Writing is a craft; treat it as such

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Do you know that there has always been this argument about the difference between art and craft? Well, it has often been said that writing cannot fall into the category of craft because it does not produce something tangible like pottery, sculpting and wood-carving would produce.

It has also been mentioned that art comes as a result of a person’s innate talent while skill in craft can be acquired with experience. How wrong! 

You see, writing is art and craft all at the same time. It is true that writing, irrespective of whatever genre, first begins with your innate talent. However, it does not end there.  You’ve got to put in the work. Someone who carves wood for instance becomes skilled with experience. No wood carver becomes a legend overnight, irrespective of how talented he or she maybe. It takes time, lots of work, practice and experience to become a better crafts-person. The same happens with writing. Don’t see yourself as someone who just puts down whatever he feels like. You are a skilled person, setting hearts free, bringing joy and hope with your words.

It is high time you began seeing your writing as a craft. When you do this, it takes on a new shape. It becomes something tangible. You begin to see yourself as a crafts-person using his or her tools, which in this case are not concrete, to carve out images that people can relate with.

How do you get to that point where your writing becomes so tangible and real that your audience can almost touch your message? The answer is to keep writing to gain mastery of your craft.

One thing you should always remember is this: it is a good thing to be a talented writer. However, without practice and determination, you will never be a skilled crafts-person. Talent is just never enough.

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#WriterSpotlight – “Share the message. If you err, try again.” Tomilade Olugbemi

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Today on Writer Spotlight, we have the prolific poet, Tomilade Olugbemi. In our interview with him, he talks to us about how he developed the passion for writing and where he gets his inspiration from.

Enjoy.

Hello Tomilade. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

Writer. Rewriter. Poet. Shy.

When did you discover that you had a passion for writing and why did you decide to follow this passion?

I was twelve or thirteen. I fell in love with poetry somewhere between rap music and writing a poem for an English Language assignment. Why follow it? I’m really not sure. I guess I followed my instincts.

Can you tell us what you love most about being a writer?

It can be exhilarating when it is not frustrating. The potential of creating stuff with words gets my blood flowing. It is the only uncertainty that doesn’t constantly torment me: a place for my other uncertainties. I also like that the work inspires, tickles, heals and sometimes, terrifies people.

Why did you decide to put your poems together into ‘Love is not a tempest?’

It wasn’t exactly a putting-together of poems. Most of the poems were written specifically for the chapbook. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my mind, battling doubt, anxiety and all their friends. I was in a place where I needed to transfer all that angst into something. A chapbook seemed like a good idea so I started writing the poems on a whim.

Since you released the book what has the reaction been like?

I have a limited sample size but it’s been well received. A handful of people relate to many of the poems and that makes me happy. We write for ourselves, and I certainly did that, but we also write for others. It’s always such a joy when anyone reads my work. I don’t take it for granted.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by a great number of things: a nagging need to write, people and their lives, music, other people’s work, etc. There is, however, no greater inspiration than one’s own worldview and experiences.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you? 

Nothing consequential comes to mind. It has probably made me more curious and taught me a lesson or two in patience.

Which author (dead or alive) would love to spend a day with if given a chance?

Only one? Sylvia Plath

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

I think writing, at least my writing, is mostly trial and error. It’s a cliché but I’ll advise them to just do it. Share the message. Try. If you err, try again. I dislike some of my work in retrospect. But without them, I’d have no barometer for progress or lack thereof.

 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “The depth of poetry isn’t necessarily in big words but in the mastery of stringing words together to make art.” Femi Peters

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Hello Femi Peters, please introduce yourself

I’m a man of many parts but a single core, Jesus. I’m a writer, blogger, author, and an entrepreneur. I value relationships. I am married and a serial father.

When and why did you start writing?

I started writing way back in secondary school. I remember helping classmates and friends draft love letters to their crushes and girlfriends. Then I wrote a couple of short stories in the university. I took a shine to it when I started blogging in 2007. I write because I believe a have a message to communicate.

