This week’s newsletter is continuing the tradition of inviting members of our community to write From The Curator’s Desk, and for this edition I’m happy to hand over to my friend and colleague Nepurko, a writer, agribusiness entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant for women-owned businesses, better known for the Weekly 500 newsletter she publishes on Substack. I’ll be handing over this section of the newsletter to my fellow colleagues and to Baraza members from time to time, please do reach out to me if you’re interested in writing this section and you have something of interest to share to our community — a trend you’ve noticed or something you’d like us to think about.
~ Christine Mungai, Curator
We’re living in strange and curious times, friends. Everything; our world, our lives, and our known rhythms are struggling to rise from the ashes of a truly grueling global pandemic. Life as we knew it is gone and with it comes that dreaded “new normal” everyone has been throwing around.
I’m not going to attempt to talk about this “new normal” though. I don’t know enough about normalcy to even dare. When the first lockdown of 2020 hit, I was at peace in my apartment making banana bread, naan and curry, brownies and enjoying the solitude. I didn’t have to worry about livestock, client work or relationships. That’s when my idea for the Weekly 500 finally came to fruition. I’d been flirting with the idea of writing fiction again; after almost a decade of fits and starts.
I started off my career in creative work almost a decade ago; back then creativity was the sole preserve of a very select, and privileged few. But with time I’ve come to realize that creativity is not a singular, focused talent that very few in the population can have. It cuts across gender, age, religion, race, and just about any other definite, polarizing line human beings want to draw.
Creativity lives in every single word and act that passes through human imagination and intelligence. Anyone can be creative. Even accountants (no shade!); they don’t call it creative accounting for nothing. Creativity resides in the deepest recesses of the human soul but it also has a finite quality to it.
We start off in life filled to overflowing with creativity, then along the way, as we grow into adulthood, we abandon it, to get ‘more serious’ in order to join the ranks of the workforce. Sort of like taking our rightful place in the assembly line of an ordinary human model, complete with part numbers.
Creativity needs a childlike awe for us to tell our stories, paint our worlds and sing the verses of our beautiful lives with confident freedom. We need to be curious, and observant of the world around us. Creativity also needs a healthy mind that’s at peace so that it can show up.
During the solitude of lockdown, my creativity was getting a much-needed boost; hat tip to fellow Barazite (Barazan?), Dan Aceda for speaking so fluently in a previous newsletter about joy recently. For me, writing gives me joy, peace and all those other wonderful dopamine-loaded feelings.
I have written and published fifty-four (54) 500-word short stories on Substack during this pandemic; the practiced and deliberately consistent act of discovery, writing and storytelling is something I came to look forward to every week, for however many hours I could dedicate to this pursuit of mine.
Still, there will be days when the world becomes too much, when your mind betrays you and you can’t do the thing you love the most.
That’s a sign from the universe that you need to stop, slow down, and rest. Creativity cannot thrive in the absence of rest. Taking time out to take care of yourself, learn, luxuriate, and refill your creative well is important. Just like joy, these moments are fewer and shorter these days, but they exist all the same. Savor them.
Savor your first coffee in the morning, your 15-minute walk in nature or to the shops, your one hour of uninterrupted reading/ doodling/ knitting time. Lean into that pocket of rest, because that is what releases your true creativity.
If you lean into hesitation, resistance and discomfort, your creativity will show up and shine a light leading you to the next level. That is a promise I can confidently make to you.
In the meantime, here’s:
- What I’m watching: The Chair on Netflix featuring Sandra Oh in the lead. It’s a beautifully written limited series — only six episodes, (I actually prefer shorter series; 21 is entirely too many episodes for me to commit to), about life in a small town, at a “lower-tier” Ivy League college.
- What I’m reading: ‘Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling’ by Phillip Pullman. He is the author of the seminal fiction series, His Dark Materials. This book covers storytelling, writing, philosophy and society in relation to his writing. I am reading it luxuriously and slowly; I need to take it all in and retain it.
- What I’m listening to: Alt. Kenya, an alternative and underground Kenyan music playlist on Spotify curated by the wildly talented Tetu Shani. Give it a listen, it’s different from what any of us is used to with regards to Kenyan music, but it is beautifully curated. Supplement it with any playlist by @Kophen on Spotify for more undiscovered music.