We love our guest today on #WriterSpotlight. She is Ifeoma Theodore. Not only is she an exceptional writer, she is also a sexuality advocate. Read more about her in her interview with us.
Hello. Can you briefly tell us who Ifeoma Theodore is?
I’m a writer and sexuality/self awareness advocate on the well-being of adolescents and young adults, especially the girl child, and have authored the books; Trapped in Oblivion and, My daughters and I.
When did you discover that you had a passion for writing?
Two years ago, I found myself typing on my laptop to air my thoughts on the need to educate adolescents and young adults. It was something I wanted to share with a community forum and by the time I was done, two books were created.
What convinced you to pursue your passion for writing?
My need to convey the importance of educating the society about the impact of not being open to adolescents and young adults on issues bothering on sex education, self identity and well-being awareness of these young adults who account for more than 60% of humans living in this world.
How did you hone your skills as a writer?
By reading a lot. My guilty passion is reading. I enjoy reading anything ranging from romance to autobiographies. Anything to widen my scope of understanding from arts to science.
Do you ever have doubts about your writing career?
Writing from a third world country like Nigeria is challenging, especially when the belief is “except you’re writing from the western world, your writing can’t be defined as being internationally accepted”, and if it hasn’t been recognised over there, it becomes a difficult task making it recognised back at home. This I have tackled though by writing on issues they have no choice but to recognise and accept, hence not only have my books garnered international recognition, but have been approved by the Nigerian Ministry of Education to be used in schools. The awareness is still on though, to encourage ordinary Nigerians to have the reading culture.
At what point did writing start paying off for you?
Writing started paying off in a lot of ways, for instance being invited to give talks not only to adolescents and young adults but to adults on how to create better interactive situations to bridge the generational gap which makes communication difficult hence, mistakes can’t be avoided. Then again, being approached by people who tell me how my books and cause have impacted on their lives positively.
Can you describe what you felt when you published your first book?
I felt fulfilled that I have been able to do right by the world in which we live in. Knowing that I have done something positive that would unite everyone irrespective of their gender, age, colour, or religion.
How do you handle criticism and rejection as a writer?
I take it in my stride. Moreover constructive criticism assists with some sort of realignment, if at all necessary. Not having a first hand experience at rejection, I can only imagine that I would feel more challenged to be accepted with the cause I believe in and push for.
What’s your best work so far?
My titles; Trapped In Oblivion and, My Daughters And I, have resonated positive impact on the readers and society as a whole, which has been most encouraging for me.
Have you ever had a writing mentor?
Actually, I haven’t had a writing mentor, rather I enjoy and learn from the writing styles of different authors when reading.
What do you think about the state of the reading culture in Nigeria?
The reading culture in Nigerian leaves a lot to be desired. One of the problems being that parents who do not find the time to read themselves, are not in the position to encourage their children to read. The closest a typical Nigerian would get to reading, is if it has to do with their school work, which is most discouraging.
You are a wife, mother, author, speaker and sexuality awareness advocate. How have you managed all these?
Surprisingly easy, I must say. For me, all the stated are what completes me, and defines me as a woman which I take pride in.
Can you tell us more about your passion about sexual awareness for the girl child?
The girl child in today’s society, especially in Africa has been shielded from sexuality education because of the belief that giving sexuality education to a girl is encouraging her to be sexually active. This is laughable, and far from the truth. Sexuality education is not the act of sex itself, but educating on the well-being of the girl child which eventually leads to self identity and empowerment. Everyone is focused on giving the basic education to the girl child, ignoring the fact that if her well-being is compromised from lack of education, her basic education will eventually suffer. An example, is a typical girl who experiences puberty, but is ignorant of everything relating to it, goes through a period of confusion at the psychological and physical changes taking place in her body, she really has no one to confide in except her peers who are not really well informed. For some girls, they conquer these experiences, for most, these experiences can affect their school input.
It’s a fact, no matter how much we would rather wish otherwise. The advent of social networks isn’t making things easier. It is in our place to adequately inform, and this is important, not only for the girl child, but the boy child. Giving sexuality education only to the girl child is not enough. The boy child has to be equally educated to create a balance in the society. A girl who’s been educated on how to appreciate herself and respect her body, will still have to live in the same society with a boy who has not been educated on self worth, not only for himself, but also for the girl child. I want to help in creating a society where sexuality education is made important to both genders to create a balance.
Do you have any tips to share with aspiring writers and authors?
Just be yourself. Don’t try to write like any other writer. It’s ok to learn from other writers, but it’s more important to have your own writing skill which will separate your work from others. Be confident when writing and be open to constructive criticism.