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I am a writer. I create innovative creative and business writing courses. I inspire others to tell their stories. My company's name is Writers Write. My email address is amanda@writerswrite.co.za

Elections 2014: Seven Reasons to Communicate Clearly →

Are you as annoyed as I am when you listen to politicians? 

With the elections in South Africa on 7 May 2014, I thought candidates would at least try to communicate clearly. I don’t understand what most of them are saying, and I don’t care about their messages because of this. I am tired of jargon and ambiguity. I wish someone would just say what they mean.

When we communicate in plain language, misunderstandings disappear. Readers actually read our information and use it. Our audience listens and understands. We don’t spend precious time explaining what we meant.

Communicating in plain language

— 6 days ago with 7 notes
#South Africa  #Elections 2014  #Seven resaons to communicate clearly  #Writing Advice  #Business Writing 
The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails →

Emails have become the most common way for most people to communicate. We often don’t have the time to use the telephone, and if we do try, we seem to get lost in call centre hell. Getting in touch via email seems perfect. The problem with this lies in the messages created by writers who don’t understand email etiquette, and care even less for spelling and grammar. 

If you’re prepared to saunter up to a potential client and high five them in the street with dirty hands, nothing I can say will help you. If you do care about first impressions, I hope these email tips improve your communication skills.

The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails

1.  Break it up
White space is better than one big block of writing. It is off-putting to read five thoughts in one long paragraph. Break up your email, and try to limit what you’re asking, or saying, to only three things per email.

2.  Spellcheck
Don’t neglect the basics of your email. A page that is filled with mistakes could lead to you losing business, or being misunderstood.

3.  Write a letter
First impressions count. Use the professional appearance of a letter. Include a greeting, paragraphs, and your signature. This gives readers the idea that you care about the impact you have on them. They perceive you as professional.

4.  Respect 
Internet slang is not recommended. Words should be spelled out in full. It is easier to read and it shows you care about grammar. If writing isn’t your strength, at least make the effort to check your email with grammar software.

5.  Dear ?
Avoid basic mistakes. These include incorrectly spelled email addresses, sending emails to the wrong recipient, and incorrectly spelled names. People don’t like it when you do this.

6.  Say it out loud
Read your entire email out loud. Does it flow? Does it make sense? When you hear what you’ve written, it is easier to fix your mistakes.

7.  Calm down
Never send an email when you’re angry. You will write things that you will regret.

If you make any of these mistakes, it may not be the end of the world, but it does give the impression that you couldn’t really be bothered to check what you’re doing. A reasonable client will probably ask if he or she really wants to do business with someone like that. If you want to succeed in business, take time to get this right.

Email news@writerswrite.co.za to find out more about our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme. 

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 1 week ago with 94 notes
#The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails  #Writing Tips  #Business  #Amanda Patterson  #South Africa 
Happy Birthday, Darrel Bristow-Bovey, born 6 April 1971
Nine Quotes
The books I’ve read, even if I never read them again, mean more to me than any words I’ve written. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but try as I might, I can’t bring myself to think of myself as anything more than the sum of the books I own.
It’s like Paris in the 1920s out there, only more middle-aged and without the cheap cost of living. If each unpublished word currently sloshing around desktop folders titled ‘Novel’ were a droplet of water, we’d all be knee-deep and complaining how CNN doesn’t care about floods in the Third World. 
Perhaps it is just a form of delusion or narcissism, but there are worse ways of being delusional and narcissistic than trying to forge from language something simultaneously real and imaginary, something that – if it comes out right – will make the world at once larger and more beautiful. Maybe, in these days of connectedness and status updates, the novel is still that thing that best offers the promise of sharing our inner worlds and curing the nagging, unshakeable loneliness of not being read. 
Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “Only a damn fool can sum up his worldview in a quote.”
I do sometimes wonder how other people make a living, and what I can do when my luck runs out. The answer is if I stopped being able to make a living with words, I’d probably die. Not in some wafty spiritual way, but in a literal, hungry way.
People asking you questions very seldom have your best interests at heart.
I write about things that interest me – or at least, I do when I’m writing well. I suspect I’m really writing to make my dad proud of me.
I would like to write several novels while people still read novels. I would like to fulfil some of the potential I still feel I have, while I feel I still have it. I would like to die very old and very happy, five minutes after my wife does (I don’t mean that in a creepy way, like I’m planning a murder-suicide).
Because you have to know when to stop listening. You can’t believe them when they tell you that you’re not a writer. If you listen, then there will be nothing of you left and you will never write again.
Read my 2007 interview with Darrel here and follow this link to read more of his columns. Some of the quotes were taken from these columns and this interview.
Bristow-Bovey is a South African multi award-winning travel writer, scriptwriter, author and columnist. He won the Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for fiction for SuperZero, his novel for young readers, and he was a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing.
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Happy Birthday, Darrel Bristow-Bovey, born 6 April 1971

