Wednesday, December 23, 2009

newnoise1 writer's guide to surviving the festive season

Writers are sensitive beings, even if they hide it behind rough exteriors. They are often overwhelmed by the festive season for obvious reasons. Here I have listed some points to make it all a bit easier:
  • Remember, blood red is only in vogue in December, that's only one month of the year. Except for February. But Valentine's Day is still far away. Notice that bloody red and think about how you can use it in your stories. Think of The Red Badge of Courage. No, you don't actually have to read it but think about it.
  • Even if you didn't write or publish anything this year a fresh new year is coming. Plan the articles you want to write next year. Write frameworks. There are thousands of international and national public holidays you can write about. If you don't want to write about the same days that everybody else is writing about make up your own international holidays. For instance: Day for writers who do not write or Day for the stumped or Day for writers who have writer's block.
  • Listen to your own voice. Does it seem to complain about life in general often or non-stop? Listen to it and consider that everybody else must listen to it. If people must read what you are writing they might start off by first listening to what you are saying. Be interesting, be fascinating, develop your arguments, build your plot, show insight. Don't talk the hind leg off a donkey.
  • Avoid a hangover. Remember a tomato cocktail, the known cure for a hangover, is . . . yes, very red.
  • Write a children's story and read it to all the children in the extended family circle. If they like your story give them each a copy as a gift. If they don't like your story write one where Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer meets up with several mishaps and give that to them as gifts.
  • Notice things you can write about. Live in the moment, see the immediate moment. Suspend your cherished beliefs and open up to the cherished beliefs of those around you. If you all have the same cherished beliefs change yours as soon as possible.
  • Rest if you need to after a hard year of writing.
  • Think of all the millions of writers typing away at their keyboards. Your ideas are worth repeating. Picture yourself writing the best piece you have ever written. Picture readers telling you how they liked what you wrote.
  • Think only of titles. Rudolf joins in the fun at the barbecue, How green was our Christmas tree, The electric shock I got when I blew all the lights in the neighborhood quite easily while rigging up the Christmas lights. This gets the creative juices flowing.

Have a wonderful Christmas and fantastic 2010. Thanks for all the support in 2009!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

newnoise1 gets stylish on money and investing in 2010

The subject of money is never far from my mind. This is in line with the psychological principle that we often can't stop thinking about things we don’t have.

Especially when all our neighbors, in fact entire neighborhoods, have things we don't have. The wanting trend is so common among humans that a spiritual law had to be created against it. This ancient law proves that even before capitalism everybody wanted stuff and thought all the time about stuff they didn't have. Today, some become obsessed and either go for therapy or work in financial areas where they can skim off the top and do other such clever things, legally, at the office, on a daily basis. But that is not what I'm blogging about. I'm off on a tangent.

I have ignored money as a topic worth thinking about at my own peril. Since realizing this mistake I have elevated it from its place in my topic catalogue where it use to sit next to the likes of subjects such as dress making, WWE wrestling (sorry don't know what WWE stands for and don't care) and how to peel a carrot if you don't have a knife.

I wrote about my fits of fear and hyperventilation about being aged and toothless with no prospectus a few months ago in an article on frugality. Since then I have done much in the way of spending less. Sad to say I am not yet rich. If you are clued up on money you will know that four months mean nothing. In Money World four months are only like sands through the hour glass and such are the days of our lives.

Nevertheless, I have come across a number of principles with regard to money that seem to provide a clue on how to approach the subject.

One book I read was written in such a weird style that I only noticed it was really about saving and investment by the time I reached chapter four . This is the kind of money book I like. The style fascinated me because well, listen to this:

'If thou select one of thy baskets and put into it each morning ten eggs and take out from it each evening nine eggs, what will eventually happen?'
'It will become in time overflowing.'
'Because each day I put in one more egg than I take out.'

The words to notice here are 'thou' and 'thy' in the first sentence. The book made me feel as if I was reading and understanding Shakespeare at a remarkable pace. The other remarkable thing is the basic arithmetic (ten minus nine) that's normally absent in writings on saving and investment where it is often more important to hide service fees among a bushel of complicated graphs. But this kind of arithmetic I can live with. Easy peasy, as they don't say in Babylon.

The book, The Richest Man in Babylon, is filled with Babylonion words such as 'doth' and 'upon' and 'setteth' which make you feel as if you are indeed walking down Babylon's dusty ancient streets clutching your little purse stuffed with gold and silver coins. Feelings are important to.

The book will inspire you to think about how you manage your money and advises confidently on how to get your lean purse to overflowing.

Some of the rules of engagement include:

  1. Pay yourself first. Keep some of your money for yourself, about ten percent. Live on less than you earn. (see ten minus nine reference above)

  2. Hang on to the money you saved. Or in Babylonion: 'You do eat the children of your savings. Then how do you expect them to work for you?'

  3. Learn and know everything there is to know about your trade.

  4. Be careful who you invest with. As they say in Babylon: 'Usurious rates of return are deceitful sirens that sing but to lure the unwary upon the rocks of loss and remorse.' (This is pure Babylonion. Notice the stylish repetition of the s-sound that aims to multiply your fear of risky investments.)

