Super Saiyan on her and she’d have like, died. (No offense if you’re reading this, boo, I still love you, even when you lock me out for hours and forget you have the key.) (LOL JK. She’ll never see this. None of my classmates read anything I write. J )

This is the problem. This is a problem – a worldwide one. Humans go around telling other humans that they don’t have a choice; are you freaking mad? Not only is this a blatant LIE, but this statement has the potential to nearly DESTROY me!

I wonder if people consciously realise that most of these things that society tells us we “have to” do, are things the society itself made up. We’re born into civilizations so we copy and copy and copy until we stop asking ourselves how things came to be the way they are and if it’s still necessary for them to be that way. I highly doubt the purpose of my life is to wear uniforms and follow rules and systems made by humans until I die.

You who are stressed and depressed that you have to toil daily to provide for your spouse and kids, who told you that you “have to” have children? You who are caught up in an unhappy marriage, who told you that you “have to” get married to that person? You who are entirely submerged in a job you’re tired of and consumed by the thought of making money – who told you that this job is something you “don’t have a choice” but to do? And you who are over 40 years old and still struggling to pay off your student loans – who told you that four to seven years in a tertiary institution was something you “had no choice” but to have experienced, not considering that you’d be in debt for the rest of your life?

I dislike that not many people actually sit down to think about these things, not realising how free they actually are, and how much they’re only limited by society and, as a result of conditioning, by their own selves.

A year or two ago, my then roommate (who is, coincidentally, sitting in my room as I write this), made me realise how no one can actually make you do anything. Not without actual, chip-in-the-brain mind control. Yes, they may create rules. And yes, they may give you incentives or threats. Yes, there may be consequences for not doing what you are told to do, but really, no one can make you do anything. Someone can try robbing you and tell you to give them all your money. You can choose not to comply. They can knock you unconscious and take it anyway. But you chose not to give it to them. In some similar situation, someone else would have trembled in fear, given them all the money, and gone around telling people that “I had no choice”. Listen, someone could threaten to kill your entire family, expel you, call your parents – but they can’t actually make you do anything if you choose not to. You might just end up with your family dead, schoolless, grounded, whatever. Because you chose not to do what they wanted.

That day, I swear I could have decided not to dress up, not to go to breakfast, and not go to school. Sometime, probably, the teachers would have realised that stuff was up and come into my room, tried to coax me and failed, tried to threaten me, failed and then, after a bunch of other attempts, called my parents. And even after all the rules I’d have broken, they’d still never have admitted that I didn’t have to do any of the things they said I did, that I had freely chosen not to do the things that I “didn’t have a choice” to not do. Hah. Suckers.

The knowledge that one does, in fact, have a choice in everything that is not a normative truth is very important to me, especially as a sufferer of depression as a result of the oppression of the systems of school and my society. I am going to try to explain why, in the full knowledge that it might be futile. This will be entirely ineffective if you don’t turn on your empathy senses. It might be one of those things that you don’t ever understand if you’ve never experienced it; I don’t know how good I am at explaining, but I’ll try.

Some people, like me, have chronic creativity. Like, disruptive talents. We can’t conform even if we tried; our minds CANNOT think like everyone else’s. Yes, it’s a good thing, but growing into ourselves as we are surrounded by ordinary thinkers can be highly detrimental. The disadvantages is that because we think differently, many things – systems, rules, mandatory things that we can’t see the point of – get to us and just generally don’t sit well. We are the ones who are going to ask questions, especially when we don’t see why certain things “have to” be done. We’re not the kind to complain only small, then accept that this is how the world is, then move on, satisfied with it being broken.

Now listen: depression causes large levels of disinterest and apathy towards a lot of the actions that you do or used to perform. I don’t’ know if anyone read “I’m Bored” when I posted it on my blog about a year ago. I got berated by my parents for sharing stuff like that online, because you KNOW how the Ghanaian society is about these things; they don’t’ want to know that they exist and see evidence of it. It makes them uncomfortable. That’s what even led me to write “The Façade” as a follow-up, but that’s for a different argument.

So, this disinterest is so deep, right, that you wake up every morning just wanting to go back to sleep – for the rest of your life. Because you can’t see the point of going through the motions of a day filled with activities you don’t give a single sexual intercourse about. And you can’t see the freaking point of things! You ask yourself, why do I have to do this? And that? And this? And the conventional answers don’t satisfy you.

“You have to get an education.” I can get learn without being “educated”. I’m largely an autodidact, for goodness’ sake!

“You have to socialise during compulsory activities/ entertainment.” But the people I’m surrounded by suck and don’t connect with me.

