At this rate, I'll have to rename it the Jacksquat Project!

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Yes, yes... I know.

We're not yet two weeks in, and I'm already NINE DAYS behind schedule.

Luckily my three imaginary readers have been way too gracious to point this out in the comments. (Or to simply point at me and laugh, for that matter.) Even though I suspect that they haven't harboured a lot of hope for Jack and I and my grandiose ambitions for us ever since I first made the announcement about undertaking this hare-brained project. And really, who can blame them? I certainly can't...

But one thing I hope that my imaginary readers have gleaned about me by now is that, of all the names I can possibly be called, "quitter" isn't one of them. Proof? I once managed to not leave a country where I didn't exactly belong for almost an entire decade... (That's longer than many South Africans were exiled during Apartheid!)

Okay, so maybe that's not the best example... Perhaps the only thing it tells people about me is that I may have a tendency to "slightly" overstay my welcome? Or that this project I was so adamant to complete within a year is going to miraculously turn into TEN years of torture for everyone involved?

But no... not even I can face the prospect of that! (No offense, Jack... but dude, I am so commitment phobic, I can hardly stand to live with myself on a daily basis! Never mind sticking to you for more than a year... or... at the rate I'm going... two years.)

So I'm afraid if you were hoping that these days of deafening silence meant that it was the end of Jack and I, then you are in for a nasty surprise. You see, I really want to give Jack a fair crack. (Oh, look! A rhyme. Does this mean I can tick off the poetry section, should there be one? Yes, I don't know whether there is or not, see, because I'm not reading ahead. What you're seeing is my immediate reaction to Jack's prompts. So brace yer imaginary selves for something as potentially damaging to your senses as so-called 'reality' television shows! With the same level of 'intellectual stimulation' as well!)

Right, so... let me revert my deficient attention back to Jack and his "The Writer's Idea Book".

Oh, and... even more bad news. Since I ditched the last exercise halfway through, I am actually even further behind than I initially thought I was. So here goes. Répétéz. (Know idea which e the accent should be on, so when in doubt, just slap it on to every single one, non?) 

Last time we chatted, Jack was attempting to prompt me into listing "the positive messages you have received about writing or about any creative undertaking."

I thought he meant handwriting and it caused me to revisit a nasty childhood trauma.

Okay, also? I had completely overlooked the part where he had said POSITIVE messages. But luckily for me, I don't have to wrack my brain to try and find any positive feedback about writing, because then darling Jack saved me from certain embarrassment by proceeding to say: "... or about ANY creative undertaking."

Well, there was that time in the States when I, in a fit of homesickness, decided to teach myself the art of African beading. Now, before I continue to tell you this story, you have to know that, up until that very moment, I had never even HELD a needle in my hands. (Luckily I had transferred to art school - where there was no such barbaric practice/subject as Home Ec - long before I was able to do any damage to myself or anyone else. Trust me, wielding such a sharp object sewing/knitting needle in my clumsy hands would've spelled certain disaster... )

And oddly enough, just as with this entire Jack Project, I immediately plunged in way over my head with the beading. Decided to skip all the beginning projects (such as the daisy chains) and I went straight to...

The Zulu Love Letter.

In case you are a foreign imaginary reader, this warrants a bit of a description.

A Zulu Love Letter is an intricate beaded necklace painstakingly crafted from tiny, coloured seed beads by Zulu maidens to give to their lovers. The boys wear it around their necks to show the world that they are spoken for. Each different colour used in the necklace has a meaning. Red, for example, signifies fiery passion and means "I love you".

I sat for weeks... nay... MONTHS. Day and night. Cursing, squinting, piercing my fingers raw (so in this case the red in my necklace could very well mean bloody hell. Or something similar...), fraying or accidentally knotting kilometres worth of yarn, forcing me to start all over again... But so help me, I didn't quit until I had painstakingly, miraculously, crafted this:

Zulu Love Letter.jpg

 

 





















Some months after I had made this, I attended a function at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C.

