Toni Kan in conversation with Abubakar Adam Ibrahim who says “I write, mostly, at night.”
TONI KAN: So, would you call yourself a writer?
ABUBAKAR ADAM IBRAHIM: Yeah, I think so
AAI: Because writing is me and I am writing. Not in the sense that I define writing but writing defines me, because this is what I’ve always wanted to do even before I realised it was what I wanted to do. So, I’m happiest when I write and even though it’s hard work, harder than most people actually realise. But I enjoy that suffering, I enjoy persevering and I enjoy what comes through at the end of the day. Whether I decide to publish it or not, I just enjoy the process of writing and I think that makes me a writer.
TK: When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
AAI: I’ve always wanted to tell stories. That has always been there, right from before I could even write. So, I told stories, I drew pictures, I did all of that. But the moment I think that convinced me that writing was my preferred form of artistic expressions was when I was about 13 years old, after reading a book that made such an impact on me that I said I can tell storis like this person did. And I’ve always thought that it’s something I’m just going to do for my own leisure and fun but by the time I was 18, or so, I just realised that it’s possible to do this for a living, you know, and I’ve never made a better decision.
TK: So, when you want to write, say Season of Crimson Blossoms, what was the trigger was it a smell, an idea, a sentence, a conversation in your head?
AAI: It’s a scene. It’s the opening scene of that story, where you have just two characters pop into your head. And they are in this very unique situation where one is trying to rob the other and then there’s this spark between them. And that was where the story started. It kept playing in my head but I had no idea of how it was going to go and where it was going to end but the moment I started writing, it started flowing. So, different stories come differently. There are difference things that spark this idea in you. Sometimes they are very internal. You have no idea when they come in but they just pop out. Sometimes it’s maybe something you see somewhere that inspires you and leads to other things.
TK: So when you get the idea, what do you do next?
AAI: I sit down and I write.
TK: (Laughs) So when do you write, morning afternoon, night do you have like a set time, do you have a number of words that you have to achieve in a day?
AAI: Yeah, now I do word counts because I realise that I don’t have the liberty that I used to have anymore. So, I just try to do 1,000 words everyday at the least, depending on the story I’m doing and how inspired I am. Recently I just worked on a project that had a very severe impact on me and I felt I was going to die before I finished it.
TK: ( Laughs) Are you serious?
TK: Was that a personal project?
AAI: No, it’s a novel. So, I just sat down and I wrote and even though I wasn’t on a residency it didnt matter. You know I had to go to work, I had to do everything but I just continued writing.
TK: So, do you write better in the morning or at night?
AAI: Mostly at night. That’s what I’ve come to realise. Because I’ve always been this person who didn’t want to tie himself and say I write best at this particular time. Saying, I need coffee, I need sex or I need something. But I kind of like, had to accept that writing for me comes better at night.
TK: So, what is this novel you just finished writing?
AAI: Ehhhm..I’m not going to talk about it.
TK: If you tell me, you would have to kill me, right?
AI: No, you are The Mayor, so I can’t kill you. Maybe kidnap you and put you in a box.