A Day in the Life of a Wordsmith: Nthikeng Mohlele

On a cool Saturday morning in Johannesburg South, I am preparing a cup of coffee in preparation to interview with one of South Africa’s most influential authors. Nthikeng Mohlele, named one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising authors under the age of 40, has already written four novels. Mohlele has a BA in Literature and Dramatic Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand. He recently also bagged the UJ Prize for South African Writing main and debut award. I'm about to discover

Weird, Minus One House-Point

  BY CARMEN MARCUS   It was the summer of 1984 and Lady Di was just about to marry my toy gorilla, Gogo. My mum was standing watching the rain and then she did something extraordinary. She thrust her hands through the glass pane of the back door. My dad grabbed Lady Di’s (aka Barbie) long wedding train (a pillowcase) to bind my mum's wrists. Then the ambulance came and Mum was taken away and Di’s broken head was left on the floor. Children

My Writing Journey

  BY GLENN McGOLDRICK   My writing journey? Ha-ha. Sounds pretentious. Where to start? I liked writing as a kid. 'Tiger Man' was one of my stories from primary school. I wrote and wrote, page after page. Can’t remember any of the story at all. I was probably around 7 years old. I just had the main character, Tiger Man. I won some kind of prize for it. A notepad? Jelly babies? Gold star? Something. At secondary school I was The Man in English class;

My Big Fat Regret

  BY LEONIE FOURIE   It was hot.  Mid-December in the Cape Winelands tends to be hot.  Your-clothes-stuck-to-your-butt kind of hot.  It was just past noon, so I had an excuse for enjoying a glass of ice cold Sauvignon Blanc.  I was sitting outside on the porch, alone.  I didn’t need any pity though.  It’s a nice porch.  Attached to a nice house.  In a nice estate.  And I didn’t live alone; I was just alone that day for a few hours, and

My Writing Journey – International Short Story Competition – January 2018

  Write us a 1000-word story about your journey as a writer. Make it funny, quirky and/or inspirational. We will publish the best story in our quarterly newsletter and on our blog. Plus the winner receives $200 (R1000 or £100). Entry is free and entrants are welcome from all over the globe. Send your story to nichola@nzwriterscollege.co.nz.     Closing date: 12 pm 31 January 2018 Previous winners: 'Weird, Minus One House-Point' by Carmen Marcus 'My Big Fat Regret' by Leonie Fourie and 'My Writing Journey' by Glenn McGoldrick - joint winners

My Journey as a Writer

BY HEINRICH VAN DER WALT   “You know, you should write this stuff down,” Anton said. We were sitting on the back porch of our farmhouse, looking out over the grassy backyard. It was a typical sweltering summer in the Karoo, the only respite from the heat coming from the ice cream cones we were eating. Beyond the fence that surrounded our yard, the veldt was swimming in mirages, giving the impression that our lawn was an island in the middle of

Neuroses & Nirvana

BY DAVID WHITAKER   My first book was self-published. I wrote every word and illustrated it myself. I also cut all the pages, and stapled them together. It had a print run of one, a readership of two, and was about butterflies. I was four years old. I love books. When I was young, I loved them so much I wanted to create my own. I still do, though I lost my way for a while. I stopped writing when I was around sixteen. I

The Writer in the Closet

 - by Eleanor Talbot I’ll be honest. I don’t really consider myself a writer. John Steinbeck is a writer. Cannery Row is so effortless and quiet that you can hardly feel yourself reading it. It’s as if you are sitting in a comfy chair with someone telling you about a set of lives been and gone. By comparison I am simply an individual who possesses the ability to hold a pen. The hope is that one day the light of the

Full Circle

BY NATALIE SWAIN   Christmas morning. My brother has a secretive smirk on his face. “This one is from me, Natty,” he says. I lift the impressive gift bag with some trepidation. I have not got him anything. I remove the layers of tissue paper cautiously. Mont Blanc. I open the box. A beautiful Bohème pen sits gleaming up at me, squat and snug, itching to write. “It's beautiful, Matt.” I have tears in my eyes; I am overwhelmed. “It's for good luck for you in your

The Hundredth Day

BY DO HYUN KANG It all began the day I turned 100 days old. I don’t remember anything about the occurrence, but I’ve been told the story over and over again by my parents.   September 1, 1997 – a glorious day. Waves of men and women rushed into the large hall, each carrying envelopes of money and parcels of gifts to hand my parents. They were gathered to celebrate a traditional Korean ceremony – a festival that occurs when a child turns

The Writing Lobe

By Eileen Kennedy   Scientists say there’s a specific region of the brain dedicated to writing. Somewhere between the prefrontal lobe and the hippocampus is the writing lobe. Everyone has a writing lobe. I like to think when I use mine, my brain is flooded with sane chemicals and that’s why writing is a hobby I’ve never been able to give up. I’m only 19; nevertheless, I have a story to tell about writing and me. Naturally, at first I was illiterate. I

MY WRITING CHOPS

BY CATHY MARTENS   Ah, my elusive writing chops; where do they come from and where do they keep going? I'm not even sure if 'Writing Chops' is a correct term; my husband uses it. He’s a musician. 'I must practice,' he will say looking at me slyly, 'I have to get my musical chops back.' I'm sure he's thinking that I'm a silly old bat and will take up the phrase, use it widely and make a complete ass of myself. He knows

