Thursday, September 30, 2010


Before I start today's post:

Morning all and welcome to all the new followers. And thank you all for posting comments. It's really starting to feel like we're in conversation.

I wanted to do this a while back, but I was in such a hurry every time I posted that I kept forgetting. Anyway. I have been contacted by C. John Coombes, who wants to get his new blog off the ground. He needs authors that published in an e-book format as well as reviewers willing to read and review e-books. So please go check it out and spread the word.

Then, as I'm certain you noticed, my first page is up, but as yet incomplete. The plan is to give you all at least some idea about who's talking to me in Doorways so that I don't sound like a ranting idiot half the time. However, I'm struggling to find images to use in order to give you an idea what they look like. Sigh.

Finally, I'm contemplating the creation a conversation area where we can all get together to chat about whatever we want. Would you spend time in such an area? Please let me know honestly in the comments, since I want to have an idea as to the numbers involved. Also, if you have a suggestion as to how I can create this area, please let me know.

OK... that done, let's get to the post.

My past three days have been filled with irony.

I finished an essay I believed was practically finished at four o'clock the following morning.

I woke up in time, got dressed on time and drove to campus on time. Only to have my car break down at the most inopportune moment. Just as I resigned to the fact that I was going to be late for the hand-in, someone came past and helped me to park the car. I realized that it was nearly impossible for me to get the project printed and handed in, since the queues at the printers were incredibly long... and everyone seemed to be printing out Bibles. But... I somehow managed to get the project in exactly one minute before the deadline.

Oh and I went back to my car and tried hope against hope to start it. Yep. You guessed it.

Last night I went to another dance with the same friend of before... and bumped into that guy. This after I decided that I would likely never see him again and that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. He in continuing the trend, asked me to one dance and left immediately afterwards. So I saw just enough of him to have to put myself through my mental pep-talk. Again.

And today, when I have to tidy my F-5 tornado stricken room (well, that's what it looks like. except that it's still here...), clean the bathroom and start studying for two tests next week, now has a muse breathing in my neck, reminding me not so subtly that Gawain is waiting for his interview. That Ward might lose his nerve and leave until next time. And that I haven't actively written anything in the Beast in three weeks.

I have to say though, my life is certainly exciting. I never know when something is going to completely in the opposite way from what I planned. It keeps me on my toes. And it gives me something to laugh about - even if it is in a sad way.  

Do you also get streaks of irony? Do you also laugh? What else is going on in your life?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Survived My Own Stupidity...

So... remember that I blogged yesterday because I had so much time?

Turns out that it didn't occur to my that getting the data into written form (economics again) in 650 words was a bit of a problem. Actually, it was a big bit of a problem.

See I wrote the entire analysis, knowing that it was going over the limit, but thinking that I could pare away at my words. Riiiight... When was the last time this worked for me? Uhm... Never. I ended up spending another six hours re-shaping the data into a more manageable form before deleting every single word of the analysis I had already written before starting again.

I did finish early enough to get six hours worth of sleep. So I'm pretty happy. This essay will very probably not do as well as the previous one, but that's OK. To me, there are more important things in life to worry about than one essay that I don't need.

Things like: A course on Spiritual Warfare. Finding time to broaden my mind. Finding time to write.

I'm not really going to go into the first, due to the fact that some people might not agree with me, but it just felt like I would be lying if I did not give it a mention. I just feel that as a Christian, I should do everything in my power to strengthen my defenses with knowledge.

A lot of things can broaden my mind. Watching movies, reading, reading blogs, talking to people, going to new places... and (the scary and most difficult one for me to do) to just be quiet in my own company.

My mind is a strange thing, tangling with at least three intense problems or musings at a given time. Most of the time, it's more likely to be running five. Add in three novels, two of which are extending into series and around twenty characters all talking at the same time. Then there's also the run of the mill things like: REMEMBER TO BUY EGGS FOR YOUR FLAT MATE! and: YOUR MOTHER MUST BE AT THE AIRPORT AT 07h20. The hundreds of little reminders that float around in my head. Sorry for the all-caps, but I'm doing everything I can to remember those two. You see... with all my stuff milling around in my head, it's the every day stuff that falls through the cracks. 

Point is. My mind comes to a point where it sounds like a full restaurant where I can hear every single person talking. For me to just be quiet by myself, I have to spend quite a few hours shutting out most of the noise. It's fiendishly difficult and - if I succeed - quite scary. It feels incredibly alien to be in silence, but it's beautiful when it happens. Everything feels clear. And I get so much done when I get to this stage, since I can take one thought at a time and concentrate on only that. I keep focusing on these thoughts until I finally feel I've solved something. At which stage the noise usually floods back and hits me again.

