Welcome back to Writing Wednesday and I hope everyone is safe and well. Today I have another author from West Africa. Her name is Ethleen Sawyerr and she’s the founder of Speak Write Play. So, if you can please welcome her with open arms and let’s get started.
- Please introduce yourself before we begin.
My name is Ethleen Sawyerr, and I am originally from Sierra Leone. I choose to mention this first because I think it’s not something many people know. I fell in love with writing when I was young because I found it was easier to express my thoughts and feelings on paper than it was to say what was going through my head. In addition to writing, I am the founder of Speak Write Play, a company that provides English services from copywriting to editing to ESL instruction.
- Every writer has an origin story to tell, what’s yours?
My family came to the US because a war destroyed my native country of Sierra Leone. Growing up, I loved reading and writing. Have you heard about people who get lost in books? I’m one of them. Reading allowed me to learn, go on adventures, and experience life from another person’s perspective. After a while, I began writing poems, short stories, and skits because I loved creating characters and storylines that mirrored my reality.
- What was the first story, poem or novel you ever worked on?
I remember writing a poem for a local fine arts competition called “On a Mission” when I was probably around 11 or 12. I found that piece not too long ago and recall how well it was received by the judges. I didn’t win, but at least one judge told me I had a gift for writing.
- What’s the hardest thing about writing?
I struggle with creating the space to write. There are so many distractions and things vying for my attention that I have a hard time being still, quieting the noise, and focusing on the task at hand.
- What Genres do you write in and do you have a favorite?
I write a lot of non-fiction stories. When I write fiction, romance is my preferred genre.
- Why do you write?
I write to give voice to things that matter to me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be my story; I ghostwrite for others, too. I enjoy taking what people have to say about their experiences, then relaying it in a way the masses can consume.
- Favorite author and/or book series?
I adore Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Ever since my sister-friend introduced me to her works some 10 years or so ago, I have been a huge fan. The stories she tells, her writing style, and the way she uses words to capture her audience are all things that appeal to me.
- Okay, the tough question here. It’s no secret that Mental health is important for writers. Seeing that I want to be more of an advocate for it, is there any advice you like to give to people to keep fighting, whether you’re dealing with it personally or know someone that is? (This is an optional question)
Great question! When I have my bouts with mental health issues, I listen to Rich Mullins’s “Hold Me Jesus.” I believe the song was written to help those battling with temptation from drugs, alcohol, sex, and other vices. I think depression and dark thoughts can also be included in this group. There’s a line that says, “You have been King of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace.” I have had a lot of highs in life, but for every few highs comes a low. It is in those low moments that I blast this song as a reminder that God was with me when I was on top, so He’ll be with me when I am struggling with negative thoughts. I’ll literally replay this song until I finally begin to believe the words. Not everyone is spiritual, but I think it’s important to find that one song that you can identify with when you’re battling mental health issues.
- Before we leave is there anything you’re working on now or anything you have released?
- Finally, anything you want to say to new writers/artists?
I feel like a resounding gong sometimes when I say this, but please invest in a quality editor. It’s wonderful that you’ve decided to write your story and share your gift with the world. However, we need professionals who can ensure our writing is strong and error-free. You don’t want to choose an editor based on the person who offers the lowest price because you may end up regretting it.
That’s all I have for you folks and please don’t forget to check out the links listed below the interview. I hope you enjoyed this interview and having Ethleen taking the time out of her day to talk to us. So, again read, write, or create whatever it is you’re creating and have fun doing it. Please stay safe and healthy out there as we continue to fight this virus and I’ll see you guys next time.
“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie