Saturday, 4 January 2014

Resolutions:# 1 Finishing old drafts

I ended the year 2013 with a story on Princess Selma, daughter of Sayyid Said bin Sultan Al- Busaid, Sultan of Zanzibar and Oman in the XIX century, for an anthology called Metissakanè which in wolof means "fusion of cultures". I'll soon write  a post on account of her life.

Now I've just finished  editing my children's story on Female Genital Mutilation. In Italian of course. There's not much literature in Italian language about this subject, so I thought providing with my story. I've been working on this subject for quiet a considerable time. Being a mother of three teen girls has really helped me to focus on  how do children percept the world outisde, developing a proper way to tell them things on a daily basis. Most of their schoolmates and friends don't know what FGM is about and some of their parents shared with me their worries about telling or not telling them what is female genital mutilation. Unfortunately FGM is still a tabu and especially young people don't have the right language to talk about the issue, nor their parents and educators.working with children and teens and motherhood taught me many things. First thing is "BE HONEST".  I'm sure I've always been very honest when it comes to explain things, never hiding or bypassing important topics with minimal and "easy" language. Children do understand more than what we believe.  So my daughters were the first readers of this story and the feedback was quiet emotional and satisfying. 

One of this year's resolution is to finish some of the books I wrote in the past which are still in a draft form. And the first one I decided to finish is a story of a Maasai boy set nowadays who struggles between tradition and modernity in a globalized world.
I wrote the first draft of the story in 2001 (yes... 13 years ago!). I started writing it after a meeting I had with a publisher in Rome who wanted to create a series of anthropological children's books featuring some important African tribes such as Maasai, Zulu, Igbo, Somali etc... I initially wrote it holding on this idea of making a story of anthropological interest. Then I quitted the idea and just got rid of all the technical parts and rewrote the story.
The book has slept over the past years in a drawer while other books of mine have been published . 

Here is just a sketch by my elder daughter Florin who decided to help me with a visual support.
The question which came to me in this revision stage was: which publisher will be interested in publishing a story  of a young Maasai boy attacched to its culture dealing with disobbedience, growing up, living in a country that still "sell" the Maasai as a tourist attraction and that faces environmental crisis and exploitation.
The answer might easily be: "no one". So what to do?
The web came to rescue me. Some time back I read an article by author Zetta Elliott. The article is about SELF PUBLISHING and I just passed it. Then recently I went back to it  and thought that the idea Elliott's expresses would fit the need to be on children's bookshelves with different stories in which  the publishing industry is not interested, by self publishing. Happy to subscribe  Zetta Elliott' words: "I can't force mainstream publishers to open their doors to me, but the industry will be transformed whether they like it or not, and I intend to participate in that transformation". Well if we imagine authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Alberto Moravia, Mark Twain, also self published their work...Once I found out how to set the imprint issue, I'll be out there.

Now I'm working on a speculative YA story set between present and 1840, between Europe and Kenya where at that time a real heroine was born: Mekatilili wa Menza, a woman who fought against British colonialism for the indipendence of her people, the Giriama, and land. I came across her story during my life in Kenya and thank's to part of my kenyan family who brought me in the ancestral land of this extraordinary woman.  Only in 2010 she was recognised as a national hero among Kenyan freedom fighters, when her statue was set at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi - renamed Mekatilili wa Menza Garden - in her honour.
A short story of Mekatilili wa Menza will also be part of an anthology which presents women fighters in the past across the continents. 



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