Patience Aghafekokhian Etudo Goes Bare With ‘Running on Rocks’; A Handbook For Women Finding Balance
By Linda Orajekwe
As the world evolves and genders seek for equality, Nigerian women are still struggling to stake their claims successfully on desired quests. Women are finding it difficult to balance the different aspects of their lives and many are grappling with the issue of finance, to first have and manage.
These are the foundations ‘Running on Rocks’ by Patience Aghafekokhian Etudo builds on as she found it necessary as a wife and mother to talk about her experience and that of other women who navigate their ways to find a balance between effectively managing a family and their career to achieve financial independence.
In ‘Running on Rocks’, Nigerian author Patience Aghafekokhian Etudo documents the uncertain future women face if not financially independent and the rocks thrown on her path in her quest to pursue her career and achieve that financial independence.
‘Running on Roc’ goes into details about sacrifices the author made as well as the often-overlooked expectations placed on women, particularly in the Nigerian society.
Speaking to Vanguard in a brief chat, the Edo state mother of three PhD holders, Patience Aghafekokhian Etudo talks about the art and act of writing, writing this book in particular and the revelations discovered on the way to its production.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t really have any as such. I enjoy writing when I am in the right frame of mind to write.
How did you do research for ‘Running on Rocks’?
I didn’t need too much research because I was writing about my experience and the experience of others to point out some harmful practices affecting women in our society – a topic that many people could relate to. I only needed to make some references to buttress my viewpoint.
What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?
Success to me means identifying my goal/goals, go at it no matter what, until I achieve the set goal/goals.
Now that your kids are grown, is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
Writing is not a career for me, it is a hobby. I am working on setting up a foundation that will award scholarships to some less privileged, talented youths in my community.
Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Absolutely! Social media is no longer optional and though I am still figuring it out, you can connect with me on Instagram @patienceetudo and on Facebook Patience Etudo or my website patienceetudo.com. I’d love to engage with and hear my target audiences’ perspective on varying matters, especially those I focused on in my book “Running on Rocks”.
When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sad) scene, how do you get in the mood?
This happened to me a lot. It was actually responsible for the huge length of time to write this book. I reacted to such an occasion by laying off for some time and coming back to it when I summoned enough courage to continue.
When did you start writing ‘Running on Rocks’?
It took a long time for me to finish writing this book because it was emotionally draining. I would on some occasion abandon the work for months, but I always eventually summon the courage to continue. My main motivation was to share and get this problem out there to the larger society with the aim of triggering further discussions of the problem and, hopefully, ultimately proffer solutions.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Not at all. Writing was thrust on me as a result of the events around me.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
For now, I write in my spare time when I am in the frame of mind to write so I don’t really have a writing schedule.
How do you handle writer’s block?
I really didn’t have writer’s block instead I had an emotional block so to speak.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
It was difficult to discuss the very personal aspects of the book. I would sometimes wonder whether it was the right thing to do. At the end of the day, I always arrived at the conclusion that it was worth it.
What does your family think of your writing? Are they proud of the decision you made to be a stay at home mom?
My family is very proud of my decision to write on this particular topic. They are not just proud, they actually contributed by giving material, moral and financial support. As for whether they are proud of my decision to be a stay-at-home mum, the answer is not a straightforward one. I discussed the reactions of my children in the book and also that of my siblings who never really understood the decision but later came to terms with it.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I discovered in the course of my research for the book, how prevalent the subject matter is. There is hardly anyone that couldn’t relate to the topic.
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
That should be writing about my early life. It took me back to the good old days. Those fun things that young people do.
If you could spend a day with a popular author, whom would you choose?
I will choose Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I have read all of her books. Her wonderful ability to tell her stories in simple and beautiful prose and dialogue puts the reader at the scene of the story. Her description captures one’s imagination. For example, after reading Half of a Yellow Sun, I felt as if I was present at the time of the events she wrote about.
What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with this work?
I hope that with this work; I have brought to the fore the dilemma Nigerian women face in choosing between their careers and their family, which shouldn’t be. The hurdles they face as they struggle to overcome this dilemma and possible ways to prevent having to be in a situation to have to choose. They should be able to achieve both desires perfectly.
What inspired the idea for Running on Rocks?
‘Running on Rocks’ is simply due to my experience and the experiences of others I know and the prevalence of the problem, the toll it takes on the psychic of the Nigerian woman. This problem is stunting the growth of the Nigerian woman, harming the family unit by creating frictions that could eventually lead to the dissolution of the union. So I thought why not share my experience and those of others and let people know that they shouldn’t be ashamed to discuss the problem to enable the process of arriving at a solution.
Did you celebrate when you finished your book?
No. I didn’t. I was happy I succeeded in achieving my objective which was to write the book for the public good, especially for the young ones in our society.
In your book, you speak about women setting career goals, attaining financial independence, and the roles the men in their lives can play to help in achieving the aforementioned. Tell us a bit about this.
This is a very good question. The men are the biggest part of the solution. As I pointed out in the book, if the woman does not have the support of the man in her life, it is next to impossible for her to carry on and get on with it successfully. Remember that there are various reasons ranging from jealousy which breeds insecurity. Jealousy stems from the fear of the wife or partner having affairs with other men in her place of work or business. This insecurity can also stem from the fear of disrespect due to her financial independence. It can also be the fear that the kids of the union can suffer negligence due to long hours of the absence of their mother. So you see, if the men in their lives are not supportive, the rocks on her path will almost be insurmountable. If she is fighting off the hurdles in the workplace or her business environment, whether in the form of sexual harassment or the usual discrimination against women at work and then returns home to a hostile environment, she would either bend or break! These and many more which I cited in the book are the reasons that it is pertinent that the men in the life of the woman must be carried along. I described the various means by which their fears can be assuaged.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 25-year-old self about balancing a family and a career?
I would have been able to better avoid the rocks placed on the path to achieving my goals if I had been availed the opportunity to read a book like RUNNING ON ROCKS, which is why I’ve created for others to read and avoid the rocks.