Permit us if we are wrong but you recently entered the writing scene with the introduction of your book ‘Notes to My God’. How has the reaction been?

The reactions started with my first blog that has the same name as my debut book. It pointed that I was solving problems, that my poems were needed. The reactions from the book has been astounding, humbling and has spurred me to write more.

We hear it took 10 years to put this book together. Why did it take you so long?

Well most of the poems came between 2006-2009 but other factors came into play. I had to overcome self doubt and other people’s opinions. I had to journey from getting a publisher to self publish amongst other factors.

We know you are a blogger, when did you start blogging and what’s the biggest lesson blogging has taught you?

I started blogging in 2007. I learnt a lot of lessons, the biggest of them is that I am a solution to someone’s need. Consistent writing betters your gift. Blogging opens you up to a wider audience for a myriad of purposes of which critiquing is one.

Poetry can be therapeutic. Has it been that to you?

Poetry is beautiful in many ways. It is therapeutic for me in the sense that birthing a poem sometimes stems from a prevailing thought and I could start as a quest and end with result.

What’s your take on writing poetry that is becoming relatable as opposed to what poetry used to be? Words many people couldn’t understand because it was too ‘deep’

There are different types of poetry, different kinds of expression. The depth of poetry isn’t necessarily in big words but in the mastery of stringing words together to make art, art that convey a message.

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What do you think in your own words make a good poem?

For me what makes a good poem is one that is fluid, rhythmic, memorable and stoking.

What has putting together Notes to My God book taught you?

It has taught me go after my dreams, that my gift was given to be shared and that God is waiting at the point of our use.

Are there plans to release another book soon?

Yes, I’m working on a couple of books actually and one of them should be ready for early 2018

What challenges did you think you were not prepared for in the process of putting this book together?

For one I was hoping I would remain behind the scene and churn out the work but I find that I have to be out there speaking for the book as we are Siamese twins of some sort.

Where can readers get your book?

It’s available at Glendora, Ikeja City Mall, Patabah bookstores, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall,  Jumia.com.ng and the Kindle edition is available on Amazon.com

What’s your advice to writers who have been working on a project for long and are getting tired?

It’s never too late to put it out there, stop procrastinating. The world needs to hear your voice. Your book is the solution someone is waiting for.

 

#WriterSpotlight – “Your craft is your strongest voice in the midst of unending unrest.” Todimu Ikuyinminu

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Sparkle Writers, are you ready for today’s #WriterSpotlight? Our guest, Todimu Ikuyinminu. is a writer, poet, thespian and … a wack poet! Yeah, we asked him why he calls himself that. Find out why as you enjoy his interview with us. 

Hello please introduce yourself.

I am ‘Todimu George Ikuyinminu which is clipped as T. G. ‘Yinminu, a postgraduate degree holder of English from the English Department of the prestigious University of Ilorin. I am a professional creative, content developer and thespian who has led at different capacities and performed brilliantly well. However, I remain trainable and always open to knowledge acquisition.

Your IG handle is ‘The Wack Poet’ what inspired the title?

About theWACKpoet, erm… each time I am asked to explain why I chose this moniker, of all the more pleasant ones I could have adopted, I laugh at myself. The reason is because, in all honesty, I did not spend time to consider the choice of it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually thought about it but I am saying I did not realise that one day someone will ask me the rationale behind it. Well, there are two reasons for the choice of this moniker.

The first is the literal meaning of it, “the wack poet”. I have always been a shy fellow and it took a lot of time, and comments from readers, for me to be confident about my craft. Hence, I surmised that if I accept my own weakness(es) before the public spells them out to me, it will be easy for me to distance myself from the negative vibes that may come. However, ever since I summoned courage to exhibit my content, I have not received “bad feedback”. On the other axis, theWACKpoet is an acronym. It is a simple sentence, so to speak, it is simply saying: The Witty, Astute, Calm and Knowledgeable Poet. On a general note, I feel all creative writers must possess at  least one of the qualities coded in the meaning of “theWACKpoet”. A few people get this even without knowing what theWACKpoet means.