Finally, writing. I write even when I don't have a pen and paper with me. Only when I stop thinking about what I want to write, have I stopped writing. At this time, I'm toning down on my physical writing so that I can find my characters' voices again. I'm almost there and I'm starting to become very excited about continuing the story. I might not be able to write as much as I'd like though, since I'm approaching my final exams. But whenever I feel like I can squeeze in a little bit of time, you can guess what I'll be doing...

Do you also struggle with the white noise in your mind? Do you write, even if you're not technically writing?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Did I mention that I'm a blogging addict?

Yes people, as sad as it is, I just can't stay away.

But, due to the pressure of a test right before a project hand-in date, I decided to take the postponement option on my test. (Yes, we these come standard in our Course outlines.) So I do have a bit more time on my hands as I'm ahead of schedule.  

Since I missed you all so much, I decided to quickly post something new and reply to my many comments. I have so many! Thank you all for leaving them, it really makes this blogging exercise feel worth while. I won't be able to read a lot of your posts though, since that would be project suicide... I estimate that I'm at least forty posts behind. I promise to try to get them all read by Saturday.

Also, hello to all of my new followers! Can you believe that a bit more than a month ago I had less than seven followers? Thank you all so much. Next stop, 100. ;-) 

OK... that said... I want to ask all of your opinions. Yes, I know that I should try to supply what I think you want from my blog, but I also want to know what you want, because it would suck wasting my time doing something that no one is really interested. 

I want to expand my blog a little, and I'm thinking about adding some things. But I need to know what you all want... 

What I will do is slowly expand and test the pages for a month. I'll be doing this a page at a time starting this weekend. What will these expansions be? That's my little secret ;-) 

Still, my expansions are still pretty much Carte Blanche, so please leave comments to state what you would like to see. More on my characters? More on other blogs I like? More on other blogs you like? Books I read? Movies I watched? Anything. Make the request and I'll see if I can get it done. 

I just really want to make this your blog as much as mine. As much as I like having this soap box from which to make noise, I would prefer my blog to become more of a nice comfy cafe where all of us can discuss whatever we want. To do this, I need as much advice as you all can give. 

After all, we're all different so what I think is a good idea might not be... Please please pretty please help make this blog awesome! *insert puppy eyes here.* 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Sunday Update

Good morning everyone! And welcome all the new followers. I hope you all enjoy my blog and find at least a little value in what I have to say...

Right: Let's get to the updates...

Firstly, I just want to brag a little. I have lost...  11 pounds this week! This means that I'm pretty much back to my weight before my great winter gain. I'm ecstatic!

Somewhere in August, I ranted and raved about my economics essay that wasn't going well... It turns out that I got a distinction for it. I was flabbergasted when I got the results, but I'm very happy. It counts towards my final marks, so I've got a bit of a safety net in the event that something goes wrong in the subject.

As for the rest of my studies, I might be a tad busy this coming week, since I have a project to hand in, a big test to write, and a Fencing AGM that I must attend, since I'm the club chairperson. So, I'm afraid that the next time you'll see a new post from me is on Thursday. I'll try to get something posted, but since my mind will be completely focused on my academics, I'm quite sure that whatever I say will a) not make sense, b) be boring c) both. I'm sorry that I'm so inconsistent at the moment and that I won't be getting to many of your blogs, but I'm in test and final exam season now... So think of me please.

Writing wise, I'm spending the next few hours interviewing James before getting back to the academic grind. Callan was surprisingly chatty, and it gave my many insights into who she is that I didn't understand before. James just pushes my buttons. Which is why I'm here. Leaving him to stew.

I really really suggest you try interviewing your characters. Building scenes help you to see how they react. But interviewing lets you see who they are. It's brilliant. I'll definitely interview them again as the story progresses, just so that I can see how they've changed...

What about you? What news do you have to share? Nothing is too big or small for us to celebrate or mourn with you. I am just dying to get to know you all better and hear what's going on in your lives.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Doorways and Darrion

The Beast has finally been named. This morning I just felt in a naming kind of mood and turned my attention to my main Work in Progress.  

Quite a few names occurred to me, but they didn't seem to fit. So... I thought about recurring themes or objects in my story. And there it was. The name makes perfect sense. Doorways.

Except for the fact that doors in a literal sense appear often in my writing (no, I mean differently from going into rooms), doors also have a special significance to me.

These past few years have been all about doors opening on opportunities and closing on my past and wrong directions. There are many doors opening to me and I feel somewhat lost as to which choice to make.

It's exactly the same with my characters. They are all very different, but they have doorways (making choices) in common.

James has to decide if he will step up. Ward must decide if he will tell the truth. Darrion must choose between loyalty and ambition. Gawain must choose sides. Callan must decide who she wants to become.

Everyone has an important decision. And every decision has an impact on others.

As you might notice from my short summery of the characters, there's a lot of story to get down - with a lot of voices.

So I decided to take Bish Denham's advice and hold interviews with each character. And immediately ran into a challenge. 

