Sizzle, no steak

I am mighty fatigued. I was in Machakos over the weekend holding my kid brother’s hand as he wed then married.

The last time I was this fatigued, Lupita was douched in fake sweat in a fake sex scene too timid for its own educative good, in a small-screen production titled Shuga. Lupita. She played Ayira. Look now where she is. Bett. She played Florence. Look now where she is.

Mightily fatigued.

I had two story ideas from my weekend in Macha. But the mistake we – me and my mind, me and my physicality – made was that I got mighty fatigued. You have to understand, fatigue isn’t good for a young writer, like myself. Fatigue means I will sleep through the night. Without such fatigue, my eyes snap open at 3AM. And I am kept awake for over an hour as sentences and whole paragraphs of my story ideas are constructed in my head, or spoken to me. That depends on whether you side with the science of the subconscious or with the folklore of the Devil’s Hour. Either way, 3AM is when the sassiest sentences come to be.
Fatigue also means my bus rides will be just that: rides. Ordinarily, the chunk and thud of the bus engine, and the conversations and the musty smell of sweat from blue-collar Nairobians taking the bus home after a day of hustling to make their hay, is hefty enough to spur a story idea from conception to birth.

But fatigue. Fatigue aborts these ideas.

So I hit the blank page and my aborted ideas wasted away two hundred words later. Stories with as much breadth as a midget and a toddler. Here I am now. With nothing. Writing you a story about nothing – all sizzle and no steak, all bubbles and no champagne, all Rolls Royce and no engine, all promise and no youth, all flavour and no butter, all… OK, you catch my drift.

Sizzle, no steak.

In the six days I have taken to write and rewrite this (piffling) story, there have been threads of hours I warped and wefted between listening to Oliver Mtukudzi’s discography, and sitting on the street benches next to the Six Eighty Hotel, reading a used book I purchased from the bargain section of a bookshop at the Yaya Centre. A novel by Philip Roth. An American writer who just turned 81. Roth is as elderly as the Kenyans I have been sharing these street benches with – senior citizens who are in Nairobi to collect their government welfare. I surrender. The last time I read a novel… I don’t know. The last time I read a novel, such mundane activities weren’t the aching reprieve to a week of post-nuptial writing. Such activities were the tapestry of the writing itself.

But like I mentioned earlier, I am mighty fatigued. I wasted my ideas. I wasted my story space. And I have wasted your time.

If this story was good for anything, let it be good for easening the unwarranted and apparent neglect of this blog’s writing.

Try again next time.

Gentlemen of the Round Table
Guest writer: The Call

Comments (6)

  1. AMS

    :) Fra, you ‘wasted my time’

    • fra

      Me and you both AMS. Me and you both.

  2. maina_maitha

    hebu write. Since kinyatti introduced me to your writing, you have inspired me to write again. This piece was a total waste of my brain cells(think some died in the process).

    • fra

      Hehehhe. How do I apologize without saying ‘I’m sorry’?

  3. Jecinta

    Fra, at least you tried. That’s what counts. And I’m very proud of you, for trying, even when common sense shouted, ‘Who are you kidding!’ Don’t beat yourself too hard, next time it will be better. This coming from someone who is also rewriting her life story should count for squat…i mean, i understand fair and tough days, and everything in between. Keep writing, even when you have nothing to write about. Just don ‘t stop. And when you look back, it will surprise you how far you’ve come, and how many people gave up along the way. Fra, that is where the difference is. In never stopping. Go.

    Ps. Do me a favor, please leave the ‘me and my mind’ business. My mind and I know Fra can do better. Bless.

  4. dskuwe

    Happens to the best of them

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