Where do we find your book?
African Books Collective ships around the globe
And outside of RSA...
Where do we find your book?
African Books Collective ships around the globe
And outside of RSA...
This post was originally on Books Live.
This is part 1 of a mini series on getting myself back to the Write Life.
I was bursting into tears at odd moments. I was finding myself angry over things that normally wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. Yes, 2015 got off to a rocky start, and our hearts have yet to recover. But this was something else. I watched myself writing vents on Facebook that friends would – kindly, nicely, gently – tell me to delete. And after a few deep breaths (and hastily following their advice) I would gradually see that what I was complaining about was not, actually, the problem. But what, exactly, was the problem?
A month ago I vented to a friend. When I was done, she – kind, nicely, gently – said, ‘Tiah, when’s the last time you’ve taken a break? A real break from work.’ I blinked a few times, considered the last few months. I said, ‘That day you took me for the op. That day. Well, actually, I don’t remember much about that morning. But I certainly didn’t do any work after we got to the hospital.’ My friend put her mug of coffee down. ‘Tiah, that’s not healthy. That’s not healthy for anyone.‘
It has been four years since my health plunged and altered permanently. Four years from the dark days I feared I couldn’t cope, was useless, had nothing left to offer the world. Somehow, in four years, while learning to live with two chronic conditions, I have managed to refill my life to such an extent that my work hours exceed what is considered wise even for a physically healthy individual.
The difficult part is, I don’t have a terrible life. My days are blessed with wonderful things. I have – at last – come to the realisation that being a work-at-home parent is a good thing for me and my family. It is a pleasure watching my children take part in their after-school activities. I enjoy having dogs around. I find the chickens a hoot. It is a delight to have a book published. It is a privilege to be part of Short Story Day Africa. I still giggle at the idea that I get paid to read books. I want to do reader reports, and have enjoyed the work. And even with all of this, there is still more out there that I want to do.
Everyone has exactly the same amount of time, the same twenty-four hours. – Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries
I have been known to talk about ice cream. How ice cream is delicious, but you shouldn’t eat it for every meal. Perhaps I’ve created a life with too much ice cream. Some have suggested whole parts of my life should be cut, like going on a brutal diet. But what would go? And is it really about cutting, or more a matter of portion size?
About a month ago, I began to address these questions. Things have to change, before I alienate my friends, family and the people I work with. Because it is never good to be exhausted. But perhaps a more realistic balance can be achieved without a slash and burn. This isn’t about quitting. This is about finding the Write Life.
Part II has been published. You can read it HERE.
I keep coming back to Ben Okri's beautiful piece on walking and reading it again.
Walking conversations are somehow more profound than driving conversations. It is something about putting one foot in front of the other together, moving through space, linked in the rhythms of the body. It is mutual body-song, the unique way each person walks their soul’s signature on the earth.
- Ben Okri, for The Guardian: If I were king for a day my reign would be a walk in the park
Zukiswa Wanner has penned a powerful read:
In 2008, I cried. I was at a literary festival in one of the wealthier parts of South Africa when I got a phone call from a South African woman. She needed a safe place to stay for her and her child.Her neighbours were threatening to kill her for being isfebe to makwerekwere. The woman I am writing about is my aunt.
- Click HERE to read the rest of #Boycott South Africa
- Her mother's voice sounded through the hallway, mixing with the mustiness around her so well that the sound almost had a smell. To Jess, sitting in the cupboard, the sound of her name was strange, wobbly, misformed, as if she were inside a bottle, or a glass cube, maybe, and Mum was outside it, tapping. -
- Jess liked haiku. She thought they were incredible and really sort of terrible. She felt, when reading over the ones she'd written herself, as if she were being punched very hard, just once, with each haiku. -
- 'Maybe that's why you get so sad,' she said, 'because you're so clever.' -
- All my thoughts have left, / with her. / I thought I'd kept them in my head / But when I tried to find the thoughts / They all told me she was / dead. -
- Jess blinked. It was incredible that her mother could really believe that a mother's dreams, a mother's fears, were the same as her child's, as if these things could be passed on in the same way as her frizzy hair had been, or the shape of her nose. -
- Two hungry people should never make friends. If they do, they eat each other up. It is the same with one person who is hungry and another who is full: they cannot be real, real friends because the hungry one will eat the full one. . . Only two people who are full up can be friends. They don't want anything from each other except friendship... -
A few weeks ago, I read And She Was by Alison Gaylin. Crime fiction doesn't make up a big part of my reading. Gaylin's novel was a result of a mix up, of sorts, that left me an owner of a book I'd never have picked up on my own. I tell my children variety is the spice of life and make them try new foods. I decided to embrace my own motto, and read the book. A story whose main character cannot forget. It is an actual condition, Hyperthymestic Syndrome. While the perfect memory is admittedly useful as an investigator, the inability to forget has an awful impact on her social life.
Yesterday, I stumbled upon this quote:
One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory. - Rita Mae Brown
Writers are not known to have perfect recollection. But they are often rumoured to be people who stew, dwell on the past, have a plethora of memories (accurate or otherwise) of their childhoods. Some say writing is therapeutic. But perhaps, at times, writers are writing their own misery. Unable to let go the words keep prying open wounds that are never left to heal.
Is it better to forget?
Or does forgetting doom us to repeating mistakes?
- Elusive, spectacular, utterly at home, the fact of these British goshawks makes me happy. Their existence gives the lie to the thought that the wild is always something untouched by human hearts and hands. The wild can be human work. -
- And when I think of the U2 pilot up there reading a book about King Arthur...I can't help but think of a line written by the poet Marianne Moore: The cure for loneliness is solitude. And the solitude of of the pilot in the spy-plane, seeing everything, touching nothing, reading The Once and Future King fifty thousand feet above the clouds - that makes my heart break just a little... -
- Sometimes a reckoning comes of all the lives we have lost, and sometimes we take it upon ourselves to burn them to ashes. -
- There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, thought you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are. -
- Hands are for other humans to hold. -
It was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don't have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or sold, or bought, or read.
- Philip Pullman
- She saw things in parallel motion, in dark tones. Like two dots abhorrently removed, deleted. Like losing your mind, and answering newspaper adverts, and running and running to planes in the sky. Like bowing down at temples, and bowing to blue-eyed priests. Like committing adultery and becoming an outcast. Like husband who are wrong, husbands who bruise. It's all relative, she thought. It's all relative. -
- It was not that she was afraid, it was just that she was not afraid enough. -
-His name is Barry. And he loves the Church. He is a man of God, a student of Theology, he tells her, and buys her a Jameson on crushed ice. And when she is finished, he buys her some more.-
- You expect too much from snow. You think it is a cleansing thing because it is white and because it is cold. -
- The suitcase will still sit and wait on the driveway. For hours. Till somebody kicks it into the hydrangea bushes. But she sleeps. -
- Why put up metal bars on a bed filled with a dead boy? Because that's just all we know here. -
Modjaji Books has a special offer in celebration of This Day (by me) and Do Not Go Gentle by Futhi Ntshingila in honour of our books making the Sunday Times Fiction Prize 2015 Longlist.
Buy one now and get R50 off the usual price! Or buy both and save R100!
Use these discount coupons in your shopping cart to get R50 off each book:
This Day: thisday
Do Not Go Gentle: donotgo
Straight to shopping here: http://www.modjajibooks.co.za/titles/books/fiction/