I started last night at 22:00. Darrion insisted on being first - despite my wanting to start with Ward. What can I say? The fiend is stubborn.

You'd think that he'd be chatty. You'd be wrong. Getting information from him is like pulling teeth.

Think I'm kidding?

Question 1:

Me: Tell me about your childhood.
Him: No
Me: Come on. I need to know.
Him: Did I stutter?

More to and fro arguing and negotiating followed and I gave up without knowing anything. And so it goes on. I'm currently taking a break before I decide to write him a terrible death at the end.

I can't start an interview with anyone else, because his lordship won't move his butt out of my mind. So here I am, letting him stew while I entertain myself with other things. Maybe he'll be more talkative later...

Doubtful. Highly doubtful.

Sigh. I guess it sounds nuts, but I find it quite insightful, since I'm getting to know him outside of the context of the story. Even his reticence gives me insight into who he is, but he'll never hear it from me...

How do you get to know your characters? Have anyone ever tried to get to know a character, only to have him/her push you back with every effort you make?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters

Well, ladies and gents, today is the first time that my blog gets involved in something that didn't come out of my mind. Last night I decided that it would be a great creativity exercise to take part in the Great Blogging Experiment. Basically, a lot of blogs signed up and are all writing about this topic. Please feel free to click on this link and check out some of the others too.  OK... let's get going, shall we?

We all have our favourite characters. One of mine (and the one I chose out of many for the purposes of this post) is the Great Detective himself. If any of you thought: "Poirot," I must ask... What the hell were you thinking? I'm talking about Sherlock Holmes. After all, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed him off the first time, there was a public outcry to bring him back. I don't think you can get more compelling than that. But more about Holmes later.

Before we can go into writing compelling characters, we must first ask: "What is a compelling character?" To my mind, a compelling character is one that grabs my attention and holds it for dear life. He/she/it makes me want to read an entire story - regardless of the length - to find out what happens to him/her/it. Sometimes (as Holmes did), characters keep our attention through several books and/or stories. Holmes managed it through 56 short stories and four novels. And that's just the canon. (Gave away my fan-girl status just now, didn't I?) Anyway. Although I think it insane to aspire to such a stretch of attention, it makes him an awesome example.

Now we ask: "What makes characters compelling?" This question can be more than a little tricky to answer. One person may believe a character to be compelling, but the next might not. I know that a lot of people don't like any of Sherlock Holmes books. They don't take a particular liking to Holmes either. After all... He's "better-than-thou", moody, cynical, a drug addict, not very appreciative of his best (perhaps only) friend in the world. Basically your all round generic magnificent bastard. Who could possibly like a character like that?

Oh I don't know, me and about five generations of Holmes fans? Face it, haters. He's sticking around... But what makes him so compelling?

Exactly those things I listed. Yes yes I know. There is this common idea that characters have to be likable to be compelling. No no dears. They have to be interesting. Holmes is all those things I listed above, but he's more complex than that. Still, he is very very loyal and is willing to admit when he is wrong - although it is rare enough. He is moody because he is easily bored and frustrated by the stupidity of those around him. He is, after all, a genius. But his genius extends beyond book knowledge. The list goes on and on and on. But I'm going to skip right to the end of my mental list to the most important attribute.

Holmes is, above all, Holmes. He doesn't care about what others think of him. If they don't like him, so what? He's not going to change who he is just to fit into the mould people would like to put him in.

And that brings me neatly to writing compelling characters. Create them, then let them grow on their own. Don't force them to conform to what you think they should be, for they are who they are. Yes, the character might not be nice, but by gum he is interesting.

Remember: interesting is good. All nice is boring. Interesting makes reader want to peel back the layers to get to know the character. They'll read as far as they can to do so.

But who wants to hear how wonderful and perfect anyone is anyway?

Imagine if Holmes was truly perfect. A detecting Genius that never did anything wrong. Ever. I shudder at the thought, because I would never have read beyond the first book...

So, ladies and gents. What do you think? Am I talking total nonsense? What do you think makes a compelling character? Who is your most favourite character of all time? What makes him/her/it so compelling to you?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This is a question that has been with me for some time. Fate. How far does it rule our lives?

Me, I think Fate plays a huge role in things since I believe that God has a plan with my life. It's just that I sometimes have to make decisions that might or might not be dependent on Fate.

For example. Last night I met an awesome guy... and I think he liked me too, yet we just were never alone for long enough to exchange numbers. We can, however, ask our mutual friend for the other's number, but to me it's not that easy.

I'm right at the end of the year. After that I'm going to leave University and very possibly the country. For me, actively seeking a relationship is just a bit too complex to even think about. Part of me believes that if we are meant to be together or even date, we'll meet again.

Part of me wonders if I'm being a coward.