  5. Budget. As they say in Babylon, 'Budget then thy necessary expenses. Touch not the one tenth that is fattening they purse.'

  6. Make your money work for you . . . 'Put each coin to laboring'.

  7. Buy your own home. 'Then will thy own heart be glad because thou wilt own right a valuable property and thy only cost will be the Kings taxes.'

  8. Start early with a pension plan and protect your family from loss of income.

  9. Do not buy on credit and do pay your debts. 'Thereby shalt thou acquire confidence in thyself to achieve they carefully considered desires.'

These doth include only some of the Babylonion saving and investment methods.

George S. Clason was a financial author who wrote a series of essays on money and investment that was later compiled into book form and published as The Richest Man in Babylon. First published in 1926 the common sense advice and story telling style made it a winner that is republished about every four or five years.

You will notice a absence of reference to inflation. I suspect the book was written Before Inflation. Inflation means that the ten percent savings Clason suggests could be worth less than ten percent over time once you minus inflation. Such are the days of our lives.

Please note that I am not a financial advisor (God forbid). I am only recommending this book as a good read. Remember, one day you will look up and notice that there is really absolutely nothing worth watching on television, this will be the ideal time to read this book.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

newnoise1 reviews Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Wow! Why did I write the longest review in blogging history on this book? Firstly, the author is saying something that's worth repeating. Secondly, trying to get clever with this book review will be like jumping into a bog and expecting to float around safely on a crocodile's back. Even if the review is lengthy I tried to keep it as basic as possible to avoid being swallowed alive by the bog wildlife.

This is not an easy book. You get the feeling that in real life it would be impossible to have a conversation with the author, Robert M. Pirsig. Half of the book is about his struggles to communicate with his ten year old son.

The manuscript was rejected 121 times until a publisher at William Morrow finally described it to his managers as a work of genius that will attain classic status. This is exactly what happened once the book was finally published in 1974.

Why would an author try 121 times to get his book published? My guess is that it was extremely important to him to let the rest of the world understand the implications of what he had to say.

The book is a descriptive 'thought journey' that the author undertakes to cover a subject he has been thinking about for 20 years. This subject is how rational thought and traditional ways of thinking have taken centre stage in our lives to such an extent that the actual experience of reality has been placed on the back burner.

The book can be compared to Ayn Rand's Fountainhead where the entire focus is on rationality. Rand had an axe to grind with those who, she suspected, did not think for themselves at all. I have no idea if she would have been in agreement with Pirsig's view that the rationality tool has been sharpened to the point where it manages to cut the freshness and newness of everyday life from our sight.

However, as a trained scientist and philosopher Pirsig is in an ideal position to confront the subject of rationality and reality. To him this confrontation became a matter of life and death. It is fascinating to read how he becomes completely preoccupied and obsessed with the subject, looses his mind, is diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, receives shock treatment and wakes up from that experience with his memory erased and a new identity.

It all starts with the term Quality. Pirsig uses the term Quality to refer to reality before it is intellectualized through rationality. Quality is the immediate here and now reality. Science misses a large part of this reality as its focus is mainly on the rational part of reality, including logic, labels and words. Science can only describe this exact moment trough logic, labels and words. Furthermore, science ignores the hip, artistic or feeling parts of life that Pirsig terms 'romantic reality'. In scientific terms 'romantic reality' does not exist. The term Quality combines rational reality and romantic reality into the one actual reality.

Pirsig's point is that Quality (reality) comes first and rationality is secondary to this. He writes:

'Romantic reality is the cutting edge of experience. It's the leading edge of the train of knowledge that keeps the whole train on the track. Traditional knowledge is only the collective memory of where that leading edge has been.' (page 287)

Pirsig describes how these thoughts inspired him to help the students in his freshman writing class write better. They had become so stuck in the rules of writing that they had nothing to say, their creativity disappeared. He recounts how he helped a student get rid of this 'stuckness' by advising her to write about the upper left-hand brick of the Opera House in Bozeman:

'She was blocked because she was trying to repeat in her writing, things she had already heard, just as on the first day, he had tried to repeat things he had already decided to say. She couldn't think of anything to write about Bozeman because she couldn't recall anything she had heard worth repeating. She was strangely unaware that she could look and see freshly for herself, as she wrote, without primary regard for what had been said before. The narrowing down to one brick destroyed the blockage because it was so obvious she had to do some original and direct seeing.' (page 197)

Zen is all about gaining insight through seeing originally with your own eyes in the here and now. In the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu (reality as described by Eastern philosophy) Pirsig finds long descriptions that correspond with his understanding of Quality (reality).

At the other extreme Pirsig considers the motorcycle as an example of a rationally developed machine. Mechanics cross out the 'romantic reality' part of the motorcycle. Yet, the motorbike is in fact much more than the mechanical methods used to develop it. Ever heard bikers enthuse about their motorbikes? The real, actual motorbike is about much more than the rational, analytical and mechanical methods used to develop motorbikes. To mechanics these romantic aspects are beside the point. To Pirsig missing these points limits our view of reality.

