Name: Cynthia Awinja Marende
Location / Base: Nairobi
Social Media or Website Links: http://www.storiesbyawinja.wordpress.com
Film lab Kenya: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCERw89tiLEt9UpA_kGNLVZg
Creative Enterprise Bio
I have always had a knack for creative writing since I could hold a pencil and write something. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, Marketing specifically and this has definitely equipped me to selling myself as an entreprise. I also have a Master’s degree in International Journalism and Communication. I not only love to write fiction but I believe I have a responsibility to tell real stories about people and their impact on society whether good or bad.
I am a film maker as well. Film is just another way for me to tell my stories. I work with Film lab Kenya as a project coordinator. We specialize in making short films that revolve around societal issues and our responsibility towards the same. The tagline we use is #films4socialresponsibility. It is our mission to use film to create awareness, educate and help curb certain social ills.
My Creative Journey / Creative Lifecycle
While in primary school, my favorite subject was always English and more specifically the reading and composition aspects. All through primary school and high school my compositions were used as examples for other students to follow both in my class and other classes in the school. I knew I had a gift. I loved reading Pacesetters, EAEP novels and novels from other African publications. I always dreamt and still do; that I would be an acclaimed writer like the authors whose stories I was obsessed with and that one day some young minds will be reading my stories and something would ignite the passion to write in them.
I would have wanted to pursue creative writing as a career but the education system as it is doesn’t really encourage students to fully pursue the arts professionally. One time I had the audacity to tell someone I wanted to pursue a masters in theatre but I was sternly reproached for even thinking a ‘hobby’ could turn into a career.
Leaving home in 2011 to go to China for my Master’s degree was the turning point for me. Being away from home in a country where I knew no one meant I had all the opportunity to be whatever I wanted to be. So instead of pursuing a Master’s in Marketing as was the agreement I did International Journalism and Communication. I wanted to write stories and that was the one way I knew I could do it professionally and still build the creative aspects while earning a living and building my name as a writer. I also knew I needed to understand my environment and journalism would open a lot of doors to do so.
Coming back home in 2014 and fitting back into my home was not easy. I was confused and stressed out. Opportunity knocked at a time I needed it most in form of a job at a Business magazine called Think Business. That was the first time I saw my name on a by line and the thrill was unexplainable. Meeting young and old entrepreneurs, business moguls, CEOs of blue chip companies was intimidating but at the same time very inspiring. I have never thought myself a businesswoman let alone an entrepreneur but I was starting to discover that side of me. I met people who through their social entreprises were making such big differences in their spheres of influence and the world around them was starting to take notice. These people were changing lives and the environment (flora and fauna) using their education, skills and talents and doing so in a way that made business sense.
I hadn’t written my own stories for a while, I realized I was totally focused on my job and forgot the two were to go hand in hand.
I quit my job in March 2016 not just because I wanted to focus on my writing but because I had stopped growing at the company and the company itself had stopped growing and my pocket wasn’t growing either.
That brings us to now where I am working on packaging my stories and having them published as well as working with Film Lab Kenya.
African-inspired stories and articles that will be used in schools and other institutions and platforms of learning in Kenya, the region, the continent and ultimately, the world.
To tell my version of African stories that will inspire and incite people to change and take up responsibility for issues concerning their society. I seek to achieve this by writing stories that are well written; whose characters are relatable and well developed, whose story line is undeniably inspired, and whose message is clear and relevant.
Creativity, Impact and discipline
18 month plan
Get a part time job that will enable me to be financially independent but at the same time have time to write my own pieces.
Establish my freelancing that is; have contracts and projects that are actually running and paying. Have actual platforms where I actually contribute regularly.
Package ten stories into a short story collection and actively pursue publishing options.
Start on a novel whether just an idea, a concept or an outline.
Source for well-paying projects for Film Lab Kenya as well as submitting our films for at least 10 international film festivals and/or contests.
Launch my personal website and a website for Film Lab Kenya.