“It’s the little things” – Ursula Abanga

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Among those at the apex of the next generation of Ghanaian writers is Ursula M. Abanga, whose dedicated presence online is more of a testament to the life of an already accomplished wordsmith prolific at yarning stories. She has, after all, been an integral part of Ink Up, the collective of young artistes online. She has thus been perfecting the ability to convey universal truths and deep emotions in the numerous flash fiction she churns out. Her short stories Sunday and Balance were included in the two anthologies published by the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, the Business Management graduate is reading. Well, Ms. Abanga agreed to truthfully complete the following journal prompts without holding back whatsoever. Here’s an insight into the mind of this young writer on 31 prompts, one for each day of the month of March 2021!

1. A favourite song lyric

Take an angel by the wingsBeg her now for anything/ Beg her now for one more day/ Take an angel by the wings/ Time to tell her everything/ Ask her for the strength to stay 

2. The thing you always forget to pack

I rarely forget to pack anything. This is because my mum packs for me. I have to ensure that all the things I am taking with me are on the couch in the living room. So over the course of maybe a week, I keep piling them there till I have everything. When she’s packing, she notices something I might need isn’t there, she’ll ask me, won’t you need______. Even when I pack for myself, I rarely forget stuff because I’m so used to living on the road. I travel a lot. Within Ghana, of course. I have never left the country (though I want to). Because I’m usually on the road, some things never leave my bag. At any given time, you would find a toothbrush, spoon, deodorant, little container of body cream, etc. in my backpack.

3. A fictional character you’d like to switch places with

No one comes to mind immediately. If I have to think for a while, do I really want to switch places with them?

4. Something to let go of

My fear of rejection. This fear rules my life, seriously. My friends have to talk and talk before I submit anything to any anthology. I remember when the Commonwealth Short Story Prize rejected my story once, I couldn’t write for over a year. It was brutal. I usually think that it is better to not submit and be okay than submit and get rejected and feel crappy. Schrodinger’s Art, if you might. The piece is assumed to be both good and bad because no one has looked at it. I feel much better. I am overcoming this fear though, little by little.

5. What do you want more of?

I want more of a lot of things. I want more money, duh! What money can’t do, more money can do. People are going to think me petty cos money is the first thing on the list but that is their problem, not mine. I also want more time with those I love. Life is so short and fleeting and temporary and death is permanent and disruptive. I want more books cos, duh! More tea cos there’s no such thing as too much tea. More data bundle so I can Netflix comedy and anime. More good music because, whew! Music is everything for me. I want more love, for myself and for the world because I feel love can solve all the world’s problems. I also want more hair, a little extra height and perhaps more female friends cos boys are a stress. Inner peace too.

6. A typical grocery list

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Weed
  • -Meat
  • Fish
  • Juice (mostly apple)

7. A fact you don’t usually tell people

I have no idea who my dad is. I know nothing about him…his name, whether he’s alive, nothing! Feels weird cos people talk about their dads all the time and I cannot relate.

8. What does it take to make a friend?

I really have no idea. I make friends quite easily. I guess it’s because I really have no problem with being myself. I am loud and boisterous and energetic and I let it show all the time. People are drawn to positive energy, to positive vibes. So, I guess you just put that out there and wait for the universe to respond in kind.

9. The thing that makes you excited

The thing? Cos there’s more than one. Books, tea, film noir, music, writing, new ideas. Bikes. Whew. There’s a whole lot of them. I’m a retrophile and so I drool when I see old things too.

10. Everyone needs…

Love. Not a thinker, this one. Love, and money.

11. The best place to be

Your mind. I think it is a good thing to sometimes just take a trip into yourself and see what is inside there. You have to get used to yourself.

12. How do you focus?

I get very very high. Then I play classical music and do what needs to be done.

13. Who is your “cheerleader?”

Akorfa Kuukua Dawson

14. The goal you are working towards now

Opening a writer’s café/bar in Ghana. I have a name and logo and everything. E lef the money

15. Three small steps towards your goal

  • Networking with creatives. Organising literary events to create hype
  • Looking online for sponsorship deals
  • Learning to mix cocktails cos I want to be my own bartender

16. The most inspiring person you’ve met

Whew! I cannot tell. I have met so many people that inspired me. I cannot rank them on a scale and choose the one ranking highest.

17. How would you describe yourself?

Mm…how do I nail this without being narcissistic? I’m loud, but only in the right company. I’m an extreme extrovert who prefers the company of herself. Adey feel myself die, no lie. I am also a brilliant writer, a very good friend to those I love, and a legit foodie. I have a constant craving for the sea. I’m a bibliophile, a logophile, a retrophile and a recovering nyctophobe.

18. A few words of advice to someone younger

Stop being so serious. Yeah, life is hard but it doesn’t mean you should be so hard on yourself. Pause. Breathe. Feel the breeze, smell the rain, let the sand between your toes. It’s the little things that matter, because they are the things that come together to make up the great things.

19. Ten things you learned in the past year

  1. No matter how badly it is broken, my heart can heal
  2. How to love myself
  3. Betrayals hurt so bad
  4. People can be extremely shallow
  5. The beach cures my depression
  6. Being single is actually not so bad
  7. I’m good at growing things. (I have two plants to prove it. Everyone thought they wouldn’t grow but here we are)
  8. I don’t know how to love in halves
  9. Being high makes me happy
  10. Overdosing on edibles is torturous

20. What is the most important thing in life?

I don’t think I have achieved the level of sage needed to answer this question. I live by the principle that the most important thing is what you are doing in that moment. You should concentrate on what it is you are doing and do it as best as it can be done. As an abstract idea though, how about the most important thing being love? I feel love can solve all the problems in the world. If I love me, I will be kind to me. If I love you, I will be kind to you. If I love the environment, I will be kind to her. That translates into no suicides, no wars, less pollution, etc.

21. An idea that seems great, but actually isn’t

Dying your hair yourself, or cutting it yourself.

22. Five books everyone should read

Sieving my list to five? Herculean task.

  1. Roar by Cecelia Ahern
  2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  4. Anything by James Patterson
  5. Every book I write. Yes, I’m feeling myself

23. Where do you most want to travel?

Everywhere that is not here. But let’s start with Italy.

24. What are you good at?

Writing. Loving. Being me

25. Three things you learned today

  1. Some of my friends are ride-or-die
  2. Some of them would never appreciate me the way they should, and that’s okay too. I still love them
  3. Poverty na bastard

26. Something you are looking forward to

Getting tattoos!!!!

27. Pick a movie character you identify with

Whew. Enola Holmes?

28. Ten things you love about spring

I’ve never experienced spring [sin the European sense].

29. Are you patient?

Yes. I am a big believer in delayed gratification. However, I have no patience for certain behaviours. I can wait for something because I believe the pleasure is greater when you wait for it, when you anticipate. Being patient with people is something I’m good at, as long as said people are below 13 years. Then again, it all depends on the context.

30. Describe a childhood memory

I can’t have been up to five because by then I was in class one. This story happened when I was in kindergarten. The walls of my school had these decorative holes in them. In class one afternoon, I got bored and tried to fit my head through one of these holes. My desk was by the wall, so…. Anyway, after some effort, my head fit. However, it wouldn’t come out again. For some reason, no one paid any attention to me while I was trying to get my head through. At least, they would have stopped me, I should think. Now that my head was in, everybody saw me. Getting my head out was one of the most painful experiences of my life.

31. List some favourite jokes

I won’t finish today. Watch every Katt Williams and Eddie Griffin special and you will hear my favourite jokes. Chris Rock too.

Reach Ursula at IGher blog

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