Monday, October 15, 2012

Readers and Writers

Years ago when I had a temporary secretarial job at a jewelry store in Bond Street, London, I used to take dictation from a man whose favourite phrase was 'needless to say'. And then of course he said it, and I wrote it! Now he's about to get his revenge because...

Needless to say, all writers are readers. That's great because we authors love to buy books. On Saturday I attended an all-day writers' workshop at our main downtown library and yes, sold some books. And connected with some readers. But looking back on the weekend, I realize my theme might have been 'connecting with other ex-South Africans'.

At the workshop I sat next to one, and yesterday attended the AGM of our local South African Rainbow Nation Association. Now in general I'm not a joiner. Truth to tell, if you'd told me in 1993 that I'd belong to such an organization, I'd have been extremely surprised. Thinking now about that attitude I wonder if it wasn't that I needed to distance myself from those apartheid years.

My husband and I were fortunate in that we usually managed to get away from South Africa and go overseas from time to time. But I remember so clearly, coming into land and feeling I was re-entering a kind of heavy, grey guilt.

Those times are over. It's so heart-warming, the support the members of SARNA are giving me for 'Cape Town'. All those hours we authors spend, sitting on our own, living in our imaginative worlds, somehow makes me forget that the end product is something other people can read and connect with. So it's gratifying when readers are enthusiastic. And maybe my best moment was when an elderly guy stood up and told the group he'd come across a copy of 'Cape Town' at his local library. There it was, prominently displayed on a stand. He took it out on loan and proclaimed 'I enjoyed it very much'.

That kind of unexpected endorsement brings a particular kind of joyous satisfaction.

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