As a writer, I value originality– Akinpelumi



Published December 6, 2020


Sinmileoluwa Akinpelumi, 27, is the owner of Nova Creative Writers. She tells TOLUWALOPE KAREEM about her career
What are your educational qualifications?
I had my elementary education at Baptist Nursery and Primary School, after which I proceeded to Saint Louis Girls Grammar School, Akure (Ondo State), for my secondary education.
I was later admitted to the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, to study Law. I proceeded to the Lagos Campus of the Nigerian Law School afterwards.
What work experience do you have?
I once worked as a secretary and content writer for a media company. Currently, I work as a lawyer, writer and editor.
What are the services rendered at Nova Creative Writers?
It is an online platform for young writers with limited or no opportunities and resources to publish their works. The website offers a free community where writers can upload and publish their articles, books and poems. It also serves as an online library for readers.
When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer?
I have always been a storyteller. I often see events and situations differently from most people and I develop stories from them. I can’t remember exactly when I started writing but I was in secondary school then. However, everything I wrote then were for myself. I neither shared nor published them. I published my first novel in 2019.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on a lot of variables, such as time, my plot and how long it takes to build it. For instance, it took me almost three months to finish my first novel (of more than 60,000 words), while my second book took about two months. A lot of mental work and research goes into writing a book, especially fiction. Building my story, creating characters and establishing settings are few of what I try to assemble before I start writing. Consequently, all these affect the duration of writing a book. I once completed a novel in two weeks and sometimes, it takes up to three months. However long it takes, what is important is not to mount unnecessary pressure on oneself as a writer. There is no fixed time to complete a book.
What writing quirks do you have?
I talk to myself a lot while writing. I adopt the voices of characters and read out my dialogue to listen and be sure that what I wrote sounds like what my character would say. I also listen to music while I write. Music tunes my emotions to suit my writing and it helps me better to convey my character’s emotion. Music also helps me to focus better and cut off distractions. Ninety five per cent of the time, I write with an earpiece plugged to my ears.
What is the most unethical practice you have encountered in the publishing industry?
That would be the reality that if one is not rich and connected, one cannot successfully publish a book in this part of the world. Most prominent writers in Nigeria are those that published outside the country. Little value is placed on literary work in this part of the world and the cost of publishing a full-length novel is an amount that an average Nigerian cannot afford.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
I perceive the usual and mundane things around me in a distinctive way, which I guess enhances my imaginative ability. Plot ideas for my books come from everything around me― people, places, movies, books and my mind.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing, I read and edit books or articles, watch movies, or listen to music. I am also a big wrestling fan.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learnt in the course of creating your books?
The human mind has an endless and ingenious ability to create, only if we let it. I construct some storylines and wonder what goes on in my own head sometimes. Our minds process thousands of thoughts daily. If we focus on just one, there would always be a story to write. If we allow ourselves to see beyond the ordinary and embrace the possibility of extraordinary, you would be surprised at what stories you could write.
How many books have you written and which is your favourite?
I have written seven novels but published only two. I don’t think I have a favourite. There is something unique about all my stories and that was why I wrote them.
How do you ensure you deliver to your readers what they want?
A good reader loves originality. It is non-negotiable. The average reader does not want to read the same story more than once or twice. I value originality a lot. There are times I would withdraw inside my head to develop a story, and an idea I had seen in a movie would pop into my head. I always push those ideas out because I don’t want it if it’s not original. It can be an inspiration, yes, but there must be visible authenticity.
What kind of feedback do you get from readers?
Most of the reviews are on my website where I uploaded my two published novels. There is also a review of the first book on the website. My readers are one of the reasons I keep writing, because I would hate to disappoint them.
What do you think makes a good story?
That depends on individual readers. As large as the fan base of ‘Harry Potter’ is, I have met a few people who do not like it. The book is fantastic and the author, JK Rowlings, is awesome. Personally, I am a huge fan of Harry Potter. Yet, to some people, it does not qualify as a ‘good book’. In my opinion though, a good book is one with humour and an underlying message.
What were your childhood ambitions?
Like most kids, I wanted to be a lot of things. I wanted to be a doctor, businesswoman, nurse and pilot before I now decided to be a lawyer.
What does literary success mean to you?
Literary success, to me, is when I have finished writing a book. The ecstatic feeling and overwhelming sense of achievement that floods me when I complete a novel after months of back pain never gets old. On a larger scale, literary success is the satisfaction on the faces of readers when they are reading my book, or when I hear readers talking about my book. I sometimes hear readers talking about the characters in my book like they are real people, and that gives me joy, even more than the financial gains of writing.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
I read my book reviews and I deal with them the same way I deal with every other thing in life. Keep the constructive, healthy and important, and discard the negativity and trolling.
Does ego help or hurt writers?
It depends on how one uses one’s ego. I pride myself on perfection. I don’t like seeing mistake in my works. That helps me to be more meticulous and cover all my bases while writing. I consider all angles and back stories. It also helps me to listen to constructive criticism and work towards getting better because I want to attain perfection in my writing (though I doubt there is any such thing).
However, for writers out there, don’t let ego get in the way of your writing or stop you from listening to your editors. I adore all my editors, who are highly intellectual people. When they send back my works without corrections, I call them back to ask if they have given up on me, because I want corrections.

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