Tiah chats to Kinyanjui Kombani a.k.a. The Banker Who Writes.
Tiah: You are known as The Banker Who Writes. One of the biggest moans we hear from new writers is that they don't have time to write. Now you are a busy man. How does writing fit in with your other responsiblities?
Kinyanjui: I once read that the only constant that all humans have is a 24 hour day. If you take out 8 hours of building a career, and 8 hours of sleep, you have 8 hours to do something that you really love. This eye opening observation changed my mind for ever. You can never find time to write, you can only create it.
I do not have the liberty to take breaks to write or workshop. To fit writing into my schedule, I break down the work into easy, manageable pieces. My latest novel is about 60,000 words. Instead of trying to write everything at once, I chose to write 1,000 words per day. Within 90 days I had the novel ready, including revisions.
This, however, calls for a lot of discipline, and sacrifice. There are a few other places I’d rather be or a few other things I’d rather be doing, but I know that each word I write every day is a word less my target.
Tiah: Your writing spans from novels, a play and THREE children's stories. How does your approach to writing flex between forms?
Kinyanjui: Each of my work takes a different approach. It is more difficult to write for children, because of the fact that you have to bring yourself to the level of the target age group. There is less description and shorter sentences, and one has to be careful about some devices like flashback.
For the play, things are easy because we performed the play on stage. The final script is very different from the one I wrote.
I am more comfortable writing prose fiction for adults.
Tiah: What is some of the best writing advice you've been given?
Kinyanjui: Very simply: ‘Keep writing!’
Tiah: You are involved in raising the education stands of Molo Academy. Could you tell us more about that?
Kinyanjui: Every year for the last 7 years, we have hosted the top performers of Molo Academy to a luncheon at a 5 star hotel. In the recent years, we have included motivational and career talks into the talks. Out of a class of 50, our first batch of top performers was 6. This batch has since grown to 40. The school’s performance has moved to position 6 countrywide. It is a real success story, and we are spreading this project to other schools.
Tiah: Lastly, what question do you wish we'd asked? Please answer it.
Kinyanjui: Q: What drives me? A: We all have a purpose in this life. I plan to die empty!
On Kinyanjui's Bedside Table:
I have been reading a lot of David Baldacci books. Just finished reading The Hit. Government assassin Will Robie is sent on an unusual assignment – to bring down his own colleague, an equally skilled Jessica Reel. As he hunts her down, he finds out that there is more than meets the eye, and together they unravel a huge conspiracy. It is a great read.
Kinyanjui Kombani is a creative writer, banker, learning facilitator, award winning entrepreneur and certified business mentor based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Young Alumni Award of Kenyatta University for his contribution to creative writing in Kenya.
His novel The Last Villains of Molo, based on ethnic instigated clashes in Molo, Kenya, is a study text at universities in Kenya, Germany, USA and UK at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His two children’s stories: ‘Wangari Maathai: Mother of Trees’ and ‘We Can Be Friends’ were approved by Kenya’s Institute of Education for use in Kenyan schools. He has also written a children’s book Lost but Found. His new novel Den of Inequities has been released to critical acclaim.
‘Carcasses’, a play Kinyanjui wrote for Born Free Foundation’s Bush Meat Trade Awareness project, was performed to audiences all over the country and later shot to film. ‘Mizoga’ has been screened in Africa, Europe and the USA and has been shown to over 60,000 rural Kenyans.
Kinyanjui is actively involved in the Storymoja Festival, Creatives’ Academy, Authors Buffet and other literary activities in Kenya.