I shyly walked up to a group of Zulu women, my attempt at a Love Letter nervously dangling from my sweaty hand. The beaded decorations they were wearing with their colourful traditional clothes made my creation look like the work of a child! I almost had second thoughts, but the same instinct which had compelled me to learn beading somehow propelled me towards them.

"Excuse me. Sawubona." My face felt (and I'm sure looked) on fire as I drew their attention by greeting them in their mother tongue.

Their faces instantly lit up with kindness. "Sawubona, Ntombazana!"

I introduced myself and after going through the mandatory and somewhat lengthy African rite of finding out how each of them were doing, I finally unclenched my hand and showed them what I had made.

They beamed. "Not even young Zulu girls want to do this anymore! So we are pleased to see a white girl learning our ancient tradition!"

So yes, Jack, that is one time when someone told me that one of my creative undertakings didn't suck.

Seriously though... Not a day goes by that I am not extremely grateful, dumbfounded and astounded that people are actually willing to pay me to do what I absolutely love to do!

Which is why I owe it to them, myself and to the art of writing itself to constantly work at it. I frequently get into trouble with family and friends for not believing in myself. Thing is, I'm almost glad I never feel quite worthy/good enough.

That way, I will always, ALWAYS, feel compelled to keep working at it.

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5 Comments

Po said:

I love your bead thing. Really. I want one too. But I doubt I would ever make myself one.I really like the green colour.

hey... smart girl and all as you are I think you'll get that the undertone of this is to think positively about yourself and your ability to do the work. So in that spirit you should move on, and not be kicking yourself over what you haven't done (says the woman who berates herself daily for not getting enough thesis work done).

Anyway me and my friend Bendy are trying this whole cosmic ordering positive thinking lark. While I think that positive thinking can be extremely powerful I don't actually believe the universe will reorganise itself for me just because I ask it to. But we thought we'd give it a shot.

You're supposed to ask the universe for certain specific things within a certain time limit, and visualise yourself getting these things repeatedly. So far Bendy has successfully asked the universe to give her a parking space 5 days in a row (although if you're in before 10 you usually get them)... I'm asking the universe for a particular job... you could try it too... what have you got to lose??

Terra said:

Your bead work looks pretty cool... I know I'd never have the patience to do one myself.

siverspoon said:

AG YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE SUCH A GREAT PERSONALITY...(HIE HIE)

Redsaid Author Profile Page said:

Po: Thanks, doll. I'm sure in your scientific and dextrous (because extinguishing all those lab fires from experiments gone awry surely requires dexterity?) hands would be capable of creating something far more impressive much faster than my clumsy self took to make that. Oh, and the 'green' you see? Is actually yellow. (Signifying wealth and labola.) Unless you were so jealous that you truly saw green?!? Ha ha. (Yes, I'm still delusional.)

Aunty: I've already filled out the order form, as per your instructions. Still waiting for the Macbook Pro. Maybe the universe knows that the likes of me won't be able to (*ahem*) compute the intricate workings of a Mac though?

Terra: You would definitely be able to! Because as I've told Po, you guys aren't nearly as clumsy as I am. That's truly the only reason why it took me months!

Silverspoon: I must get it from our other sisters? :-D Thanks darling. You ain't so bad yourself you know!

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
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comments
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Po: Thanks, doll. I'm sure in your scientific and dextrous (because extinguishing all those lab fire... [go]
  • siverspoon : AG YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE SUCH A GREAT PERSONALITY...(HIE HIE)... [go]
  • Terra : Your bead work looks pretty cool... I know I'd never have the patience to do one myself.... [go]
  • Aunty Helpful Dictator : hey... smart girl and all as you are I think you'll get that the undertone of this is to think posit... [go]
  • Po : I love your bead thing. Really. I want one too. But I doubt I would ever make myself one.I really li... [go]
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