Amongst the open fields and wildlife of the majestic bushveld I stare out the car window at the beauty that surrounds me. I am twelve years old and I have a need to share what I see and what I feel. That is when I grab the pen and paper my dad has lying in his car and I write my first poem inspired by the intense need to express the overwhelming love inside of me. As a child who grew up during the apartheid era in South Africa many great books were hidden from us.
From a young age I was an athlete that spent way to much time writing poetry, writing in my journal and writing my own songs. Soon the world of gymnastics, figure skating and athletics became of less importance to me as I spent my time creating, drawing and making up music videos in my head. Little did I know that this was part of my writing process. I did not have time to read, the little time I had I spent on writing and feeling accepted by my peers. The idea of writing a novel came one day when my older brother brought home something called a computer. That quickly died when the computer was taken away from me, because I spent late night typing, when I should have been studying.
I met my now husband at 17 and didn’t have that need to express myself with writing anymore.I was happy and happiness never fuelled my writing then. Soon I went to college, toured overseas and came back to South Africa to further my studies once more.
Nearly 6 years and two kids later I had this sensational feeling in my gut that something was missing. A friend suggested a read a book called Twilight. I frowned at the idea of reading about vampires. I know better now. Immediately I was sucked into this fantasy world. Sure I have read a few books before but this, this was extraordinary. I lived and breathed the saga for the next two month and that pang returned. Something was horribly amiss in my life. I started writing my first draft and almost completed it within three months. I was alive again.
I decided to take a year’s study course though a writing school at Collage SA, where without it I am sure I would not have become a published Author for 2012. I set the manuscript aside and dove into my novel writing course with great enthusiasm. I always had the greatest imagination and many stories bubbling inside of me. My tutors were excited from my first few short stories and I knew then that I was born for this.
The important thing I learnt about writing is that you have to do it as much as you can, as often as you can. More importantly my obsession for books that I never had as a kid has lead me to improve on my English, to understand the language better. Afrikaans is my first language, so where the English language is concerned I am behind. Reading has quickly become a very important learning curve towards becoming a great writer and hugely satisfying. I cannot imagine life now without reading and writing.
I have created a site where I can share my passions with my readers, my friends and mostly as I said before it is all part of my writing process. But that is not where it ends. I submitted my manuscript way too early. I am impatient like that. The third submission came back with great news and bad news. Bad news – I needed lots of editing.
I had written a manuscript and rewritten it once more, did a quick spell check and hit the send button. Oops, fail. It takes more than that. I have learnt though writing groups on Twitter, Facebook and other groups what the process entails. Almost too late but with each rewrite with each revision with each pre-edit the manuscript gets better.
I currently have three manuscripts in the works where number two in The Broken series is undergoing a rewrite, a revision, a second revision and two or more pre edits. I will not be so eager to send an unrevised, unedited and rewritten and revised again and again manuscript off. Sure the publishers saw the greatness and authenticity in my novel, the thing is the editing is taking way to much time now.
So, my advice to a novice novel writer. Write , write , write. Read, read , read. And rewrite.
Author of The Broken Series
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Thank you to Clare for this wonderful opportunity.