You are a creative writer, poet, public speaker, dramatist, artistic director, how do you combine all these?

First off, let me align myself with these words of the renowned poet of blessed memory, Maya Angelou who said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

I hope you will agree with me that all these ‘shades’ of my ventures listed above revolve round the humanities; which is my educational background. They all revolve around entertainment and creative output, therefore to me, if I am writing (a speech, a lecture, a poem, a play, a dialogue) for instance, I am also indirectly preparing content for the stage; the audience; the readers; the viewers; the participants, as the case may be. For me it is always like “using one stone to kill five birds”.

However, I am able to combine all these because I feel that man is best at whatever he is talented/skilled at and loves to do. It is like being a roadside mechanic in Nigeria. A roadside mechanic in Nigeria can repair a Renault car this minute and work on a Mercedes Benz car the next minute. I hope the analogy is clear. So, in short, every venture I am engaged in indirectly helps become better at the other ventures. For instance, acting on stage gives me more confidence to face the crowd when I’m speaking at an event. Being a creative writer gives me more insight into creative/artistic directing thus as I imagine and block scenarios, I represent them to the best of my knowledge on stage and with the actors.

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In your bio we see that you have a bias for poetry, why is this so?

At a point in my growth, I never thought I was capable of writing poetry. My creative impulse started when I was in Junior Secondary School, and at that time I used to write short plays in a 60-leaves exercise book. I would give the books to a few of my classmates, mostly females, they would read and then recommend it to their friends. Then, I came about one of my neighbour’s poem, Dr. Gbenga Owojori (Ph.D a scientist) when I was in SS3. I took the poem and “edited” it. I enjoyed “editing” the poem so I decide to write one myself. It was an exciting experience. And that was how I started writing poems in exercise books hidden under my clothes in my wardrobe.

I recently got to know that writing poetry is hereditary for me because my late paternal grandmother used to write poems, and I also have a younger brother who has also been captured by the loving, soothing, and peacefully troublesome embrace of poetry.

The bias for poetry is inexplicable really, poetry is something I can do even under pressure. It is an attraction that is as easy as breathing in and out for me.

Your poetry house Aranbada hosts a poetry festival, please tell us more about it.

Let me say something brief about Aranbada Poetry House (APH) before I talk on Aranbada Poetry Festival as it will shed light on the question asked. Aranbada Poetry House is founded solely based on the need to create a platform that encourage creative arts, and creative writing, in the new generation of African (Nigerian) writers/artistes. The youth of today face many silent problems, these border on the scarcity of genuine art materials that will inspire and guide their creative ability. Aranbada Poetry House, seeks to ignite the passion for art and creativity in this generation of youths who are lured by the fantasies of the modern world to the detriment of the arts, creativity and its tendencies.

Aranbada Poetry Festival is just one of the platforms APH is offering, others include Aranbada Poetry Series (Poetry Anthology), Aranbada Poetry Magazine (poetry events, poets features), Aranbada Poetry Tutors’ Campaign, and Aranbada Poetry 1/2Hour set to kick off soon. Aranbada Poetry Festival (APFest) is a biennial art event. APFest is open to all artists, and the only criteria to partake is for the person to be an artist. APFest is more of a breeding platform for artists to interact with one another and meet mentors. Interestingly, the coming edition will, as planned, have great artistes like Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Olu Obafemi, Professor Tanure Ojaide, Olulu and other established artists in attendance.

With the right funding, the vision of APFest is to be a national art event.

How was the reaction to the first edition?

The first edition was a huge success. It had many emerging artists in attendance and an audience strength of about 160. The first edition was held in honour of Professsor Olu Obafemi, my mentor and the President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, thus it received widespread acceptance from scholars in the academia so much that some lecturers in the host university partook as performers at the event.

You are quite outspoken on social media how has this helped improve your writing skill?