Nine Quotes

  1. The books I’ve read, even if I never read them again, mean more to me than any words I’ve written. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but try as I might, I can’t bring myself to think of myself as anything more than the sum of the books I own.
  2. It’s like Paris in the 1920s out there, only more middle-aged and without the cheap cost of living. If each unpublished word currently sloshing around desktop folders titled ‘Novel’ were a droplet of water, we’d all be knee-deep and complaining how CNN doesn’t care about floods in the Third World. 
  3. Perhaps it is just a form of delusion or narcissism, but there are worse ways of being delusional and narcissistic than trying to forge from language something simultaneously real and imaginary, something that – if it comes out right – will make the world at once larger and more beautiful. Maybe, in these days of connectedness and status updates, the novel is still that thing that best offers the promise of sharing our inner worlds and curing the nagging, unshakeable loneliness of not being read. 
  4. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “Only a damn fool can sum up his worldview in a quote.”
  5. I do sometimes wonder how other people make a living, and what I can do when my luck runs out. The answer is if I stopped being able to make a living with words, I’d probably die. Not in some wafty spiritual way, but in a literal, hungry way.
  6. People asking you questions very seldom have your best interests at heart.
  7. I write about things that interest me – or at least, I do when I’m writing well. I suspect I’m really writing to make my dad proud of me.
  8. I would like to write several novels while people still read novels. I would like to fulfil some of the potential I still feel I have, while I feel I still have it. I would like to die very old and very happy, five minutes after my wife does (I don’t mean that in a creepy way, like I’m planning a murder-suicide).
  9. Because you have to know when to stop listening. You can’t believe them when they tell you that you’re not a writer. If you listen, then there will be nothing of you left and you will never write again.

Read my 2007 interview with Darrel here and follow this link to read more of his columns. Some of the quotes were taken from these columns and this interview.

Bristow-Bovey is a South African multi award-winning travel writer, scriptwriter, author and columnist. He won the Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for fiction for SuperZero, his novel for young readers, and he was a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing.

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 1 week ago with 14 notes
#Darrel Bristow-Bovey  #Literary Birthday  #Writers Write  #Amanda Patterson  #south africa 
All the world's a stage - World Theatre Day →

World Theatre Day was created in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI). It is celebrated annually on the 27th March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community. 

Each year, a message is written by a theatre luminary. Past messages have been given by people like Laurence Oliver, John Malkovich, Pablo Neruda, Richard Burton, and Judi Dench. 

The author of the Message of World Theatre Day 2014 is the South African playwright, designer, director and installation maker Brett Bailey.

Brett Bailey’s Message

— 3 weeks ago with 33 notes
#World Theatre Day  #Lit  #Amanda Patterson  #Theatre  #Stage  #Brett Bailey  #South Africa 
The Writers Write Interview - Chris Ryan →

During the Gulf War, Chris Ryan was the only member of an eight-man unit to escape from Iraq, where three colleagues were killed and four captured. He was awarded the Military Medal. He wrote about his experiences in the best-seller The One That Got Away, which was adapted for screen. Since then he has written three other works of non-fiction, fourteen best-selling novels and a series of childrens’ books.

Read our interview here.

