Tag Archives: writing

I’m back!

25 May

Before I write my next “real” blog, just a quick note to excuse my lengthy absence. To use the oldest one in the book – life’s just been “busy”.

Good-busy, to be fair.

First off, I got engaged! So, like a typical bride-to-be, I’ve been perving over dresses and venues in my spare time.

Our engagement!

Our engagement!

Also – happy dance! – I landed a job writing for an online women’s magazine. Which is crazy-amazing, and something that would not have happened without this blog and its readers. So thank you for visiting my page and thank you for giving me the confidence to apply for the job. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I feel like a real writer!

I feel like a real writer!

I spent some time in Europe as well, but wrote about it for the magazine. I couldn’t really make up any words or swear a bit like I usually do, but I like the pieces nonetheless. It’s quite an adjustment writing for someone else. Never before have phrases like “fun for the whole family!” been edited into my pieces, but I’m not complaining. The magazine has given me a platform to participate in something bigger than myself, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been given an opportunity like this.

If you’d like to indulge me and read some magazine pieces, my portfolio is at http://all4women.co.za/author/CaroE/.

I quite like my London piece – feel like that’s the first one in which I succeeded writing “like me”.

Lastly – and not too excitingly – work’s been pretty demanding. But that’s no excuse not to write, as all we bloggers know.

Promise to be back again soon :).

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Why Meredith Grey kicks Emily Thorne’s ass

3 Mar

I’m unashamed to admit that I enjoy trashy drama shows way too much. Anything with good-looking people living good-looking lives, and there’s me – schlomped in front of the laptop chomping down on microwaved Easter eggs and tea, tea, tea.

This year has been disappointing in the drama series department, though. It’s as if the shows I enjoy have reached their expiration dates, but are stubbornly hanging in there just for the sake of it. The one exception – thank the stars – is Grey’s Anatomy.

Wise as ever. Bless old Meredith's heart.

Wise as ever. Bless old Meredith’s heart.

The rest have kind of let themselves go. Like 40-something women wearing animal print and too much make-up, the shows are trying too hard to maintain something that just isn’t there anymore.

I’m talking specifically about Revenge and 90210. (Gossip Girl also ended pathetically – the big twist being that the title character had a penis all along – but at least it’s ended.)

The current seasons of Revenge and 90210 have succeeded in downgrading both shows to bad soapies. Such a shame.

I suppose 90210 never had much to work with in the first place – all it ever was, was good-looking richkids, their schemes, their clothes and their sex lives. It was inevitable that it became a stinker.

Eye candy. Only.

Bound to be a stinker

The bigger disappointment is Revenge.

Because damn – the first season was bloody brilliant.

My theory is that success is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a series based on a particular premise rather than on strong characters.

Look at Grey’s – very much a character-driven show, and getting even better as it goes along. You don’t care about what happens in Grey’s – you care about how it affects the people in Grey’s. And so the show is still as gripping in its current season as it was when I first watched it.

Now look at shows like Prison Break and Revenge. Absolutely, addictively brilliant first seasons, based not so much on a cast of characters but rather a well-developed plot. It was never about Michael Schofield or Emily Thorne, but rather about their plans.

Michael needed to break his bro out of jail; Emily wanted to screw over the Graysons. Good stuff.

Thing is, these ideas weren’t made to last longer than a single season. At the end of season one, it was pretty much “mission accomplished.”

Michael had pretty much run out of tattoos; Emily had pretty much run out of people to cross off that photo.

But no – of course it didn’t stop there. Instead, we have the TV equivalents of movies like Legally Blonde 2. Stuff so very average that it almost ruins the fun of the original. Where movies like that should go straight to DVD, series like the second season of Revenge (and the who-know-whateth season of Prison Break – Back in Prison, this time in South America!) belong under the label of SOAPIE.

We have people coming back from the dead, family fights about who gets to be CEO, and even corny green-screen sequences of characters racing along in motorboats to save their friends from an evil man in the middle of the ocean. Groan.

