Writers and Literary Workshops in Africa: Rodney Gariseb

Praxis Magazine is publishing a series of short essays from African writers on their experiences and opinions on writing workshops. Here is a feature from Rodney Gariseb, a young Namibian writer.

Rodney Gariseb, Namibia (Windhoek)

At the time the Migrations Flow workshop began, I knew nothing about the story that I eventually submitted to the Short Story Day Africa competition. I went in hopes that I would quickly blend in with all the other writers and let their creative juices rub off on me.

When Sylvia Schlettwein (facilitator) announced during breakfast that we would be doing a lot of writing that day, I assumed that she’d just said that to scare us – the novice writers. Or maybe she was just preparing for her next stand-up comedy appearance as one never knows with these writers. How totally wrong I was! We did indeed write the whole day until our fingers could not take it anymore. My poor ears were hot with thousands of ideas exploding inside my brain. The physical exhaustion I felt wanted me to quit and just doodle throughout the remaining hours of the workshop but I managed to keep writing, afraid that I might forget the ideas that I was generating like a steam engine.

Being the youngest participant was frightening and exciting, as well. Previously, I had only written for myself and that was done over a warm cup of coffee, late at night and at my own pace. But now I was forced to write in the midst of other writers, some of which I had never met before; I was expected to spew words at every command.

The best part about the Migrations Flow Workshop was the aspect of free writing. Free writing identifies three persons during a writing process: the writer, editor and reader. I learned that during the initial phases of writing, one must remove the editor in and let the writer write. The writer is usually the one with the ideas and creativity. The editor hinders the creativity of the writer, hence we were told to make a distinction between the two and use them appropriately.

I left that workshop with not one, not two but five ideas of what my migrations story was going to be. There are no words available to express the gratitude that I feel towards Rachel Zadok and the whole Short Story Day Africa team on helping me refine my writing skills. I will always remember the Migrations Flow workshop as the foundation in my journey to being a published author.

Rodney Gariseb is a final year English Literature major at the University of Namibia. He has written many short stories that will eventually find publishing houses in the near future. He is currently busy writing his debut novel.