— 3 weeks ago with 11 notes
#The Writers Write Interview - Chris Ryan  #Chris Ryan  #Writers Write  #South Africa 
Happy Birthday, Olive Schreiner, born 24 March 1855, died 11 December 1920
10 Quotes
Perhaps the old monks were right when they tried to root love out; perhaps the poets are right when they try to water it. It is a blood-red flower, with the colour of sin; but there is always the scent of a god about it.
How hard it is to make your thoughts look anything but imbecile fools when you paint them with ink on paper.
When the curtain falls no one is ready.
Of all cursed places under the sun, where the hungriest soul can hardly pick up a few grains of knowledge, a girls boarding-school is the worst. They are called finishing schools, and the name tells accurately what they are. They finish everything but imbecility and weakness, and that they cultivate. They are nicely adapted machines for experimenting on the question, Into how little space a human being can be crushed?
Everything has two sides - the outside that is ridiculous, and the inside that is solemn.
No good work is ever done while the heart is hot and anxious and fretted.
Men are like the earth and we are the moon; we turn always one side to them, and they think there is no other, because they don’t see it - but there is.
My feeling is that there is nothing in life but refraining from hurting others, and comforting those that are sad. 
Our fathers had their dreams; we have ours; the generation that follows will have its own. Without dreams and phantoms man cannot exist.
Wisdom never kicks at the iron walls it can’t bring down.
Schreiner was a South African author, anti-war campaigner and intellectual. She is remembered for her novel The Story of an African Farm which has been highly acclaimed ever since its was published in 1883.
Source for Image
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Happy Birthday, Olive Schreiner, born 24 March 1855, died 11 December 1920

10 Quotes

  1. Perhaps the old monks were right when they tried to root love out; perhaps the poets are right when they try to water it. It is a blood-red flower, with the colour of sin; but there is always the scent of a god about it.
  2. How hard it is to make your thoughts look anything but imbecile fools when you paint them with ink on paper.
  3. When the curtain falls no one is ready.
  4. Of all cursed places under the sun, where the hungriest soul can hardly pick up a few grains of knowledge, a girls boarding-school is the worst. They are called finishing schools, and the name tells accurately what they are. They finish everything but imbecility and weakness, and that they cultivate. They are nicely adapted machines for experimenting on the question, Into how little space a human being can be crushed?
  5. Everything has two sides - the outside that is ridiculous, and the inside that is solemn.
  6. No good work is ever done while the heart is hot and anxious and fretted.
  7. Men are like the earth and we are the moon; we turn always one side to them, and they think there is no other, because they don’t see it - but there is.
  8. My feeling is that there is nothing in life but refraining from hurting others, and comforting those that are sad. 
  9. Our fathers had their dreams; we have ours; the generation that follows will have its own. Without dreams and phantoms man cannot exist.
  10. Wisdom never kicks at the iron walls it can’t bring down.

Schreiner was a South African author, anti-war campaigner and intellectual. She is remembered for her novel The Story of an African Farm which has been highly acclaimed ever since its was published in 1883.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 3 weeks ago with 53 notes
#olive schreiner  #Literary Birthday  #amanda patterson  #Writers Write  #South Africa 
20 Rainy Day Quotes →

It has been raining in Gauteng since the first day of March. This is unusual for sunny South Africa. Rivers have broken their banks, sink holes have appeared in suburban streets. I decided to commemorate the two weeks with a selection of rain-inspired quotations.

  1. There are a hundred things she has tried to chase away the things she won’t remember and that she can’t even let herself think about because that’s when the birds scream and the worms crawl and somewhere in her mind it’s always raining a slow and endless drizzle. You will hear that she has left the country, that there was a gift she wanted you to have, but it is lost before it reaches you. Late one night the telephone will sign, and a voice that might be hers will say something that you cannot interpret before the connection crackles and is broken. Several years later, from a taxi, you will see someone in a doorway who looks like her, but she will be gone by the time you persuade the driver to stop. You will never see her again. Whenever it rains you will think of her. ~Neil Gaiman
  2. A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. ~Robert Frost
  3. Colours shone with exceptional clarity in the rain. The ground was a deep black, the pine branches a brilliant green, the people wrapped in yellow looking like special spirits that were allowed to wander over the earth on rainy mornings only. ~Haruki Murakami
  4. The only noise now was the rain, pattering softly with the magnificent indifference of nature for the tangled passions of humans. ~Sherwood Smith
  5. I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. ~Pablo Neruda
  6. One can find so many pains when the rain is falling. ~John Steinbeck
  7. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. ~Norman Maclean
  8. It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent. ~Dave Barry
  9. Thy fate is the common fate of all; Into each life some rain must fall. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  10. A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning. ~James Dickey
  11. The rain is falling ever harder and all I can hear is the sound of the water. I’m drenched but I can’t move. ~Paulo Coelho
  12. The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day. ~Dr. Seuss
  13. The best way to meet a woman is in an emergency situation - if you’re in a shipwreck, or you find yourself behind enemy lines, or in a flood. ~Mark Helprin
  14. And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow. G.K. Chesterton
  15. She might have wept then, had not the sky begun to do it for her. ~George R.R. Martin
  16. Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book. ~Bill Watterson
  17. English rain feels obligatory, like paperwork. It dampens already damn days and slicks the stones. ~Maureen Johnson
  18. He looked like the sort of person who would tell you that he did not have an umbrella to lend you when he actually had several and simply wanted to see you get soaked. ~Lemony Snicket
  19. He then departed, to make himself still more interesting, in the midst of a heavy rain. ~Jane Austen
  20. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempest. ~Epicurus