Social media, a place where anybody can be somebody. Unfortunately, I am not really as outspoken on social media as I am in person. However, one cannot underestimate the power of the social media in the 21st century clime, my presence on social media has affected my writing immensely. As a budding writer, there was a time I could not summarise my thoughts, I would write poems and I won’t stop until I literally left no room to probe the creative interpretation of the reader but when I got exposed to the social media, I had to start compacting my writing hence I got better at the use of stylistic poetic devices.

Social media also affords one the opportunity of freely accessing the works of other writers. For instance, recently, I decided to study the works of @desolape on Instagram and soon enough I composed a poem in the same fascination she has, but not in the same style she employs though.

Also there is the role of poetry prompts that circulate on social media. This at least challenges one to practice more.

Many believe writing is not financially rewarding what’s your take on this

Without mincing words, writing is not a venture that one should expect much reward from, which is quite discouraging for many emerging writers. When you sit to analyse the rate at which young people dabble into the entertainment industry just because of the fame and perceived fortune that comes with it nowadays, one would want to almost conclude that there will not be young creative writers in the nearest future, and same applies to the sciences. All the impressionable minds are running to the entertainment industry to make watery music which further destroys all sanity and decorum that the typical African society treasures.

As much as I am of the opinion that writing should not be about the financial reward but be a purgative enterprise that seeks to help shape our society better through the codification of reasonable heartfelt expressions and perceptions that will inspire the reader(s), I am not against getting some financial reward for it. It is quite disheartening that the Nigerian system has no established structure to boost the intellectual industry, thus many intellectuals lose focus and are made to diversify. I have come to the conclusion that indeed there are many creative artists in Nigeria that can mentor and raise more for the future but the mentors do not have time to do so because even the mentors are busy chasing their daily bread not to mention the fate of the mentee.

What’s the one thing you wish every creative could hear

Your craft is your strongest voice in the midst of unending unrest. Stand by it, guard it, groom it and most of all, use it. Stay true to it, it will set you free even if the world is not ready for freedom. Mind you, the leaders of today are those who have stayed true to their voice, the future already started the very day you were matured enough to think about your future.

What’s your ultimate dream as a writer?

I am sure every writer’s dream will be to be successful and renowned, yes we all want that, probably win a Laurette, or a prize. However, my ultimate dream as a writer has always been to be a writer that inspires emerging writers. It is like being a pastor who has raised many “spiritual sons”, or a Commandant who has raised many combatants ready to take on the battle field and conquer the world.

The ultimate dream is to sit in the nearest future, look back and count my blessings; the many writers that would have picked the ultimate pen because “if T. G. ‘Yinminu can do it, I can do it too”.

 

 

 

Olumide Popoola’s book launch takes Lagos by storm!

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 On Thursday, 16 November 2017, When We Speak of Nothing, the debut novel by Olumide Popoola, was launched in Lagos, Nigeria, to a crowd of book and art lovers at Colours in Africa, 13a Musa YarAdua, Victoria Island.

The event saw Popoola read from her novel, which was published by Cassava Republic Press. She also gave an intimate explanation of the inspiration behind the book – which has so far been critically acclaimed for its beautiful use of language and exploration of friendship between two young black boys. Popoola explained that Esu Elegba, a Yoruba trickster god, was the inspiration behind the book and that the novel is voice driven and marked by its use of stream of conscious.

Afro-soul singer, OloriAfrica, thrilled the crowd far into the night while fiery spoken word and rap artiste, Ms Eva Johnson, performed series of poetry that intimately explored gender, feminity and love. The book launch was anchored by Classic FM #BookOnReview host, Benjamin Okoh.

See pictures from the launch.

 

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Writers are listeners. Are you listening?

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How much of a listener are you? This is your question for today.  So, we hear that you want to be a good writer which is awesome, but we are asking you just how much of a listener you are. Have you noticed that there are too many talkers in the world but few listeners? Yes, people are more interested in being heard than lending a listening ear.

