It’s been a long time since we had a guest on the blog. But luckily, we found Ogundele Sherif Opeyemi and when we asked for an interview, we were really happy he agreed to the offer. Sherif is a budding writer in his early twenties. He’s also a Medical Laboratory Science student at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). But his immense passion for the arts is what makes us find him interesting, and this why we’ve invited him to the blog; to share a bit of himself, his experiences and some of his opinions as a young writer.
You’re welcome to Elitzone…
Thank you very much.
So why writing, why does it attract you so much?
Um, let me say here that my head’s a Mecca of ideas and I have an ecosystem to channel my epiphanies. So I can choose to do abstract art sometimes, a collage or whatever zany mechanism pops up. Writing happens to be the most comfortable pick of the pack. Einstein once said ‘creativity is imagination having fun’. So I’ll say writing is self-seduction to me; a way of seeing how much I can ‘wow’ myself. I guess that’s why it attracts me coupled with the fact that I have an uncontrollable need to express myself.
How old were you when you started writing?
I have always been a writer, I just started calling myself one ( thanks to a Jeff Coins article I read). But I started scribbling on sheets for storage at the age of 18/19. Now I’m 21.
How would you describe your style and pattern of writing, and would you say it has worked for you?
On close inspection, you may find a thematic pattern in my writing, but when it comes to style, I am formless. I have a grave-low threshold for boredom in myself and other people, so I constantly challenge myself to self-annihilate my previous works, a style I borrowed from Paul Sloane’s book,The leader’s guide to lateral thinking when he discussed the philosophy of Gillete.
Interesting. From all you’ve said, one thing is quite obvious and that is you’re not just a writer but an avid reader. I especially like the fact that, you don’t rely solely on your own reasoning when it comes to your work. So about authors, do you have any favourite and why?
I don’t think I have a favourite author. Probably because I haven’t read books as much as I would love to (but I do read a lot of articles from psychcentral, psychology today, 99u and others from my email feed). Nonetheless, I do have some favourite writers. Starting from Thomas Carlyle, Lenore Thompson, Elnathan John, B. Dani West, Saul Williams,and I musn’t fail to mention Maria Popova, she happens to be one of my literary obsessions. She’s breathtakingly brilliant and refreshing. The beautiful rest my clumsy brain can’t permit me to mention at the moment
I also noticed you have an inclination towards foreign authors? Is this deliberate?
No. My preferences aren’t dictated by colour or the belief the whites are better off. I simply have a high standard for quality and I really don’t care where it comes from. Besides, I mentioned Elnathan John, he is Nigerian and I am pretty sure there are others out there like him too who can depict a story in a most visceral and human manner. I must say, I really felt BORN ON A TUESDAY…
Do you think foreign opinions count when it comes to writing?
I think all opinions deserve to be respected and inspected. Preference shouldn’t be given to opinions… Writing just as with music and other forms of art is a universal thing and everyone surely has his or her take. What matters is rigorous analysis by means of critical thinking as opposed to passive acceptance and mindless regurgitation.
Going through your Instagram feed@the_anonymous_cherif, you have lots of poetry on there, did you choose this genre?
Well, I also write opinion pieces, argumentative essays, book reviews, social analysis, character analysis all with psychological themes on my blog, theanonymouscherifblog. Instagram is just a literary bubble for me where you can see my heart. If you want a look at my brain, then my blog has that. Besides, poetry is reductive in most parts and that gives me a lot of headache because I prefer to pour the paint on the canvas rather use deliberate brush strokes.
Do you consider writing a profession, if so, when this hit you?
Writing started out in a magical way. I remember those first two weeks when I wrote uncontrollably like it were to signify my ripened time as a kind of messenger. Then school happened, and writing went from compulsion to therapy, journalising and then was when my philosophical bent notched up a bit. It advanced to a profession recently when I discovered I could actually live my life in the trifecta of writing; a Maria Popova kind of living.
Are you saying there’s a possibility of your giving up Medical Laboratory Science completely for writing?
Not really, I plan on pursuing both, but overtime, I suspect my love for one( writing) is titling the other off the scales…
We have it that you’re currently working on a book, can we talk about that please, Could you give us a brief insight into this new project? What do we hope to expect from it? Who’s the intended audience?
*Smiles* My current book in the works was borne simply out of a wish to see my works in the best possible form. But subsequent ones would be carefully calculated.
The reader should look forward to a high degree of symbolic writing, social analysis and mushiness (yeah, I do a bit romanticism too) as well as radicalist/ conspiracist literature. It’s most surely not your everyday form of poetry.
The book is titled from a SNIPER’S PERSPECTIVE. It’s a poetry anthology that touches from the personal to the public and it’s more of a bullhorn for my very subjective self. I don’t want to promise much, but a look at my body of work on IG could give a sneak peek into what you should be expecting.
So you’re trying to get a book published , how would you feel if a publisher condensed your work?
Dousing my body of work as a publisher isn’t in any way going to be feasible because I believe it takes out the writer’s soul from the manuscript and that’s surely something I think any writer/artist would strongly avoid, because if you can’t see yourself in your work, it automatically becomes bland. And it may go ahead to reduce the enthusiasm in promoting the book.
Very well said, but what if it was for the good of the book, such as having to cut out unnecessary parts..
I think what’s unnecessary is a function of convention in language and that’s something I am aversive to. This isn’t to say I don’t pay attention to elegant reduction in my writings ( I apply Occam’s razor philosophy when writing) but once I’m satisfied with my work, it’s case closed, except of course, it’s a spelling error or something of sorts.
As much as I would have loved to give a release date, I can’t because of the need to win the loyalty of fans both in Nigeria and abroad, but I can say in the not-too-distant-future.
Are your parents aware of this move, if this is so, what has been their reaction so far?
It’s still in the works and it’s ill-advised to throw them in the nebulous process…
Okay then, what would you say has been been the most difficult writing process in the course of your new career?
Writing is always difficult for me; when I really want to do a heck of a job and best my best, but, I somewhat find painting a literary portrait of ladies gruesomely difficult.
With a year of the writing experience( as stated recently on your IG) what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt so far?
If there’s anything experience has taught me as a scatterbrained person, it is the NIKE slogan; Just do it! Don’t worry how whack and laughable you may come across as that big jerk of a critic warns you. One line after another, one day after, one piece after another, little by little, you’re getting to that top you’ve always dreamed off.
Wow. Honestly I must admit I’ve gained so much just from this little discussion with you. Makes me look forward to reading your book. I wish this could go on, but for the sake of our readers and time, we just have to conclude … but before you leave, do you mind dropping any piece of advice you might have for ‘ wanna be writers’ out there?
*laughs* Advice really? Well, as a writer, you should always strive for accuracy. Writing is a recycling of reality and that requires you to be a Sherlock Holmes kind of detective when it comes to observation. Write what you want to see, absorb as much as you can and of course, be a truthteller. Also remember to live in one-day literary apartments and have time to reflect on your progress, but NEVER sit on your hands in lazy judgement and criticism of your ability because if everyone did so, you won’t be reading any text today.
Thanks a lot for spending time with us on Elitzone, enjoyed every bit of it , we wish you success on your new book…
Thanks for hosting me.
That’s it guys. From this small talk , one can’t deny the fact that Cherif indeed is a gem of insights. We can only imagine what his pending book holds for us…
If you want to connect more with him or have more questions for him, you can do so via his IG @the_anonymous_cherif.
P.S.For anonimity sake, just as his pen name suggests, Cherif felt he should stick to that and so couldn’t provide us with a picture of himself.
Thanks for taking time to read through…
And once again this is wishing you a
Remember to stay safe and out of trouble.