by Amanda Patterson

By 11 March 2014, The Vaal Dam had reached 105 percent capacity, and seven of the 16 gates had been opened. 

— 1 month ago with 128 notes
#Rainy Day Quotes  #Lit  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write  #South Africa 

Norman Mailer: On Writing Classes


'I learned a great deal from writing classes. … And it also chops down that terribly unstable vanity that young writers have, you know, where they think, ‘I’m a great writer’, and at the same time they can’t take a single criticism, and writing courses are good for that. They weather you. It’s a little bit like a kid who wants to play varsity football but never tries out for the team. So you go to that writing class and you get toughened up a little.'
(‘Norman Mailer Interview’, The Academy of Achievement, June 12, 2004) Source for Quote


Writing Courses in March 2014
How to write a memoir - Secrets of a Memoirist: 24-27 March (Johannesburg)
How to write a book - Writers Write: 24-27 March (Cape Town)
How to write a short story - Short Cuts: 29 March (Johannesburg)
How to write for business – The Plain Language Programme: 11-12 March (Johannesburg)
Email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Norman Mailer: On Writing Classes

'I learned a great deal from writing classes. … And it also chops down that terribly unstable vanity that young writers have, you know, where they think, ‘I’m a great writer’, and at the same time they can’t take a single criticism, and writing courses are good for that. They weather you. It’s a little bit like a kid who wants to play varsity football but never tries out for the team. So you go to that writing class and you get toughened up a little.'

(‘Norman Mailer Interview’, The Academy of Achievement, June 12, 2004) Source for Quote
Writing Courses in March 2014
  1. How to write a memoir - Secrets of a Memoirist: 24-27 March (Johannesburg)
  2. How to write a book - Writers Write: 24-27 March (Cape Town)
  3. How to write a short story - Short Cuts: 29 March (Johannesburg)
  4. How to write for business – The Plain Language Programme: 11-12 March (Johannesburg)

Email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

— 1 month ago with 55 notes
#Writers  #Writers Write  #Norman Mailer  #Writing Courses  #South Africa 
Happy Autumn! Courses and Quotes for March 2014
Writing Courses in March 2014
How to write a memoir - Secrets of a Memoirist: 24-27 March (Johannesburg)
How to write a book - Writers Write: 24-27 March (Cape Town)
How to write a short story - Short Cuts: 29 March (Johannesburg)
How to write for business – The Plain Language Programme: 11-12 March (Johannesburg)
Email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Nine Quotes for Autumn
Beware the ides of March. ~William Shakespeare
It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow - flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange. ~ Bill Bryson
She looked like autumn, when leaves turned and fruit ripened. ~Sarah Addison Allen
There is so much beauty in autumn and so much wisdom; so much separation and so much sorrow! ~Mehmet Murat ildan
Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. ~Hal Borland
I am made for autumn. Summer and I have a fickle relationship, but everything about autumn is perfect to me. Woolly jumpers, Wellington boot, scarves, thin first, then thick, socks. The low slanting light, the crisp mornings, the chill in my fingers, those last warm sunny days before the rain and the wind. Her moody hues and subdued palate punctuated every now and again by a brilliant orange, scarlet or copper goodbye. She is my true love. ~Alys Fowler
The heat of autumn is different from the heat of summer. One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider. ~Jane Hirshfield
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens
by Amanda Patterson

