For as long as I can remember I have loved to read. My mother tells me it all started when I was in I think nursery. I used to get answers wrong in exams and assignments. My mother was worried as they do; maybe she thought I was daft. (Of course not all mothers think their children are the most brilliant children in the world). Anyway she was curious and she asked me the answers to questions that were in the exam. I answered correctly even though I got the answers wrong in the test. That’s when my mum realized that its not that I didn’t know the answers it’s just that I didn’t know how to write well. So she started buying me story books to improve my vocabulary and the rest as they say is history.
That’s when my love affair with books began. It is ironical that a little girl who could not write well ended up as a writer. I love books. I used to read all kinds of books especially books on African traditional stories and fairies. I used to have collections of Enid Bryton, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, comics like Dennis the Menace, Asterix, TinTin etc.
I started my writing career in primary school. I used to write poems for our family magazine. We used to have a family magazine (imagine that) that would come out once a year when we would have our family gathering in January. My grandfather is a well known poet and writer so he encouraged me to write.
I had a book for writing. One of those big diaries actually. I would write my poems in pencil so that I could rub something if need be. I still have it. Even though some of the poems are very childish or outdated I will still put them out on my website.
In Form One I was asked to submit a poem for The Nation. They were starting Young Nation at that time. I submitted a poem called alone. Here is an updated version of Alone. It came out in the very first issue of the Young Nation. I still think that was one of my greatest achievements to date.
In high school I used to write a lot of poetry. As a teenager I wrote a lot about my crushes and emotions. I also became the person to go to if you wanted to send a poem to your loved one. I used to write poems for people for free. Sadly I didn’t write those in my diary.
It was in high school I got into trouble for reading too much. At a particular dry spell for books, (I used to read around three books a day. I used to seat at the back of the class and read novels instead of writing notes or paying attention to the teacher. I would also read late into the night. We didn’t have lights out at Moi Nairobi). Anyway when I didn’t have books I would go to the library and borrow books. I would read a book and return it the next day. One day the librarian discovered this and reported me to the Headmistress. Considering I used to get bad grades, too much reading novels not enough reading of subject texts or notebooks, my headmistress was very unhappy. My mum was called (imagine) and I was given a two hour lecture about focusing on my school work. I wanted the ground to open and swallow me. You can imagine how embarrassed I was. Anyway this taught me a lesson. DO NOT borrow more then one book from the school library. Sadly the other lesson flew right out of my head.
I used to read many romance novels especially mills & boons and Sidney Sheldon. I always said that when I grow up I would write for Mills & Boons. In third form I wrote an entire mills and boons romance in an exercise book. I used to write a chapter then the chapter’s pages would be taken by my friends, they read it and then pass it on. That’s what we used to do with fat books as well. Someone would read a couple of chapters, break them off the book, give then to somebody, and continue like that. The book would end up having three to five parts. I never used to do that. I love books and it hurts me to do that to books. But that’s what used to happen sadly even to my novels which was sad because I used to spend all my pocket money on books and also my profits from selling bread, biscuits and success cards to students.
You can actually say that my twin careers of writing and sales really began in high school because that’s when I sharpened them. In high school there was a writing competition by the environmental club. The prize was a trip to 14 falls in Thika with them. I won that competition. Here is the poem Futurist Environment that won that competition.
After high school I did a couple of courses before going to Daystar to pursue a Diploma in Communication .I had resisted going to Daystar because I heard they were too strict but eventually I went there. I learnt alot about writing and scripting. I wrote a lot of good stories especially for children. Unfortunately most of it was lost as it was on floppy disks and they stopped working, those things were so fragile. Here is one that survived because it was my book publishing project Karanja and the bullies. It was published in the nation a couple of years back in the Daily Nation.
Anyway after that I did a Degree in Communication at Daystar Athi River. I joined the newspaper Involvement as a reporter and did a lot of writing. Then I became the circulation manager. The circulation manager makes sure that both campuses get the paper and makes sure it is distributed to all relevant areas. That was a great time and I rubbed shoulders and worked with some of the people who have now become famous reporters and anchors in the media industry.
After university I kind of took a break from writing. I would only write poetry for special occasions or for my boyfriend. It’s kind of like I had an extended writer’s block. I think personally that I had given up on my childhood dream of being a writer. I had loved it so much I had gone to study it up to university level. But its like the fire had died, it hadn’t, the embers were just burning from the inside. I think it’s also because I went into a different career path, marketing and sales.
Then I discovered Facebook notes. I started posting notes on Facebook. Short stories and poems. I discovered an audience and I wrote for them. Then Wamathai told me to start a blog on Google and I did. www.Raylitpoems.blogspot.com, my literary home for about 3 ½ years. I also in that time wrote for a project called The Princess Project. It was fun but I had to stop when doing my masters because I was caught up in studying.
It’s been a journey, a long one from the time I was in nursery. I have come a long way. Now I have my own website www.potentash.com. It’s been an incredible journey. It has had its ups and downs. I am grateful and thankful. Each day I grow as a writer. Every day I sharpen my skills. It has taken me a village to get me here, my mum, my family, my university and university paper Involvement , my friends like Wamathai, BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) and you. Without you dear reader I would probably not write. You read, you give me positive feedback and comments. You encourage me to write and get better. So thank you and keep reading. It will only get better I promise.