The other day when talking to a friend, I realized that I cherish commitment with the academic side of my work, especially with my research where full attention is given. I care about the details. Every single aspect of it. And if I am not commenting or making an suggestions, then I am not committed plain and simple. Is this what writing entails too? I ask because my ideas are so numerous. I fear without the same commitment to my creative energy, then all of it, especially with my keeplist would be futile.
So in making sense of what commitment entails, I have started to read again and reflect, to understand how the great writers of past and present fulfill this thing called commitment. How are they committed with every piece of work they give to the world? Commitment with language and putting words together in ways that make it seem so simple, but I am sure is not easy. Like Toni Morrison and the idea of ‘slow walk of trees’ signaling hope or Chinua Achebe and his ‘anthills of the savannah’ signaling possibilities. Of course the two of them being my favorite authors makes me wonder when did they even find the time to make this commitment with language. I don’t have the answers yet but I want to believe it’s the same kind of commitment I give to my academic side. The commitment for me included being fixed in one spot for hours day after day and even night until I have the next grant or the next paper written. How I have made this commitment the past years with a bunch of children and a hardworking hubby is awe-inspiring to me. And I still have no idea how I make it happen except to say in my Nigerian way that it is all by the grace of God.
That commitment is creeping up in my mind of late is truly remarkable to me. I want to bring it to my creative side, to this journey I am beginning to take. Commitment to the unknown world of what it takes to be a writer. The idea of commitment over everything may explain how writing gets completed. Commitment to the vision, the truth, the story. Commitment to every single detail, even to excellence of the language used to weave the writing together is sterling to me. I don’t and can’t tolerate non-commitment in my academic life. It’s a betrayal to myself especially when I know that if I truly commit, I can be ambitious with everything I do, whether I succeed or even fail. I welcome the failure even because it’s another reminder that I am human after all, with flaws with my academic writing and not the commitment to it. And so I am prepared to make the same commitment again until I get better. Chinua Achebe himself in a 1987 interview with Jane Wilkinson in the book above, once described commitment as ‘the root of a writer’s being.’ I believe and I am hopeful that if I keep it, my vision of a writer as I understand it will prevail.