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read + write
hey there.
Today, we have reading recommendations, inspiration, and writing advice from Gemma Weekes and Apiorkor Seyiram Ashong-Abbey. We’ll also hear from Christine Coates, who writes Direct from the Mind of Christine Coates.
read + recommendations
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions about what they like to read.
Our first guest is Gemma Weekes. Gemma is an author, poet, screenwriter, playwright, and musician. Her debut novel Love Me was published in 2008, and her poetry and fiction have appeared in anthologies and literary journals including IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, Wasafiri, and Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different. Malika’s Poetry Kitchen
📸: Osvaldo Cadet
📸: Osvaldo Cadet
What’s the thing you’ve bookmarked, you know you need to read, and are excited to read?
An article on the National Geographic website by diver and storyteller Tara Roberts on her exploration of shipwrecked (en)slave(d human) ships. It really resonates with the novel I’m working on, and the potentially healing power that water (literally and as a symbol) can have on the collective psyche of the African diaspora.
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
If I’m trying to remember what muscles to use, it would be Another Country by James Baldwin for his insightfulness and humanity, The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty for its dark humour and raging freedom, and Leone Ross’s This One Sky Day because she’s an absolutely magical writer. I also co-run a Freewriting Workout group on Clubhouse every Tuesday with Vanessa Walters and I learn from everybody there (especially her! She has a wonderful book coming out next year — please look out for it!)
You’re at the newsstand and have decided you’re leaving with four magazines. What are you picking up? (from any era, be as oddly specific as possible).
Oh gosh, only four? Um, from the top of my head… Trace magazine from back in the day, the New Yorker, Vogue, Interview magazine.
What’s the thing you read when you need to feel something? 
Rumi: Selected Poems, translated by Coleman Barks, for a soul feeling. All the Henry Miller or Anaïs Nin or any of the beat writers for a body feeling. I can just flip to any page.
What newsletters have you continued to happily subscribe to?
DailyOm for sanity purposes!
What’s your favorite This Is A Great Day On Twitter day (one of those days when you couldn’t stop reading the timeline)?
My guiltiest of guilty pleasures is to follow reality TV on Twitter, like Married at First Sight or Love is Blind or hotly-debated topics like the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial. People are savage and bloody hilarious.
What’s the first book you remember reading and loving?
A book of fairy tales when I was very small (I started reading at around four). I remember how heavy it was in my twig-like arms and how much comfort it brought me.
What’s the best thing you’ve read this month?
I’ve been reading a Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib and it is luminous so far.
Who’s the Twitter follow that hasn’t let you down, since the beginning?
Difficult question to answer (there are so many!), but I’m gonna say Salena Godden because she’s as incredibly generous and lovely on social media as she is in person.
newsletter time
Every other week, we’ll include a new Revue newsletter. 
Direct from the Mind of Christine Coates
We asked Christine: In 280 characters or less, what’s your advice to anyone planning on starting a newsletter?
Certainly take the risk! You have nothing to lose and you’d be surprised how many people you can actually impact and reach with your writing. Not only does it benefit others, it also can benefit you in many ways.
write + inspiration
Each week, a writer will join us to answer some questions and give their perspective on writing.
Our second guest is Apiorkor Seyiram Ashong-Abbey. Apiorkor is a Ghanaian poet, writer, and literary critic. She is the author of The Matriarch’s Verse poetry collection (2019), and an editorial advisor for The InfluencHER Project.
📸: MoShutter Photography (Nii Darku Otoo)
📸: MoShutter Photography (Nii Darku Otoo)
What’s a piece of writing advice that’s held true for you?
There’s never a right time to write. Regardless of your mood, schedule, inspiration levels — Just write. Period.
What’s the thing you read when you want to remember how to write?
Postcolonial Literature. Especially Postcolonial African Literature. It’s heavy; it’s full of raw emotion; it’s burning with the fire of a collective voice that knew that they needed to find their own place and gain the respect of the literary world; it breaks many pre-existing literary rules; it’s unapologetic; it’s not written for the sake of writing, but to evoke the power of writing.
What’s a writing strategy you’ve developed that’s worked for you?
I have a list of topics that I believe I must write about/around. I constantly add to the list, so that they always serve a quiet, yet very loud source of inspiration.
The next step is to pick one topic and develop a sketch for what you are aiming to write. This could include quotes, pictures, single words, drawings, you name it!
I usually put all of this into a Google Doc and then I build my piece of writing by moving the ideas and elements around — sort of like doing a puzzle or a Rubik’s Cube. 
When I have a clear sense of what the final work should look like, I transfer all of the “chaff” and extras to another Google Doc, which serves as an archival page of sorts.
Then I clean the piece up — this could take minutes, or months.
You cannot treat your writing like the stepchild of a terrible step parent. It must be approached with seriousness and tact.
As a writer, how do you stay curious or keep yourself curious?
To stay curious, I create moments of curiosity for myself. 
That means going to places that will make me uncomfortable, watching films and reading books that are not really “my thing”, eating new foods, meeting new and often inconspicuous people, browsing random threads and posts on Twitter and Instagram, etc.
Who do you think really knows how to do an email newsletter?
This award most definitely goes to the InfluencHER Project team.
They are doing some great work, by amplifying the voices of women writers/journalists all over the world. Although I serve as an Editorial Advisor for the project, this is an unbiased opinion and their brilliant email newsletters are part of the reason why I agreed to join the InfluencHER Project family.
How would you describe your relationship with your readers? (especially if it’s evolved)
I am a mongrel; a mixed breed of Ga, Ewe, Akuapem, English and American cultures; therefore I am a Third Culture Kid.
My socio-cultural experiences are interesting and might appear to be unique; but the truth is that there are several other Ghanaians and citizens of the world who are secret sharers of my life. 
Many such people lack access to platforms that would allow them to tell their collective story, so that their societies and communities can rethink all of the things that affect them. 
My voice represents their voices, today and always.
And the best thing about this is that my readers and my audiences know this, so they expect my writing to either speak for them, to them, or to be a voice of reason and educative enlightenment.
What’s your one tip (that doesn’t get discussed enough) for a writer trying to improve in 2022?
Write every day. I promised myself a long time ago that regardless of how busy I get, or how lazy I feel, I would write one line a day. One line, before I sleep. This has led me to grow in leaps and bounds as a writer.
This practice instils discipline within you; the kind of discipline that successful writers needed to succeed in the first place.
wrap up
Great to have you here today. As always, you can reach us at @revue.
See you next time,
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Anna from Twitter
Anna from Twitter @revue

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