Olubumni Familioni: On Storytelling and Such Other Matters …

Olubunmi Familioni

Olubunmi Familioni

For me, writing a story means much more than “storytelling”. It transcends the banality of the “artistic activity” of telling the story (and how it is told). It is more than just a literary exercise; a weaving together of plots and narratives to make a tale, or the creation of characters and crafting of colloquies, or even merely entertainment. No. Writing, most of the time, for me, is cathartic; as I believe it is for many writers; hence the solitariness of the exercise—this is why sometimes it seems as if I am writing solely for, or to, myself; almost like rendering a soliloquy on stage, where you, the readers, represent the audience.

In the theatre, the thespian just recites his soliloquy, almost oblivious of the presence of listeners; thus, they (the listeners) have the liberty to interpret these stage-whispered thoughts whichever way they choose—because the actor will not offer an exposition of his soliloquy! Hamlet didn’t.

The actor is not a scholar or a scientist, neither is the Writer; they are artists. Artists are only supposed to create. They are not required to ‘maul’ these creations into academic pieces themselves. Because they are mostly solitary people their primary obsession is their Art (hence the hermitishness that is often perceived and misinterpreted as aloofness.)

Having established that this writing thing is a solitary affair you can now understand why most of the time the writer is only talking to himself, even though he may be addressing a general social issue. Since he is merely talking to himself, if he has “sold millions of books”, that is just as many ‘eavesdroppers’ gathered at his ‘window’ listening in on his private musings, his soliloquies. He will not come out of the ‘room’, mount a podium, pick a chalk and begin to academicize his thoughts—that is for the eavesdroppers to take up; the cynics, the critics, the scholars, the literati, and other sundry souls for whom intellectual exertion and literary scholarship is not beyond their ken. As I have observed, most scholarly expositions of works of literature by the author mar the ethereal beauty of the literary creation, and do more damage than the most acerbic critic would. This is why a writer would hardly ‘explain’ his own stories, or attempt to. I share the belief of the Aesthetic Movement of 1880 in England that literature has value in itself, even without a moral purpose, and definitely without the academic posturing of our ‘pedagogue-critics’.

To put this thing to rest, I must quote my favourite columnist, the highly revered “Snooper”, Tatalo Alamu, of The Nation: “the writer takes up residence in a hyper-real world of creative hallucination” where, I should add, only him has access to (hence the numerous (mis)interpretations by ‘eavesdroppers’), and where ANYTHING can be created, from men to monsters, without apologies, or explanations.


POSTSCRIPT: This is not to say I do not enjoy thoroughly the keen dissection of my stories which my sharp-minded friends take the pain to carry out—when men like these draw their scalpels who am I to restrain their hands.

Olubunmi Familioni

Olubumni was born in Ibadan and raised in the heart of Lagos. Now he lives in Ibadan but his heart still resides in Lagos. His writings boast of an intense injection of dark humour, unconventional characterization, and are best viewed through the mirror of absurdist literature. On the flip side, Olubumni is a Mathematics Lecturer sweating under the curse of Advanced Numerical Analysis

For new works (Pieces of Rags Series) check out http://www.naijastories.com/author/bunmifamiloni/