words follow me


archive of essays by Teju Cole for NEXT newspaper

eight letters to a young writer

Eight Letters to a Young Writer evolved as a fictional exercise addressed to an imaginary young Nigerian writer. I thought it might be interesting to take the genre of letters to a young writer and have it be written by someone who is himself a young writer. Over the course of the series, and with the encouragement of my editor Molara Wood, I tried to move from discussions of simple writing precepts to more complex things like voice and calling.

It was wonderful to write these letters for a general newspaper audience, and it was equally wonderful to receive letters from young Nigerian writers in response to them. The one-sided correspondence became a richer and truer thing. I’m happy to make those pieces available again now, as a single downloadable PDF file. I hope they can stand as a small act of solidarity with writers of all ages in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Filed under: letters to a young writer, literature

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