One year ago I quit my full time job to pursue this which seemed like a wonderful dream, and for the most part is has been wonderful. I had written three books and I have open my art school for children in our area in order for them to start dreaming and believing in themselves again, and when I tell this story to people it seems so amazing and inspiring, but I actual fact it’s not. I have not sold a single book and right now I don’t even know how I’m going to keep my art schools doors open because even though people tell me how great a writer I am and how wonderful my school is and my plans for it, that doesn’t mean they will support my dreams. People maybe be happy for you but they will always ridicule you and rain on your parade and even sometimes take your dream for them in order to upstage you or win over you or just to ruin you. Some people will wish you luck and they will secret without them even knowing it wish for you to fail because they don’t believe that it’s possible for anyone of colour to reach their dreams and when you’re a young coloured woman who believes she is “better” than what the coloured society dictates her to be it becomes something else really. Yes coloured people who venture out of the coloured life to pursue something that is “not meant” for them is considered by other coloured people as “keeping them kwai” and “better” than other coloured people and I have been accused of that most of my life. Even from my parents, I dared and had the nerve to be different and most people believe that I had set myself up for failure. Right now honestly one year later, I started to believe it. I slowly started buying into that status quo. Maybe this isn’t meant for me and maybe it will always only just be that, a dream. I’m meant to be a talented coloured girl who has to earn a living by working her fingers to the bone at a job that pays the bills and can never turn her talents into a successful career because it’s just not meant for our people and that money will change me and it will turn me into an arrogant self obsessed person who sells out her people and her heritage because she feels she is better and she can’t be better.
The thing is I saw and still see so much success in myself and everything that I had achieved and still can achieve, but I don’t know how to reap from these wonderful things I have done and just be great. So today I sit here and I have to talk to myself hard and loud and get my head back to that place it was a year ago, where I didn’t care. I remembered telling my then boss about my plans and he was upset about losing me, but I think he was wearier about the fact that I didn’t really have a plan and I was just about to wing it. He looked at me and said the words I would never forget, you have more guts than I have and for a long time I didn’t understand what that meant, but I get it now. When you venture into a dream and you want to make it a reality at first it seems easy and reachable but after one whole year and not selling a single book and only having one student at my art school, I know what it means. I had the guts to take the risk and not know where I would end up yet even though it seems like the wonderful train of success I boarded one year is ago is going nowhere I still believe I will get there… Now let me tell you what had brought me here:
I saw an add online of a publishing house who were looking for new and upcoming writers. Now I had struggled with writers block for the last couple of years and I never really tried to get myself out of it because I never really considered becoming an author. I had been unhappy in my life situation for awhile and I felt like I needed a change; a change within myself. I didn’t want to get a divorce even though my marriage (the second one) was looking like it wasn’t going to last and my jobs had become just that a job. My mind started wondering to places of self destruction and I was walking a very thin line between life and death. Oddly enough a couple of weeks prior I saw a program on TV which sparked a conversation inside me and I thought wow that could be a great story line for a book. Now I have started to write many things as a young teen but I never finished anything. I was a bit of choke when it came to completely things. When the guts wore off I would just let it be. I was never someone who likes to struggle and because some things just came so easy for me, I always believed that everything would be easy. But with life and all the disappointments I had faced at this point I lost my spark. Slowly I started writing this book A Choice to Forget. Now I have a very vivid imagination. As a child I would create make believe worlds and would completely submerge myself in them. So writing for me was like breathing. I loved it. A Choice to Forget was like a breath of fresh air to my toxic waste of a life and I found a box of matches. Now I saw the add and it only required the first three chapters of a book and at that point I had three chapters done. I polished up those three chapters and I sent it through. Now the add said that it would take about two weeks before they will let you know if you had the potential as a writer, and even though I knew I was a great writer I still doubted. Why, because I was a coward and honestly did not believe in myself. Come one secretly deep down we all have that doubt that we will fail, we don’t 100% believe that we will succeed in everything we do and the old me would have died a millions deaths when I didn’t succeed. Now why would I even send my book through if I didn’t believe it was good enough to be published, because everyone around me told me what a great writer I am and I believed that based on what they are saying as a friend and family member that I can most likely become a best selling author. So one week passed and I became restless. I didn’t even attempt to finish the book because I “didn’t” have time, but I knew why I didn’t work on it, as great as it felt I had so many reasons why this book would not be great even though it was a great book, I doubted in my work and I had stacked the odds up against me. Though deep down there was something inside me that screamed you idiot you are suppose to be great. No-one gets so many talents and just dies. Well, I got busy and one day there it was, the email telling me I had the potential to become a great author. I felt like crying, why because nothing feels better than recognition. Someone other than my friends and family saw the great in me. Snag, they wanted the rest of the book. Now there was no rest of the book and I was on a high that was like a drug, in my head I had already sold one thousand books. I made a point of it to finish the book and send it to Richard. I tried writing at night after work and the kids and the husband, but it became a problem. Now when you are talented and you decide to hide that talent, decide to be ashamed of that talent, it will eventually come knocking harder than you ever expected. Now when I met my husband, I had no “desire” of venturing into these talents and cultivating them into reality and when we deny ourselves who we are meant to be, we will never truly be alive. So when he became restless about my late nights writing and not having enough time for him I became angry and resentful. