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How To Read Fiction: A Beginner’s Guide to the Writings of Rotimi Ogunjobi

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Any fiction writer who has never had his work misunderstood couldn't have written a lot. Somehow along the way you are going to run into people who will take a knowledgeable look at a character in your story and thereafter become able to make that fictional person, you. The story of that character becomes your life; the attitudes and proclivities become your character, and soon your real self is fighting for assertion. Don't take it personal though. The truth is that most people don't know how to read fiction. Most people just don't have the imagination to understand that fiction exists. They are the realists of our world. They are the people who provide that important measure of sanity to counterweight the controlled insanity of creative people. They are the ones who keep this world from toppling over. Learn to love them.

Yes readers I do recognise that fiction authors do often make unreasonable demands of your imagination. They forget that most readers have no idea where stories come from. They forget that people generally seem to think that it is impossible for someone to pluck a story from thin air. They forget that people generally seem unable to imagine that it is possible for anyone to create fictitious characters, give them fictitious lives and then make them do astoundingly believable things in the pages of a book. I know that it is really much easier for you to believe the story must have been taken from the author's life , and to believe that most if not all of the character in the story are the author's friends, enemies , relations and perhaps accomplices in a secret life of crime. But usually this is not true, the author is never always writing about himself at least not in so unimaginative a fashion.

In fairness to you the reader, most authors also do understand that it generally is difficult to describe what they have never personally experienced, seen, heard or touched. Indeed, that some authors, such as fantasy or sci-fi writers are able to write about things that are not ordinary actually seem to suggest that they are near geniuses. But don't be deceived; most of these great writings are actually done in a sort of trance and rare is the great author who is not secretly afraid of his best book and quite unable to believe that it came from so ordinary a head. Sometimes I open random pages from my books and out comes prose so mind-blowing that I am unable to believe I wrote this stuff, I am for example sure that the first producer of my play Two Dogs, is till today still not believing that I entirely made up the situations in the play and they were not my personal experiences. Also, my novel, A Conference in Ennui is written over a background of real historical events, which I think really did serve to confuse a lot of readers; many had no idea where the fact stopped and where fiction began. Am I that good? I also can't stop asking myself. But I assure you nevertheless that whatever part of that book you do not recognise is probably not real. I need your support on this. I am still trying hard to escape the seven year old who after reading my children's story The Leopard and the Galogalo firmly planted herself in my way after church one Sunday with her mother in tow and demanded of me: “What is a Galogalo?”. Come on, give me a break kid, the story is not real!

So in summary, to whom it may concern; when writing fiction I try to be very good at what I do and that is to entertain you as much as I try to entertain myself. You see, my writing is what I do when I seek to escape myself; when I seek to escape my realities. Therefore, do also expect that my writing will attempt to snatch away your realities. I write to make you the reader believe that the story is real; I write to play on your imagination. If any of the characters in my writing ends up looking like me, or the story begins to read like it is real, you have been successfully deceived. Thank you.