Our guest on today’s #WriterSpotlight is all shades of interesting. From his honest approach to answering questions to his advice to writers, that is a must-read. Today’s interview is different from the rest.
Hello, please introduce yourself
I’m Okwukwe C. Chukwuka. I love to call myself a writer but that’s not an absolute description of me so it’s rather limiting.
If I’m to go absolute, I should be like, “I’m a writer; I double as an entrepreneur; triple as a technology buff; quadruple as a creative artist, quintuple as a traveller, sextuple as a goalkeeper, etc” and that’s kind of messed up because I’m basically going on and on about several things I do which I don’t pretty much like saying on a regular. I think I like to let people see what part of me they get to meet.
So, I’m Okwukwe. Just that!
What do you do?
Writing, entrepreneurship in four different industries, investing in things/people I’m/I interested/believe in and/or stuff that will increase my net worth, sketching concepts for logos like the logos of Specuit, Specuit Cargo, House of Specuit, Kitchall and more, etc.
Why did you choose to write or what led you to writing?
I led myself to writing. It’s a talent in me and I chose and still choose (because I do that every day) to harness it.
What is your most challenging moment as a writer?
Writing for straight twelve hours to meet a publishing deadline in 2012; I think I almost died from asphyxiation because I was exhausted and really out of breath and yet, I cancelled the deal because it didn’t feel right to me. Finally got published by House of Specuit four years later in 2016.
Also, last year (May 1st, 2015), I set up a personal writing challenge for myself – on Facebook – to write and post every day. I did it for 10 months, 15 days: 321 days in total. It was crazy!
Can you tell us your most rewarding moment as a writer?
Make that two:
First, publishing Bank of Deposits which I wrote and rewrote for 5 years and 7 months. That was a major win for me.
Second, signing a freelance deal with a writing company in the USA. It ought to be a contract of 1-3 months but it’s gone on for 10 months now which is cool.
You have published your first book! Can you tell us how the journey has been?
The journey has been expected; trying to sell and/or market books in Nigeria is a tough one and I do get in the faces of some people oftentimes but I keep my gaze on the fact that I’m trying to get 10,000+ people to buy 10,000 copies of my book in Nigeria and that’s about 0.0056%.
I’ve gotten to play with market and price segmentation to see what segment sells best because my target market is divided into individuals and organizations.
But it’s not as difficult as it’d be if I wasn’t an entrepreneur too. Marketing it is fair for me because I’ve marketed lots of things since 2010 and I’m marketing my little companies every day, so this is not new.
‘Bank of Deposits‘ (that’s the title) is now at Terra Kulture and on Konga. I’m looking at Laterna; I’ve got an appointment with them already.
Your Twitter handle says writer and entrepreneur please explain how you have combined these two.
I absolutely believe there’s congruity between passions and/or talents in every human on earth. Say you’ve got passion for dancing and a talent for singing; there’s congruity there: as a musician, you can dance in your music videos.
I’m trying to make certain you get my point before I zero in on myself.
So we zero in on Okwukwe. How has he fused writing and entrepreneurship?
I work Customer Service in my companies (that’s how I fuse writing in my entrepreneurial journey) and my talent and passion as a writer helps read clients’ moods and all that; that enables me to know how to escalate or de-escalate an issue, when to renegotiate a deal with a client or to let it fly, how to promote discount sales and all that.
Working in four different industries has shaped my writing. So, I can write economics, business, travelogues, finance, logistics and alternative energy. The experiences I gather from entrepreneurship, I share with the world via writing. If it was singing [and not writing] in me, I’d sing about it.
Basically, if you take out entrepreneurship – I mean, if I had no passion for entrepreneurship – and it was just writing, I may just write fiction or non-fiction or semi-fiction and it ends there but I can navigate between several topics in non-fiction, fiction and semi-fiction. So if I was just an entrepreneur, I’d have to hire a ghostwriter to share my experiences with the world.
It’s about finding congruity between your talents and/or passions if you’re a multi-potentialite.
