Novel Transcript Reading: Courage the Mouse, by Cornelia Fick

Novel Writing Festival

 

Performed by Laura Kyswaty

 Get to know the writer:

What is your story story about?

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about myself J. This is actually a story about following your destiny.

What genres would you say this story is in?

It’s a children’s story for ages 7-11

How would you describe this story in two words?

Adventure. Playfulness

What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Gone with the wind.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

The greatest love by Whitney Houston

Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Mice and Men, John Steinberg. Recently The almanac of the dead by Leslie Silko

What motivated you to write this story?

I wrote it for my son and added pictures in water colour. The pictures were not very good because I have…

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Mary Oliver: The Artist’s Task

Wonderful essay on creativity

Vox Populi

It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses…

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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

5star-flat-hr

Eye of a Needle: And Other Stories by Cornelia Fick is a gorgeous
collection of short and long stories, each suffused with unique
literary elements to entertain readers. The author captures the
reality of South Africa in vivid detail, in a voice that is clear and
absorbing. In “The Beggar,” the reader meets the “homeless writer”
and the circumstances that led him to miss his big dreams and set
up a home under the bridge. “Opposites Attract” features great
storytelling skills. There are stories of varying lengths, each looking
at a fragment of life through the narrator’s eyes, and at times the
reader can feel the indictment of the powers that be for the poverty
and injustice, or a celebration of love.
This collection features an exciting and delightful blend of flash
fiction and longer stories. The shorter ones are tightly written, and
the reader feels teased and wanting more once they complete
reading each story. The writing itself has many elements of
seduction woven into its fabric. The longer stories feature
compelling characters, great plots, and well-developed themes.
Some of the themes — love, social issues, poverty — are recurrent
in several stories. The characters that animate the plot lines are
well-imagined, most of them are plucked from ordinary life, and are
well-sculpted. What was most fascinating for me was the beautiful
and elegant writing. It is clean and polished, laden with vivid and
beautiful descriptions. Eye of a Needle: And Other Stories is a
gorgeous treat for fans of flash fiction and the short story, and
Cornelia Fick comes across as a mistress of the genre.

Being lost

I’m reading Rebecca Solnit’s book, A field guide to getting lost*, and I’m reminded of the recurring dreams I used to have not so long ago. That of being lost in a strange country or place, threatened by unknown ghosts, and out of my mind with panic and fear.

When I look back, at the time, there was a bloody conflict and somehow I’d found my place in the family hierarchy gone or mislaid. Relationships with other relatives had disappeared or become strained.

Due to my anger at being in this space, my primary relationship faltered. The dream appeared like tragic music to accompany my life. After or during the dream I would wake up in a cold sweat, my heart pounding. A mysterious chest pain appeared. I was experiencing being lost and I did not know how to be lost.

Solnit says in the first chapter ‘Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself come from, and where you will go.’

She suggests that children find it easier to be lost, citing the incident of a deaf boy who blew his whistle and when nobody came and night fell, he sensibly found a sheltered place to sleep.

When I was a teenager we regularly went to Johannesburg to visit my aunt. The distance from the bus stop in Bree Street to Bezvalley was intimidating for a thirteen-year-old, yet I never seemed to feel it. And making a wrong turn wasn’t disastrous because as long as you walked in the right direction you were fine. I wasn’t afraid.

Obviously I’d been better at getting lost then, assured of finding my way;  so what had changed? Why had I become fearful of the world and lost trust in myself and my ability to find my way in it? What was there in my life that had stripped away my confidence? These and other questions plagued me.

I sank into a depression. I have a picture with childhood friends at Gold Reef City, dressed in the clothes worn by women during the gold rush, to celebrate a birthday. My eyes are lifeless. I’m there but I’m not there. I had disappeared into a wall of misery from which I managed to function perfunctorily to enact the duties expected from me.

It was during this time that a writer friend suggested a course in creative writing. She had just completed it and couldn’t praise it enough.

I applied, was accepted and slowly wrote my way out of the dead-end my life had become.

I’m in Cape Town to do research for a historical novel and I have never been better. Yesterday I went to Bloubergstrand 45 kilometres away to interview a man who had traced 400 years of his ancestors, unusual in South Africa. Normally I would panic. But I was calm and made a wonderful friend.

When I started reading Solnit’s book I had one of those ‘a-ha’ moments people talk about. I don’t yet know how to be lost without fear overwhelming me but, inspired by this book, I’m working on it.

*A field guide to being lost, Viking, Penguin Group (USA) INC 375 Hudson Street, New York, 2005.