According to Pirsig we have been using the same methods to find truth and knowledge for too long. Knowledge has become mechanical. For instance, consider the child bored to death by the same learning method repeated day after day. Has she learned anything new? No, millions of children had to study the same material she is now studying. Once romantic reality is removed she is left with the cold hard facts. Insight is beside the point as long as the facts can be memorized. Yet, memory always works in the past and can never, like insight, operate in the immediate present.

Robert Pirsig managed to write a book that tells a fascinating story and that contains a mind blowing message. A large part of life, the actual experience of each moment as new, fresh and creative can be missed through an obsession with rational methods of thought and traditional knowledge. By now it must be obvious that no matter how many times you read this book you'll always find something new. Read it, often.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

newnoise1 reviews Fantastic Literature

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night . . . this is the atmosphere you find throughout The Black Water Anthology of Fantastic Literature selected and edited by Alberto Manguel.

Every story has something that reminds you it is not necessarily a bad idea to look over your shoulder every now and then . . . just in case, someone could be watching . . .

The shortest story, one of the best I've ever read, is called Climax for a Ghost Story, written by I. A. Ireland:

'How Eerie!' said the girl, advancing cautiously.' - And what a heavy door!' She touched it as she spoke and it suddenly swung to with a click.

'Good Lord!' said the man, 'I don't believe there's a handle on the inside. Why, you've locked us both in!'

'Not both of us. Only one of us,' said the girl, and before his eyes she passed straight through the door, and vanished.

How does that grab you?! Every story in the selection makes you understand why your hair could stand on end if you really got a big fright. Nearly like when you read your tax assessment.

Writers included in the selection are: Ray Bradbury, Julio Cortázar, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne du Maurier, Henry James, Oscar Wild, Frans Kafka, Hermann Hesse and about twenty others you know well. There are a number of translated stories by authors such as Julio Cortázar, João Guimarães Rosa and Horacio Quiroga who I only know of through the Anthology.

One of my other favorite short stories in the selection is An invitation to the hunt by George Hitchcock and it's a must read, must, must . . . I felt as if I were going to have a fit after I read it. One day I am going to read it again.

If you like staying home alone with a good book and getting up from under the cozy covers once or twice or more to check if all the doors are locked this is for you. If you write short stories this is Short Stories 101, 102 and 103.

As you know making newnoise often means thinking in strange and peculiar ways. All that means is that you think a bit further than the usual strange and peculiar person. Writers don't really stand out in a crowed what stands out about them is what and how they think.

Remember, make newnoise!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

newnoise1 falls for the Coen brothers

newnoise1 falls for the Coen brothers

I am not an ignoramus. I know lots of stuff, such as which year the Second World War ended, who Einstein was, why you don't mix your alcohol with your medication. But, I confess, I never realized I was a Coen brother's fan.

How did they get to me? I mean I thought I was successfully avoiding the Coen brothers all these years. I'm not one for blood and guts. I'm a female writer, sensitive and easily grossed out. There's only one way you're going to get me to voluntarily watch violence and that's by handing me buckets of popcorn as a distraction.

The end of my innocence started when I watched The Big Lebowski for the third time last night. I thought this will be a good movie to blog about, it's hilarious and thought provoking.

I googled The Big Lebowski and guess what? Blogging robs us of our own ignoramias. It dawned on me, somewhat surprisingly, that at least five of my favorite movies were written and directed by none other than the Coen brothers. I felt like a traitor to myself and my kind.

Obviously I'm no movie buff. I always thought of the Coen brothers as similar to the Kray twins, the kind of men any decent girl should avoid. Coen brothers and Kray twins sounded the same to me.

Remember the foot with the sock on sticking out of the corn mill in Fargo? Remember Barton Fink swatting away at flies trying to get over his writers block in that boiling hot Hollywood hotel room? Remember Razing Arizona? Neither do I but I plan to watch it again I can remember I liked it.

Remember the Big Lebowski? The Dude, walking down the aisle in the supermarket wearing shorts, looking so Salvation Army, opening and smelling the milk as if whatever the Dude does must be cool?

I love this film. Not because every sentence contains the f-word, no, but to cast Jeff Bridges, that stylish hunk, as the sloppy Dude was some stroke of genius. I love it because the Dude is so trying to hang on to his cool while life gets so weird it makes his own extreme weirdness look normal.

Not to talk about the effect all the narcotics is having on his mind . . . like trying to remember what he was talking about and being unable to finish his sentences. Forgetting that the car window is closed and throwing his smoke out . . .that's the Dude.

It was like finding a favorite author who was writing under some other name all along.

The Coen brothers create Big characters, Marge in Fargo, cool, calm and collected. Barton Fink, completely stressed out, slapping away at flies and The Big Lebowski, the Dude with his floppy shorts and habit of exposing his hairy belly at the drop of a hat. Burn After Reading . . . it could happen . . . did you see the Russian embassy? I still don't know if it's really the Russian embassy but still . . . it does have a certain ring to it.

