Photo: Left to Right in the above picture: Dr Wale Okediran, Anatu Ben Lawal (Ghana) Justica Anima (Ghana) Ramatoule Onike Othma (Gambia) Fatima Salihu (Nigeria) and Mrs Idowu Okediran.
A WELCOME reception was held in honour of the first set of the 2023 Ebedi Fellows at the Ebedi International Writers Residency in Iseyin, Nigeria today, Saturday January 21.
Creative writing and writers’ residencies
By Nureni Oyewole Fadare
(Keynote address at the reception for Ebedi Fellows at the Ebedi International Writers Residency, Iseyin, Oyo State, January 21 2023)
Observation of Protocols
I WELCOME our four eminent writers: Justica Anima (Ghana), Fatima Salihu (Nigeria), Anatu Ben-Lawal (Ghana) and Ramatoulie Onike Othman (Gambia), to the ancient and creative city of Iseyin for their four week writers’ residency.
Today, most of us live in the big cities with all its challenges and stresses antithetical to a state of minds capable of bringing forth novel ideas that creativity requires; hence, the needs to seek for a serene environment outside the tumultuous city life to fulfil our writing dreams and career.
Ebedi Writers Residency was established by our referred mentor and community leader, Hon. Dr. Wale Okediran, to create such avenue where writers can converge and concentrate on their creative writings.
Creative Writing is an act of creating something new or novel out of our imagination based on our experience. The experience can be what we have read, seen, taught, etc. Nobody writes on what they have not read, taught, seen or experienced.
It was the Romantic Poet William Wordsworth in his 1798 seminal titled Lyrical Ballads that defined poetry as “…spontaneous overflow of feelings…emotion recollected in tranquility.” Wordsworth was a Romantic poet alongside with his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who were known in literary history as Romantic Poets.
They wrote about nature; they glorify the beauty of nature and nature serves as a source of inspiration to them. Today, Ebedi Writers’ Residency is located beneath the Ebedi Hill in its majesty, serenity and ambience of tranquility.
Therefore, there is no other better place to recollect our feelings and emotion in tranquility and have it pen down than here and now. Therefore you are welcome to Iseyin, E kaabo, Sannu da Suwa, Akwaaba, dal al jamm, Karibu, you are all welcome to Ebedi Writers’ Residency.
The Writers’ Residency
Writers’ Residency are created all over the world to create avenue for creative and academic writers to settle down and complete their on-going works or initiate a new one.
Writers’ Residency is always located in a serene environment such as being located beside a lake, hill, resort, cottage or castle. Writing is a private affair and has to be carried out in a conducive atmosphere and environment.
In the words of Virginia Woolf, a foremost English feminist writer and author of A Room of One’s Own, she said, “…a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” (p. 6) The argument here is that to have the right state of mind to write, one needs to be independent minded and be physically independent too (Veronica Suarez, 1). Such an atmosphere is created here at Ebedi Writers’ residency.
Writers’ residency takes you out of the crazy and tumultuous city life.
The bucolic ambience of the writers’ residency helps to ignite writers’ creativity and imagination. Again, it takes you out of your dependents and loved ones that might serve as distraction to you while writing. The migration, the longing for your loved ones all help to ignite your creative imaginations.
There are different policies guiding the operation of the Writers’ Residency. For instance, at City Writer Residency of Ottendorf at Gartenhaus am Sudawall, resident writers must relate with the members of the community just as we have at Ebedi Writers’ Residency.
The same thing is applicable to Caversham Centre for Artists and Writers in Kwazulu Natal. Some writers’ residencies are fully sponsored, some are partly sponsored while writers have to pay in some instances.
Types of Residencies
Writers Only Residency: This type of residency welcomes only those that are into literary works such as poetry, drama or prose. Mostly the residency are connected with the publishing houses.
Multi-Disciplinary Writers’ Residency: This type of residency welcomes creative writers, academic writers, artists among others. Examples of such multi-disciplinary residency are: Tyrone Guthrie Centre or Capacete. Most big writers have participated in one writers. Residency or the others.
Ebedi Writers Residency is a Multi-Disciplinary Writers’ Residency
Between MFA and Writers Residency
There is a difference between MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and Writers’ Residency. MFA programme is meant for a young scholar planning to go into academics and becomes professors. MFA programme includes attending classes, lectures, mentorship among others. Whereas, Writers’ Residency is organized for writers and, or academics to complete their creative or academic works.
A typical example of MFA programme is MFA Programme for Writers at Warren Wilson College which was established in 1976 by a renown poet and teacher Ellen Bryant Voigt.
For the avoidance of doubt, Ebedi Writers Residency was established as an interdisciplinary writers residency with focus on established writers and academics who are expected to work independently, complete a specific planned work and interact with the members of Iseyin community so that they can give back to the host community in terms of sharing of knowledge and mentoring the younger ones.
It was not established as a training centre for the writers but a centre of comfort for writers to realize their dreams of completing their on-going research which might be difficult for them to achieve while at the comfort of their place of abode.
The Resident Writers in the Residency
The ultimate goal of the resident writers while staying at the residency is to meet up with their targets in completing chapters of their books, completing a story book, play or poetry as well as other related academic works.
The resident writers should divide their period of staying into three and make judicious use of their time, before, during and after the residency.
Proposal: A would be writer must have a well written proposal that will set out the work plan while at the residency.