The meticulous and well-paced plot of the first season has given way to more of a day-to-day observation of characters, along with too many go-nowhere subplots.

You know something's wrong when your poster is more gripping than your plot

You know something’s wrong when your poster is better than your plot

Gripping enough for a Friday evening at home, but a disappointment as far as expectations went.

Plus, Daniel Grayson somehow became gross. He was hot stuff in season one. I think my little sister even went so far as to say that he was better than Chuck Bass. Not so in season two – there’s a poolside scene where he is topless and toneless as a middle-aged trucker. Eww.

Age old cliché for the screen writers involved? Quit while you’re ahead.

If the mob had me on speed dial, I’d also say I made it all up…

6 Feb

Last Saturday night was one of those that party people like my ex-self would find categorically ‘sad’. I stayed in and read. In fact, except for sulking my way through some shopping, I stayed in and read pretty much the whole day. Book lovers would know the feeling – you find a novel that is both so long and so good that you have no choice but to put life on hold.

In this case, it was Gregory David Roberts’s Shantaram, recommended to me by my friend and fellow bibliophile, Jana. At almost a 1000 pages, I think it’s the longest novel I’ve ever finished (unless Harry Potter was longer? I’ve never been able to get into Tolkien, so embarrassingly Lord of the Rings doesn’t feature on my list).

Anyway – the book is bloody brilliant and I would recommend it to anyone who:

• Is obsessed with reading books about India (that’s me);

Likes their love stories to be complicated, messy and not have one dimensional happily-ever-afters;

• Likes their adventure stories to be layered and rich and just plain hardcore;

• Has a morbid fascination with the mob (if this is ever made into a movie, they better pick someone hot for the mobster called Abdullah); and

If you like your messed-up bad boys, you've just found your favourite character

If you like your messed-up bad boys, you’ve just found your favourite character

• Lives a humdrum desklife and uses such cheats as books and movies for some
vicarious excitement (that’s me again).

Also – to anyone who would like to know what life is like as a gun smuggler / heroin addict / slum dweller / mobster / prisoner / too many characters to fathom for one lifetime. Because the writer’s life is friggin CRAZY.

For those of you who don’t know – the book is Roberts’s semi-autobiographical account of a decade of living in India after escaping from an Australian prison. I’m not going to write a review – there are literally hundreds on goodreads.com – but suffice it to say that I cannot think of another book that combines such a rich plot with writing that brims with such descriptive poignancy and wisdoms.

The setting of our tale

The setting of our tale

What I wish to write about is my disappointment at realising that the book is semi-autobiographical (and then to leave you with some quotes that made me think).

You see, I spent the whole way through under the impression that the novel was pretty much the truth. Sure, us writers all like to edit and embellish our tales as we go along, but for the most part the truth stays intact.

Not so here. I suppose it shouldn’t matter – the book is amazing regardless of whether it is true – but it lost some of the magic it held for me after I found out that the characters were made up.

According to the writer, the events are based in truth, but the characters – so well written and so damn real – are not. Despite the events being pretty darn exciting, the heart of this book is its characters. Also – the events are so closely interlinked with the people involved that I am still finding it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that the two can be separated.

I’m especially disappointed that Karla is imaginary. Without giving anything away, she is Roberts’s love interest and the biggest reason I kept reading – like a typical girl, I wanted the guy to get out of jail / get off heroin / not get gangrenous frostbite in Afghanistan just so he could finally get back to friggin Karla. And now I find out Karla doesn’t even exist?? It sucks, I tell you.

Kind of what Karla is supposed to look like

Kind of what Karla is supposed to look like

(Karla is also the wisest and wittiest imaginary woman you’ll ever know – to realise that her words were actually made up by a male writer sucks ass.)

What Roberts claims her to be...

