There is this assumption that poetry is complex and prose is simple. As far as my limited experience goes, nothing is more wrong than that.
A writer is a writer, struggling to make the best craft in any genre and all deserve equal respect.
For about 10+ years, I’ve written prose, drama, poetry and hard news as a journalist, but nothing in those years has taught me that it’s easier being a prose writer than being a poet.
Matter of fact, I have a novel I completed in 2010 and I’ve been editing for 5 solid years! Why?
You have to deal with issues like plot, setting, characterization, consistency, narration and, above all, BELIEVABILITY, whether fiction or non-fiction.
As a poet, what we deal with mostly is word manipulation, playing hide and seek with verses, playing god and playing artist with words, condensing and congesting artfully. Yes, that is difficult, requiring wide knowledge/experience and familiarity with words.
The problem we have is people thinking that anything written is a good story or a good poem.
It might be easier to write a bastard PROSE work than it is to write a legitimate POEM just as it will be easier to write a VAGABOND poem than it will be to write a CLASSIC prose.
Now, concerning making money from writing, I have come to realize that – especially in the Nigerian market, a writer must know that the craft is not for money making, yet. For now, we express creativity.
It has been so for a long time.
How much do you think Shakespeare made from his writings? How much did Thomas Hardy make? Or Keat, or Yeats or Gabriel Okara, Ola Rotimi, Festus Iyayi…? Compare them to Grisham, Soyinka, George Orwell, Achebe, Chimamanda and see the difference.
My conclusion: in every generation, there will be great writers and rich writers…each successful on his or her own terms. In the Nigerian market, lack of structures make is even worse.
I pray to feature in both categories, but I’ll be content to be in either one of the two.