The writer should set out a clear cut goal and ensure that the target and the expected works to be completed are within the capacity of the writer to be completed within a time frame of four (4) weeks.
Choose a Familiar Terrain to Work on: The prospective resident writer should choose a specific area that they are familiar with especially if it is pure academic work. Writing on a subject one is not familiar with makes the writing more tedious and strenuous.
Don’t be too Ambitious: You must set out the scope and limitation of your work; be specific on what you intend to write on. What matters is that you should come up with a specific, well written and publishable work at the end of the residency.
Writing and Research Materials: Ensure that you have enough writing materials as well as having a good computer to ease your writings. Be sure that your gadgets are in good shape to make your work easier.
During the Residency
Be Disciplined and Organised: For you to achieve your target goal, you need to be disciplined and organized. Be conscious of why you left your comfort zone and came to the residency.
Keep to your work plan. Schedule your time: prayer time, breakfast, reading, tea break, lunch, siesta, recreation time among others.
Residency is not a period of holiday but work. Relate with others while focusing on the main reason that has brought you here.
Always have your writing materials with you: Even when you are sleeping, your writing materials should be with you so that you can jot down any new idea that comes to your mind.
Ensure you are committed to your Original Plan: Follow your original plan and ensure that you are actually working towards achieving your set goals.
Be Time Conscious: Always spend your time judiciously and avoid time wastage. Every time counts while at the residency.
Always ask yourself, have I met with my target today? How much have I achieved today and how much more can I achieve before the closing of the day? My target is to write at least ten pages of my novel per day, have I achieved this or not?
Eat Good Food, Sleep and Rest: Do not over work yourself. Ensure that you eat well, sleep well and take your rest. All these will energize you and make you more productive.
Use Library Often: By the mention of library, some people would ask, do we have a library here? Yes, Iseyin is blessed with a world class library, Raji Oke-Esa Library which is well furnished and well located in a conducive environment.
Again, there are a lot of online library that can be consulted such as: z-library.org, Library Genesis, pdfdrive.com among others.
There are also search engine that could be of help such as: Research Gate, Google, Google scholar, Academia, among others. Consult your physical and online library to validate your ideas while at the residency.
Mentorship: One of the main objective establishing this centre is to interact with the members of the immediate environment, through teaching, training the young ones, mentoring among others.
Having social interaction with the members of the community will serve as the sign-posts and things that will linger-on in your minds years after you have left the residency.
Be Socialized: Spend your time well by meeting people and interact with people well. One of the precious advantages of travelling is that you meet people.
You can also visit our tourists’ attraction centres such as: Ado-Awaye Suspended Lake, Osoogun, the home-town of Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Ikere George Dam, the Manor House, Aseyin of Iseyin Land Palace among others.
After the Residency:
Review Your Initial Work Plan: You need to review your plan in order to evaluate how judiciously or otherwise you have spent your time while at the residency.
Editorial Work: Ensure your work is thoroughly edited and prepare them for publication.
Assessor: Get a good assessor to assess your work objectively to ascertain whether or not they are suitable for publication.
Publication: Look for a good publisher and get your work published. Publishing your work will help the public to learn from the pool of your knowledge and research outputs.
Towards an Effective and Efficient Ebedi Writers Residency
Many writers, both upcoming and well-established have benefited from Ebedi Writers’ Residency and the task before us is how to sustain the programme. I have identified some areas that we need to work on for the sustenance of the Residency.
Funding: As much as I know, this residency is being solely sponsored by Dr. Wale Okediran. We may need to look at how to sustain this residency in the future by looking for alternative ways of funding it. International organizations, government at all levels, and philanthropists can be contacted to support this noble cause.
Collaboration: The centre needs to collaborate with other necessary agencies and individual in order to develop the centre such as: media partnership, technical partnership, security, etc.
Establishment of Ebedi Writers Alumni: There is also a need a to have an Alumni Association for the centre where past writers would meet and discuss how the centre will be sustained for the benefits of next generations of writers.
Publicity: The residency needs more publicity. The events at the residency should be publicized though media. Good and wide publicity will attract goodwill to the centre.
My concern in today’s interaction is to look at Creative Writings and the Writers’ Residency. I tried to explain what creative writing means and how it is exigent for us to have a writers’ residency where the ideas in the minds of the writers will be transformed into writing.
I also looked at the differences between the MFA programme and the writers’ residency, and I argued that the main difference between writers’ residency and MFA is that MFA is more of a training ground for young scholars while a writers’ residency is meant for established writers to complete their ongoing work or initiate a new one.
I also discussed what the resident writer should do before, during, and after the residency.
An addendum was added on my suggestions on how to improve the residency.
I hope you will enjoy your stay at Ebedi Writers’ Residency located in Iseyin, the ancestral home of Aso Oke. Ensure you move around and see the beauty of our great City.
Thank you and have a wonderful stay with us.
https://www.transartists.org/en/air/europ%C3%A4isches-%C3%BCbersetzer-kolloquim. Accessed on 20/01/2023
Suarez, Veronica, “Writing Residencies: What are they, and is it for you?” Retrieved from: https://www.readpoetry.com/writing-residencies-what-are-they-and-is-it-for-you/
“The MFA Program for Writers-Warren Wilson College.”
Wordsworth, William and Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, Lyrical Ballads London: J & A. Arch., 1798
Woolf, Virginia, A Room of One’s Own. London: Horgart Press, I929