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Thoughts of a Would-be Writer

Writer

Many of us who love to read are would-be writers and long to write. It's our form of art, our way of creating.

To write: To dream, to remember, to share

To create – the words, the language, your pen or keyboard – these are your tools, as are the brush and palette to the artist.

To record – events, sights, thoughts, ideas and feelings – those of your own and those of others.

To bring gladness, even comfort – sometimes sadness and horror – sometimes, perhaps to teach, to enlighten or even to attempt to bring change – sometimes, to capture your reader's mind and heart and thus become one with him – sometimes.

To tell a story – fiction or fact, fantasy or reality – of man and beast and all things live or not; of life and death; of love and hate; good and evil; light and darkness; memoirs of things gone by of loved ones and others; dreams of things yet to come; a world, a universe loaded with stories that have been plucked and others that still wait to be plucked by one that longs to be a teller of tales.

I put down these thoughts of a longing to write as an introduction to an essay I wrote and wish to share, telling of the writing experience of my novel "My Dear Papa. Letters from a Farm in Africa" published by Amazon in 2014

The Magic world of Fiction, September 2014

I am writing fiction. As a physiotherapist and mother, I have always been about doing and not about writing, but since being a retiree I have found a new pastime writing essays and articles. However until now, nothing has so completely engulfed me as this recent project. I think about it all the time – I sleep with it, wake with it, read books and search Google. More and more facts about worlds that are part of me, from a hundred years back and more, boggle my mind and lead me on and on. My first and as yet only attempt at fiction at that time was a short story – "A Girl, A Boy and the Sea". The huge satisfaction from this pushed me forward.

Then I read an article giving legitimacy to writing fiction based on real people, real places – fiction based on fact. I felt I had been given a license to dig into my roots and to tell a story, based on the story of my paternal grandparents who came from Courland in Latvia towards the end of the 19th century. They came to a farm in Woodbush, north of Polokwane, (Pietersburg) in the most northern province of South Africa.

The style I used incorporated letters written from these people and to these people; interrupted by parallel notes on the background to these imaginary letters. The interjections were meant to give authenticity, to tell the story as it is known, as I have learned from memories told us by my father and others who knew them. The letters, on the other hand are fiction and aim to put flesh onto the sketchy and only partly known truth. Indeed, I feel as if I am bringing those very people from who I come, back to life.

I have set off on a writing adventure – an adventure of fiction married with fact as I have never before experienced. I relive almost every detail in my thoughts, only some of which go down on paper. I find myself in another world and another time.

As I write I see my work with a life of its own. I am led from year to year and from place to place. I learn in my wonderings and searching of history, geography, ever new vistas of lives and a way of life, long gone. I learn of East European Jewry, of Courland; of those immigrants who came to this undeveloped African world, to build new lives; who parted from their parents and family – sometimes never to see them again; I learn of South Africa where I grew up; of the Anglo-Boer war, with all its horrors and into which my grandparents were trapped; of how they coped and created a home for us, their children and grandchildren.

Recently I visited the area about which I write. Those places where they built their homes, their farms, their stores; those places, some of them beautiful beyond description, throbbed with life – of then and of now. This is part of the story of South Africa, part of the story of South African Jewry and mostly the story of family, many of whom, in real life I hardly knew.

I have tasted this writing experience which has added a whole new dimension to my being. I have entered the magic world of fiction.

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Friday, 25 September 2020

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