Author Questions & Answers Session With Pacella Chukwuma- Eke

Zakiyyah: Good evening Pacella and welcome! 

Thank you for accepting this invitation. We are super honoured to have you in our space. Our members are so excited to learn and hear from you.

I have ten questions for you today, and I hope you are as excited.

Pacella:  Super excited and anxious. Thanks for hosting me!

Zakiyyah: 😂we’re all friends here. It’s our pleasure!

Pacella:  I see.😁

Zakiyyah: To begin with, how did you start writing?

Pacella: Ehh, through comics. Before I started reading books that were taller than me, I used to enjoy comic stories and tried to imitate them. Poetry was not until a few years ago.

Zakiyyah: Wow, this is very interesting, seeing your many wins over just a few years. Talking about the genre, what genre do you specialize in and why?

Pacella: Poetry! Why? I cannot overemphasise the reasons. It has a dynamic and Déjà vu sensation, a genre I see in other genres and virtually everything around me.

Zakiyyah: I can’t agree less. Poetry is a special genre; there are many reasons to love poetry. Your book, Love In Its Bliss And Sins, was runner-up for the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Teen Authors(Poetry). What was the inspiration behind this book?

Pacella: Aye, aye.

High school was living away from home, A life we must have experienced. Personally, I enjoy High school movies and all their cliches because I can not get enough. Also, as a senior prefect, I received new complaints and sagas— someone needed to document them. And I was grieving at the moment, so it was a compilation of high school drama and a part of me.

Zakiyyah: I’m really enjoying your answers, and I’m sure members are too! Love in its Bliss and Sins is a poetry collection. What is the most surprising thing you discovered about poetry while writing your book?

Pacella: Hehehe, I’m glad you do.

Is that poetry spiritual? I wrote up to 20 grief poems in a week. And it transcended from the pages to my body. I might have grieved a week more. I didn’t understand this until I decided to read Sylvia Plath and other dark poets, and I fell into depression for nothing. I discovered that poetry has the power to mend and break. I no dey toil with sadness again.

Zakiyyah: This is becoming intense! Love it. Many aspiring writers struggle to create a name for themselves in the Nigerian literary society; it isn’t as easy as it seems. Please, tell us a good way a literary beginner can create an audience for his/herself.

Pacella: I think there are many ways a “literary beginner” can achieve this: belong to a group that would support your art, attend literary events, enter the tiniest of contests you can find, share your little wins and big ones, as well as your loss, put more efforts in your writing process (this one is vital.)

People would notice you and your people would promote your art and your success.

And one must be prayerful, too, with stuff like this.

Zakiyyah: I’m sure members will take this as advice. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Pacella: It’s exhausting when I am limited to a theme or stressed out, and then I decide to write. That aside, writing can never be exhausting. Musing is like self-meditation, and that is really strengthening.

Zakiyyah: This brings us to the next question.

There are different controversial perspectives about Writer’s Block. Do you believe in it? Does it exist? If yes, tell us your clear view about it.

Pacella: Aye, aye, I believe in it. Okayyy… First, Writer’s block is when you cannot muse, begin a poem, or end it. It happens to me often, and if luck decides to ghost me close to deadlines. When I’ve got deadlines to beat, my mind unintentionally locks me out, and my only escape to this block is to start mapping (I can’t remember what my mentor calls it); I drop what I need to write about and start pouring out everything I know about it. That destroys my block, sometimes.

Zakiyyah: Interesting! NWF members want to start the art of submitting to publications. Tell us the procedures for submitting to national and international magazines; what should they expect? How should they deal with rejections and acceptance?

Pacella: That’s beautiful. It’s important to pay keen attention to guidelines( do not exceed or limit the required.) Also, it would be nice to homeschool yourselves on cover letters and be everly ready to update your biography.

We celebrate our acceptances and mourn our rejections!😭 Sometimes, it’s the other way around. To me, rejections are like a “big motivation” to continue, especially when there’s positive feedback attached to the mail. If you don’t accept the rejections in good fate, the acceptance does not go sweet for the gut.

The procedure comes in handy with the guideline. An active email should be available, and the others follow.

Zakiyyah: Hundred per cent. How have you developed your writing skills so far?

Pacella: By trusting the process of musing, drafting, redrafting, and reviewing my work myself. Sometimes I am tempted to ask for external help because writers like me are good at not spotting errors in our own work. But this process has been reflected in my art and is really helpful.

Zakiyyah: We’ve all heard and learned from you. To wrap this up, please give a piece of advice to a common NWF member.

Pacella: Holla, pretty writer! I’m glad you made it into this group; it’s good to grasp and retain the knowledge you will gain here and elsewhere. Remember that you cannot eat when there’s no food, and you cannot write when you haven’t read; these two work hand in hand. So, in any genre, you decide to smoothen, make sure you read works before attempting to write.

Ps: Start submitting your work! And embrace yourselves for what comes with it.🤗

Zakiyyah: Thank you so much for your time. We enjoyed today’s session, looking forward to having you some other time. 

Contributions and questions can come in from the members.

Pacella:  Anytime, Comurade.☘️

Zakiyyah: ❤️❤️❤️and keep winning, soar girl!

Pacella: Thanks, King! ☘️

Pacella Chukwuma- Eke, NGP Xv, is a Nigerian poet and short story writer. She won the Cradle poetry contest, Abuja Duet Slam, and Splendors of Dawn Poetry Prize, was a two-time finalist for the BKPW contest, and was a Joint winner of the FOW Poetry Contest. She is the author of Love in its Bliss and Sins; runner of the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Teen Authors(Poetry.) Some of her works have appeared or are forthcoming in the Eunoia magazine, Strange Horizons, The Brittle paper, Rigorous magazine, Haven spec, Gyroscope Review, and elsewhere. She is a member of The Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation, tweets @dancing_poet, and can be found on Instagram and Facebook @pacellachukwumaeke.