What Roberts claims her to be…

My personal theory is that Roberts is lying to us. I may just be in denial (or I may have become like those deluded old tannies who cannot separate fact and fiction, hobbling up to hapless soap actors to kick them in the shins when their character did something sucky on last night’s episode), but hear me out.

The characters MUST have been based in fact. There is simply too much woven into them not to be. If Roberts wanted to write fiction, why choose his own life as a template? More importantly, why link his own story squarely to the wills, worlds and intentions of other characters? A major theme in the book is that of fate and predetermination – of being connected to plans and people and purpose. Yet we are expected to believe that the events were real, but the people were not…

Our life stories are written by the people in our lives and how we interact with them – without the people described in the narrative, Roberts’s personal life events (the true part, he says), would never have come about.

Again – he may just be one helluva creator of characters, but I just don’t buy it.

I’m going to choose to believe that he never thought his text would take off and sell like it has, and was then forced to make a statement to protect the people he wrote about. They’re not exactly Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh – even Karla killed a guy, and the rest of them did worse.

All I’m saying is – if the mafia had my number on speed dail, I’d lie to protect them, too…

If this guy tells you to lie, you damn well do it

If this guy tells you to lie, you damn well do it

***
Now read these quotes slowly and let them sink in. There is SO much more – but I think this post is long enough already…

“There’s a truth deeper than experience. It’s beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It’s an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We’re helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any heart would willingly pay. It doesn’t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart, just as Prabhakar told it to me, just as I’m telling it to you now.”

“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart. Amore or Pyar makes every man a poet, a princess of peasant girl if only for second eyes of man and woman meets.” (I love this!)

“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you don’t get the joke.”

“The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men,’ he said, ‘It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds and there are bad deeds. Men are just men —it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good or evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone —the noblest of man alive or the most wicked— has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God.”

“Luck is what happens to you when fate gets tired of waiting.”

“The truth is a bully we all pretend to like.”

“Some of the worst wrongs, were caused by people who tried to change things.”

***
Absolutely friggin brilliant book.

Random bits of not-real writing

15 Aug

Angry me = bad writer me

 

I haven’t written in too long a time. Actually, that’s a lie – I have started and abandoned two pieces. They were toxic. The unhealthy, teen-angsty sort of writing that never should see the light of day, and certainly weren’t the kind of thing I’d like to put my name to in public.

I guess I have to admit that I’ve been a bitter old hag the last while. In fact, I was so depro about life that even found myself gorging on ginger biscuits – in Caro world, something only marginally less revolting than Pistachio – and spending whole days trapped in front of my laptop in sweat pants and an oily ponytail. That, dear friends, is the downside of having a home-run small business – some days, it consumes you to the point where you realise that it’s 3pm and you haven’t yet brushed your teeth.

But back to why I lost my sparkle for a while. Predictably, my issues were family-related. Now, other than the fact that those pieces that I started with genuinely sucked, I didn’t actually feel comfortable posting the kind of vitriol they contained. The problem with family is that you see them from time to time, so writing about them opens the door for a whole lot of awkward.

That said, I might as well disclose what angered me so:

  1. Dear old Uncle S – a person I see less than I see cows with a manicures – allowed his duck-footed Jack Russell to roam into our garden and brutally kill one of our cats. Poor old Kietsie was a real lady – almost 20 years old and probably the oldest friend I had. He didn’t even bother to apologise (but might one day in the not-too-distant future be forced to do so under threat of me not disclosing which shelter I dropped the beast off at).

What I wrote that day can only be described as a combination of a soppy obituary and death threat.  Not kosher.

  1. The second piece was about the unfairness of cousin X getting a fat donation to start a beauty business. Not 200 bucks to buy a tube of nail glue and some two-tone traffic light pamphlets – enough for designers and shop fitters and champagne shooters and Sandton.

You can imagine – woe is me! Life is unfair! Why, oh why, do I get nothing  when I’m the one with an actual small business? Sob, sob… Crybaby, crybaby… Snot, snot. Basically, moaning at length about how some of us have to work hard to get something, while others just get given a trust fund.