Happy Autumn! Courses and Quotes for March 2014

Writing Courses in March 2014

  1. How to write a memoir - Secrets of a Memoirist: 24-27 March (Johannesburg)
  2. How to write a book - Writers Write: 24-27 March (Cape Town)
  3. How to write a short story - Short Cuts: 29 March (Johannesburg)
  4. How to write for business – The Plain Language Programme: 11-12 March (Johannesburg)

Email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Nine Quotes for Autumn

  1. Beware the ides of March. ~William Shakespeare
  2. It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow - flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange. ~ Bill Bryson
  3. She looked like autumn, when leaves turned and fruit ripened. ~Sarah Addison Allen
  4. There is so much beauty in autumn and so much wisdom; so much separation and so much sorrow! ~Mehmet Murat ildan
  5. Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. ~Hal Borland
  6. I am made for autumn. Summer and I have a fickle relationship, but everything about autumn is perfect to me. Woolly jumpers, Wellington boot, scarves, thin first, then thick, socks. The low slanting light, the crisp mornings, the chill in my fingers, those last warm sunny days before the rain and the wind. Her moody hues and subdued palate punctuated every now and again by a brilliant orange, scarlet or copper goodbye. She is my true love. ~Alys Fowler
  7. The heat of autumn is different from the heat of summer. One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider. ~Jane Hirshfield
  8. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot
  9. It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

by Amanda Patterson

— 1 month ago with 47 notes
#Nine Quotes for Autumn  #Writing Courses  #Lit  #Quotes  #Writers Write  #South Africa 
Happy Birthday, Herman Charles Bosman, born 3 February 1905, died 14 October 1951
Three Quotes
For it is not the story that counts. What matters is the way you tell it. The important thing is to know just at what moment you must knock out your pipe on your veldskoen, and at what stage of the story you must start talking about the School Committee at Drogevlei. Another necessary thing is to know what part of the story to leave out… And you can never learn these things.
Leopards? – Oom Schalk Lourens said – Oh yes, there are two varieties on this side of the Limpopo.  The chief difference between them is that one kind of a leopard has a few more spots on it than the other kind.  But when you meet a leopard in the veld, unexpectedly, you seldom trouble  to count his spots to find out what kind he belongs to.  That is unnecessary.  Because whatever leopard it is that you come across in this way, you only do one kind of running.  And that is the fastest kind.
They are trying to make Johannesburg respectable to make us lose our sense of pride that our forebears were a lot of roughnecks who knew nothing about culture and who came here to look for gold.
Bosman is regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer. He is the author of the memoir, Cold Stone Jug, and Mafeking Road: and Other Stories 
Source for Image
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Happy Birthday, Herman Charles Bosman, born 3 February 1905, died 14 October 1951

Three Quotes

  1. For it is not the story that counts. What matters is the way you tell it. The important thing is to know just at what moment you must knock out your pipe on your veldskoen, and at what stage of the story you must start talking about the School Committee at Drogevlei. Another necessary thing is to know what part of the story to leave out… And you can never learn these things.
  2. Leopards? – Oom Schalk Lourens said – Oh yes, there are two varieties on this side of the Limpopo.  The chief difference between them is that one kind of a leopard has a few more spots on it than the other kind.  But when you meet a leopard in the veld, unexpectedly, you seldom trouble  to count his spots to find out what kind he belongs to.  That is unnecessary.  Because whatever leopard it is that you come across in this way, you only do one kind of running.  And that is the fastest kind.
  3. They are trying to make Johannesburg respectable to make us lose our sense of pride that our forebears were a lot of roughnecks who knew nothing about culture and who came here to look for gold.

Bosman is regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer. He is the author of the memoir, Cold Stone Jug, and Mafeking Road: and Other Stories 

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 2 months ago with 22 notes
#Herman Charles Bosman  #Writers Write  #Literary Birthday  #Amanda Patterson  #south africa 
One habit every writer must have →

A day in details. 

