november 8. evening pages.


it seems odd now that a fancy seminar flew me across the ocean to strategize how to "build Nigeria through values-based leadership"--or some such--when i now sit here with the generator running so loudly outside that i can't even think, let alone write, and this damned malfunctioning glo modem that i have to reconnect every two or three minutes.

there are a few basic needs that must be met as a starting point for me to write, and i am just now realizing how positively neurotic i am about them. i miss going to my air-conditioned new york public library with free wireless, continuous power and (mostly) working outlets; dropping by my women writers' workshop in brooklyn; balancing my netbook on my lap on the subway, writing my way into the city; keeping a fresh stock of carrots and crackers (dry, crunchy) when i am caught in writers block.

i keep looking for reasonable substitions for those things, but haven't quite found them yet. suffice it to say i haven't had much luck writing in lagos so far.

at times, it seems, even the flowers must have faith and courage to bloom. i actually shake my head in awe and wonder at those who are able to write here. to silence the din of this place long enough to hear their own voice. i can't believe i ever complained about new york (i certainly won't again). it has the infrastructure to sustain and support a writer's life; the learning environments and writing communities to nurture the craft; and the publishing industry and audience that make it all go round. it isn't perfect, but it almost seems so compared to here. i am finding elements of the writer's life here--let's say i'm on a hard target search--but it just seems so much harder.

perhaps i am too accustomed to my american accoutrements to be of any use here. or i can no longer hide my bitterness that, 50 years on, nigeria is still in perpetual darkness. that one must have the courage to write, live, love in spite of it. so here i am in this room in ikeja, unable to write. maybe i am too stubborn, willful, idealistic for my own good. or maybe i am not stubborn, willful, idealistic enough. --AL.

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