My journey

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I’d been submitting to traditional publishers for a long time. Some would respond with encouraging letters to soften the rejection, other along the lines of ‘it doesn’t fit into our prestigious list’.

My writing life was in stasis. I filled it with freelance jobs in nursing, medical research, a stint as an editor for a primary health care magazine. Writing scripts for television, writing for children. But what I really wanted to do was write literary fiction.

That seemed so presumptuous that I never confided this dream to anyone. For years I followed advice that I should earn a living with my writing. This wind blew my here and there but brought no recognition, and no satisfaction. Only exploitation, I was a never-ending source of story ideas.

At a mature age, with work drying up and in a deep depression, a friend told me about the MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes University. I did my usual thing with excuses of why I couldn’t do it. However, three days before the deadline, I applied and was accepted.  At last I was following my dream.

That was the best decision I had made in thirty years. Caught on the treadmill of putting others’ interest before my own — which I had done automatically, without thinking, because thinking brought me in contact with myself —I embarked on this course with trepidation. Was my brain cells too atrophied for such a work-out? How would I fare competing with younger students? My fears kept me awake.

But soon I realised that I was a natural. I had accumulated a lifetime of writing advice and blossomed.

I submitted the collection of short stories I had worked on, with a recommendation and high hopes, to a local publisher. Still the same response: of the ‘fitting into our beautiful list’, variety.

Then calamity struck. I had a severe reaction to an antibiotic and went into anaphylaxis. My tongue swelled up, I couldn’t breathe. After almost dying I decided to self-publish.

My lecturers and some of my fellow writers were uneasy but I felt good about this choice. It was right for ME. It pulled me back to life.

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2 thoughts on “My journey

  1. I love the honesty on this post. many people just glamourize their success and they leave the reader wondering what it is that they are doing wrong.
    thank you for sharing this journey with us

    Like

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