To find your writing voice you have to create memorable characters. I'm not sure where the Coen brothers found them. Apparently the Dude is based on a guy they knew who owned a crummy flat and a carpet that 'Tied the room together'.

Notice the odd little things about your friends and family. Your family should be the best place to start to look for weird characters. If you can't notice what's weird about your family you can't notice anything. Starting there, you have great characters, observe them carefully and find ways to express their eccentricities in your writing.

The Coen brothers grew up in Minneapolis and were born in the early fifties. I wish they first published their movies as books before they filmed them. I am going to write to them, care of their agent, to request this . . .

Saturday, November 7, 2009

newnoise1 on writing a literary masterpiece

Find your writing voice, how to write a literary masterpiece

If you wake up one morning and find yourself transformed into a giant bug, don't cry about it, write about it!

Writers have new noise to make and nothing will stop them from making it. They know their craft and they feel passionate about their themes. Therefore, they are confident about what they have to say. Can you imagine giving Ayn Rand advice on a paragraph in Atlas Shrugged? Good luck to you.

Charles Dickens, George Orwell, J. D Salinger, T.S Eliot, Frans Kafka, Edith Wharton . . . these authors were not vaguely interested in the themes they chose to write about, they were consumed by them. Writers see new things in the things that other eyes miss. Freud said something like, 'Wherever I go, I find a poet has been there already.' Often the literary master writes and later the idea becomes part of the text book.

Charles Dickens wrote of the abuse of children in labor factories, William Golding on the consequence of war in The Lord of the Flies, Orwell described how the world of communism works in reality. Ayn Rand, who grew up in a communist country, felt she had to write about why capitalism as a rational way of life was superior to the communism way of life. Aldous Huxley had something to say about the future and how little courage would be needed in Brave new world. He was already writing about artificial insemination in 1937.

Hours, days and years of thought can go into a literary masterpiece. Somerset Maugham said people have no idea how much thought goes into a story or a novel before it is finally written down.

Even literary masters start as journalists, press agents, editors or bloggers. T.S Eliot worked in a bank for a while but he still lived to write. One of his central themes was our inhability to grasp Life with a capital L:

'What is that noise?'

The wind under the door.
What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'
'Nothing and again nothing'
'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
'Are you still alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'

'But . . .

(The Wasteland)

Literary masters can write about extremely difficult concepts and make it look like a walk in the park. To a writer like Margaret Atwood, words and how to use them are second nature. From Cat's eye to The handmaid's tale, she has something to say that is of universal importance.

In a nutshell, to find your writing voice and make new noise:

* find a central theme that consumes you,
* write, write and write some more,
* develop an artist's eye - see things in your own way, and
* work on your confidence.

Monday, November 2, 2009

newnoise1 on how to save your news release from the trash can

How to save your news release from the trash can, things to avoid

  • Editors see thousands of exclamation marks in a day, this makes them . . . rant.
  • Using abbreviations such as FPSDC or acronyms such as DoP with no explanation of what it stands for. Write it out fully the first time it's used in a sentence: Fizzy Pop Soft Drink Company (FPSDC) or Drugs out Program (DoP). In fact try not to use abbreviations and acronyms it means double work as you will have to market the product name and the acronym.
  • Bold, underlined capitals. This is overkill. The only reason I do it in my blog titles is that I can't figure out how to change the title settings.
  • Announcing things and being proud of it. Editors don't care how proud you are of anything. Except if stated discretely in your last sentence about something that you are quite sure is utterly interesting to be proud of.
  • Using two words where one will do. . . 'The company is proud to announce the launch . . . ' versus 'The company plans to launch . . .'
  • Using words editors don't understand make them . . . rant.
  • Not getting to the point quickly. This must happen in your first sentence.
  • Spelling your managing director's name wrong.
  • Sharing what will happen but not where . . . or when.
  • Assuming an editor will think your event is as great as you think it is.

newnoise1 on how to write a news release

How to write a news release

News release

Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks launches 'Drink me now'

12 December 2010

Your first paragraph states the news:

'Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks, the multimillion rand soft drink company, will launch a new addition to its soft drink line at the Funky Fountain, in Tiny Town, on Monday 5 January 2010 at 16:00.

Called 'Drink me now' the soft drink has a distinctive grape flavor, purple color and complements other fruit flavored soft drinks available from the Fizzy Pop line.

The first paragraph answers the essential questions: who, where, why, what and . . . you can get back to 'how' later in this news release.

Your next paragraph can contain a quote from an authority on the subject. This makes the news release more 'alive' and gives it credibility:

Managing Director, Grant Fox, says that Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks has moved from strength to strength in soft drink sales over the past ten years. 'Our secret is in the care we take with the development of each new soft drink. It took five years of serious research and tasting to perfect 'Drink me now, ' he said.

Finally, additional information can be added to what you want to say about the company:

Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks has invited learners from schools in the Tiny Town area to attend the launch.

The company is proud of its drug prevention program aimed at children in the preteen age group.

When you have said what you wanted to say, write:


Then include a contact name, telephone number and email address.

