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Another NaNoWriMo! November 2, 2010

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It is that time of year again. You know, when your writer friends start to act a bit strange. Or rather, stranger than usual. You soon learn the signs, the stifled yawns, the glazed eyes, the rubbing of cramped fingers, the barely suppressed excitement.  Yes, it is NaNoWriMo time again.

In case you have been hiding under a rock, or just don’t have any writer friends (poor you) NaNoWriMo is a wonderful international novel writing adventure. People from around the world set aside November to write a novel. 50 000 words in 30 days!

150 000 people have already signed up this year. Some people have already reached 10 000 words; although most of us are happy to have hit our first day’s target of 1 667 words. And others are still hesitating, wondering why they decided to do this.

If you are still wondering – or have only just discovered this awesome concept and want to get involved, then head over to http://www.nanowrimo.org and join in the fun.

Can you read it? September 8, 2010

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If you can read this post, then you are part of the more privileged part of society. According to a report on the radio this morning, one in five adults is illiterate. That is a scary statistic.

Today is International Literacy Day. A day when those of us can read should be grateful. Can you imagine a world without books? The horror…

Even before I could read I loved books. According to family legend I scarred a visiting aunt by “reading” at three. Any fears of a prodigy where soon dispelled when she was assured that I was simply reciting the book, turning the pages at the appropriate place.  I was fortunate to grow up in a house filled with books, and even better, with a family who also loved books. For me it is hard to understand people who can read, but choose not to.

So today I would like to salute all those organisations and individuals who work to enable people to experience the joy of words, of reading. To all the librarians, teachers, literacy workers, writers, publishers, to all the ordinary people who have ever shared a book they loved, who have talked about books on their blogs, to everyone who buys books, and those who support the many literacy projects around the world : Happy Literacy Day !

Counting down the days… September 6, 2010

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It is now less than two months until November. Which means it is time to start getting into nanowrimo mode.

Watch this space for updates…

Is there a man on the moon?* July 20, 2010

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Man on the moon

With a name like moonblue, how could I not mention the fact that today is the anniversary of the first landing on the moon. On 20 July 1969 there were in fact two men on the moon – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (oops, nearly wrote Buzz Lightyear. Guess who watched Toy Story 3 last week).  And floating in space, poor Michael Collins who travelled all that way and then had to stay in the car.

* A note on the title of this post for non-South African readers, and most likely, South African readers born after that famous day, the title comes from the song, Man on the Moon, by Ballyhoo. A song which has been stuck in my head all day, thanks to the djs on Algoa FM who played a series of moon related songs this morning.

Can you hear it? June 29, 2010

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No, this is not a reference to the vuvuzela chorus which is accompanying the Soccer World Cup. You would be hard-pressed to avoid those delicate tones anywhere in the country. As the playwright Mike van Graan noted in his play Bafana Republic : One man, one note.

But I am thinking about the World Cup. Again, it would be quite hard to avoid it in South Africa. Soccer fever has taken hold and it is difficult to talk about much else at the moment.

This world cup started off with a music concert, featuring top local acts such as Freshlyground, The Parlotones, Lira, Vusi Mahlasela and others, as well as international performers like Shakira, The Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, and of course, K’naan. While the official theme song might be Waka Waka by Shakira and Freshlyground, the song that everyone seems to be singing along to is K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag.

In the run-up to the world cup, several radio stations announced that they would be playing on African music for the month of the event. I thought that was a wonderful idea. How better to introduce the foreign visitors to the country than through its music. And to encourage the wave of “proudly South African” emotion.

Sadly, I scrolled down on the online article announcing this news. I really should not read the comments on newspapers, they usually just make me angry or irritated. Or depressed at the prejudice and stupidity of so many people. Needless to say there was a chorus of horror at being forced to listen to local music. What got me, apart from the negativity, was the automatic assumption that South African music would be bad.

Which made me wonder how often they listened to the radio. South African musicians are producing wonderful material. I will often be listening and enjoying a new song, and then find out it was a South African artists. Just this Saturday I was listening to the Top 20 on my local radio station and there were four or five South African singers represented.

So, as part of my world cup festivities, and proudly South African fervour, I decided to only listen to South African music for the month of soccer. Admittedly I have been watching tv more than listening to music (you know, that soccer they keep showing:) but when my cd player goes on, it is a local cd spinning inside.

The Parlotones and Freshlyground feature quite strongly in the line-up, along with Steve Newman, Tony Cox and Johnny Clegg. My most recent acquisitions are a cd by the Soweto String Quartet, which I am really loving, and a cd by the Boulevard Harmonists, bought at their show at the arts festival.

And of course, every time a certain cold drink advert comes on I launch into a song about flag waving. Oh oh oh oh….

So what is your soccer soundtrack?

Daily Dose of Sunshine May 18, 2010

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I walk to work. It is something I quite enjoy, particularly the homeward journey as it gives me a chance to clear my head and stretch my legs. The trip to work is a bit harder. Not only is it too early in the morning for me, but most of the way is uphill.

