3 QUESTIONS WITH NiKo

October 16, 2006

I was so impressed and inspired by the advice that NiKo, one of the talented writers on TrinidadJunction.com, said she would give to young artistes that I had to post in on the blog in addition to adding it to her profiles. For all you youngsters who are passionate about your art and are seriously considering a career in said field, this one’s for you.

1) When did you know that this is what you wanted to do?

I think I’ve known since I was in primary school, when my Std 4 teacher
introduced us to keeping a record of our lives in the very appealing form of
a diary. Sad to say, an 11 -year old doesn’t have much to record in a diary
🙂 but writing stuff down became a sort of therapy in my adolescent years.
All I knew is that dealing with all the trails and tribulations that
teenagers have to deal felt better after I had put it down on paper. This
sort of “therapy” propelled further my love for both reading and writing.
Reading, primarily for expansion of vocabulary and a keen curiousity at the
way other people expressed themselves.

2) What steps did you take to get where you are today?

Well, my love for writing spanned short stories and poetry since my
secondary school days and my parents and teachers encouraged me to enter
short story competitions, of which I won several. I also won several
inter-school literary competitions both at the junior and senior levels. It
was like the icing on the cake to win and get recognition for something that
I had genuinely come to love and this started my dream of becoming a
published writer.

I sincerely believe that discovering and sharpening my writing skills at an
early age increased my confidence level, which spurred me on to expand
my horizons and try things like the school debate team for example. I won
inter-school debating twice, in Form 5 and then later at A levels. After
school I really wanted to do writing full time, but it was so hard to get a
decent job far less for one in this already saturated field. I ended up
with a great job in the Information Technology department at one of the top
local banks and put my love for writing on hold. While I still wrote short
stories and poems, it wasn’t as often because daily life got so busy.

For a number of years, I had been an avid reader of the Trinidad Express’s
Vox magazine, because it was showed how different people my age group, around
the country, dealt with Trini life and felt about
varying subjects that affected the masses.

My dad encouraged me for years to send my stuff in to the Express to see if
they were interested, but I always felt like time wasn’t on my side. Many
years later, I wrote them and sent in some of my stories and a couple days
later, I got a call to come in for a photo to appear with my first article.
Becoming a regular contributor to the weekend magazine that I so loved
and having people start recognizing me was very exciting. I was amazed one day
when a group of girls in their teens came up to me and told me that they
loved to read my stuff cause it was funny and so applicable. They asked me to give
my first autograph! Sadly, the magazine closed its doors after I had written several
articles and that was the end of that era, but it sure was fun while
it lasted.

After Vox, I started writing at least 3 books, 2 fiction and one
biographical – they are all in various states of completeness because time
has become such a scarce commodity, but every now and again I still write
and hope to finish them all soon. I still have my dream. One day, I will
become that published writer that I dreamt of when I was a little girl.

3) What advice would you give to a young person from T&T who’s thinking of
becoming a dancer/actor/musician/writer/etc.?

Three words of advice: love, persistence and discipline. I think loving an
art form is the first step to becoming good at it, excelling then comes more
natural because your heart is in it, whether it be dance, acting, music,
painting or writing. Being in the arts is no easy feat, it doesn’t start
off as a job that pays well or is part of any set routine. It is the
creativity and love that distinguishes and separates people in the arts.

Persistence is a definite requirement – because art is such a subjective
thing, one person not liking what you do doesn’t mean that someone else
wouldn’t. I sent hundreds of pieces to the Express. Their team
had to weed through all of it to find exactly which piece fit well
with the style of the magazine. Sometimes it confused me because I felt
like they could have published something else that was better in my eyes, but
I had to understand that they already had their brand. So it became about
moulding my work into what they expected without stifling my creativity.

Discipline; because again art is such a natural, evolving thing that when it
comes to writing for example, I can tell you – it is very hard for someone
to tell you what to write. When the inspiration isn’t there, writers block
is the easiest thing to stumble upon. So for me the discipline was needed
when I had to produce an article every week related to the theme
of the magazine, make it funny or build some kind of lesson into it.

Lastly I would like to add, never give up on your dreams. Hey, I just
turned 30 and I sure ain’t giving up – it’s nice to live on the edge of your
dreams and reality, makes you strangely focused in keeping your creativity
alive!

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