Meeting the Potato Farmer on the Road to Publication

  BY GABRIELLA BRAND   I’m a little embarrassed to admit that meeting a potato farmer helped me become a writer. But it’s true. My literary career only began to blossom after Mr Russet Man came into my life. Of course, it would be much more exciting to say that I met a famous novelist or a publisher at a swanky New York book fair. That they took one look at the short story I was carrying around like a cocktail napkin….and boom…I was

Swan Lake – My Writing Journey

BY SUZETTE LEAL   I would say that my venture into the world of words started thanks to Tchaikovsky. Had the Russian master not composed his first epic ballet, I probably would never have realised that my forte was not within the realm of hand-eye coordination. It all began when I was seven. I was in Miss Miller’s level one class and we twirled around in our pink tutus every Tuesday and Friday afternoon. My mom and Auntie Susan took turns driving the

HAYMAKER – by Clinton Matos

    Well, it’s all about power, isn’t it? That’s where and why my life intersects the here and how of what you’re reading. For disclosure: I’m going to tell you that I only recently turned twenty. I’m a tad shy on the “hard knocks” front, but I assure you I punch well above my class in cynicism and jadedness. What I’m not going to tell you is about any great adversity I had to endure or some imagined slights which may

African Dream

BY OLAKUNLE OLADIRAN     Growing up in the tiny village of Akure in Nigeria, I had only felt liberated in the moments when I was immersed in day-dreaming, regardless of how farfetched my dreams were. I craved the glitz and glamour of the city, so, even though there are a great many differences between village life and the capital city of Lagos, once I was old enough to leave I decided to follow my fate. I set out to Lagos on the Intercity Coach

MAGIC – by Thorne Busakwe

  I was five years old, hugging the floor of my mother’s little shack, gunshots ringing through the air. I was too young to understand the violence going on outside, but I felt the terror pouring from my mother like a physical thing. I sobbed when her arms shook around me, then wailed uncontrollably when I saw the tears in her own eyes. “Shush!” she whispered harshly. Her voice was filled with panic. It only made me cry harder. I didn’t really

My Writing Journey – by Nkaela Mocumi

My favourite singer once told an interviewer that he started singing at the age of four. He said that by the time he was eight, all he wanted to be was a musician. He now has more hits than he remembers and more awards than he can count. I sometimes wish my writing journey was that tidy. I don’t remember having any special skills at the age of four. To be honest, life before my sixth birthday is a blur. My

It Started With a Bang – by Marianne Saddington

  My writing journey leaped ahead when a truck smashed into my car at a traffic light, crumpling the back like a tin can. I was stuck at home for three months with a new border collie puppy and whiplash. Soon after the accident, I discovered a book that changed my life: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. After 12 weeks of working through her exercises, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I first started writing as a child, however.

Home – by Lyllie Colway

Writing courses

Love at first word. My first word was ‘home’, and that word has stuck with me ever since. Home is where the heart is, and for me, that is in a story. Delving into the details of a glorious tale, untold until that time, able to be torn apart and examined, investigated to find the very fabrics of reality within, like candy in the wrapper, delectable with exquisite decadence. The ability to find that one piece within is that of

Without a Hitch – by Kyle Rush

I’m standing on the side of a road. It’s an unremarkable road, but then, why would it be otherwise? Its asphalt skin is flaking, crumbling; forming pockmarks in its faded black face. The smells of melting tar, petrol fumes and burning rubber waft in the humid air. The sun is fierce, omnipresent. This heat is on the cusp of unbearable in bike leathers; it can only be twenty-five degrees out but it feels like forty-five. I can’t take them off, I’ve

My Writing Journey – By Alison Benge

  It wasn’t always writing that I loved. First there was the sensory world of writing: cracking the spine on a new notebook, ink flowing across a fresh page, lens-less glasses on the end of my nose. I wrote my first story, an epic tale starring my teddy bear, because I liked the clacking of the keys on our first computer. Most of my early stories were born from this sensory preoccupation. They emerged naturally throughout my childhood, mostly unnoticed. When I

Making Magic – by HM Gruendler-Schierloh

  I have escaped into a vast variety of worlds of my own making for as long as I can remember. Born at the end of World War II in Germany, I was not only lucky enough to survive unharmed thanks to my incredibly resilient mother, but I was also young enough to have absolutely no recollection of the horror of it all. Although food was scarce and I was often hungry during my childhood, there was next to no crime in the

Bullies In My Pages – by Nthepa Moitsheki

  The three years I spent in high school gave me a taste of what it must be like to do jail time for a crime one didn’t commit. I had to change my routes around the school yard each week in order to lose them: the meanies, the big bad wolves. There were three of them, well, one to be exact, and the other two were her little stooges. Kefilwe (Big Fifi) was the leader of the gang, with the prime figure

My Writing Journey – by Françoise Lempereur

  Writing is not something I do; it is something I can’t do without. My journey as a writer began at the tender age of eight when I submitted my story entitled “The Ladybirds” to the national weekend newspaper. To my surprise, it was published, together with my childish illustration of Larry and Lucy Ladybird and their two children. They were a happy family, something I longed for from an early age. I was delighted by my success as a published writer. Some years

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