On Being Deliberate

Being deliberate, slow and intentional, is my simple plan for the year. As I was meditating on my word, I had to reflect on all that was 2020. All I can say, I had asked to expand and the universe gave stretched me beyond by limits. By the end, I was totally burned out.

So, I had to honestly ask myself, “What do I really want, this year?” The answer is simple. I want to concentrate on writing and publishing my work in different media. That’s what is my heart, right now.

In order to do this, I need time which is hard to come by for me, nowadays. In the past, I’ve talked about silence as a place where my words come from. A place where I can hear whispers before words are fully formed. A place where an invisible force eventually propels me to write with urgency. I also need that silence, right now.

Silence in my Neighbourhood

All this means keeping things simple. Letting go of the things I don’t have to do, even though they’ve been useful, I’ve enjoyed and learned from. What does this mean in practice? It means I’m pruning my to-do list as follows:

  • Facebook postings

With lock-down and social distancing, FB became another way of staying in touch with my family and friends. But if I want to preserve my sanity, NO thank you, ma’am! Besides sharing of any of my posts there is a hit and miss. 

  • Reading Challenges (Goodreads & my own Summer reading challenge)

Never again will I rob myself the joy of reading with the setting of deadlines and stress-inducing lists. I want to savour every book I read and to reread my favourites. I’m only using Goodreads an archive of books I’ve read and those I wish to read some day.

Good writing is remembering detail. Most people want to forget. Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth. ~ Paula Danziger

Google Analytics indicates that my most popular posts are Life in Prose, which I publish every first Sunday of the month. I happy that readers resonate with these short pieces because I’m trying to improve my creative nonfiction writing skills. I’ll continue to do so. In addition, once in a while I’ll feature a Conversation with a poet.

  • About Books 

These mini reviews had been another way of supporting fellow writers. But I already leave reviews or ratings where books are sold. I guess I can simply join a book club, if I want to talk more about a book I read. Anyone of you run an online book club?

  • Random Things

If you happen to enjoy my Random Things, all is not lost. I’m trying to come up with another way of sharing these. I’ll keep you posted!

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately… ~ Henry David Thoreau

In the end, my purpose is to be fully present in whatever I do, have fun writing and creating as well as focusing on the results I want to achieve.

So, deliberate as my word for 2021 is largely to do with how I want to evolve as a writer. We’ll see how I fare up. If I was reminded of anything in 2020 is that words truly have power.

And, and…I might be late wishing you a Happy New Year but I hope it started well, for you. But do tell, how are you?

My Best Reads of 2020

If I didn’t write or read during this crazy year, I doubt I’d have coped. So, below are some of the best books that kept me company, this year:

Autobiography

Original Skin by Phillipa Yaa De Villiers

De Villiers is a South African poet and playwright whose work touches deeply. This book is a written version of the author’s autobiographical one-woman show, her story of adoption during the apartheid era, which she has performed widely.

Biography

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

A both harrowing and an extraordinary story! I couldn’t think of anything else for days after reading this book. This quote from the book captures what it’s at its core: “Since at least the 1800s, black oral history has been filled with tales of ‘night doctors’ who kidnapped black people for research. And there were disturbing truths behind those stories” 

Fiction

The Spy by Paulo Coelho

Coelho needs no introduction. But this book is a keeper; an intensely fascinating story set in Paris that can be read over and over again. If you’re a fan of historical fiction. I highly recommend it.

Memoir

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Noah is one of my comp authors. I delayed reading his book because I had already guessed that his story might be similar to mine. It is, indeed, similar in many respects to many non-white South African children’s stories. I cried and laughed as I reminisce about my own childhood.

Poetry

Each year, I always feel as if I haven’t read enough books of poetry. But I realise that I also consume a lot of chapbooks, which are not listed in any of the big book retailers.

Chapbook: The Exhibit

But this anthology about poetry and poets featured in it, Our Words, Our Worlds edited by Makhosazana Xaba, was the best gift to myself.

Anthology: Our Words, Our World

It’s a collection of personal essays, interviews, literary critique, feminism, etc., that adds to the decolonising literary culture discourse. Even if you are not a poet or poetry reader, topics covered in this book might be of interest and more so, if you feel left on the margins.

Self-Development

You’re Not listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

I pride myself on being a good listener. This book helped me put my “great” skill under a microscope. I seriously needed a reminder that listening is a muscle that needs constant strengthening, after I failed a loved one. All they wanted was for me to listen. All I wanted was to fix the problem. I cannot recommend this book enough, if you care about the quality of your relationships with others.

That’s my short list for this year. I bet we’re all tired, I know I’m fried! So, you won’t see me pop up in your inbox, though I’ll continue to catch up on your blogs.

But before I go, I’d like to share this well crafted list of Notable African Books of 2020, an inspiration, as you plan your TBR for 2021, to go beyond the familiar. I too, plan to stretch myself by finally reading Proust as seen below.

Proust Collection

So, a big THANK YOU to you all my wonderful blogging community for your support, inspiration, fun and gift of words throughout this challenging year.

If you sometimes hang around Instagram or Facebook, we might bump into each other. Otherwise, I wish you and yours a peaceful holiday season. See you in 2021!

In-between Intro & Outro Tracks of 2020

Someone once asked, “For whom does the poet write?” and the response “Somewhere somebody is reading one of my poems.” But it’s highly possible that “no one is reading any of [my] poems, right now.” So, I’ll indulge myself.

1. Expand. What’s there to say! The universe gives in abundance.
2. Each year starts as a promise, I remember toasting with a glass full of hope.
3. Things unknown occupy space. No one can tell if it’s the beginning or end of a bad dystopian era.
4. This is NO writer’s retreat, a luxury of space and time. Yet the sun rises despite of everything and birds flutter their wings at my window.
5. Oh, the city! Madness is gallant. Every morn, I take a stroll and bypass the lunatic asylum.
6. A blackboard in my kitchen over spills with disappointments. A virus buildup I’ve been quietly tallying since the start.
7. This is a liminal space filled with anxiety, uncertainty and waiting, waiting, waiting…
8. How many clouds gather for a downpour?
9. Hopping back and forth in different rooms of Zoom is one of the Seven Steps to Accept Change.
10. This— I acknowledge privilege.
11. A friend asks how my family is doing. Family—I choke. For, where do I start? “F.I.N.E.” I respond.
12. We can do nothing. But sit comfortably with grief, for we are left to survive like lilies at the edge of a flooding river.
13. The country is lyric. Every night, I dance to the rhythm in between intro and outro tracks of the year.

note: As we wrap the year, and inspired by Rajani, I share excerpts of poems from a work in progress. I’m also linking to the Writer’s Pantry at Poets and Storytellers United.