I distinctly remember being about 7 years old. We were back in Nigeria on summer vacation. I had just finished the second grade where my biggest accomplishment had been to write my first story. I had even contracted a fellow student to illustrate the book for me– The Magic Tennis Shoe. I can picture the book and almost feel the twine-bound paper in my hands even now (I’m going to have to see if my mom still has the original in a box somewhere in her attic).
But we were on summer vacation and relatives who hadn’t seen us in a couple of years were coming and going out of the house all the time. My parents would plop me in front of them to entertain, and to assure the elders that my youth wasn’t being squandered on a less than appropriate education. And each time the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I think my sister used to say “astronaut” or something equally as daring. Me? “I’m going to be a writer”.
Finally someone (Uncle Deoye) actually heard what I said: the precocious little girl with ginormous glasses wanted to be a writer? That summer, my uncle lined me up to speak with his dad who was a published author at the time. I cannot remember what I asked him in that interview, but I remember wearing my best pencil skirt and blouse, and having a long sheet of A4 paper with my questions carefully written out, in pencil. (Hey, I was 7, remember?)
I never forgot that summer. In the years that followed I probably did forget many times that I wanted to be a writer, but here I am– over 20 years later, and my day job involves writing and I’m spending more and more of my free time writing, too. From the mouths of babes.