Abigail George image via Konya Shamsrumi
For a long time I thought my writing was primitive. In the sense that I was not gaining the recognition that I wanted (which every writer wants, whether it is critical acclaim or financial success). It is a tough road. The publishing world either sinks its fangs into you or it doesn’t for some reason or other. I thought I was writing in a foreign language, that my characters were morally bankrupt, that I had failed as a writer, as a poet, as an artist. Writing a book is as if my dreams are being analyzed. The entire spectrum of my life coming up with a mental strategy for the next book. This certainty will come to you as a writer all the time in your life. It has in mine.
To prove myself wrong I wrote another book. I thought it wouldn’t be achievable, that if it was beautiful it would be a shallow treatise. It was just an existential imprint regarding the religion of the body in which I became educator and moralist, philosopher and clinical psychologist, phenomenologist and existentialist. I promised myself that I wouldn’t pay as much critical attention to this matter of whether the writing received negative remarks. I had to play by the diplomacy rules of the game. Consider the moral code of the book, ethics, the obsession and observation and critical self-awareness of my characters. I learned to accept myself the way I am. Not to expect other people to if I couldn’t. There is a time in a world where a lot of locus of control is decided upon in creativity and the hemispheres of imagination. Creativity, the art of creating is akin to hysteria. You are as an artist always creating outside of yourself via mood and flux, reputation, influence, and repetition. Writing is dazzling and transformative. It gives you the certainty, the authentic variable, the definitive instructions for personal fulfilment, for setting goals. Writing this book was like taking a walk through a cemetery. Everywhere I went, whether I was writing or not, flowers and soups, coffee and sandwiches reminded me of egg mayonnaise and funerals. Fish and chips would remind me of chicken curry with basmati rice. I was full of observation. Writing is a kind of meditation on the universe. I usually pay attention to what came before. Incidents of trauma in childhood, loss of innocence in womanhood as I advance now in years, chapters of adolescence, and this was my world, the world of writing. I have lived in it for most of my life and I am forwarding the happiest times of my past into my future.
In a perfect world the unhappiest woman in the world (my protagonist) is lovesick and all alone. The lies and highs and fluctuations in mood of my characters come with me to the other side of reality, non-reality. I wanted the book, the novella, the life writing to invade your privacy, to be too intrusive, invasive almost, because having and experiencing an inter-relatedness and inter-connectedness with other humans is scary for the most part, taking us out of our comfort zone. I went deep into my own life experience, into it’s cavernous depths under the surface to find prizewinning flesh there, the embodiment of a disorder supreme, superimposed on the world, into the universe of the book, and I owed my soul nearing the completion of the book.
In a way The Scholarship Girl is sentimental about love and relationships with close family members and the opposite sex. The female of the species is more deadlier than the male. I think all too often we are conned by books. We read what we mostly want to hear inside our own heads. There’s a river that runs through it. Filled with the incomplete life (for isn’t life only complete after death). There will always be more empathy from strangers is what my characters taught me. I brought them back to life. They mostly are how they were but also how I imagined them. The life writing also got me thinking of doing my Masters in Creative Writing at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, and working at the National English Literary Museum. That truth is savage and barbaric, humans more average and basic than we think, truth is complicated, messy and complex, life is complicated, messy and complex. Writing to me is like coming up for air, like the subtle nuances and variations found in the bloodstream, as writer you controversially exploit and manipulate both reader and character. I write to ask forgiveness from the people that I love, the people that have fallen out of love with me and walked away. I write to fix the pain of grief’s every arrival and departure. Writing fills me with rapture up to the hills. I write to ask forgiveness of the people whom I’ve hurt. When I write it is as if I have two personalities within me, the charismatic introvert and the debonair extrovert. There is this feminine-power in the book, feministic-struggle, discussion, debate. The same that sways me all the time whenever I am working on a book. Writing is also a coping mechanism for me when the world around me becomes something of an invention, and not reality. I wanted to write about youth, and I did. The vitality of it, renewal of it, it’s energies, the paralysis of youth that has an almost automated response to the illusion of life, introspection, incandescence and the radiance of the universe that exists, and co-exists in advance with peace, and with an unblinking and supernatural role of force. The actions and self-control of opposites are always attracting me as a writer. My dominant personality as a writer. The book becomes my entire existence. This novella had an intelligence all of its own. Writing, all literary writing is a matter of opinion, a matter for the heart to process and articulate. I write for myself. It translates into truth and purpose for me. This is the environment that I excell in. Beginning with the proof of life in my characters, and ending in their evolution.
At the end, what I don’t feel is love, it is rather emotional for me. I am always looking to be kept safe from all harm, always searching for protection, and both The Scholarship Girl and writing it offered it to me for a brief period of time. In the beginning, I create a world of my own. At the end, the world of the book becomes a volcano. I know, I know there will be other books. Some more successful in my eyes than others. I think it is having a completed manuscript in your hands that makes the book a success. And every day, every night, everything that I have ever written, is also something that is a part of every reader, and something that I love, will love, and will always be loved by me, the author.