The news angle you decide on will be influenced by the content of the newspaper or magazine you are sending it to. For a magazine aimed at drug prevention among teenagers you will start your news release from the drug program angle:

'Fizzy Pop Soft Drinks, the multimillion rand soft drink company, will launch a new addition to its soft drink line at the Funky Fountain, in Tiny Town, on Monday 5 January 2010 at 16:00. The company has invited learners from schools in the Tiny Town area to attend the launch and plans to promote its successful drug prevention program during the event.

Called 'Drink me now' the soft drink has a distinctive grape flavor, purple color and complements other fruit flavored soft drinks available from the Fizzy Pop soft drink line. . .'

Saturday, October 31, 2009

newnoise1 on teaching children about money

Teaching children that money is a literary notion

Parents often give their children classic children's books to read and this is a good start.

The thing is that, while these books build character and stimulate children's imagination and creativity, it's not enough. If we can teach them to read and be interested in money matters at a young age we have provided them with a crucial tool to survive the financial hazards of life.

Children can not be kept innocent about money and how it works until they leave home and find that out through the school of hard knocks.

There is an informative article on
Why literacy is an important financial building block on

I wrote something to support my point:

Annie learns to read a balance sheet

Annie read a thousand books
from Hemingway to Walter Crooks.

She read between the lines
She knew a thousand rhymes.

Her character grew strong
her favorite words quite long.

Then suddenly life was a mess
of words like 'reposes'.

Annie frowned deeply at the mystery
of its meaning.

Then, at last, she knew
she was in a stew.

Yes, Annie could read,
read that she could.

Still, it took her four years
to catch up on arrears.

My point is, why let children learn at 40 what they could have learned at sixteen?

Any suggestions on books that can help children understand money matters are welcome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

newnoise1 on Alice through the looking glass

'The time has come,' the Walrus said

Okay, no more shirking on my promised Alice through the looking glass review. What put me off from starting was that a number of literary reviews refer to the book as literary nonsense. Well, well or 'curiouser and curiouser', I should cry. So the one book that's quoted in everything from finance to economy and psychology books and newnoise1 reviews is literary nonsense? Now I'll admit that I don't understand what the term literary nonsense means. For all I know it means very clever nonsense.

Nonsense aside

Alice through the looking glass is filled with a hundred warnings, for instance, the warning against the abuse of power. Can I quote someone else when writing a review on Alice? All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely said by one John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902).

Compare Alice through the looking glass with Alice in Wonderland. In both books Alice is confronted by authority figures. The King and Queen chess pieces in Alice through the looking glass and the Queen in the pack of cards in Alice in Wonderland. These authority figures are either giving her seriously debatable advice or threatening to chop off someone's head.

The warning against the follow the leader mentality is supported by the Walrus and the Carpenter who are leaders with thousands of followers. Remember the oysters that followed them to such a sad end?

'Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat -
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Well of course it's nonsense! Very clever nonsense. Alice through the looking glass is a warning to children and adults to be weary of the advice the world has to offer and to think for themselves. Here is Humpty Dumpty's point of view:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornfull tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean neither more nor less.'

Do not be fooled by the innocence of Alice the little girl. From Tweedledum to Tweedledee she is learning about the world and how to face it. She has to think on her feet, here is her reply to Humpty Dumpty's comments on words:

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

If I didn't know better I would think George Orwell had a hand in Lewis Carroll's view on the use of words.

Both Alice books are political and social commentaries disguised as literary nonsense. These comments are universally true and relevant in all societies. Of course to write from the point of view of an innocent little girl gives you license to write what you want without getting into too much trouble. Those who should understand what you are saying will understand.

I prefer Alice through the looking glass to Alice in Wonderland but both are brilliant. When I don't find newnoise in the Alice books I am not concentrating!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Books, reading, writing and technology

Boston is having a book festival. Here is some news from the Boston Globe on the effect technology is having on the book industry.

Some people think book publishing is in its final throes. The Boston Book Festival begs to differ. - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

newnoise1 gets clueless on soccer

Soccer fever . . . tips from the clueless to the clueless

Even if you don’t know your soccer ball from your rugby ball there is still a remote chance that you to can make a rand or two by writing about upcoming soccer events.

I say remote and advise you to first read carefully through FIFA's guidelines on do's and don’ts before investing your nest egg in any brilliant ideas you may have. Be warned, most ideas will not work if you don't have a number of trade mark attorneys or advisors at your beck and call.

I'm not taking any chances. For instance, I had a wonderful idea. I was reflecting on how soccer players are fit, compact muscled machines, good looking and passionate. Why not have a competition where readers can vote to select the ten best looking players in the world? At least those players who don’t score a goal will get recognition for being gorgeous and I would have done my bit for the beautiful game. Now, after reading the do's and don'ts, I'm really not sure that this is legal.

One area that I think it will be legal to write about is what is meant by the term ‘offside’ in soccer. Only those in the very inner circle know what the expression means. You can find out and enlighten millions of men and women across the globe who would like to use the expression in a sentence but feel a bit offside when they do. Start your research soon, the most important soccer event of the decade is taking place from 11 June to 11 July 2010, in South Africa. I will, in the meantime, get more clarity on what is allowed and not allowed with regard to copyright.

