The literary world stood still when it was time to announce the winners of the Etisalat prizes. For Ojuolape Kuti, who probably woke up with butterflies in her tummy that morning, it was a new dream being unravelled as she was announced the winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Flash Fiction. We hung out virtually with Ojuolape for a couple of minutes to ask a few questions on writing and what inspires her.
For Creative Girls: How did winning the Etisalat Prize for Flash fiction feel? And what has changed since you won?
Ojuolape Kuti: Winning the Etisalat Prize for Flash Fiction felt (still feels) surreal. Sometimes I pinch myself, wondering if it all really happened. I guess what has changed really is the recognition. The feedback has been positive. Plus, it definitely upped my confidence level. It got me thinking, maybe I’m good at this.
What inspires you to write?
The world around inspires me. There’s really so much out there. The good, the bad and the ugly, and I try to focus on the good.
Tell us a bit more about your flash fiction, Gone. Is there a bigger story behind it? What interesting event led to it?
LOL. There’s really no epic backstory to the story Gone. It was me challenging myself to write something different that I had never tried my hands on and to write from a guy’s point of view. It was me saying yes, guys get heartbroken too. And that’s okay.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
Routines are such a bore, yes? Writing isn’t really planned for me. I could be walking home and see something/someone and a sentence floats around in my head. I usually reach for my phone at this point and type it in. Then I can go back to working on it and building a story around that one sentence. That’s why I never know how my stories will end, honestly. I’m as surprised at the ending as the reader is. Sometimes there’s the dreaded block but I work through it by asking myself what emotions I want to evoke from my reader and that usually works.
Is there a particular writing style you prefer?
I think I’ve dabbled into different styles of writing. I started off a prose writer in secondary school. Stephen King is one person who totally changed my perception of writing and made me realise there really are no rules. He would write one word in an entire chapter and I loved it! Currently though, I’m working on poetry and flash fiction.
How do you define creativity?
Creativity, for me, is making something out of seemingly nothing. It’s making beautiful what wasn’t thought to be.
What are your plans for the future? Are you planning on pursuing a writing career?
The big question. I don’t have any plan set in stone. I’ve always loved writing and always will but I really didn’t imagine coming this far. So far, so good and I do plan on pursuing it to the best of my ability.