What you write goes around (and comes back around)

Image copyright of ES Capital Partners 2014 - www.escp.co.za
Image copyright of ES Capital Partners 2014 – http://www.escp.co.za

A writer should be known for his or her words. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it is the written words that qualify a person as a writer and once those words are published, the writer must take both the rewards and the responsibility for the impact of those words. I feel  writers have a ‘moral’ obligation to be honest and faithful in the representations they make in their writing. Yes, this is very utopian of me but this is what I believe and whether it will be the norm one day, time will tell.

I would like to state that any person who undertakes to write while entertaining any notion of someone else reading his or her work does so under one premise: that through that writer’s view or world, the reader sees or experiences an alternative. After all, isn’t learning about amassing alternative views to help us succeed in an ever-changing world? Far too many people want the glory and benefits of titles but none of the responsibility, and the weight of a writer’s responsibility for that matter. This thought dawned on me on 29 October 2013 when Marcus Ampe reblogged my post “Don’t be the weakest link” and cited several of my posts under a post of the same name on the blog “Stepping Toes”. Through my words, he expressed his own own ideas and views which in this case I happen to agree with – I also enjoyed how he curated my words in a way that even I could see new meanings from them!

But what happens when there is a danger of my words being used against me? What happens if my words are used to further an idea I do not agree with? What should my stance then be? I look at it this way: once people begin to use your words, the only assurance you have is how truthful and honestly you wrote (about the things you wrote about). Writers create realities and to borrow Sir Isaac Newton’s metaphor, our words become the shoulders others stand on to look further and it will be a shame if we point them in the wrong direction.

Till the next time, 


Walking Tall

Hello all!

It’s great to be back to posting. January is almost over and the few weeks that have passed have already been eventful. A couple of Sundays ago, I was privileged to speak and perform at the International Community Christian Church in Pretoria. Here is a post-event recording of that message which talks about why I started songwriting and I also perform Walking Tall, one of the songs from my anthology of Lyrics, titled Where to Now? Enjoy.

Till the next time,

The elements of writing

In an interview, the celebrated writer Christopher Hitchens once made an interesting addition to the famous saying, “everyone has a book inside them”. His addition – and I’ll quote his entire phrase – was as follows, “everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly [where], it should in most cases, remain”. I refer to his rather cynical remark here because its humour masks a truth that applies to life in general, which is the value of perseverance during hardship. Should yours happen to be the book that others believe is best kept inside and yet you are moved by a compulsion to write that will not let you go, the following elements of writing might come in handy no matter what anyone else says about you.

In my observation, writing is a combination of three very subjective elements. I say subjective because the success of any writing depends on so many factors – timing, connections, location, world events and the context they cast on each person’s life- that cannot be predicted in advance. How then, can you increase your chances of connecting with an audience or readership? For starters, you need to write. Facing an empty page can be very daunting because of the pressure to write something great. Element one is Habit. Develop a habit of writing your thoughts routinely at the same time each day. Julia Cameron in her book the “Artist’s Way” calls this “morning pages”, random outpouring of whatever comes to your mind until you fill 3 pages every morning before you start your day.

After following through with the morning pages, I realised that the second element of writing develops out of a self awareness that comes from pouring your thoughts onto the pages over months and years and this element is called Voice. A good example of Voice is the author, John Grisham whose “name has become synonymous with the modern legal thriller*”. It is not a surprise then that John Grisham had the habit of writing in his spare time while he worked as a lawyer in Southaven, Mississippi and served in the state’s House of Representatives from 1983 to 1990. The Law and politics are his voice that he shares through his stories

Another demonstration of voice is Tracy Chapman. If you follow ‘the man’ in her songs you will identify him as being down and out, a dreamer and most often abusive and self destructive and yet she always demonstrates a great love for him. Could this be a mirror of our own societies where women are most likely to be abused or assaulted by a partner? She is a great social commentator and her music cuts across cultures because of its simple truths. Maybe she just practices her anthropology through her beautiful music, watch her video for the song “Fast car” released in 1988.

The final element to writing is Craft. Whatever you want to write – articles, blogs, books, songs, plays, screenplays, reports etc – will have rules and prescribed formats and language within which you will have to work. The rules and formats are there to guide your creativity and not to stifle it. For example to write words meant to be spoken like a play or screenplay, you will need to learn how each format uses words or else you might find challenges when your actors are not able to act out your words in the ways you intended.

Your voice will develop as you practice writing out of habit and it will in turn determine your choice of writing format and style. We can’t all be John Grisham or Tracy Chapman and should not try to be.

Till the next time,