Writing advice from Rémy Ngamije

Rémy Ngamije, is a Rwandan-born Namibian writer and photographer. He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Doek!, Namibia’s first literary magazine. He was shortlisted for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing in 2020. He was also longlisted for the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Prize. In 2019 he was shortlisted for Best Original Fiction by Stack Magazines. His debut novel The Eternal Audience Of One is available from Blackbird Books and is forthcoming from Scout Press (S&S). Pretty impressive achievements for just over eighteen months!

His book also has the most beautiful cover.

Rémy Ngamije’s book – The Eternal Audience of One (image from his website)

He recently appeared on the Book Lounge podcast (my favourite bookstore, so obviously I’ll listen to every episode) where he spoke about his busy past year. He seemed so full of passion and just raring to write. It was energising to listen to. He also had some sensible advice, including ‘go somewhere where nothing happens (Windhoek) so you can’t get distracted from your writing’. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the vibe.

I thought I’d see whether he has any other good advice to share. Turns out he posts regularly on his own website (check it out). I’ve started trying to write short stories this year and so naturally I was drawn to his thoughts on this subject. On when to finish a short story, Rémy has a few thoughts, expressed in his post – A Quiet Place to Quit. Enjoy.

It is necessary, though. If I do not quit I will do something even harder: continue.

And there is nothing worse than carrying on when the moment has passed, when the tea has gone cold. If there is anything worse than an uninvited house guest it is a short story that lingers on too long, one that attempts to be a three-course meal with the attendant array of forks, knives, and spoons when it should be served like street food, whipped together at speed, slapped with sauces unknown, and tucked into with all the good bits dripping down your chin. At some point, sooner rather than later—preferably sooner—you just have to let the short story go.

Let it go.

(Please do not sing that fucking Frozen song.)

Rémy Ngamije in his post – A quiet place to quit.