“You have to go to college.” Why? Because the rest of the middle class is going to college? Because it’s a norm of society that the society designed to control our paths in life and make money with?

“You have to get a job.” Why? Because now, no one can fathom the idea that an artist can be self-employed? That you can paint and make money? Write and make money? Perform and make money? Not make money but survive anyway?

“You have to make lots of money so you can live comfortably.” But I don’t want heaps of money I have nothing to do with! I don’t want a mansion; it’s too big for me, and I’m not planning on living with all of my 8 paternal cousins and their children. I don’t care about being a millionaire.

And yet, for all these things and more, people confidently and proudly repeat that mantra of theirs to me: “You don’t have a choice,” not knowing that every time I hear it, it kills a part of my spirit. If I don’t have a choice in anything, I might as well not exist, at least not with a will; choicelessness turns me, and everyone else, into a mere puppet of the system. And I hate timetables.

At this time, you have to do this.

By this age, you should have done this.

You will starve and be destitute if you don’t do this.


And this confinement, this mental confinement and restriction by society made me believe I could never do anything I ever chose, and thus would have been unhappy for the rest of my life. Can you see where these thoughts are going? One thing leads to another and then you think, “Well, then what do I need the rest of my life for? I don’t!”

Each person who told me didn’t have a choice in my life was KILLING me from the inside out, and they didn’t even know it, oh God! So, do you wonder how I became suicidal? How I arrived at the conclusion that killing myself was the only way out? Because I realised that if I didn’t have a choice in my life, I at least had a choice in my death.

THERE ARE SO MANY EASY WAYS TO KILL YOURSELF. Heck, pop a dozen painkillers before bed, and you’ll probably never wake up the next morning – simple as that! J

Whenever I told anyone I didn’t want to live anymore, guess what they told me? Yup, that I didn’t have a choice, and it drove me to the damn wall. I was this close! What do you mean I don’t have a choice but to be miserable? So all these suicides that have been witnessed throughout history, they’re all fiction stories ehn? That’s nonsense. I had the power over my own death, if not my life, and I knew it.

If you’re wondering why I’m still alive, I swear it’s only because I believe in God. Did Jesus die on the cross to give me life so that I could say I don’t want to take it? Kwasias3m! And that’s yet another key factor to note: Jesus died and resurrected to save ALL of humanity, but you are only saved if you CHOOSE to come into his grace! God is sovereign, yet He’s not a dictator – have you ever thought of that? It is only in Him that I find the absolute freedom of CHOOSING. He lays down his rules, yes; He lays down his consequences, yes, but in the end He doesn’t break our backs saying we don’t have a choice but to do everything He says. If that were the case, there would be NO religions in the world, only ONE faith, and no one inside that ONE faith would ever do any wrong, because we wouldn’t have had the choice to sin in the first place. We’d have been robots.

The Word is full of choices!

2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV)

“In fact, everyone who WANTS TO live a godly life in Jesus Christ will be persecuted.”

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then CHOOSE FOR YOURSELVES this day whom you will serve…”

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now CHOOSE life, so that you and your children may live”

Job 34:4 (NIV)

“Let us DISCERN FOR OURSELVES what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

Psalm 25:12 (NIV)

“Who then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should CHOOSE.”

Et cetera, et cetera.

I fail to understand how a sovereign God can give us the power to choose, albeit there being mad serious consequences to choosing unfavourably, but we, mere humans, decide to dictate the lives of fellow humans who feel like the very breath is being squeezed out of them.

So, to fellow people who are also suffering, even partially from restriction and lack of choice, listen to me. YOU HAVE AN INFINITE NUMBER OF CHOICES. Your choices may disappoint everyone around you, but that is their problem, honestly. Spiritually and mentally, you have more freedom than any of them, who have chosen to restrict themselves. So, never fear that you don’t have a choice; and every time you feel like the breath is going out of you, CHOOSE LIFE, always. God loves you. I love you.


Last Attempt To Live

My dreams are dead;
Killed by the serial murderer called Maturity.
He gave me a speech prior to pulling the trigger
From the mouths of many of my elders
And with each word he utters,
one more dream drops off like a dead fly:

“You are
Too old
For folly,
Real life
Is made
Of sober things:
Responsibility over things you don’t own.
Work till you’re worn
Practicality; only things that can be explained
Happiness is not the aim.”

Maturity, he clipped my Imagination’s wings
And the dragon I was riding high on started to fall,
And dropped me off at a dangerous place.