Good writers are actually good listeners too. It really does not matter if your niche is fiction or non-fiction or just plain journalistic writing. The point is if you do not listen to people or the world around you, you will not have any material to work with. If you want to do “how-to” posts, for instance, you have to understand the specific problem that people would like to get solved. You would have to listen to their needs and their wants so that your writing would align with their needs. If you are a fiction writer on the other hand, listening to the people and the happenings around you would help you create real characters that your readers can actually relate with.

Ever read a book that made you laugh or cry and then you went, “Oh my God, that is the exact same thing I would have said if I was in that character’s shoes?” Well, that is the point exactly. Do not wade through the solitary waters of life simply because you are a writer. Listen to other people, like really really listen too. You would be amazed at the depth of information you would glean from just listening. Interesting characters abound in real life. All you have to do is keep your ears and eyes open to hear and see them. 

We know life is happening fast but you have to pause and listening to the world around you.

#WriterSpotlight – “I love the impact I get to make on so many lives. ” Kikelomo Woleosho

kikelomo-woleosho-6.jpgIf you know Kikelomo Woleosho from social media the way we do, then you must know two things about her- she’s a simple and beautiful woman. But that’s not all about her. She’s the Founder of the brand that takes the most breathtaking pictures of babies, Red 19. Today she talks to us about her book, “Kikelomo” and why she wrote so freely and opened herself up to readers. Enjoy. 

Hello Kikelomo, please introduce yourself.

Kikelomo is a passionate photographer who specilises in Children, Maternity and Family photography and currently runs RED19photography.

She has taught photography to over 300 adults and teenagers. She is a graduate of Chemistry Education from Lagos State University and a recipient of the World Bank scholarship for women in business.

She strongly advocates for the protection of children. She recently released her experience with sexual abuse in her free book KIKELOMO to educate people. She is the convener of Sexducate, a sexual education event.

You shared a very sensitive matter in your book, Kikelomo, what inspired you to do this?

KIKELOMO is a memoir of my experience with child sexual abuse and the struggles that followed suit. I realised that abuse usually does not stay in the past. It has a way of crawling in the future of the victim and if not properly dealt with, can destroy them.

I knew that sharing my own story will further open the eyes of parents to the effects of sexual abuse on the children so they can put more effort in protecting their children. It will help abused persons understand the effects abuse is presently having on them and the steps they can take to ensure they have the victory.

What was the writing process like for you and was there a point when you said ‘Oh No! I really can’t do this anymore’ and closed the manuscript?

The writing process was smooth initially. I was surprised about the amount of information I remembered. Then I started having relapse into masturbation and I couldn’t control my thoughts as they were running too wild. From seeking therapy, I found out that the writing was triggering old wounds and awakening me sexually. I put a stop to the writing for a while. I was not sure I would go back to it sooner than I did because I didn’t want to go back to the issues I had overcome.

Some months after I stopped, the Holy Spirit instructed me to go back to the book. He said children are being abused daily and I should not hold back from writing.

It was then I knew that the book was not my idea but GOD’s idea and I needed to see it to the end even if it means I will relapse till I finish. Interestingly, I was able to manage my body better during the completion of the book.

 

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What has the reaction been like since you released the book?

I have been getting great feedback. Testimonies from abused persons. It just suddenly seemed like everyone had been abused as a child. Parents say they now understand the need to protect their children better.

One of the first things we loved about the book was the cover design. There’s something pure about it, why did you decide to use your face for the book cover?

The cover design was shown to me by the Spirit of God. I asked Him to show me what He had in mind since the book was His idea and He did. I worked with the designer through the design prayerfully and with description till he was able to produce what I was shown. I also asked my online community what they thought about different designs similar to the final cover and they made suggestions. As soon as I posted the last cover, everyone went for it.

The cover is DIVINE. What advice would you give to writers who are having issues deciding what kind of design to go with for their book cover?

My only advice is to pray. That’s the only place I get inspiration from.

