I checked my phone – 09:44 am. I was on time. I looked up at the ‘City Hall’ inscribed on the massive building and smiled to myself. In that moment, life could not possibly get any sweeter. I got to the venue on the 4th floor—Goethe-Institut. Bracing myself for the beauty I expected to experience, I walked through the door.
The classroom was all set. In a split second, I scanned the environment and decided it was friendly enough. Someone walked up to me, we shook hands, I told him my name and he gestured towards the registration table. The registration was quick and I soon got my name tag.
There were some participants already seated but I noticed no one was communicating with anyone. To my right, there was an empty seat between each person and the next. To my left, a tall lady sat by herself in front of the open lid of a laptop. I walked up and sat on the next chair to her.
“Zemaye!” She said in reply to my introduction. I was a bit astounded.
“Ze-ma-ya?” I tried, not quite wrapping my head around it.
“Zemaye,” she repeated. I got it this time.
I proceeded to get comfortable, taking my good old android phone, a pen and book out of my bag.
A dark guy with some swag walked in and took the next seat to me. We started talking. Soon another man was greeting the participants one after the other. I was giving James—that’s my dark ‘swaggy’ companion—the impression that I was totally listening to him; but my attention was on the man who was greeting each person, shaking hands. He finally got to us, did the same shaking hands thing and moved on. Wow, this people are courteous o! I thought.
When the hands of the clock moved to 10:00AM, most of the other participants were already indoors. A young man in white natives, walked to the middle of the conference table. His tag read, “Facilitator” and he introduced himself as Suyi Okungbowa. His facilitator tag hung from a black rope, different from the blue and green ropes we (participants) had on. Na wa o! It is not easy to be a star.
I quickly took my mind off that sha. I was here to learn and I could read the same purpose in everyone else. We started by playing a game, to get a partner. We each picked a slip of paper with one part of an author’s name. Then we had to find who had the other part. There was a rule though: Do not say ‘No’. Anyone who said the taboo word had to give up his or her tag. I said Oh no! more times than I care to count. The people who caught me were too nice though, they only reminded me of the rule. Nobody claimed my tag.
Most of us found our partners and we settled down for the first session. We had peculiarities: pretty ladies and handsome gentlemen; with brains, hope, and fire. While learning, I saw the same eagerness and reverence I felt in the eyes of most participants. We soaked up every word.
During the tea break, I noticed the books on display for sale; Roving Heights was well represented. Through the break and the later lunch break, I explored the books. Had they not been for sale, I would have carted them all home.
Session two came and one funny man stood in front of us. His name was Chisom Ojukwu and one of his slides read “Who Character epp?” I laughed. His class was interactive. By then we had all moved past being strangers to become open in our interactions with each other. We had exercises based on each session, and we critiqued each other’s work. I learned that “it is good to listen when people correct your work, rather than defending it.” It taught me how to be teachable, to seek editing and correction. No one gets it right the first time.
Time flew by and we all wished it could continue. Alas, every good thing has to come to an end. I walked out of that hall a better writer, with more confidence and grit.
Thanks to the (Words Are Work) WAW team for the Fiction Masterclass and for teaching me practically, that words are work … and fun too.
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