But that got me thinking about my books. In the Beast, the characters are quite fixed to their fates, although they get to choose if they step up or not. In the Western, they are responsible for their own fates.

Clearly, part of me obviously believes that even if Fate is there, it's my choice to accept it. And thinking about it, I do accept a lot of what Fate throws my way. It's my of knowing whether or not I'm following the Plan. I like following the Plan. It's the best one there is for my life. 

But this was such a near miss. I have no idea about whether the door closed or not. So... Do I shove it a little and see what happens, or do I move past it and go on with my life? What do you guys think?  

Sore feet and paper cuts

So sorry for skipping yesterday. I really just got round to blogging now. In fact the fact that I didn't post anything was keeping you awake. So I figured I'll post twice today for compensation. The second post should appear fifteen hours from now. I would have made it sooner, but I'm on the road again for our heritage day long-weekend (yes, dears, we have a LOT of holidays). It won't deter me from blogging though. I promise to catch up on all your posts ASAP.  

So firstly I want to point out that this blog has 30 followers! Yay! Next step the big 5-0... Welcome all of you! May you enjoy it here.

That said, I think the best course of action will be to go into why I only got to my blog at one o'clock in the next morning.

Well. Since the new idea falls (in a way) into the vampire category, I just got this intense desire to read Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm about 150 pages from the end, but for once, I cut my reading sessions up into short bits so that I can write in between.

And so it was that I'm back to working on the Beast. It's slow going since I'm in a sticky part where a character is at the point of starting a journey and needs to get technical stuff sorted. I just know that I will edit that part out or at least rewrite it later, since I hate it already. As some of you may know, I'm an ex-self editing addict. So nothing gets changed until I've finished the draft. 

When I put away the book I'm writing, I cut three lovely stripes into my thumb knuckle.  Yes, I'm aware that this has nothing to do with whyI didn't blog, but it explains the title.

But definitely the largest reason that kept me from the blog was the fact that I was invited to a braai and sokkie evening. Or, in more commonly understood terms - although not truly the same - BBQ and dancing. Ah it was an awesome evening. I haven't been out in a long time and more importantly, while it was low-key, the evening was a huge amount of fun. I did however... sin with regards to the diet, but no regrets. I didn't want to make things awkward by declining the food so lovingly prepared. Luckily I burned a lot of it later when I actually started dancing. I danced for about four hours - in heels - which explains the rest of the title.

But the time spent and carbs eaten was so worth it! I met so many wonderful people and I got out, which freshened my writing mind some more.

Too bad that the next blog title will likely be I wish I stretched before I danced... ;-P

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So... what now?

As some of you may remember, I kind of got to this point where my muse just wouldn't spit out anything about any of my two books.

I've basically been stuck for weeks, waiting for something to write. It really was as if my words had dried out. People have so much advice about this: Force yourself to write (that got my muse into an even bigger snit), don't write at all (I was close to Godzilla-like rampages) and to write something else to get the inspiration flowing again (thanks Cassandra and T.J.).

The last is very likely one of the best pieces of writing advice I have hear in a long time. Since it's the same as writing through a block, but without forcing bad work into your Work in Progress. Eventually I got sooo tired of not writing that I gave up and bought yet another notebook to scribble in.

I found myself a nice little spot and stared at the blank pages for a while and started writing whatever was at the top of my head. And... it wasn't a poem. It wasn't a short. It was yet another book idea. Sigh.

I suspect that my muse - without telling me - went behind my back and worked on this story, which is why I just couldn't write what I am busy with. But the question is now: Where am I going to get time to write this one too?

Part of me is thinking about spending two days a week writing a specific book. Another part want to stick to the Fantasy in week, Western on weekend schedule. The urban fantasy (the new one) can get written whenever an idea occurs to me. But I'm worried that this will become a problem if all the ideas I get have to do with the new one causing my other two to stall.

I'm also worried about getting my characters confused, since I've now got a lot of people running around in my head, begging for attention.

How do you all deal with new book ideas? Do you write them down and forget about it until you're done with whatever you're busy with? Or do you multitask? How do you do it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back with a bang.

Good morning ladies and gents! I am so happy to be back.

I am also very happy to announce that I got through the week without much of a hiccup. The only tiny problem was my Carb withdrawals that gave me terrible headaches and nausea for about two days, but by Wednesday I was forging ahead with my work.

I finished my project just on time and managed to get through (and in depth) all of my prescribed work by Friday night. The test went quite well, but it's one of those where I have to wait for the results. Prediction is never accurate.

And.... I lost seven pounds (three kg for the metrically inclined) last week! It was just what the doctor ordered to keep me going to my dream weight of 147 pounds (66.5 kg). I might even lose a bit more this week (fingers crossed) since I have time to do some exercise.

Writing wise, I haven't gotten round to any of my Works in Progress in about three weeks, so I have a muse screaming in my ear all the time. I am planning to get writing again some time today.

