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Okediran talks on writing, personal experience at ANA Oyo

A former national president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Dr. Wale Okediran, has said the advantage of writers from a non-humanities background is that…

A former national president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Dr. Wale Okediran, has said the advantage of writers from a non-humanities background is that they bring experiences from another field into writing.

Okediran said this while sharing how he overcame the fear of being a writer at the ANA Oyo reading at the University of Ibadan during his paper presentation titled ‘Non-humanities Professionals as Writers; Challenges and Prospects.’

“For example, John Grisham who is well noted for his detective novels has credited his legal background for the successes of his books. Equally too, my medical training has to a large extent given me a lot of inspiration for my novels,” he said, adding that another advantage is the broad mindedness that the pursuit of literature brings into the non-humanity profession which the writer belongs to. That literature in the education of the doctor is now well established and increasingly recognised as a powerful learning tool.  Apart from being concerned with emotions, feelings and reactions to illness and suffering, it is also relevant in debates on health and social issues and ethnic matters.  Its purposes are to help in the development of an educated, compassionate and caring doctor complementary to and supportive of the scientific knowledge.

Okediran gave a list of famous authors who came from non-humanities backgrounds, including Chinua Achebe who did not finish medical school, Agatha Christie who in 1917 qualified as a pharmacist’s assistant  drew on her knowledge of pharmaceuticals in many of her novels, the first of which, ‘Hercule Poirot’s Mysterious Affair At Styles,’ was published in America in 1920, and in the UK in 1921, and several more.

Looking at the disadvantages, Okediran shared his personal experience: “Perhaps the most profound challenge faced by a writer with a non-humanity background is the fear of not being a good writer. This is natural since it is easy to be overwhelmed by the big names in the writing business.

“When I had this problem, I did three things. First was to seek out a fellow medical doctor/writer, Dr Tony Marinho, for guidance and support. Still not satisfied, I applied for a course in Creative Writing and bagged a Diploma in the program a few months later. In addition, I joined ANA and attended the regular monthly meetings where I was able to exchange creative ideas with other fellow writers.

“Apart from helping to cure a new writer of his/her self-doubt, these measures will also improve the writer’s literary skills. With these, I soon became confident enough to plunge into my writing career which by God’s grace has produced many award-winning books. In addition, I held many Literary offices both at the state and national levels.”

Okediran pointed out that there was also the challenge of combining writing with a day job. But “once (a writer) has a deep passion for literature, finding time for Writing will not be difficult.”

Dr. Okediran is the author of ‘Tenants of the House’ published in 2009, ‘The Boys at the Border’ (1991), ‘Dreams Die at Twilight (2001), ‘Strange Encounters’ (2004) and ‘Rainbows Are for Lovers’ (1987).

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