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Favourite quotes on writing

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.- Gustave Flaubert

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favour you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. - Dorothy Parker

Writing and life

My first stories were for and about insects. I liked to make myself small enough to experience the world from their perspective. This was a good exercise in seeing through other eyes. In this case compound eyes. These paintings are my tribute to these early mentors. My first poem , written when I was seven, was about the death of a dog. It moved me to tears. My parents failed to keep it - my first lesson in the fickleness of readers. Undeterred, I discovered a gargantuan old typewriter in the cupboard under the stairs, and over the years filled my bedroom drawers with diatribes of dubious eloquence. My first published writing was for Grassroots newspaper, which was produced by Cape Town’s black communities as an organizing tool in the anti-apartheid struggles in the 1980's. I also drew political cartoons, including a strip for the Mail & Guardian which featured a revolutionary dog called Comrade. After 1994, I wrote educational material for NGO’s, school textbooks, poetry and fiction. My first novel, Unbroken Wing, was written in the sleep-starved daze of early motherhood, and draws on on my experiences in the anti-apartheid struggle. The Unseen Leopard reflects my growing concern with environmental issues. Notes from the Lost Property Department, explores memory, loss, mountains, and the monumental challenge of forgiving one's parents, while Eye Brother Horn explores the social and ecological impact of colonialism. In all books I reflect on the human capacity to both doom and redeem ourselves. In Black Lion: Alive in the wilderness, I took a break from fiction: to co-author the memoir and reflections of Sicelo Mbatha. It tells the story of his life, growing up in rural Zululand with a deep passion for nature that led his journey as a spiritual wilderness guide. My short fiction has been shortlisted for various awards and published on line and in anthologies on three continents. I devote non-writing time to art, hiking, family, dogs and social justice and environmental issues. These include helping to restore an urban wetland, (the Princess Vlei), and growing passion for nature amongst the youth through celebration, art, observation, dance, processions.

Writing feeds my insatiable curiosity, my need to find the right words, my love of stories. It brings hours of frustration, despair, and delight. What more could anyone ask for?

Comrade Joe, a weekly strip for the Mail &Guardian, documented those puzzling years when the struggle movement was reinventing itself as a governing power in a new democracy - this one was published in 1992, but successful  transition continues to elude the ANC.

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