Have you ever been rejected as a writer and how did you handle it?
Rejected? I think that’s a strong word. Perhaps ‘looked down upon’ is fitting in this case scenario because you know, there’s this unrelenting belief that writers are poor.
I’m still searching for the fella who came up with that crap. Could you help me track him/her down?
Will you ever retire from writing?
LOL. You never retire from this kind of thing. Writing is my life. So perhaps when I’m dead, I’ll retire.
But honestly, this is what I’m thinking; I may write my eulogy before I die, though, so that I officially sign out from earth.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I’ve got Medium Digest that I get to read in my leisure time. Right about now, I’m like three weeks ago on that but I’m trying to meet up.
Then, I watch TED talks. The notifications are always popping up in my phone and I’ve watched a lot of them. .
I stream a lot of TV shows, say, Arrow, The Flash, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The 100, The Walking Dead, Legends of Tomorrow, etc.
I read too. Stuff like autobiographies and biographies of inventors and entrepreneurs: Richard Branson, Elon Musk, etc. Then, fiction especially Nnedi Okorafor’s and other books on thoughts, motivation and everything in-between.
Oftentimes, I game but right about now, I don’t do much of gaming as I’d like to because there’s this workload nagging at my head like, “Do me right about now!”
I think out ideas and sketch concepts of logos, websites, etc.
I’d love to chat and hang out with a friend, live in the moment with that friend and do crazy stuff (like real crazy stuff) with that friend but that’s not anywhere as far as my eyes can see which is okay; it helps me conserve my emotional energy.
I listen to songs too.
So, I fluctuate between these depending on my mood.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Something like this, “[Younger] Okwukwe, live more on the edge. Do that sky dive you’ve wanted to do since 2009/2010; perhaps you’ll die mid air or something but just do. Buy a Suzuki Hayabusa when you clock 20, suit up and race on a track. Skip NYSC (it’s shit) and leave Nigeria. Sign up for that Chinese class in 2010; you’ll need it to communicate with vendors when you establish Specuit Cargo. Learn French and Arabic too. Writing Bank of Deposits for 5 years and 7 months will pay more than writing for a year and publishing.”
What would you pick;
Continental Food or African Delicacy? Both
R&B or Hip/hop? Professionally, I’ll go for hip-hop (rap) before R & B. Personally, the reverse.
Fiction or poetry? Both.
Fashion, football or music? The trio!
Do you have a writing mentor? If yes why?
Mentor? No, but there are writers I study or have studied.
Do you consider writing as work or pleasure and why?
Both. Sincerely, I don’t know.
When I think of it as pleasure, it works just fine but then, the entrepreneur in me kicks in and I’ve got to switch to work mode. So, it’s both and seeing it both ways have gotten me far out here than it’d have if I had just thought, “Hey! Writing is just for fun.” I’m a strong advocate of the business of talent so I can’t consider writing as just pleasure. Never will.
Your best article or story so far?
Sorry, I’ve got no metric to judge my best article or story. Yet! I suck at doing so.
Nonetheless, there’s this article asking me to mention it here as best; it’s blowing its trumpet and that’s why I’m not going to tell you it’s the one.
Any last words for upcoming writers?
We’re all upcoming; it means forthcoming like something in the future, so we all are, even those that have arrived.
I’d like to say to myself and others in same boat as Okwukwe to really market themselves away from Facebook and Twitter. I’m not saying being on there and writing isn’t okay. I did that for almost a year, so c’mon. I’m only saying it’s just not enough.
So, unless it’s just fun or pleasure to us, writers – especially Nigerian writers – should promote themselves better. It sucks big time to see writers – those taking writing as a profession – not being able to pay their bills. I’m always like, “Are we sure we’re pitching ourselves enough to consumers/companies who need our services?”
I’d also like to tell writers to invest in chairs – and no, this is not me kidding. There’s this belief that you can just sit on any chair (a plastic one being the most preferred around here) to write but then, you’re staking productivity, your back and your bones.