Then, I have a questions for the pansters out there. How do you keep your story lines together without planning them ahead of time? I've been thinking about what I want to bring out in my book and I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed by the amount of story that is still unwritten... There's just so much that has to be interwoven that I look ahead and feel a little... well... scared. I sometimes think that I bit off much more than I can chew with this book, but I love it too much to let it go.

Anyone have any advice?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My life at the moment...

I am officially on a diet. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I know that I will when I weigh myself in. But it's quite daunting to think that I have about 36 pounds to shake off. So far I am sticking to it quite well, despite the effects of cutting out 'bad' foods.

I'm going cold turkey on high carb foods, and it's driving me nuts. So much so that I can't study or read anything that requires too much concentration. So... I know that I will have to crunch in my university work until Saturday. So if I don't post, no, I wasn't called back to my mother planet. I might be busy bawling my eyes out, though. This time is roughly the first anniversary of my WHY THE HELL AM I STUDYING THIS!!!! semi-break-down.

I'm in a better place though, but I can't predict the effect of sugar and sleep deprivation, mixed with a strategic management project and an Investment management test.

Point is, I might post in the next few days, but I might not. So please check for new posts, or, some of my newer followers, feel free to catch up on my archive. It isn't big yet and might give you some insights into the convoluted twists of my mind. Then again, it might not. I am that insane.

Since I know that I can't study tonight, I'm just going to spend my time doing something relaxing like... say... writing. And drinking lots of water.

Oh... I'm also contemplating the idea of signing up to become an air hostess. Why? Because it sounds like an adventure. Why else?

I will keep you posted on my progress on all fronts.

Finally, I've been thinking... Something new and different for the blog. I know that we are few, but I really would love to see more interaction.

My idea involves picking a day once a week and everyone interested nominating and voting for a topic, and everyone discussing it in comments. What do you think? Any suggestions?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Standing on the edge... Where do I go next?

So... I'm nervous. So very incredibly, sickeningly nervous.

My graduation day looms closer every day, bringing with it the next phase of my life. Brilliant!

Not brilliant when you have been forced to realize that what you wanted and planned to do, might not be a reality any more.

Due to the fact that my navy application form has in all likelihood vanished already, I am forced to accept that I'm going to have to find something else to do. Sometimes it feels like I'm cursed with constant career uncertainty during my exam times.

You think I'm kidding? Lets look back on pertinent thoughts that occurred during relevant times. Note that this is a summery and by no means fully descriptive....

1st year 1st semester: Am I doing the right course?

1st year 2nd semester: Why the hell am I doing Actuarial Sciences?

2nd year 1st semester: I don't want to do Actuarial Sciences. What do I do? (Wanted to do drama, but was convinced to stay in commerce)

2nd year 2nd semester: OK... Survived the year. What now? (Wanted to do drama, but was forced by ultimatum to continue with my degree)

3rd year 1st semester: Who the hell am I and what do I want to do with my life? I'll join the navy. I apply at this time and if I get called up, I will stop studying.  Anguish waiting to get the reply. Answer no due to functional illiteracy of state doctors...

3rd year 2nd semester: I know with certainty that I will throw myself out the most conveniently located window within ten years if I am forced to stay behind an office desk with nine to five hours. I am studying something that is going to launch me into a career of office desks and 9 to 5 hours. I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS *&^$%&$ DEGREE!!!! I want to do drama... no wait... do I even want to do drama? Or is the thought of avoiding regular hours the real attraction here? Oh and HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY do I pass my exams after spending most of my semester in bed with H1N1?  

4th year 1st semester: everything except for swine flu still apply. Once again have no idea what I want to do. So... finish degree and join navy to decide.

4th year 2nd semester: Navy application process debacle. Most likely will not be recruited. Now what? I still have no idea about what I want to do. I want to have some sort of adventure. And my means of doing both is most likely not an option. What do I do now?

You can't imagine how tired I am of all this. I spent my entire university time in limbo. Sure I had fun times, but some times things just weren't good for me. I think you gathered that I was over studying more than a year ago, but I realize that finishing my degree (despite the fact that I will spend my life avoiding its usage) is an important step in my life.

But, as the title implies, it feels like I'm standing on the edge of something while someone is standing behind me ready to push me over. Where will I go? Down? Or will I know how to fly? I hope it's the latter. Scratch that I know it is. The most important thing in my life that I know about myself is this: I was NOT born to be mediocre. So even if I have to grow little wings, fly I will.

In the mean time, the only place for me to go is to my Father's arms. I know that He will lead me to make the right decisions, even if my options are dark and murky, so I just have to wait... But patience is a virtue I have never possessed...

What about you ladies and gents? Anyone else standing on the edge? How do you deal with it? Any advice? Also, any suggestions into what options I could consider will be most appreciated.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What we have here is... failure to communicate.