What else? The most important rule in soccer is that you should try not to touch the ball with your hands. The second most important rule is to not accidentally land up in front of fanatic fans or a player who has just scored a goal. This could at best change your life forever in a hundred painful ways and at worst kill you.

I am not sure if I'm aloud to provide a link to the official site. It's not difficult to find. You can also search for their Guidelines document.

One of the host cities, Tshwane, gets a link it's my hometown:

Gordon institute of business:

Department of Trade and Industry

Here are some reading suggestions on soccer:

I will have to get back to you on this . . . anybody got any suggestions? A true, dramatic story on soccer would be preferable, let's allow the clueless to ease into it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

newnoise1 on frugality

Is frugal a four letter word?

Five years ago I knew a thing or two about money. One was you had to work to get it if you liked to sleep at night and two was that you need money to pay for stuff. Little did I know . . .

Everything changed when I was forced, no not at gunpoint but it felt like it at the time, to do research about a subject I found vaguely disgusting - money. I had to read a considerable number (okay hundreds) of articles about how much money you have to save to retire without hoping you die soon.

It took me about two weeks of reading to become hysterical. Overnight I became one of the most obsessed money researches in town, pouring over the business sections, my hands clasped together in panic. I freely admit I spoke to strangers in fast food franchises to help me calm down. I am embarrassed to admit how much my need to talk about money scared them off.

Eventually, I considered buying some shares as it seemed many people thought this a good idea. Like newsreaders for example. I envied them the confidence to let money-words roll off their lips like some exotic language. The thing is I knew millions of people listened to that language but I never dreamed anybody in their right mind took it seriously. Headline earnings per share . . . I repeated the words like mantras too open the windows to wealth. Headline earnings per share. This is an amazing concept. It means . . . well it's nearly like price earnings per share just different.

The broker was silent for a long time when I called and asked if R5 000 would be enough to buy some shares. Hearing his sophisticated snigger I could see myself sitting, a little old lady on my little rocking chair staring into the distance sharing my wild memories of the sweet café lattes of twenty years ago with my cat. Of course I won't be able to afford a cat. I will rock and rock waiting for students from an outreach program to bring me an extra blanket in winter. I called a financial adviser to hear more about pension plans and unit trusts and indexes and took an aspirin.

Once upon a time the word 'budget' could put me to sleep faster than the word 'staff meeting' now that word kept me awake into the early morning hours. As the Reserve Bank increased the interest rates, I kept the lights burning trying to figure out how to beat the bank. I listened to Pink Floyd singing about money being a crime and considered that despite their music being quite depressing in this instance they had a point.

In my quest the word got around that I was seriously researching the subject of money and a friend bought me the Wall Street DVD. I watched it like a documentary and at some point just after the son gets arrested, his Father advises, "Rather start doing something creative with your life than making money from what people are buying."

The man had a point I thought. On the other hand how am I supposed to do something creative if my financial advisor is convinced I have to save just about my entire salary every month to survive my retirement? I thought he was joking but the flinty look in his eyes confirmed his utter lack of humor. I stopped crying and laughing intermediately and started saving . . .more . . .

To conclude, as I read in one of the thousand blogs on frugal living - frugal, frugal, frugal . . even if it sounds like a four letter word it's still the way to get what you really want tomorrow by doing something about it today . . . as far as I can see.

Money reads that inspire

The Millionaire next Door
The Richest man in Babylon
The Power of Positive Thinking
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
The Fountainhead

If you want to read more about the money subject I can recommend Joshua Kennon's inserts at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

newnoise1 writes short story

Do internet users have time to read short fiction online? I wonder. Here's my latest attempt, Email blackmail - 1300 words.

Email blackmail

Julia pressed the send button and felt all the blood rush from her face. She had somehow managed to send the email describing what she thought of the company to the Managing Director and owner, Mr. Croft, and not her best friend, Sybil, as she intended.
Her heart beat like a cornered rabbit's. Her hands clammy, she picked up the phone and called Mr. Croft's personal assistant Mrs. Jules.
'Don't worry about it dear, I'll delete it from his inbox as soon as I see it,' Mrs. Jules laughed, 'You do realize that you owe me a big favor?' she added, conspiringly.
'Of course,' Julia tried too laugh but even to herself it sounded more like a dry bone being cracked in half. She collapsed into her chair, there was still four office hours left in which she would have too hide her mini-nervous breakdown from her co-workers.
A very long hour later, Julia noticed a mail from Mrs. Jules in her inbox. She frowned as she read it.

'Hi dear, I have DELETED your message from MR CROFT'S inbox. We must talk about the favor YOU OWE ME. Meet me after work at the Cozy Cups!!!'