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t understand that this was important to me. Why, because in actual fact it wasn’t important to me and I told him that. Why because I believed that it was not meant for me, even though it was imprinted in me, that I would one day be a writer but I denied myself that privilege. I don’t think we really get what it means to be gifted and talented. We are placed on this earth to share and create life. So when I suddenly decided that I wanted to be a writer, it felt like I had hid this from him and he was now faced with a person who he didn’t know. Now it is important to not let the dream consume you. It consumed me. I was thinking about a future that didn’t exist yet. I saw a place of shiny lights and interviews and book tours and money, lots of money and wealth and this man he was going to hold me back. I was going to be a star and he was going to be the unsupportive spouse who will eventually run off with all my money. I was getting way ahead of myself and it was dangerous. I was dream drunk and I was becoming arrogant. What I didn’t see was that he only wanted the best for me; he only wanted me to look at this dream realistically and not let it run away with me which it did. So I became more and more restless, my work was poor and I wasn’t focused when I was there, I wanted this. This life this wonderful world of words and money and no-one was going to stand in my way. Not a job or a husband or anyone for that matter, I had the potential of becoming a great author so who the hell was everyone else. I quit my job and decided to finish the book before I started looking for a new job. I finished the book in two weeks and I started contacting other publishing houses just to find out how it works and what is truly in it for me. I started looking at this dream with open eyes. Now I live in South Africa where a best selling author only has to sell 2000 books in order to be a best seller. Only 2000. This completely shattered my dream. I wasn’t going to be rich and how long would it take me to sell 2000 books in country like South Africa! My book was completely unorthodox because I’m colored and it was completely fiction and our people don’t write fiction, we write struggle books about rape and abuse and religion and apartheid. Me writing a feeble made up story was completely out of the box, how did I know this because everyone who asked me about the book and who I told what the story was about looked at me like I was completely white. Coloured people don’t write shit like Fifty Shades of Grey what would our families think and all that bullshit. It wasn’t my genre it wasn’t my place. But I loved what I wrote. I love telling stories, I love creating scenarios and I love sex and crime and all things taboo that was me and I didn’t want to be anyone other than me, but I put me in a box and I thought that everything that was wrong with me was wrong with me and because of the stigma I placed on my dream that was the stumble blocks to me getting to the top, but I realized that I was becoming my worst barrier because I couldn’t face the truth. No-one cares about me they are only interested in my stories and if you are a good story teller people will read your books and they will love you only once you start believing in yourself and your talent.
So I got offers, but it wasn’t 100% coverage offers and it would cost me R40 000.00 to have my book published and I was broke and the money I had been waiting on wasn’t coming any time soon. So the dream was placed on hold. I decided to take the time to self edit my book (Which ended up at five drafts) and started looking out for a job. I looked for a half day position because I liked where I was and I wanted to continue writing again. And believe me when I tell you that everything ended up working out like I wanted I got a job a half day position and I continued writing. I started doing some research on becoming a self published author and realized that the e-book scene was booming.
Now there I lit the match again the flame started burning high and I had renewed hope. I did everything I thought had to do and today one year later still haven’t sold a single book which means I really haven’t done everything there was to do. Right now I’m shattered and confused and feel like giving up because I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe I wasn’t realistic enough about this dream. Maybe my skin colour isn’t politically correct. Maybe I’m just not a great writer and just a good writer. Maybe I still don’t believe enough in myself to actually spend the money and get the book printed because a lot of people actually want it in printed form and not e-book… Maybe I’m afraid of the dream and the possibilities they hold. Something blew out my match and I’m struggling to find out what had happened and where the rest of my boxes of matches are so I can ignite this flame again…
Right now, one year later, I have not done enough to really make my dreams come true. Right now one year later I’m grasping at straws because I’m failing myself in becoming what I’m suppose to be. One year later, I’m different and I have grown and learned some valuable lessons in this life about what is real in our minds and what is real in our lives. One year later I’m starting over and I’m not ever quitting myself again and I will this time do it until I get it.
You have not done anything until you have done everything and more to have the life you want. Everything is not the everything you think.
Here we go again…