Before I get into the post, I just want to say sorry for being so quiet lately. I don't really have a reliable Internet connection at home, which is why I haven't been blogging that much. Also thank you  to all of  the new ladies and gents for clicking follow. Hope you enjoy it here.

I've been thinking I might have something to say about an aspect of being a writer - being misunderstood.

Is it only me or do we function on a completely different wavelengths to other people? Sometimes I just shake my head at the fact that a person just completely missed the point of what I said.

It's a bad habit, but when I speak, I speak the same way that I write. There are multiple implications in my words. And I assume that my audience will grasp those implications and run forth with it and take the idea to it's fully understood glory. Who said I can't be an optimist? Half the arguments and disagreements that I have had with people are due to the fact that they aren't paying attention to everything. They pick up on the literal and the literal alone before coming to a conclusion (read, judgment).

Worst of all, they will then stick to their guns and argue with me, while I am arguing exactly the same side. All I want is to help the person to realize what the argument is lacking, but sadly, most people lack the ability to see past the obvious to the... well... really obvious. Do I sound patronizing? If I do it is completely unintentional, but I'm sure that I am not the only one in contact with this blog that has come up with an idea, verbalize it, have it shot down, only to have the shooter change the wording and verbalize the exact same thing a few minutes later. Luckily my happy place is quite spacious, so I can just smile and walk away. 

And that's just our thinking patterns. Here are some of my favorite assumption based niggles:

Mention that you write, and the run of the mill person tilts their head with absolute amazement and exclaim:
"Really! I want a signed copy of your book please." Cringe. The assumption seems to be that the only writers that are real writers are those that are published. If you aren't, and you explain as such, you tend to get the following: "Tisk aw... what a pity. I thought that I knew someone famous." Simmer simmer boil boil.

That's the second big assumption. We authors write to be famous, so if we are published, that automatically means that we have tea with the Albert Camus.

Forgive this obscure reference, but as far as I recall, he's the only Nobel prize winner for Literature that I have in fact read. I might be wrong, since I don't keep track of the Nobel and Pulitzer and best romance writer of the year etc. winners that sneak into my reading list. This point, as well as the valid point that he is in fact quite dead, is actually... well... besides the point. But I felt the need to point this out to prevent people from thinking I lost it entirely by drinking tea with Monsieur Camus. Back to the main train of thought...

Another thing is that non-writers absolutely don't understand how we can have multiple voices in our heads and still be considered somewhat sane. How is that difficult to get? Normal insane people have voices telling them what to do. Writers have voices that tell them what they are doing in a story. Huge and vital difference people.

Most gratingly, non-writers talk about the writing lifestyle as if they know exactly what they are talking about. No? Ever heard: "A writer's block is all in the mind and easily overcome..."? No.... I'm just sitting there pulling my hair out for months because I feel like it. Or... "It can't be that hard to get an agent..." hmm... Generally I just smile sweetly and have an internal dialogue about the pros and cons of a character's now imminent and violent death. Did I mention my happy place? I speed there as fast as I can.

I'm not going to go into the others, since that can take up a book on it's own.

But really, we're human, they're human (I hope) so where does the communication gap originate? I think it's because we see and consider things differently. I'd like to think that writers, as the scribes to humanity, should be at least a little bit wiser than your garden variety human being. Maybe it's arrogance, but where they look at me with horror and perplexity, I look at them with pity.

They don't understand, and so won't try to write. They will never get to experience one of the most gratifying ways of life that can be found, but they will always look at us and wonder what the hell we are. I find that sad.

What about you all? Is this yet another rambling from a truly convoluted mind? Or do you experience the same or similar problems and/or niggles? How do you deal with them? 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


It's amazing how important being serene and somewhat happy can be when it comes to my writing.

Sure, I'm not really happy about recent turn of events, but I'm no longer furious. Still... I'm not calm enough to write.

It feels as if something else is screaming in my head, drowning out my muse's whispers. I can't hear my characters at all today. Most people would think: Great! She's no longer an insane person! But since most of you are busy writing, I'm sure that you know why roaring silence bothers me.

Aah... how neatly this brings me to the point. Anyone agree with me when I say that it's a vicious circle? I'm not happy enough to write, so I can't, which makes me unhappier and makes the problem worse.

But... I have no idea how to solve the problem. I know that I have to keep writing, but I have nothing to write. And when I do manage to pen something down, I'm unhappy with that, making the problem even worse. So if anyone can give some advice, I'll thank you and love you for eternity. Promise.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why I now have to think of something else to do next year.

I must say that I was somewhat in a bad mood when I logged in, but I'm still deciding whether you want to hear about it. Anyway, I was met by the brilliant surprise of some comments!

Sorry. I'm somewhat excitable now that I finally came out of the doldrums. It was just great to think that out there are people like me that not only have to deal with writing the story that rules their minds, but with their lives as well. I realized that I'm not the only one struggling with something that unexpectedly feels very very wrong.

