interview with oyindamola shoola
Page Bloom: Please let’s meet you
Oyindamola Shoola is a writer, feminist, and blogger. She is also the Co-founder of Spring Literary Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Nigerian writers. In 2017, she was awarded by Nigerian Writers Award as one of the top 100 influential Nigerian Writers under the age of 40. She published her first collection of poems titled Heartbeat in 2015. Her second book titled To Bee a Honey was republished by Jeanius Publishing in March 2018. Her third book, a prose poetry collection titled The Silence We Eat was released in October.
Oyindamola Shoola is currently a student at NYU in her junior year, pursuing a major in Organizational Behavior and Change.
Page Bloom: When did you start writing and what influenced your writing career?
Oyindamola Shoola: I started writing in my final high school year. However, I did not consider myself a writer then. I did not take my writing very seriously until a few months after publishing my first book when I discovered my love for reading and began investing in exploring diverse genres.
I don’t think I am at the stage where I can call my writing a “career” yet. It is more of an interest, skill, and calling for me at this stage, and I have a long way to go. I am still learning and discovering myself as a writer.
Page Bloom: Are you a full-time writer? If yes, what would you have been doing if you weren’t a writer?
Oyindamola Shoola: No I am not a full-time writer. I am a polymath and sticking to one interest as a career will make me sick. I do a lot of things outside of writing, and I employ my interest in writing in different ways. As a writer, I am a blogger, poet, short story writer, essayist, book reviewer, and an interviewer. I also use my writing skills to support students at my workplace when they are applying for scholarships or to gain admission to universities of their choice. I am also a mentor in the Sprinng Literary Movement Mentorship Programme, where I use my writing knowledge and skills to guide developing writers… and these are only under my interest in writing. I have other interests such as public speaking, organizational behaviour, and change, career advisements, etc.
The possibilities of who I am or who I could be is boundless.
Page Bloom: How do you unwind/relax?
Oyindamola Shoola: I sleep, eat, go to the gym, or watch movies.
Page Bloom: What is your favourite book of all time?
Oyindamola Shoola: I don’t have a favourite book of all time. I read widely, and I have favourite books in different genres. Just when I am hooked on one book, and I think it is the best thing in the world, I walk into the bookstore and find something else to cheat with.
Page Bloom: What can you say about the literary space in Nigeria at the moment?
Oyindamola Shoola: I think that my generation of writers have the potential of transforming the literary space in Nigeria at the moment, in the long run. I see many innovations they have taken on, despite their costs and how they are pushing through to break the stereotypes about literature in Nigeria. There are more contests available for writers and events that allow writers in Nigeria to build networks, and this makes me very proud.
Even the books that the current contemporary Nigerian writers are publishing are exceptional and unapologetic in their ways. From Pamilerin Jacob’s Memoir of Crushed Petals to Kanyinsola Olorunnisola’s In My Country, We’re All Cross Dressers to Sarah Aluko’s Firstborn. We are revitalizing the former perspectives of literature in Nigeria despite being accused of having limited resources and audiences. We are thriving like we’ve been raised and taught to.
Page Bloom: What would you consider as the struggles of a writer/author generally and in Nigeria specifically?
Oyindamola Shoola: I believe that writers and authors in Nigeria have their individual journey to make. It is their responsibility to make choices towards the success or failures of their work. Additionally, what may be a struggle to one writer/author may be a blessing to another depending on the perspective they choose. A writer can say, I can’t find the kind of books I wish to read in the Nigerian literary market. Another writer may go further and say, I can’t find the type of books I want to read, which gives me an opportunity to write something that will distinguish myself as a Nigerian writer.
I won’t generalize any struggles because some writers and authors have thrived regardless of the poor expectations concerning literature in Nigeria. I have learned from many top contemporary writers and seen how they channel a positive perspective to achieve their personal or career goals in writing.
Page Bloom: When it comes to writing, who is your role model?
Oyindamola Shoola: My role model is the person I will be ten years from now and in ten years that will change. I have many mentors who support my writing, but they are not my role models. I am confident in my style and perspective of writing, and although I admire these mentors, I do not wish to be like them.
In my interview with The Sparkle Writer’s Hub I said;
“I have also stood out because I am wise enough to not remain at the same spot mentally and creatively for too long. I know that there are writers that look up to me but I always make sure I am on the move to attain a higher goal in my writing and reading habits.”
I don’t want to be stuck on who someone is now, as a writer or individual in the name of “having a role model,” especially when they have the potential to change into something unexpected. While you are stuck on trying to be Beyoncé, the feminist, she switched to Beyoncé the Black Lives Matter activist in her music. While you are stuck on the BLM activist side of Beyoncé, she changed to Trap music in the album Everything Is Love.
My point is simple; I don’t like to trap myself into aspiring to be like someone who won’t remain in an absolute position of themselves and will change to something greater than my expectations. I aim for the higher version of myself, which is what I have the potential to become, whether it is known or unknown at the moment.
Page Bloom: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Oyindamola Shoola: Speak up and if they don’t listen, yell!
I feminized my silence and attributed it to having “good manners” and “virtues,” but it did not serve me well in the long run. Now, through my writings, I say what I should have said a long time ago, and what I want to say now, accountably but unapologetically.