Yip­pie! Di­ary turns two; look out for more

Farmer cel­e­brates two years since he started shar­ing his ex­pe­ri­ences but more im­por­tantly gives a glimpse of what you should ex­pect in the com­ing months

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - SEEDS OF GOLD - JOHN NJOROGE | NA­TION

Around

this time last year, I gave read­ers a glimpse of what it was writ­ing the di­ary.

To­day, as the di­ary turns two, I wish to share my re­flec­tions and plans and pay trib­ute to hun­dreds of fans who’ve kept in touch – through their feed­back.

I’ll start with a com­mon ques­tion I get from read­ers. “What hap­pens when you just can’t think of a topic to write about?” one asked me.

An­other re­lated ques­tion was, “Do you strug­gle some­times to come up with your story ideas?”

My en­gage­ment with read­ers through this mag­a­zine over the last 24 months has taught me one thing, which is that they like sto­ries about ev­ery day ex­pe­ri­ences on the farm. In fact, some story ideas that ap­pear Ti­tus Kamau feeds his 50 lay­ers at Mais­hani es­tate in El­bur­gon, Molo. He col­lects 20 eggs daily. triv­ial some­times res­onate bet­ter with read­ers.

For in­stance, the story of my ar­rest by the po­lice for us­ing my pri­vate diesel-pow­ered ram­shackle ve­hi­cle to carry goods res­onated well with many (Seeds of Gold, Jan 21).

In fact, the story took a life of its own. The po­lice­man called me af­ter it was pub­lished to con­grat­u­late me. An­other reader who was hav­ing prob­lems with his diesel en­gine asked me for the con­tacts of Wany­oike, the me­chanic who had re­paired my ve­hi­cle.

How­ever, some­times I lack ideas. What I do in such in­stances is sim­ply to take a walk around my desk, go for a jog, or sleep over it and, guess what, when I get back the next time, some new ideas pop in my head.

In fact, great writ­ers like Dr Travis Bradberry agree that ideas take time to de­velop and you don’t have to force them. “You can edit a bad story, but you can’t edit a blank page,” he says.

As I’ve said be­fore, when events start un­fold­ing, I al­ways as­sume I have a story even if I can only write two sen­tences.

An­other thing that I nor­mally do to over­come writ­ers’ men­tal block is to have two or three back up sto­ries just in case what I’m work­ing on isn’t flow­ing.

My wife, Ciru, whose is a bet­ter writer than me, al­ways re­minds me that “a good story should chal­lenge all the five hu­man senses,” mean­ing that read­ers should see, smell, taste, touch and hear the plot as it un­folds.

But I’ve also learnt that find­ing a good story idea is only the first part and the writ­ing style mat­ters as much. You see, read­ers pre­fer to have a con­ver­sa­tion on a given topic as op­posed to be­ing bom­barded with tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tions and in­dus­try jar­gon. This was my les­son when I shared a three-part se­ries on draft­ing a win­ning poul­try busi­ness plan (Seeds of Gold, Fe­bru­ary 4, 11 and May 6).

I also try to write in the first per­son when I’m re­flect­ing on ac­tual events, places and ac­tors. One thing I try to avoid is to write the di­ary as an opin­ion piece.

If you re­call, my brief for writ­ing this di­ary en­tails shar­ing use­ful, sci­en­tif­i­cally-based in­for­ma­tion told in a man­ner that read­ers could learn some les­sons.

It’s cer­tainly not about spark­ing in­ter­est and dis­cus­sions with con­tro­versy and ex­ag­ger­a­tions.

As a fan of this col­umn, ex­pect more in­for­ma­tive and in­ter­est­ing pieces go­ing for­ward be­cause of the sev­eral things I am do­ing on the farm.

First, I’ve started stock­ing or­na­men­tal Kienyeji chick­ens that in­clude Friz­zled-feath­ered, Naked­neck, Barred-feath­ered, Feath­ered shanks, bearded and dwarfs. These birds are thought to have su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers in the African tra­di­tional set­tings.

Sec­ond, my hens have started lay­ing eggs and I in­tend to start hatch­ing day-old chicks for sale soon if all goes well.

Third, I am putting up a farm house and of­fice to fa­cil­i­tate more ses­sions for ex­chang­ing ideas with other farm­ers, es­pe­cially those who visit my farm.

There­fore, ex­pect juicy sto­ries out of these ad­di­tions and many other things hap­pen­ing on the farm.

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