Early last year I had just walked out of my second job. I had tolerated it for about eight months and the chickens were finally coming home to roost. It was a toxic environment. Everybody gossiped—about nothing in particular, trivial things that had no spine. Employees were wired to throw you under the bus every chance they got. I sat on my seat that Friday morning and looked at my desk phone, my desktop computer, and my colleagues and wondered what I was doing there? I picked my brown leather jacket and left. They called, I didn’t answer. They texted, I did not respond. Three days later I received a termination of employment letter.
I felt pretty badass the entire day until I got to my house and sat on my couch and thought, ‘Heh, you’ve quit, great. That was some badass shit but how are you going to put food on the table? Humor me and tell me you will eat badassery?’
I had tinkered with the idea of bringing brands here. I had pitched a couple, some were warm, most of them were cold but none of them were hot. I have never been impressed with the idea of doing things simply for a pay-check. I work hard so I can get to a place where I choose projects I believe in. I quickly realised I might kill the beauty we have going on here with mechanics and KPIs and the last thing I wanted was to wear shoes that neither fit nor looked good on us simply because there was a check on the bottom of their soles.
I sat on that couch and racked my brain. I stared at the TV, it stared back, blankly. I needed to reinvent the wheel or it was back to shuffling excel sheets and gossiping at the water dispenser about trivial things with no spine. I looked into space and at my brown leather jacket. It had never looked more badass. Maybe I could wear it around and guys would throw money at me for looking like a knock-off Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The idea of writing a book was something that crossed my mind but felt foreign and out of my scope. I mean, Chimamanda and Ngugi wa Thiong’o write books but who am I to write one? I didn’t even know what I would write about. I had thought that if I ever did write a book it would be something philosophical and deep, like the center of the ocean. Something that would sit right next to Dickens. But now I sat on the couch. Twenty-six. Not wise enough to write Dickens 2.0, the month dipping with cold leads slipping through my fingers and a badass brown leather jacket staring back at me.
I knew if I was to put out a book it needed to be electric, done with flair, and touching on things I felt strongly about. Yet not too strongly that I couldn’t watch it fail and be okay with it. I knew that it needed to have a sense of continuity. Somewhere I could pick from and run with if there was demand for a sequel. So I sat on that couch and put The Engagement down in a week. Got in touch with my then editor who did a brilliant job touching it up and by the third week we had the cover design and the dream was tangible.
That was not the beautiful part though. The beautiful part was when it dropped that Wednesday morning and I got the first Mpesa text and before I could say, ‘Christ on a donkey’ I got another one, and another one, and another one and it was overwhelming. I jumped off the couch like I was possessed and ran outside. I let out a scream, something along the lines of, ‘Mama I made it.’ Haha mama was not around. Mama had no idea and still doesn’t have an idea what her son does.
I then got worried and ran back to the house. ‘What if there were plot holes, what if I missed a typo? Surely nobody should pay three hundred bob to read fare instead of fair.’ So I went through the whole thing again and it was just as compact as before.
It gave me a new perspective and put to waste a lot of fears that I had built up. I realized that I could actually live off doing what I loved. Molding sentences into paragraphs. Sculpting words till they ignite the same way they were singing in my mind. Telling stories that matter to me the way I wanted to without worrying about mechanics or shoes that neither fit nor looked good on us.
That was a year ago. Thank you to the sexy friends who voted for us with their wallets and to all the guys who did reviews and screamed about us on social. Shukran. Today we unlock another milestone. This is the one hundredth article since I started scribbling here. To say asante for setting camp here even in those days when I’m dreary and lethargic I’m giving away the book for free. Find a download link below. If you love it pass it on to another friend. If you have it lying in your inbox share it along to your colleagues and let them have something new to discuss at the water dispenser.
After you’re done reading and you perhaps start wondering where the second book is, don’t mope, it’s in the kitchen. It drops November.
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I like to think of myself as a reader who writes, a Pan-African who thinks with the tips of his fingers, but when I'm not molesting the keyboard I'm usually destroying yogurt (not Frusion) or staring into the vastness of space.