Posted by on October 31, 2013 | 2 comments

Whose Dream Is It Anyway?

Recently I had an unfortunate run-in with a relative who doesn’t get my dream. Her comments went something like this: Just go get a job! What if your books don’t sell? You’ve got to stop this foolishness. A year ago these comments would have got to me. I would have gone down a negative spiral, doubting my abilities and wondering whether I was fooling myself after all. Don’t responsible adults go out and get real jobs? What reason do I have to think I can be a successful writer? Maybe I should go back to medicine or government. A lot has happened over the past year, not least of which has been winning two major writing awards – a phenomenal endorsement of my work. And, more importantly, I feel lit up and excited about what I’m doing. But still, it’s not a real job. I’m not spending an hour in the traffic every day to get to a job where my contribution is not always valued, doing work that...

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Posted by on October 24, 2013 | 4 comments

When in Doubt, Act!

I’m back at that place, staring at a blank screen, about to start a new writing project. Though the page is empty, my mind is a hive of activity. I’m clear I want to write a novel, so the questions whirling around in my head go something like: What’s the genre – romance, psychological, medical even? Who are the main characters? What’s the plot? Is there a twist? By far the loudest question is: Will I be able to pull it off? I know the answer to that big question. It’s the same one I get whenever I ask myself whether I can achieve anything in life: You’ll only know if you try. I’m convinced this is the reason so many of us get stuck in work or life circumstances that don’t fulfill us. We have great ideas, but we spend too much time entertaining questions in our heads. Instead of taking the first step we start looking at all the reasons why our wonderful ideas could blow up...

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Posted by on October 17, 2013 | 1 comment

No Pain, No Gain? I Don’t Think So.

I remember clearly the day I decided that rewards only came through suffering and sacrifice. It was my first year at university and I was facing my first Physics exam of the year. I’d left preparation for the exam too late so when I started studying I was playing catch up to cover all the material. On the day before the exam I was still not confident I’d done enough so I stayed up for most of the night studying. I drank an enormous amount of coffee to help me stay awake; at some point during the night I even ran out of milk and sugar so I took to drinking the coffee black, and very strong. At around three in the morning I decided I’d had enough so I went to bed, hoping to get at least three hours sleep before I had to get up again to go to campus. There was only one problem. I couldn’t sleep. I was so wired from the caffeine that all...

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Finishing Touches

I hand in my final manuscript for Post-mortem next Monday 14th October. Yikes! Already?! It’s been a blast of a year, and as I make the final tweaks I am again present to all that this book has given me. When I started writing it more than a year ago I had no idea the adventure I’d be in for. In my mind I was just writing a short story – 5000 words – as part of a non-fiction writing course. Then the proverbial thing led to the other and I had an award and a publishing contract to my name. That was before I’d even really written anything! When I started the project properly towards the end of last year, I was terrified. There were so many questions swimming around in my mind that at times I wondered whether I taken on something that was too big for a novice. Can I really do it? Do I have enough material? What if I get to 30,000 words and...

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Am I My Story?

Recently I read a captivating memoir titled My Father, My Monster by journalist, McIntosh Polela. The book chronicles the author’s brutal childhood in Kwazulu-Natal, where he and his sister were raised by uncaring relatives. The siblings were abandoned there without being told why they were there or when they would go back home. They gradually realised they would be staying for good when months went by without word from their parents. Violence is a prominent feature in this book – beatings, bullying, political unrest, revenge, home-made guns. It makes for chilling reading, not least because it is all true. By far the most unsettling is the revelation that McIntosh’s mother was murdered by her husband, a crime for which he was never punished. As is so often the case it was education that finally gave McIntosh the chance to better his circumstances. He went on to study journalism and became a household name as a television reporter for etv. He later became the spokesperson for the South African Police...

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