Being a writer is often a thankless job. It entails many hours of isolation, swearing at your computer screen and any living thing that moves around you and insomnia. Insomnia is a big part of being a writer.
Wordsmiths are also supposed to conform to the fine traditions of drinking surreptitiously from a hip flask and wearing a wide-brimmed floppy hat to let everyone know how eccentric you are, but being religious-ish I have yet to take up the drinking part and the wearing of a scarf interferes tiresomely with the big floppy hat idea.
My original point was that it is for the most part, unrewarding and wretched. And there is no shortage of people telling you to “hurry up” and get published. Which makes me want to stab them with a rusty ice-pick. But there are those brief moments that make it worthwhile, like finding the R100 note that I stashed in an old jacket pocket a year ago (most writers live below the bread line, and I am no exception) and the day I got the email from StoryTime’s editor, Ivor W. Hartman, telling me that two of my short stories had been nominated for selection in the literary e-zine's second anthology of short stories, African Roar 2.
I always knew that if I took up writing fiction, the road would be a long, empty monstrosity with many potholes and misleading signs, sort of like driving in the Tshwane Municipality formerly known as Pretoria. I prepared myself for millions of rejection letters and editors’ secretaries slamming the phone down on me. That’s how the industry rolls and I’m not in a hurry.
The only problem is that I wish someone had told that to my nearest and dearest. It’s almost as if someone put the evil idea into their heads that I would be an overnight success and that I would suddenly be transformed into a multi-millionaire, giving television interviews, accepting awards and cutting red ribbons inexpertly at opening ceremonies. The worst part is when they start mentally spending the non-existent money from a non-existent publishing contract for me. I’m talking beach houses and speedboats.
The two stories I mentioned earlier are both very special to me. “Trapped” was the very first short story I ever wrote and within ten minutes (figuratively speaking) it had been accepted for publication and was generating a lot of discussion and awareness about the problem of woman and child abuse in South Africa, an issue which is close to my heart.
“Longing for Home” was a story I put a lot of work and attention into. It centres around a young Zimbabwean girl, who, sent to England to study towards a degree, finds herself the sole breadwinner of a large extended family when violence erupts back home in Zimbabwe. It is a story of broken expectations, an African sense of duty and finding love in unexpected places.
So please feel free to read my two stories at the links above and you can also check out some of the other fine offerings by my fellow StoryTime writers. If you liked my two stories you can vote for them here – select Trapped by Hajira Amla – StoryTime#77 and Longing for Home by Hajira Amla – StoryTime#91, then scroll down to the bottom and click on the Vote button. Finding out my stories have been selected to go into the anthology would be one of those sweet, sentimental moments a writer waits for. My lower lip is ready to tremble theatrically any time. Voting closes on the last day of September 2010!
There are times when I feel I must educate the masses about the proper and correct use of Facebook and Twitter as a medium for making friends and impressing people. Some of you are just not doing it right at all. So for the socially inept, here are some pointers: 1. Use the right language Some of you are putting full stops and vowels into your communication. This is unacceptable and so last century. Wen itz tym t0 tlk 2 ppl, u r sup0sd 2 b v edgy n kewl lyk dis. iT aLS0 hElpS iF U tYpE LiKe thIS. No-1 knws y.
2. Don’t hold back so much Your friends on Facebook and Twitter WANT to know the size, colour and consistency of the vegetables you threw up in the car after a hard night’s clubbing over the weekend, what your boyfriend of two seconds whispered in your ear on the backseat last night and what emo feelings you are going through because your daddy pays more attention to his lady friends than to you.
3. My friend is your friend This is a free world. You are more than welcome to hijack my Facebook status and verbally attack any of my other friends who comment on it, including people who are old enough to be your mother.
4. Stalking – the new way of saying I love you Guys love it when young girls ignore all the security and privacy advantages of Facebook and have their Wall and Photos available for the world to see. It makes it that much easier to stalk you and groom you until you are ready to perform certain acts that could make you famous in the video entertainment industry. Go for it – experts say making porn can build self-confidence among the young ladies of today. 5. Tag, you’re it! Please, by all means, upload a random picture of a fat woman with camel toe to pollute my news feed. And just in case I am unlucky enough to miss it, tag me in the picture, so that when my other stalkers friends look for pictures of me, they think I look like Gabourey Sidibe in a thong.
6. The Farmville Mafia Everyone loves Farmville. Everyone loves Mafia Wars. Hopefully, if we invite every friend we have onto these apps repeatedly, there will be no need to live in the real world any more. We can farm by day and kill one another by night. Yeah.
7. Invitations The University of London Fresher’s Events, The Bomb Squad, Stop Randomly Poisoning Dogs in Seychelles and I HATE TYPICAL INDIAN HARROW/KENTON/KINGSBURY BOYS & GIRLS!! These groups are awesome. My life is now so much more fulfilled and meaningful. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
8. Justin Bieber I love it when #hornyforjustin is trending and I get to find out how many of the people I follow on Twitter are closet paedophiles.
9. Trending topics Trending topics are such an insightful tool into the current affairs of the day. “I wear flip flops, even in the rain #BecauseImAGangsta”. Yes. Because all gangstas wear flip flops. In the rain. That’s what makes them gangstas. And after all, discussing why you are a gangsta is so much more important than politics or poor people getting killed in Kashmiristan. Or summin’ or nuffin’.
I hope that this list has given you a clear insight into the many, many benefits of social media. If you can think of any more of the benefits, please feel free to add them in the comments.
If I have been very quiet lately it has been because I have been hard at work trying to organise the game drive for the children’s home at the Sultan Bahu Centre. However, things have not gone quite as according to plan as I would have liked and the major stumbling block has been around finding a suitable date for the event to take place. The Sultan Bahu Centre is going to be quite busy this September between all the craziness of the last ten days of Ramadaan, Eid celebrations and then the children must all be packed up and sent to Durban for their annual holiday over the school holidays.
The only free weekend that the children would have had would not have worked for the Krugersdorp Game Reserve as weekends are generally quite busy for them and they would have to provide us with a game ranger to go with us on the bus through the reserve. So after tearing my hair out and making lots of waily-waily noises, my dear friend and fellow organiser on this project, Zakiya, gave me a bit of a slap (metaphorically) and told me to calm the hell down.
“We can do it in October, what’s the hurry?” she said calmly.
And I realised that the timing wasn’t really that important and that trying to get everyone to do everything on such short notice when it wasn’t convenient for them wasn’t the right thing to do in the first place. So insha-Allah it will indeed happen when everyone is ready for it to happen.
So to everyone who volunteered donations or items for the party, please hang on to that bag of crisps or that packet of paper plates for a little while longer while we reschedule this event. There is no point in cancelling it since so much of the groundwork and organisation has already been put in place. Plus it is for such a good cause that I must persevere.
So thanks again for the support and please remember me in your duas. I will keep everyone updated as soon as we have the new date finalised.