Julia's skin crawled at the commanding tone. She was about to find out why her
co-workers were weary of Mr. Croft's personal assistant. Could it be a practical joke? Surely blackmailers at least attempted too hide their identities? Or was she overreacting? Perhaps Mrs. Jules only wanted her to baby sit on Saturday or something harmless like that. Nevertheless, the message seemed sinister with the capital letters and exclamation marks worked into it.
Suddenly the company looked like the perfect place to work at if only Mrs. Jules didn't also work there. She glanced at the computer's digital clock. There were two hours left before she had to face Mrs. Jules.
Jake, her manager, walked into her office clutching a sheaf of papers, 'Julia, can you help with these, they're a mess, we've been trying to figure it out the entire week.' Jake's hair was a confusing ball of curls as always when confronted with a dilemma. He reminded Julia of a young Einstein.
'What is it?' she asked, knowing that she could solve the problem if it needed less than four seconds of her concentration.
'You look pale, something the matter?' he placed the documents on her desk.
'Headache,' she said, her mind working overtime as she glanced again at the clock showing she had 45 minutes to get herself to the Cozy Cups.
'Have a look at these and let me know what you think.' he said, and waited.
'Can I have a look at them tonight? I feel terrible, I have to go.' She hoped he didn't notice how her hand was shaking as she applied her lipstick.
'Can you call me when you're done tonight?' he said, surprised at her uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm.
'Sure, I'll give you call the moment I'm done,' she placed the documents in her handbag.
'Have you got something for the head?' he called as an afterthought down the passage.
'Yes, I'll be fine.' she said over her shoulder as she tried to walk with her usual confidence on legs that wobbled.
The Cozy Cups was more or less empty. She found a table where Mrs. Jules could blackmail her in relative privacy, sat down and ordered a coffee. She removed Jakes' documents from her handbag. She wanted too seem in control of something when Mrs. Jules appeared.
The words on the front page swam in front of her eyes. Then a word or two that Jake had scribbled caught her attention. She looked closer, her heart starting to hammer in her chest.
'Hi there,' Mrs. Jules was her efficient self, her suit fit perfectly, not a hair was out of place.
Julia judged her to be around 50. She noticed that Mrs. Jules' smile did not reach her eyes which were ice blue.
'Well, let's get down to business,' Mrs. Jules wasted no time in making her demands quite clear. She needed money, urgently and regularly. She expressed her need in a husky voice in a few smooth sentences that made Julia suspect the woman was quite use to this kind of scene.
Julia started as her cell phone rang. It was Jake, still upset about the claims, 'I wanted to ask you, look specifically at the company named Cato's Catering. I don't even think Cato exists, I've been trying to call him the whole week, the company's not listed on the intranet. . .'
'Okay Jake, I'll have a look. I'll call you.' she thought quickly as she slowly returned the phone to her handbag.
'Mrs Jules,' she said, and tapped with a pencil on the documents in front of her, 'these documents are the claims you sent through to our office for payment.' she picked her words carefully as she announced, 'My Manager went through them and he's very unhappy . . . in fact his considering an audit of your entire office.' she held her breath as she waited for a reply.
Mrs. Jules turned nearly as white as the coffee cup that stood in front of her. 'I need the money you see . . . I'm desperate for money . . .' she stammered.
Julia shook her head, 'I can see from the clothes and haircut what you need the money for . . . let's make a deal," she said, trying to keep from hissing, 'you will resign on Monday and . . . these claims will disappear,' she forced her shaking hands to lie steady on her lap as she waited, not breathing.
Mrs. Jules held on to her composure, 'I still have the email,' she said, her voice firm.
'We both have documents.' Julia sipped her coffee.
'Let's forget the entire thing.' Mrs Jules, clutched at her handbag.
'No,' Julia shook her head, 'I will not be able to live with myself knowing you are still working for the company.' she said determinedly.
Mrs. Jules sat motionless, 'Very well, I will hand in my resignation,' she said and got up too leave.
'How many?' Julia blurted, not able to let go of the horror she had uncovered.
Mrs. Jules turned around, 'How many what?'
'How many staff members are you . . .collecting money from?'
'Enough.' Mrs Jules walked away her shoulders square, her head lifted proudly.
Julia ordered another coffee and called Jake. 'Are you still in the office? Could you meet me in the Cozy Cups?'
He sat down opposite her 15 minutes later.
'This morning I accidentally sent an email to Mr. Croft that I actually wanted to send to Sybil . . . ' she said.
'I've warned you so many times Julia!' he frowned.
'Yes,' she agreed and continued to tell him the rest.
When she finished he shook his head, running his hands through his hair.
'You are one lucky woman, you know that?' he said.
She nodded, her smile shaky.
'So what about the others, how do we let them know it's over?' he asked 'You promised the woman she won't be arrested for fraud.'
'We'll use the most effective form of communication, we'll spread the rumor that Mrs. Jules had to leave owing to some underhand activities.' she improvised.
'And Croft?'
'You know Croft, if it's not written down in black and white he doesn't listen to it,' she said trying too sound convincing.
'Have you learned something from all this?' he asked.
She nodded, 'Apply for a new position somewhere, but first, make sure Mrs. Jules doesn't work there already.'

Copyright © Newnoise1, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

newnoise1 quotes writers on writing

Writers on writing

I've done some surfing and listed the following insights on writing from 5 of the authors I selected for my 100 favorite books list.