For that I thank you, Lua, Serena and Jen.

OK... I give up. I'm just going to have to get this out there. However, because I am now out of the doldrums, my temper that I spent the entire day reining in is now pacing in its cage waiting for me to type, so I include the following:

I tried not to come over as screaming, but as I wrote this I became progressively annoyed, especially when it comes to my having to limit my wording due to the general perception, the perception that certain people advertise... and reality. Because of this, the ending of the post is somewhat vague, but if you know what I am talking about and or want me to explain what I am talking about, feel free to drop me a comment or e-mail. I just really wanted to this off my chest.  

Anyone ever walk into a place where you have to fill in an application to something that you REALLY want to do? Any of you got looked at for the merest of moments by the dragon presiding over the forms, before the beast tries to make use of every single weak excuse in his arsenal to ensure that you don't get access to the forms?

That's where I am now. And as much as I try to at least maintain a veneer of optimism, I'm contemplating to apply for something else in stead next year. Because if I get accepted to the interviews for the navy this year, I'll eat my seven-subjects-in-one-sitting Cambridge International Examinations A-levels certificate for starters before tucking into my university results for mains (suffice it to say I took about forty or more modules. I never bothered to count them) and enjoying my degree for dessert.

Why the pessimism? On reporting for basic training, I will be one of the few people with degrees willing to sign up. I have two years' worth of university calculus and linear algebra among my many modules. (It's a bonus that they don't have to pay for) I want to sign up for combat officers training. I had to limit my leadership skills to a page. Yes... limit.

And the recruitment officer wanted to send me home because I have a foreign high school diploma. That's one thing, but anyone would think that he could have asked about how it compares to the South African version (Answer: vastly superior) Or... even better... He could have turned the page and noticed that I am at a South African University (arguably one of the best). 

I pointed this out along with the fact that they put me through to the interviews without a quibble last year. He smugly used that to point out the validity of his point, by asking why I was there.  

I (nicely, but with considerable effort) stated that it was due to medication I was taking at that stage. I am not even going to launch into that story now, but anyway, he then did this "I'm sorry my hands are tied" thing. 

I was still debating with him when his superior chose to walk in. He took one look at my documents, asked when my degree is done, why I took four years to finish and if I am a South African citizen. When I didn't give him an answer that could prompt him to send me home just like that, he gave me the application form. 

I filled it in, so why then, the somewhat softened rant? 

Remember that old post about analysing what someone says and what someone says

They were fishing for reasons to avoid handing out the application form. The same kind of thing happened with my brother, except that they could get away without being blatant about it. 

Oh, no, my darlings. I'm just a child of my generation.

Why would they do this?
Because of this little commonality shared between me and my brother demography-wise. 

And so... here I stop, toeing that line that most South Africans sharing that commonality toe... 

But like I said. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I don't get called for an interview, let alone recruited. I just get so upset about things like this, where years are spent crying about something, but that same thing is then used with impunity in the years after. 

Smacks of hypocrisy, no?   

Friday, September 3, 2010

Welcome to my blog! (psst... I see yooou...)

Firstly, I just want to say hello to the wonderful people following my blog. Your support means a lot to me. You can't begin to imagine how much it sucked when you weren't here.

Secondly, I want to say hello to my lurkers. Yes... I know you are out there. It's kind or hard to miss when the number of page hits per day are twice the amount of people that follow me. Unless my followers want to make me feel better by checking what I wrote more than once. 

Working on the assumption that that is not the case, I just want to say that I hope my blog makes you guys feel welcome enough to a) comment b) follow c) both. This also includes my facebook friends that keep following the links I leave.

How do I know it's you? Because the amount of South African hits are second only to the U.S. ones. Also, these two number at least three times the hits compared to the third largest number of hits.

So anyway... I want to thank you all for coming to check out my blog. I really hope that some of you are coming back to check out what I wrote. If you have come back at least three times, I think you might want to use the follow widget, or sign up for a free subscription. That way you can get e-mails of every blog post I write. Personally, I would suggest that you opt for following, since I pretty much post every day. At this point I will mention that I might be a bit more scarce next week - hey! stop jumping for joy! - due to my spring break, but I will try to be back as often as possible.  

Anyway. Since you guys and girls have potentially missed around twenty or more posts, I've added labels and a search function for your convenience. The search function should also connect you to any of the thirty plus blogs that I'm following. So the odds of you finding what you are looking for are pretty high. The labels might send you in unexpected directions, due to the twisted nature of my mind. But go on. Use them. It's an adventure...

I hope you all enjoy it here. And please, I wasn't kidding about the commenting. I hate when it feels like I'm talking to myself. Also, I'm still finding my voice, since I'm pretty new to blogging, so if any of you have suggestions, requests or questions, please drop me a line. Be as upbeat or blunt as you like, but please please please keep it clean. If you absolutely can't, be cleanish. No abuse or unnecessary nastiness, please.