The sign looms large and slightly crooked. I take a deep breath and enjoy the last of the air conditioning in my car before I plunge into the cesspit that is the Traffic Department. Heat, like the arms of the undead, drags at my knees and slows me down. The African sun is relentless and the black tar is its happy accomplice. A car guard in Day-Glo yellow saunters closer. I nod. He smiles. The deal is made. My car is safe. Well, supposedly safe. My driver’s license has been ready for quite some time, but I have not managed to summon the energy to fetch it. It will be destroyed within the next week if I don’t get it today. 
                A friendly gap-toothed guard directs me to the queue. I take my place. Docile and compliant as I settle in to wait. Unperturbed, I dive into my bag for my trusty cell phone. The Internet; my ever present companion. One click and two bleeps later, it dies. It takes a moment for the realisation to dawn on me. I am trapped in a queue with no cell phone. Panicked, my little brain almost seizes, but then something odd happens. 
                I start looking around. I notice things. The scene comes alive. I notice the cracked heels of the rather hefty lady in front of me. The lady at her side is scrawny by comparison. Her black roots melt into peroxide tips. Shampoo is not something she has invested in recently. The body odour of the gentleman behind me, compliments of the summer heat wave, settles warm and heavy over us all. There is nowhere to turn. A well groomed matron stands in the sun. Her back unbent by something as trivial as heat. Her coiffure intact and refusing to wilt. I notice the heads turn, like spectators at a tennis match, as an old man in really short shorts walks up the path. He is a man on a mission. 
                He clutches a bunch of papers and waves them at everybody as he passes. Yes, we see you, funny little man. Once white fingers, stained brown from years of accumulated dirt and manual labour, clutch the papers. Even to my untrained eye, none of them look like government documents. He pushes his luck at the gate, hoping to jump the queue. We, the queuing mass, square our shoulders to confront him, but the friendly gap-toothed guard directs him to the back of the queue. Like good citizens, we deflate as one. He huffs and puffs. We ignore and shake our heads. 
                Eventually, we make our way inside and we are directed to another queue. The short-shorts man makes his own way to a different counter. Adamant that he should not have to wait. We all sit and watch in fascination as this man gestures and flaps and stomps and huffs and puffs and stomps some more. The staff hold firm. We stare, entranced. It’s like watching a daytime soap. This man is crazy. At some particularly loud point I couldn’t help but think that this is how innocent bystanders get shot. He writes with exaggerated strokes on his documents. A black BIC flying over the paper. He slams his fist on the green melamine. At last my name is called. I collect my license. The last words I hear as I leave are: “You are being racism. I report this.” He wags his fat, dirty finger as he says this. I marvel at the patience of the staff. Granted, as a patron of this particular department, you need a fair amount of patience too.
                I was still clutching my phone as if I could charge it with willpower alone, but I was grateful. I would have missed the entire tirade if I had been pinning or tweeting. I would not have been able to share this story of the sad man at the traffic department with you.

As writers, we should be gathering details all day. What did the counter tops look like? What type of pen was given to him to write with? What did the silly misspelled signs say? I need to look around all day and teach myself to remember. Sometimes, I need to put away my phone and have real damn experience for a change. Jot down things as you go through your day.
by Mia Botha for Writers Write
— 2 months ago with 105 notes
#Writing Advice  #Lit  #Writing  #Mia Botha  #long reads  #Writers Write  #south africa 
Dear Writer - A Story of a Story →

Dear Writer

We understand that the idea of writing a book can seem overwhelming. You are probably reading this because you want to learn more about the process. You might want to learn how to write a novel without getting stuck. You may have a life story you would like to share in the form of a memoir. You could have an idea you hope to turn into a non-fiction book. Whatever your dream, Writers Write can help you achieve your goals.

We know that there is a difference between having talent as a writer, and finishing and publishing a book. While nobody can teach you talent, you can learn how to make the best of the writing strengths you do have.

Writers Write will help you discover how to write a book. We draw on experience gathered from teaching this course for more than 10 years to show you that you can do it. We teach you to take an idea and nurture it into a story with a plot. We help you create characters that readers will remember. We encourage you to find the voices of your characters and to let them speak to each other and tell their stories. You learn how to show and not tell. You learn how to pace your story. You learn about query letters, synopses, and the new world of publishing. You do all of this in a safe, encouraging environment with plenty of practical exercises to back up the theory.

