This month, I had the pleasure of meeting new member Omolara. She shares her thoughts on writing, inspiration, and joining 26.
Tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and what do you do?
Ah the dreaded ‘where are you from?’ question. Hmm let’s start off micro and end up with me claiming my place among all global citizens. I currently live-in South-East London and have done for most of my life apart from a brief break in Lagos, Nigeria in my early girlhood. In terms of heritage I’m half Nigerian, half Jamaican.
What do I do? I do all of the things! No, really. I describe myself as a communications and events specialist I’ve worked for some cool places like the Southbank Centre doing public affairs, and innovation foundation Nesta doing communication and business development. I’ve recently set up my own editorial services company called Deciphering Solutions UK where we do everything from copywriting and proofing to brand consultation.
I’m also a freelancer writer and poet.
Where did your love of words come from?
Not sure if I ever had a singular moment that ensconced me into the literary world and made me a logophile. I think words have always been with me, as has my fascination with them. I remember being eight years old and picking up our family’s Collins dictionary and reading it religiously, just opening pages up at random and reading definitions swirling the words around like mouthwash. I suspect it may be genetic, my dad used to write poetry in his halcyon days, and my mum has always loved reading. I think one just soaks up these things by osmosis, and then amplifies it. I do know that after my English Literature, Language and Linguistics degree that I decided that I would always be wedded to a profession that understood the power of communication.
What made you join 26? And how long have you been a member?
I’m a 26 newbie! I just joined last week. I joined because Josie Dobrin CEO of Creative Access suggested that I check out 26, and then I had a look at the website and thought it would fantastic to have a network of like minded people who are equally obsessed with words and language. Also, as someone who has newly transitioned over to the freelancer lifestyle it is quite easy to become self-involved and tunnel visioned, I’m excited to be a part of community again.
Have you been involved in any 26 projects?
None so far, but I can’t wait to get stuck in!
What’s your ideal scenario for writing? (A coffee shop? Quiet retreat? With or without music? What do you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind?)
I don’t think the ideal can be obtained or whatever Plato said! Erm, it depends on the type of writing, with writing poetry I find that writing when I first wake up is best, before the cares of the day weigh in and logic and pragmatism infect my imagination. The poet Kaveh Akbar calls this dream language I believe, I like the idea that the poems are coming from this other place outside of my rational mind.
If I’m writing an article or essay, a desk and a brightly lit room is fine, I prefer silence when I’m writing in general so not a big fan of the coffee shop or the office for that matter! But I also have headphones in and I’m almost always listening to white noise, and on the odd occasion that I am not I’ve got some smooth jazz playing. I’m slightly old-school, I prefer to write everything by hand and then copy it onto my laptop, something about the process helps with editing, and reminds me to slow down and stay in touch with the topic, as I find my mind races a mile a minute.
What are you working on at the moment?
This and that. I’ve got a couple of copywriting jobs for work which is fun.
I’m also working on a couple of essays at the moment, one about grief and the grieving process, the existence of the community in our current British society, the second is about the value of digital theatre and art, and what it could mean for the future. I’ve also got a poetry pamphlet work in progress tentatively titled: Salvation Malfunctioned it’s all about love, loneliness, grief, addiction and the intersection between identity and faith.
Could you tell us about a piece of writing you’re particularly proud of?
You’re asking me to choose between my literary children! How mean, but if I must. I think at this particular moment in time, I’m proud of a piece I wrote on Medium about the systemic nature of racism within the UK and the rise of hashtag activism. The article was picked up and featured by Medium in their race and equality categories, but I’m mostly proud of the piece because I was honest, I wrote from an authentic place for myself and that was received well. It serves as a memorial for me that I can show up as my full self in the world and there will be people who will accept me.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From the little things. I am mostly interested in things that people call mundane, pedestrian, or ordinary. I think they reveal a lot about ourselves, what we value and where our aspirations lie.
It’s not that I don’t like grand big gestures/ moments, it’s just that they don’t cost much to notice them, anyone with eyes and a fraction of stillness can see them. What I’m interested in is the almost imperceptible moments towards a thing/concept/person. They cost you something, stillness forces you to concentrate your aliveness into noticing and that’s the poet’s eye. I hope I didn’t get too poetical in my answer, but its my truth and I’m sticking to it!
– Omolara Olusola, interviewed by Sophie Gordon
We’ll be meeting a new 26 member each month. If you’d like to feature, or nominate another member, drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy.