I chose writing to escape unemployment
While waiting and praying for a well-paying job, Koki Oyuke immersed herself in writing and editing books. Her journey into penning her own book has been an amalgamation of fear, courage, love, resilience and vulnerability.
Nailantei Norari @artnorari
“I write because I cannot not write,” Koki Oyuke emotes as a response to my question of why she writes. She talks of how she has always loved writing from a young age.
How she wrote poems in primary school, but was never courageous nor confident enough in herself to publish them.
How she got the idea for the just published book, Chosen not Cheated in 2012, in her final year at university, but would wait for several years to start writing it.
Koki grew up in a loving family where her creativity was nurtured as her parents pushed her to be all she could be.
She went to a boarding primary school, Kangundo Junior Academy in Kangundo, and proceeded to Kenya High School, Nairobi in 2004.
She then went on to acquire a degree in Marketing and Advertising from Daystar University with a PR elective between 2008 and 2012.
After a short internship at Isuzu, Koki joined the advertising industry doubling as client service and as a copywriter.
She later quit the industry in pursuit of her entrepreneurial dream. She had a design business where she would make art, mugs and décor pieces with witty captions meant to heal and teach.
She poured her all into her business and would later start an eponymous blog in 2015, with the aim of spreading magic and stardust across the Internet from her keyboard.
Entrepreneurship and, especially breaking even is hard for any business. She learnt this soon enough.
She spent her free time applying for jobs, buckling under the societal pressure of what a career or life should look like.
It was in the waiting and praying for a high paying job like her college mates that she learnt that we are all meant for different things and that everyone has their own unique path.
She learnt that even with different life paths, occupations and vocations, that one can still impact lives.
She then threw herself head on into writing and editing books, building on her copywriting skills and owning this space as her occupation and vocation.
Koki talks of how the need to speak to people to be themselves as part of the reason she wrote her book.
She still uses her blog for that, but more so her book to push and hopefully inspire people out of any rut they might be struck in no matter the sphere of life they might be in.
“I hope the book inspires readers and shows them just how unique and important their different life paths and experiences are,” the writer and books editor explains.
“I had this idea of what an author looks like and what their life story should be. I did not feel like they were like me, so I put off writing this book for quite some time.
It took a lot of support from friends and family and some introspection to finally put pen to paper.
And several more years to research, finish writing, design the book and release it in August 2019,” she further elaborates.
Her advise to budding writers is for them to read a lot and on varied subjects too. She loves reading and does so extensively.
From the Bible, personal development books to fictional tomes, she loves getting lost in the pages of a book.
Austin Kleon, is one of her favourite authors with his titles such as Show Your Work, Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going being regular placeholders in her reading schedule.
Point to note
While it is hard to pick one best read or just one author who has influenced her, Julia Cameron with her book, The Artist’s Way is somewhere near the top of her list as the book helps any creative artist explore themselves and regain confidence in their art if going through a creative block.
The book helped her on her writing journey, both while blogging and penning her book.
Koki also seeks to deconstruct the need for perfect—the perfect backstory to that personal project or the need for that project to be perfect.
She advises budding writers to not be incapacitated by the daunting task ahead and to just start chipping away at it immediately, by starting to write anyway.
“Just write. It does not have to be good. But the great news is you can always rewrite and tighten your manuscript.
Do not wait for the perfect time to write, or the perfect idea, or the perfect version of yourself that would make for a great author bio.
Show up where you are, how you are, confident or not and just start moving and keep moving,” she says in conclusion.