On to strange skies

Tomorrow, I fly out from Durban to Barcelona, then on to Ireland. There is the vertigo already, the heady feeling of plunging into a dream. That I will become again that person I haven’t met for so long – that side of myself who was once willing to take a ticket to anywhere, and not care about the consequences. Writers, in my inexperienced eyes, were people granted privileges of great freedom by the necessities of their craft. I was always going to be one. I busked in foreign cities between jobs to earn money as I travelled. I walked alone beside unknown rivers, and wrote the beginnings of endless stories beneath strange skies.

Eventually, I learned that writing is not a reward for when you get everything right. Rather, it’s a yearning or a longing; a dream that nestles sweetly in the cave of the heart, while you’re living your real life. Sometimes, rarely, between the dreaming and the work, writing offers up its own rewards. One of these intermittent moments came to land last year, when the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation in London acknowledged my unpublished manuscript, The Hum of the Sun, with a beautifully engraved glass award, and the means to block out time from my life to travel, research, and write another work.

With this generosity, the reality of exploring the cities of Barcelona and Dublin finally becomes real. That inside pull intensifies with a whole lot of sweetness when I realise the mysterious truth that in the long run, things really do work out. Life, in its way, sometimes delivers these healthy measures of magic. Soon I will walk and write once more as I soak up the breath of these foreign cities. In just a day or two, I’ll once again be writing beneath another sky.

Lovely news in May

Thanks to the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation for the lovely news that my manuscript The Hum of the Sun was awarded first place in the Best Unpublished Manuscript category of the Foundation’s inaugural Adventure Writing Awards. Click on the image from the Foundation’s website to see the winners in all three categories.


Time of the Writer introductory talk

opening talk

photo courtesy B. Coppin

Sanbonani nonke. Good evening everyone. Language is everything. What we say. How we say it. What we don’t say. What we understand. It is a great honour to be here for this week amongst these esteemed writers from South Africa and Africa. Great thanks to Tiny Mungwe, and much gratitude to the Centre for Creative Arts.

Trying to write, the act of writing, and then the process of getting published is much like shooting basketball hoops with a blindfold wrapped around your face. You know the general direction of the wire hoop, and the best you can do is face that way. Otherwise, you have no idea if the ball will miss the hoop completely, if it will teeter around the wire edge endlessly and eventually just miss the mark, or if it will fall perfectly in place, and you can convince yourself for a short period of time that it was always meant to be. Despite the lack of guarantees, and often missing the mark, writing is the thing that I do for my life.

Continue reading Time of the Writer introductory talk