Yewande Omotoso knows a lot about moving through the world with intention. Born in Barbados, raised in Nigeria, with a home in Johannesburg, Omotoso is a citizen of the world. But, she’s most well known for creating her own worlds as an author. Her novels Bom Boy and The Woman Next Door, are critically acclaimed around the world. Here, Omotoso talks to The Thread on the role of intention in her writing and her life.
What are your thoughts on intention or living a life of purpose?
Intention can be a kind of force that keeps propelling you forwards. There’s a deliberateness to it. This is very useful at times in life and certainly intention has been incredibly important to me in writing novels. The will to keep moving regardless of setbacks. To keep going. To design a route and even a destination. But also intention isn’t everything. I think there should always be room for the unintended. Even in writing, sometimes at the start of a project I think I’m making a certain kind of story only to discover something else, something more. There’s intention, but there’s that too.
I coveted failure, in order to demystify it
How do you choose your projects?
I never have to choose. I write what obsesses and possesses me.
Do you have the luxury to say projects must be aligned to your purpose or what you’re trying to represent or is it a case of your bills need to be paid?
In terms of my writing that’s automatic. In terms of other work I do, I have been lucky to almost always draw meaning. But meaning is also not some inert thing that lands on you. We can make meaning.
What made you take the risk and leave an established career in architecture to take a risk on a dream that no one saw but you?
I felt I owed it to myself to try something. What’s the worst result – failure. So I coveted failure, in order to demystify it, stare it down. Once you eschew success and covert failure you can do almost anything.