There is a common belief that getting a book published is expensive because of the different elements it involves. Is this really the reality?

KIKELOMO is my first book. I paid for different stages when I got there. The stages I could do myself, I did. I am still learning the realities there in publishing.

What advice do you have for a writer who really wants to get published but is low on funds?

Do as many things as you can by yourself. Maximize relationships around you. This is a reason why you must read Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people” and Herb Cohen’s “You can negotiate anything.” You can take the option of printing only on demand.

What do you love most about being an author?

The impact I get to make into so many lives.

Your book is free of charge! Something a number of people can’t wrap their head around, why did you make that decision?

The book KIKELOMO is not my book. It is for God. He wrote the script years before I was born and placed me into the story to take the lead role. I know the book is a solution and not a profit making scheme and He confirms it to me daily from the responses I receive every time.

How can readers get a copy of your book?

The book KIKELOMO is free on www.okadabooks.com. Signup on the site. Search for the book. Download, read and kindly send me feedback. 

 

 

 

#WritingQuote – “Write everyday of your life.” Ray Bradbury

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“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” Ray Bradbury

There are three major lessons from this quote and we’d take each lesson one after the other. After this, we hope you will have a kind of blue print for what success as a writer is. 

Write.

Every writer has to do ONE major thing to deserve that title, write. If you are wishing you could write, thinking about writing or wondering how to write, you are not a writer. It’s that simple. 

Read.

Writers are readers. If you don’t like reading we are sorry to say this but you may not do very well as a writer. Writers read to relax, read to learn, read to get inspired and so many other things. Wondering what can make you a better writer? Reading is one of those things. 

The third point may be the most important because that’s one thing most of us are having issues with. 

Do it everyday!

Before you complain that we are asking for too much, remember that this is for your own good. If you however insist that you can’t do these two things – reading and writing CONSISTENTLY, then maybe writing really isn’t for you. 

#PickOfTheWeek – This is what true happiness means

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It’s weird how some of the posts writers upload on instagram can sometimes be related. They don’t really plan it or do they? The common theme in this week’s #PickOfTheWeek is happiness. While some posts expalin what happiness is, others talk about how to get it. 

The first post is by Efe Ronald and although you may look at this peice and wonder where happiness was mentioned but what more can love give if not happiness? There’s a joy that love brings and everyone should be  able to experience it.   

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The second is by Mercy Williams. Wondering if happiness has anthing to do with groth? Well it does, If everyone decides to embrace growth even when it is not appealing, we would live a happier life. Do you agree? Of course you do! 

 

   

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Everyone who has lived life to adulthood will know that this is the absolute truth. If you keep depending on other people to be happy. It may take a very long time befre that can happen.  Thank you Jummy Ipinlaye for this 

brunch (6).png This peice really hit home. Many times our inability to move on from the past may affect the happiness of today. It’s time to move on. Thank you Ugo Udoji. 

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If you are a writer and you post your work on Instagram, don’t forget to forget to tag @thesparklewritershub for a chance to be featured on our Pick of the Week.

#GrammarSeries – Arrange these words in the right order

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Our #GrammarSeries is gaining a lot of traction and we love it! If you answered last week’s questions please check the answers posted in the sequel. Today we want to test how well you can arrange your words.

The sentences given below are taken from a story, but they are jumbled. That means they are not arranged in their proper order. Rearrange them in their logical sequence.

1. The young man sold his share of the property and left for another country.

2. The father tried to dissuade his son, but he wouldn’t listen to his father whom he regarded as old and ignorant.

3. Years went by. The younger son began to get restless because he was unhappy with his lot.

4. He led a luxurious life and spent a lot of money on gambling.

5. They were living together happily.

6. Soon all his money was gone and he became a pauper.

7. Once there lived a rich farmer.

8. He went to his father and asked for his share of the property.

9. So the father gave him a third of his property.

10. He had two sons.

Don’t forget to leave your answers in the comment section so we can read them. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.