And now that I cling
To the edge of childhood
By the tips
Of my fingers,
Catch me, Caulfield!
Caulfield, catch me!
I’m on the brink
Of being turned
Into yet


It Wasn’t You, Though

I recently had a conversation with a couple of my classmates. A lot of the time, those don’t really go well, because I end up sticking my mouth into conversations I have no right to care about, and state opinions I know these “thinkers” simply cannot ever agree with. The theme of this conversation is one that has really been burning in my chest for far too long now: the prestige of institutions and whether or not they deserve them.

One classmate was saying something along the lines of how he was worried that the schools he was applying to were not going to accept him because of his grades not being ridiculously excellent. Okay…if you don’t know about my stance on grades/school as a measure of intelligence, you don’t know me well enough. Fighting against academics is basically all I ever do with my life – but that isn’t the focus right now, so with great restraint, I shall temporarily leave that matter.

My response to said classmate’s comment (his comment was, by the way, not even directed at me, but at the classmate sitting next to me) was something along the lines of: Apply. Forget about whether they accept you or not. Your intelligence is not defined by which college you get into. Go wherever, and make yourself great, and show those who rejected you that you can always be great, with or without them.

His response to my response: that when he’s applying for a job, the first thing they’ll judge him on is which school he comes from.

My response? That if an employer wants to judge me not on my actual capabilities, but on the institution I am affiliated with, I don’t freaking want him/her as my employer.

Here’s the part where we enter a brief, fruitless argument, I am left with self-contained anger, and they are left basically looking at me like I will never understand how the world truly works.

Just to clarify, I understand how the world works, thank you very much; I just do not agree with it, and I will fight to change that every chance I get. But one thing I am sick of is institutions claiming merits for things that they honest-to-goodness do not deserve.

I never really saw this as a problem before I came to this school. I never wrote BECE, but coming here was the first time I’d ever heard of a school having its own, tailored entrance exam. (Of course, since then, I’ve come to know that this is a common thing I had just been oblivious to.) I also heard that “SOS people are sharks oh.” But somehow, I never previously connected this claim to the entrance exam, nor to the claim “SOS is a very good school”. Let’s not even begin to talk about how the main reason they think this is the academic achievements of the students inside it, but hey – let’s move on.

People are under some illusions that certain institutions with recognizable names somehow make you a better person. Popular cases in point: the Ivy League universities. But are they functional as places that better their students, or they’re just elitist?

In my opinion, the selectivity is that defining factor we don’t always seem to take into account. They don’t accept ordinary students and propel them to greater heights just by their existence. LOL, no. They filter the people they accept by these individuals’ own qualities before they accept them, and then when said individuals go on to do the great things I insist they were always capable of doing, the institutions proudly take credit for them…And I just feel like telling these institutions sometimes that, “Umm, hello, it wasn’t you, though.” But duh, they know that already. They MADE the filters, for goodness’ sake.

I have memories from when I was about twelve or thirteen, around Form 1 in Faith Montessori School (LOL I’m never going back there). I had already decided by then that I wanted to be a writer, of course. This really is my longest lasting aspiration. But my English and Literature teachers were like my enemies, somehow always trying to find new ways to tell me that I couldn’t write, couldn’t analyse, like my brain and imagination worked wrongly, marking me down constantly, for reasons I knew, even then, were not logical. They, whose every lesson-plan for every poem or story analysis was a word-for-word recital from Sparknotes, were berating me for using my brain?

The antagonism is long. But basically, somewhere around 2011 or something, I had decided that when I eventually published my first book, I would dedicate it to all my useless English teachers, thanking them for having basically no effect on my life and education. Yeah. I was (am?) that mean. Because somehow, I knew that the school where I was absolutely miserable and mentally confined may one day try to take the praise for moulding me positively, when I became successful – which would, of course, be some type of blasphemy. That vision haunted me.

It didn’t end in high school. By the end of my second year, Literature was my least favourite subject. Absolutely despised it. So, of course, that experience did nothing to dissolve my resolve to put that pre-decided dedication in my first book. Am I still going to do it? Who knows? (I might never even get published in the first place, never even be successful.) But I still maintain that these institutions are not the ones that achieved the people’s achievements for them.

So now, the idea that a Princeton graduate of equal or lower capabilities than someone from a college you’ve probably never heard of is more likely to get a job you both applied for is only serving to further destroy any shred of hope I might have in coming to like this nasty political franchise we call Planet Earth.

The last thing I need you to tell me right now is that “that’s how the world is.” Don’t you dare play that “and you can’t change it” card. First of all, rebellion is in my very blood and if you bore me, I’ll frickin’ hex you! You’ll be literally dead by the next story I write. See, the only reason these silly things stay as they are is because you humans are content enough to accept the unfairness of the world, convince yourselves you can’t make a difference, and integrate yourselves into the corruption.

Define thyself not by thy institution.