Hope to hear from you soon.

With lots of love,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One person... three tragedies (and no, I'm not talking about me)

Why do people do things like this to themselves?

My flat mate and I were having a loooong and wide-ranging discussion about emotions and guys and everything in between yesterday. You might think that I'm stretching the word long a bit, so I will have to explain that we can sit down and talk for hours... and not about fluff.

So during yesterday's four hour discussion, she mentioned that she knew she wasn't a practical person, and that she felt she was supposed to be creative, but just wasn't. For the purpose of showing rather than telling, I will now paraphrase that segment of conversation. I'm sure that you're dying to know about the rest of it, but as  said, a lot of words flowed... And... A lot of words were pretty out there. Any way, back to the story. (I think you might now understand why  never use a narrator.)

"You are creative," I introduced gently, "I actually think you'd make a good writer."
"No... I don't think I will... I'm not as good with words as you are." It took a lot of restraint for my mouth not to hang open. Sure I'm good with words, but to lower her belief in herself due to my skill?
"Honey, I've had years of practice. I've been writing since I could spell out words." Truth, if somewhat exaggerated. I see myself as seriously having started at the age of twelve. But I was trying to get the point across. "You have a way with words."
"No I don't," she insisted. "I tried it once and it was rubbish." She ducked under her office table and took out a box that had been shoved right against the far corner. She opened it and dug right to the bottom. She took out some pages and handed them to me. "Don't you think?"

On the pages were three poems. When I read them, no amount of self restrained could have kept my jaw from dropping.
"No I think this is good. Very good."

Brilliant even. Her words carried every ounce of feeling she had while she had written them. How many people have you met that can do that? Translating feelings to writing is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. She had it down.

And I'm not kidding. I was partially raised by a woman that writes poetry and books for a living. I like to think that I know what I'm talking about when I say a poem is damn good.

So that's the first tragedy. Marg just can't see how good she is.

The second is that I told her how good she is... and she refused to believe me. I even went on to show her one of my more recent poems (due to the fact that she said she's not as good as me) to show that her work wasn't far from mine. That she just needs practice. She didn't see it.

The third is that she showed me those poems because she trusts me (good taste. not tragic), but she'll never let the world see her talent, because she doesn't believe that she's good at it.

It really saddens me to think how many good writers out there are lost to us just because they refuse to believe they are good. But what can I do to help my friend find her writing voice?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Black half week. (and what it reminded me of...)

I swear that someone up there is either out to get me or has a perverse sense of humour. Because almost anything mechanical or technological has decided to conspire against me.

My car. My car's radiator. My blackberry. My toaster (I discovered that it hadn't popped when I started to smell burning.)

Part of me is seriously wondering what's going to happen next.

Still, there are upsides to all of these events. My car overheated in the parking lot of the student center, where my friend Theresa could call her brother to fix the car. Rather than being stranded in the middle of nowhere.

The radiator apparently now decides on its own when it wants to start and I can't get it to work like it should. Luckily I was able to hear the deafening silence while I was still in front of my flat, instead of just before I see steam rising from the bonnet.

My blackberry refuses to charge and has now died on me. But... at least that didn't happen during an emergency. Like, say, while calling fire fighters because my flat was burning to the ground due to a malfunctioning toaster. Also, it kept itself alive long enough to wake me up in time to prepare for class. Of course, my car did let me down on getting me there, but that isn't the point.

And the toaster? I managed to hear the toast crackle on time for me to realize that there was a huge problem going down. Luckily I hadn't left the kitchen as was my initial intention.

So... in the midst of all this crap that happened, at least I had luck that went along with it.

I guess that's important when you tell a story, too. Put your characters through as much bad stuff as you like, but at least try to give what happens some meaning. I HATE when a writer tortures and maims a character, kills his family, has a dog pee against his leg and ends up having a bus running over him, just to add depth to his character and with no significance to the story. I HATE that authors like that even get published at all when they write like that. (Personal preference)

After all, most of us have killed a character. Usually I cry while typing those scenes, but I know that that character's death means something to the story. That it has to be done. But seriously, even if it's subtle and difficult to see, there has to be some bright side to the bitterness. For example character growth, or to get the story to the point when something has to give. Or to give the usually nice character a justifiable reason to be less than nice.

Just be sensitive. Killing the main character's best friend and then not having the MC mourning said friend's demise, is not sensitive. I find that I tend to take an instant dislike to main characters like that. But then I take just as much of a dislike to characters that moan and moan and moan about what happens to them without actively trying to do something about it.

It's a fine balance, but really, if you can't have your character roll with your punches, please please please just lighten the load on his shoulders? I'm sure that I won't be the only reader that will love you for it.