Anyway, I’m back from Bitterness and back to writing.

Bizarrely, I feel that I have too much and too little to write about simultaneously – fellow bloggers will know the feeling. After an absence from writing, so many half-formed ideas float around without sense attached.

So herewith some random bits of not-real writing:

There was a request to blog about car guards – all I can say is, good on them for perfecting the art of guilt-tripping people into paying for absolutely nothing. Also that the person who founded Interpark is a scoundrel-genius.

There was an idea to write about how budget jeweler American Swiss has now managed to make its once iconic billboards less entertaining than those for a community AIDS project (and, dare I say it, Spur).

 Just to give you a taste of the old American Swiss:

 

                       

 Actually, they’re not as earth-shattering as I remember. But they damn well got noticed between the clutter of shit like Jacob Zuma and Co grimacing in miner’s hats to promote NUM or local government or who knows what.

 Now they’re just boring.

Much as I hate Spur – how do they fool people into paying so much for such mediocre food? – their latest ads are good, but not on Google. So on to those safe sex slogan signs I saw in Bronkhorstspruit. Punny, rhymey, and complete with two smiling, dancing condoms dispensing advice, I found them awkwardly amusing but rather pointless. I can’t help but think that graphic depictions of rotting penises might work as a better deterrent from promiscuity in communities where illiteracy is high, but maybe I’m underestimating the power of humour.

In case anyone reading this is dumb enough to be having casual sex, a few words of caution from the Ndlovu Care Group:

 

“Take Prick-cautions!”

 “If you love her, use a cover!”

 And my personal favourite:

 “Be a man, not a fool

Put a condom on your tool”

 Oh, and here’s what the sign outside of their Couple’s Counseling Centre says:

 “The best couples COME TOGETHER!”

 Thing is, you only see the centre after being horribly confused by the shift in focus – who cares about orgasms when you’re trying to get a message about AIDS across? – and then realise what’s going on.

 Anyhoo – enough of this rambling post.

 I promise to write something cohesive again soon ;).

 To Chantel Thompson, thank you for reminding me to write. This post – and the next (proper!) one – goes out to you.

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screw Dickens – this is the best opening page ever.

1 May

Poetry.

To all of those who, like me, are struggling with purpose, destiny and certainty.

This is a short copy and paste post.

 Read aloud, and absorb:

 Page 1, Damage, Josephine Hart:

 There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it, ease like water over a stone, on to its fluid contours, and are home.

 Some find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in the countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city.

For some, the search is for the imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a lover, a husband, a wife or a foe.

 We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself,

and we slip at last into place.

 

I’ll leave it at that.

Hope it speaks to you as it did to me…

Truly, poetry dressed as prose.

 

 

 

Gotta love dem haters

18 Oct

Roar!

I received my first hate mail last night. And I’ve gotta say, dear reader, that I am proud.

Of all the dubious achievements in my life, this one is right up there… I mean, two separate messages from two distinct individuals, just about two minutes apart, both calling for my brutal rodgering specifically by Nigerian nationals? Golly gosh!

So this post goes out to my haters, the lovely ‘Tina’ and ‘Trombone Player’ (or I suspect, ‘Tina the Trombone Player’. Seriously – I appreciate the effort but please make sure any future writings aren’t almost identical).

Thank you – along with freaking me out quite a bit, you have helped me reach an important writer’s milestone.

Sadly, I could not approve your comments due to their graphic (but creative! Thank you!) content.

Here’s an abridged version – ‘Get off your high horse, you stupid bitch. Blah blah blah nasty experience featuring manparts the size of entire midget men bleep bleep bleep I hate you.’

Sigh… Are you a real porn star, I wonder? If so, you just proved the previous articles point. Mainly that porn leaves no room to be a lady.

I may be a bitch, but karma’s gonna be way worse, Tina…