An Open Letter to a Young Budding Ugandan Writer

Dear young person snubbing your profession for a promising career in writing, please be ware of the Ugandan writer’s curse. I am writing to implore you to pursue your writing ambitions with caution because this bitch called Writing is anything but loyal. If you don’t have a trust fund to your name, get a real job and reserve the writing for the night.

Maybe you didn’t start out for a career in writing. Like most, you just realized people enjoy reading what you write and that’s how you got lured into attempting writing as an alternative career path.

What with all its inviting benefits? Suddenly you’re an internet celeb, you walk into a party and strangers know you, addressing you by your blog name, preceded with the definite article “The” like you’re some sort of clan chief.

Then you’re shortly “discovered” by some editor in a leading print publication, you’re offered a weekly column which come with the certification of your elusive celebrity status and an abysmal excuse of a monthly salary.

While it has its perks, a newspaper column can actually prove to be more of a curse than a blessing. First, it sucks you dry of all your creative juices, especially so if you’re supposed to write humor. When writing becomes something you MUST do on a scheduled basis, whether you feel like or not, it tends to morph into a chore, one you must do whether you want to or not.

Usually, this is worsened by the knowledge that whatever you submit, however drab and uninspired it may be, will always make the editor’s cut. We all know one or two writers who write crappy articles in their columns and save the juicy stuff for their personal blogs and Facebook Notes.

A newspaper column is the tomb where creativity and inspiration meet for eternal damnation after the initial months of excitement have worn off.

Perhaps the worst bit about the writer’s curse is how it robs you of the most productive years of your life while you wallow in a false sense of accomplishment. A column will give you a faux celebrity status that eludes your bank statement. With the exponential growth in your Twitter and Facebook followers, you start to grow these hairs of people who have “made it in life” while your peers grow their careers.

This celebrity status goes further to fuck up your relationships. The exposure attracts a lot of attention from the opposite sex so you never realize the need to nurture a lovable personality, thinking if this one goes, you’ll quickly jump to the next in the queue. Slowly, you degenerate into a self important fucktard with zero respect and appreciation for the undeserved love you get.

What you don’t realize is that you’re not growing any younger, and the beautiful souls whose love you abuse eventually move on from your stuck-up but pitifully broke ass as you continue with the relentless rat race.

They won’t admit it, but the reason many writers play kwepena with responsibilities like marriage and children is not because they’re cool like that, but they’re being realistic with their financial situation in relation to the lives they aspire to.

Writing is a haughty and grossly selfish bitch that will snuff your youth and leave you with nothing more more than fleeting and trifling rewards like illusory fame. Like the case with most Ugandan professional chess players, you will blow your whole life hoping to become the next Fiona Mutesi. If you’re lucky, you’ll earn a few paid trips around East Africa, memories of which you’ll clench onto with the false hope that you’ll make it some day, only to wake up in your mid 30s with nothing but a few mentions in old newspapers.

I write to tell you that the Ugandan writer’s curse is real, and if you don’t believe me, just look around you.

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