Makwetura's quotable quotes
1.To be rich is not about money but is about fulfilling your
ambition. I am rich because I have fulfilled my goal that of being a published writer.
2.A published writer is a result of experience and experience is a result of mistakes and rejections.
3.If you do your reading right and do your researches right and do your writing good enough then
you are blessed.
4.To be a writer you behave like a vulture be patient submit and wait.
Some advice to young
If youve decided you are going to be a writer
and so you have the urge to sit down and write resist it!
First, read, read, read. Read everything you can lay your hands
on. Read the newest books and poems and plays, read the classics, read comics, read everything and read all the time. The
Welsh poet Dylan Thomas describes himself as a young person, reading with my eyes hanging out. You wont necessarily be aware
of it, but youll be learning to tell whats good from whats bad.
The young John Keats is a good example of the new writer.
He was a young medical student aged 18 when he tried writing his first poem. He had an older friend who was a mentor and guide
(whod told John years before to read, read, read!), but it took John a whole year to show this friend a poem hed written.
He didnt even tell him he was writing anything! He talked only about the things he was reading.
In other words, when you
do start writing, write for yourself, first. You will try writing in different styles (the first poem Keats wrote he actually
called Imitation of Spenser, one of the classic poets hed read). Keep all these poems, but dont flash them around, put them
away somewhere safe.
Read them some time later maybe a week, a month, six months. Then youll start to have a feel
for which of them are good, which are worth working on, and which you must never let anyone else see!
Keats points to two
(apparently contradictory) things about writing. First, in a letter to a friend, he says: I find that I cannot exist without
poetry I had become all of a Tremble from not having written any thing of late the Sonnet overleaf did me some
good. I slept the better last night for it. So theres the compulsion, the need, the drive, to write.
But, equally important,
theres the other side, theres the fact that you cant force poetry to come. Keats wrote: If Poetry comes not as naturally as
the Leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.
So, dont worry if you havent written anything for one whole week,
or even for weeks. Use the time just to take in experiences in life thats also preparation for writing. When you need
to write, then youll write.
Also, know that writing (poetry or prose) is bigger than you are. Youre there to serve it,
not it to serve you.
When youve written quite a few poems, and youve sifted the good from the bad, the wheat from the chaff,
then start thinking about whom you trust enough to show one of your poems to. Let it be someone who you know is not going
to trash your work or make light of it. By this time, youll know which poem is worth showing to someone.
If that goes well,
youll be encouraged, of course. But still, go slowly. See if you can find a small publication of some sort to submit your
work to. Something like your school magazine. Or a youth club magazine. Or even risk a small community newspaper. Dont send
it to a mainstream publisher, or the biggest national newspaper, or your countrys foremost literary journal. That comes later.
you feel confident enough about sharing your writing, maybe you can find a writing group you can join. Then your work can
be tested on four or five people thats a big enough audience for now.
As you grow in confidence and skill, and more
and more people take notice of your work, then you can start thinking of the small literary journals or magazines. You may
have to search around to find these, because there arent many of them and they cant afford to advertise themselves. Ask librarians
if they know of any. Even try the Internet.
Talking of which, its probably wise to avoid having anything to do with Internet
websites that offer to publish you they usually insist you send them hundreds of $$$ first!
Perhaps one of the literary
magazines will take a poem of yours, and youll see your poem in print. What an exciting moment! Its a genuine thrill to see
your work in print, perhaps for the first time. For a bit, you pretend a nonchalance and then you frantically flash
through the magazine to find your piece there it is and its so exciting to see it there, you dont even really
see the words. But, tonight, before you go to sleep, youll quietly find the right page again, and youll read it through, slowly,
savouring it. Youll touch it on the page, and pat it. Youll memorise the page-number, so that tomorrow, when someone asks,
Wheres your piece?, you can casually say, Oh, I dunno, I think its on page 57. You might even gently bend the magazine open
a bit, so that it opens, quite by chance, at that page.
Dont collect a whole wodge of precious poems and expect some major
publisher to push aside other writers work in order to publish your collection of poems. It doesnt happen that way. You need
to be really established, your work tried and tested, before any publisher is going to risk publishing a whole collection
of your work. Think of the brilliant poet Gerard Manley Hopkins: the first collection of his poems was published twenty-nine
years after his death!
Lets hope youre luckier than that! But know that its a long, hard road to walk. But its such an
exciting and fulfilling one, with so much to experience on the way! Good luck with it.
Always, be humbled by Keats: There
is no greater Sin after the 7 deadly, than to flatter oneself into an idea of being a great poet.
© Copyright Robin Malan
ROBIN MALAN PROFILE
Robin Malan: He has worked in English teaching and theatre in education
all his life (his poetry anthologies Inscapes, New
Inscapes and Worldscapes are among his many compilations for school use). He
was Assistant Head at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College in Swaziland,
1978-92. He was one of the founding editors of English Alive, the annual anthology
of writing from high schools and colleges in Southern Africa, from 1967 to 1971, and is the current editor, from 1995. His novel for young people The Sound of New Wings published by Maskew Miller Longman won the runner-up prize
in the Young Africa Awards 1998-9. He is the Series Editor for the Siyagruva Series of novels for South African teens, published
by New Africa Books. As a writer in the Series, he uses various pseudonyms. In 2001 he was awarded the Molteno Medal for lifetime
service to literature by the Cape Tercentenary Foundation, on the Council of which he now sits.
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