Writers International Network Zimbabwe and its partner Global Arts Trust have successfully concluded the 2012 short story writing competition that ran from July to August 10 and the follow-up writing skills training workshop held on August 17 at the Music Centre, Harare.
Speaking before the conclusive workshop’s afternoon ceremony to award winners in the short story writing competition, Guest of Honor, Emmanuel Sigauke applauded WIN/GAT for taking up the challenge to develop new writing talent in Zimbabwe. “Writers and poets have a fuller vision on the lives of the people around them,” Sigauke told about 37 aspiring writers who had undergone the training workshop facilitated by renowned writer Memory Chirere.
Chirere had taken the aspiring writers on a journey of short story writing the whole morning until 1pm. The training proved enlightening to the unpublished writers, making them realize aspects and perspectives they never thought or imagined existed about short story writing.
Guest of Honor Sigauke, who is also WIN Board member, spoke on the importance and joy of writing, urging the new writers to read as widely as they can to sharpen their writing skills.
“There are three types of reading. There is reading as a writer, then reading for pleasure and lastly reading for exams,” he said.
Although he conceded that writing is a long journey, he said it is a very rewarding adventure.
Turning to the short story writing competition which had preceded the workshop, Sigauke told the new writers how lucky they were to be exposed to free writing competitions. “In Africa, Zimbabwe in particular, the writing competitions hardly charge an entry fee. In the USA, there are lots of these writing contests but charging not less than $15 as entry fee,” said Sigauke.
Although he left Zimbabwe in 1996 for the USA to pursue further studies, Sigauke said he had not lost touch with literary events happening in his home country. He said, via the internet, he has been exposed to Zimbabwean literature and has been an active player in its field.
He urged aspiring writers to get involved with online platforms and journals such as Mazwi, the WIN blog, Memory Chirere’s blog, Chisiya Echoes, Mototi, Kwani (Kenya), Chimurenga (S Africa), and the African Roar short story annual anthology.
The Munyori Literary Journal which Sigauke established has featured various Zimbabwean writers and poets. The Munyori Journal, said Sigauke, is now registered with the US Congress of Libraries, a move that will see the journal’s readership escalating internationally.
As an editor, Sigauke said he understood how agonizing a rejection slip is to a starting writer but said starting writers at times should experience rejection so that they are motivated to write better. “You cannot be rejected where you did not write,” said Sigauke who was visibly happy to see students from Glen View 2 High, a school at which he once taught.
Sigauke said he is an advocate for teaching creative writing. “Can writing be taught? Yes. It helps you find a craft form for what you want to write,” he said. In the USA, Sigauke teaches creative writing at Cosumnes River College.
Flashing back to his days when he was a budding writer, Sigauke said the then Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe (BWAZ), of which he was the founding member, launched him on a road of writing and he hasn’t and will not give up writing.