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On Stories and Writing: Quotes From 10 Nigerian Writers

  1. “Without stories, we would go mad. Life would lose its moorings or lose its orientations. Even in silence we are living our stories.”
    ― Ben Okri, Birds of Heaven
  2. “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, The Danger of a Single Story, Ted Talks.
  3. “You must take a year off, one of these days, before you’re old and tired and weighed down by responsibility. Go away somewhere, and read. Read all the important books. Educate yourself, then you’ll see the world in a different way.”
    ― Helon Habila, Oil on Water.
  4. “I get my stories from everywhere. I am open to inspiration from everything: overheard conversations on the bus; items from the news, and so on.”
    ―Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street; from an interview with Geosi Reads.
  5. “If you want to know about Africa, read our literature — and not just ‘Things Fall Apart,’ because that would be like saying, ‘I’ve read ‘Gone with the Wind’ and so I know everything about America.”
    ― Chris Abani, Telling Stories from Africa, TED Talk.
  6. “You don’t need attention to write. All you need is passion for your work and an overwhelming desire to tell a story you genuinely care about. Readers can sense your sincerity and it separates you from pretenders.”
    ―Sefi Atta, author of Everything Good Will Come; from the Per Contra Interview.
  7. “Everything interesting was in the books; it was books that made me aware of the variety of the world.” ― Teju Cole, Open City.
  8. “The lust for a pristine foreign image should not prevent us from telling the truth about our society.  I’d rather we spent all that energy tending to the decay inside.”
    ―Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, author of I Do Not Come To You By Chance; from an interview with African Writing.
  9. “I tell people that the publishing industry is going to blow up soon. It’s happened with music and movies and we are going to see it happen soon with publishing.”
    ―Toni Kan, author of Nights of the Creaking Bed; from an interview with Bella Naija.
  10. “The best advice I’ve received is to write what you know– or do some research. My first attempt at a novel was when I was 10 and the main characters travelled back in time and met Native Americans, as I’d just watched Pocahontas. I gave it to my mum to read and she said, ‘Why are you writing things you don’t know anything about?’”
    ―Chibundo Onuzo, author of The Spider King’s Daughter; from BBC Radio 3.
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Nnenna is an editor and writer at Connect Nigeria. She loves fine art, books and places.

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