By the time I reach the top of the appropriately named Hill Street I need to stop for a minute to catch my breath. This also gives me a chance to read the board giving the headline for a certain daily newspaper. I have to admit that I have never read this paper, but if the headlines – and its reputation – are anything to go by it specialises in tabloid style sensationalism. (Which is why I will not mention the name, I would hate to get sued, or feature in one of their articles:)

I love reading the headlines. They get my day off to a good start. Everyone needs a daily dose of surrealism in order to maintain a sense of reality. Well, that is my opinion anyway. I am able to amuse myself for the rest of the walk wondering what the often cryptic headline actually means. Because so many of the headlines are bizarre, even when I actually know what it refers to, my imagination supplies much more interesting stories.

For example a recent headline roared: Reggae Test for Bafana. I had happened to watch the news on TV the previous evening so knew that the national soccer team had a match against Jamaica. But I rather preferred the immediate mental image of the soccer players in dreads having to sing good reggae before they were allowed on the team.

Some recent gems have included – Taxi boss crashes into himself – Gogo’s leave evil village – Win a taxi worth R300 000 – Death for breakfast.  And my personal favourite which claimed: Chicken bites cooks. That one almost made me buy the paper.

I am quite tempted to use these headlines as writing prompts and suspect they could lead to some very interesting, if slightly strange, short stories. Or even better, my next nanowrimo novel could be based on the daily headline.  I can just imagine what I would end up with.  Watch this space in November and see what the headlines have to say…

Poem a Day – February Progress March 11, 2010

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This year I challenged myself to try to write a poem each day. I decided to look back over the last month and see how things went.

Well, I wrote a poem in the diary I am using on 16 days. Not brilliant, but not bad. At least I wrote more often than not. And I must admit that some of the pieces barely qualify as poems. Some are sheer doggerel, others more fragments, interesting lines or ideas to explore later. And some were just plain boring, or irredeemably bad.

But that is not the point. The point is that something was written. After all, it is easier to edit a bad poem than an empty page. And some of the poems surprised me. Poems which with a bit of work could be quite good.  And some poems are on topics I might never have got to without this challenge.

I thought I would post two brief ones here. Please note, these are first drafts and will hopefully appear at a later date in a more polished form. I attended a slide show and lecture on Turkish antiquities. It was really interesting and inspired me to write. But that inspiration might not have survived the walk home had I not found myself that night wondering what poem I could write.

ON SEEING SLIDES OF TROY

Is this all there is?
These crumbling walls,
scattered ruins.

The mighty have fallen
and their bones are hidden,
buried by rock and dust.

Who will know
where our cities stood
when our age has passed?

Will future generations
seek traces of London,
New York or Johannesburg?

Will they remember stories
of heroic deeds, hidden treasures
and wonder at the ruins,

asking – is this all there is?

ASH WEDNESDAY

ash on my forehead
a sign of my suffering
a season of pain

I try to reflect
on the true meaning of lent
to focus on God

but my mind keeps on
turning to thoughts of you
the words turn to stone

The Play’s the Thing March 3, 2010

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Having barely got back the use of my fingers after the frenzied writing and typing of NaNoWriMo, it is time to start thinking about the frenzy that is Script Frenzy

Yes, the crazy folks who brought you National Novel Writing Month and inspired 100 000 people to write a novel, in a month, are back. This time they are challenging people to write 100 pages of a play, film script, tv show or graphic novel. In a month. This time the magic month is April.

I am tempted. I have always wanted to write a play. And seeing as I watch so many movies why not try to write one. Or adapt one of my favourite books for the stage or screen. It could be fun.

It could be crazy. I am super busy at work, I have a poetry journal to edit and a writing class to teach. And I am meant to be putting together my next poetry book. Oh yes, and finishing last year’s nanowrimo novel. I don’t have time for this.

Which means I will probably end up doing it. Or at least signing up and seeing how far I go. I even have an idea. Gulp. Something I thought of last October but which seemed better suited to be a play than a novel.  Even if I never finish the play, I am sure to learn a lot about writing. And might end up with a short story if not a play. Plus – it could be fun.

To script or not to script? That is the question…

Poem a Day January 26, 2010

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I was given a beautiful leather-bound diary for Christmas. The problem is that I already had a diary for 2010, one of a more manageable size to keep in my bag.

While wondering what to do with the page a day diary I hit on a idea. It is possibly crazy, but could be fun. I would challenge myself to write a poem a day. Every day. For the whole year. Yikes!

Of course I realise that I will not actually achieve this goal. And a lot of what I write is going to be rubbish. But, if I at least manage to write a poem on some days there is a good chance that at least some of the poems will be worth working on. And I will have an interesting poetic account of my year (I will try to let the poem be inspired by something that happened that day).

Every now and then I will post a poem here and report on progress.

Does anyone else have crazy writing goals or challenges?

New Year Resolutions January 13, 2010

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Every year I make long lists of all the things I am going to do better, the writing I am going to do, the areas where I intend to improve.

On January 1 I was journalling and realised that I started this book on 1st January the previous year. I read over my list of resolutions and goals for the year. It was a rather depressing moment as I realised that I could simply transfer the list to this year with very few changes.

So, instead of setting myself up for disappointment or getting caught up in legalistic lists and impossible goals I will set a very simple goal for the year ahead:

To read, write and pray every day. And to do something social, something spiritual and something creative every week.