When you finish the course, you can continue your journey with us by following our daily writing posts at www.writerswrite.co.za We encourage you to explore the writing resources already featured on this site. We add tips, and ideas, and interesting writing trivia every day. You can also subscribe to these updates. We know how lonely writing is and we also know the only way forward is to write. With the backup from the online material and the invaluable lessons you learn on the Writers Write course, we know you will be able to follow your writing dream.
From The Writers Write Team
— 2 months ago with 39 notes
#Writers Write  #Writing Courses  #South Africa  #How to write a book 
Happy Birthday, Wilbur Smith, born 9 January 1933
10 Quotes
I have been blessed in many ways, and one of those is to have been born in Africa, for me a great treasure house of stories. I have been researching it since my infancy; reading about it, talking to men and women who have spent their lives in this land, living it as I have and loving it as I do. I write almost entirely from my own experience.
I’m a writer - if I stop writing, I’m nothing.
My first novel was rejected by some of the most eminent publishers in the world. Starting again was a real wrench.
To me, my characters are more real than most people I meet.
At the age of 12 I won the school prize for Best English Essay. The prize was a copy of Somerset Maugham’s ‘Introduction To Modern English And American Literature.’ To this day I keep it on the shelf between my collection of Forester’s works and the little urn that contains my mother’s ashes.
Despite the fact that I spend a lot of time in London, Switzerland and New York, Africa is the place I know and love best, and my heart will always lie here.
I never set out to write literature; I set out to tell stories. 
The first novel I wrote was a monster - clocking in at 180,000 words - but it died a death, a death it deserved. It was called ‘The Gods First Make Mad.’ It was a good title, but it was the only good thing about the book. I didn’t let that put me off.
Write for yourself, not for a perceived audience. If you do, you’ll mostly fall flat on your face, because it’s impossible to judge what people want. And you have to read. That’s how you learn what is good writing and what is bad. Then the main thing is application. It’s hard work.
What I like about writing is the sense of godlike power it gives you.
Smith is a best-selling South African novelist who has sold more than 120 million books. He is best known for The Courtney Series, The Ballantyne Series, and  The Egyptian Series. Several of his novels have been turned into movies, including Shout at the Devil, The Burning Shore, and The Seventh Scroll.
Source for Image
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Happy Birthday, Wilbur Smith, born 9 January 1933

10 Quotes

  1. I have been blessed in many ways, and one of those is to have been born in Africa, for me a great treasure house of stories. I have been researching it since my infancy; reading about it, talking to men and women who have spent their lives in this land, living it as I have and loving it as I do. I write almost entirely from my own experience.
  2. I’m a writer - if I stop writing, I’m nothing.
  3. My first novel was rejected by some of the most eminent publishers in the world. Starting again was a real wrench.
  4. To me, my characters are more real than most people I meet.
  5. At the age of 12 I won the school prize for Best English Essay. The prize was a copy of Somerset Maugham’s ‘Introduction To Modern English And American Literature.’ To this day I keep it on the shelf between my collection of Forester’s works and the little urn that contains my mother’s ashes.
  6. Despite the fact that I spend a lot of time in London, Switzerland and New York, Africa is the place I know and love best, and my heart will always lie here.
  7. I never set out to write literature; I set out to tell stories. 
  8. The first novel I wrote was a monster - clocking in at 180,000 words - but it died a death, a death it deserved. It was called ‘The Gods First Make Mad.’ It was a good title, but it was the only good thing about the book. I didn’t let that put me off.
  9. Write for yourself, not for a perceived audience. If you do, you’ll mostly fall flat on your face, because it’s impossible to judge what people want. And you have to read. That’s how you learn what is good writing and what is bad. Then the main thing is application. It’s hard work.
  10. What I like about writing is the sense of godlike power it gives you.

Smith is a best-selling South African novelist who has sold more than 120 million books. He is best known for The Courtney Series, The Ballantyne Series, and  The Egyptian Series. Several of his novels have been turned into movies, including Shout at the Devil, The Burning Shore, and The Seventh Scroll.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 3 months ago with 42 notes
#Writers Write  #Wilbur Smith  #Literary Birthday  #South Africa  #Amanda patterson 
It’s surreal to be in Johannesburg today. The world has descended for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.  Hamba Kahle, Madiba.  And if you haven’t read it yet, Writers Write recommends you read his memoir, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

It’s surreal to be in Johannesburg today. The world has descended for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.
Hamba Kahle, Madiba.
And if you haven’t read it yet, Writers Write recommends you read his memoir, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

— 4 months ago with 71 notes
#Nelson Mandela  #long walk to freedom  #south africa