George Orwell - 1984

"It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." First line from 1984

'A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?'

George Orwell - Politics and the English Language

Helene Hanff - 84, Charing Cross road

'Pride goeth.' First line from Apple of my eye

I’m working late in what’s left of the Guild offices when the phone rings and it’s Mrs. Helburn in New Haven. We had just mimeographed BY HAND 10,000 fliers with Away We Go. And Terry says to me, Helene, we’ve changed the title. You’ll have to rewrite the flier. The new title is…OKLAHOMA. Big deal! Back then it was the name of a state! Would you name a musical Maine or New Jersey? But we redo the fliers and hand crank out 10,000 new ones. Phone rings again…You’ll have to redo the fliers again. They want an exclamation point at the end. OKLAHOMA!

Helen Hanff - Underfoot in Show Business

Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse 5

'All this happened, more or less.' First line from Slaughterhouse 5

'My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable - and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood.'

Kurt Vonnegut - How to Write With Style

Albert Camus - The Outsider

'Mother died today.' First line from The Outsider

'By the same token, the writer's role is not free from difficult duties. By definition he cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art. Not all the armies of tyranny with their millions of men will free him from his isolation, even and particularly if he falls into step with them. But the silence of an unknown prisoner, abandoned to humiliations at the other end of the world, is enough to draw the writer out of his exile, at least whenever, in the midst of the privileges of freedom, he manages not to forget that silence, and to transmit It in order to make it resound by means of his art.'

Albert Camus - Speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1957

Mark Twain - Huckleberry Finn

'The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.'

Twain's Rules of Writing

Sunday, October 11, 2009

newnoise1 lists 100 books that make newnoise

Finally, my list of 100 books that still make newnoise

1. 1984 - George Orwell
2. 84 Charing Cross road - Helen Hanff
3. A burnt-out case - Graham Green
4. A deafening silence - John Miles
5. A dry white season - Andre P. Brink
6. A man for all seasons - Robert Bolt
7. A town like Alice - Nevil Shute
8. Alice through the looking glass - Lewis Carrol
9. All quiet on the Western front - Erich Maria Remarque
10. At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie
11. At thy call we did not falter - Clive Holt
12. Atlas shrugged - Ayn Rand
13. Brave new world - Aldous Huxley
14. Catcher in the rye - J.D. Salinger
15. Cat's eye - Margaret Atwood
16. Claudius the God - Robert Graves
17. Deliverance - James Hickey
18. Diamond mind - Rob Nairn
19. Dice man - Luke Rhineheart
20. East of eden - John Steinbeck
21. Evening class - Maeve Binchy
22. Exodus - Leon Uris
23. First lines - Gemma O'Conner
24. I never promised you a rose garden - Hanna Green
25. I, Claudius - Robert Graves
26. Illusions - Richard Bach
27. In cold blood - Truman Capote
28. Jung and the story of our time - Laurens van der Post
29. Life before life - Helen Wambach
30. Lila, an inquiry into morals - Robert M. Pirsig
31. Long walk to freedom - Nelson Mandela
32. Lord of the flies - William Golding
33. Mafikeng road - Herman Charles Bosman
34. Man and the meaning of life - Victor Frankl
35. Many mansions - Gina Cerminara
36. Matilda - Roald Dahl
37. Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
38. Misquito coast - Paul Theroux
39. Not a penny more not a penny less - Jeffrey Archer
40. Of human bondage - Somerset Maugham
41. One child - Torey Hayden
42. Operators and things - Barbara O'Brien
43. Ordinary people - Judith Guest
44. Pippy Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren
45. Promised land - Karel Schoeman
46. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
47. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank redemption - Stephen King
48. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
49. Seize the day - Saul Bellow
50. Selected to live - Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner
51. Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
52. Spud - John van de Ruit
53. Steppenwolf - Herman Hesse
54. Sybil - Flora Retha Schreiber
55. Tao te Ching - Lao Tze
56. The adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
57. The age of innocence - Edith Wharton
58. The anthology of fantastic literature - Alberto Manguel
59. The bell jar - Sylvia Plath
60. The Bible
61. The Border - A. J. Brooks
62. The Cinderella complex - Colette Dowling
63. The covenant - James A. Michener
64. The crucible - Arthur Miller
65. The death of Ivan Ilych - Leo Tolstoy
66. The devil's advocate - Andrew Neiderman
67. The devil's advocate - Morris West
68. The egg and I - Betty MacDonald
69. The electric kool aid acid test - Tom Wolfe
70. The fountainhead - Ayn Rand
71. The French leuitenant's woman - John Fowles
72. The glass bead game - Herman Hesse
73. The grapes of wrath - John Steinbeck
74. The hitchhikers guides to the universe - Douglas Adams
75. The importance of being Ernest - Oscar Wilde
76. The life and times of Michael K - J.M Coetzee
77. The little prince - Antoine de Saint Exupery
78. The millionaire next door - Thomas J. Stanley and William D.Danko
79. The money-changers - Arthur Hailey
80. The moon and the sixpence - Somerset Maugham
81. The outsider - Albert Camus
82. The outsider - Colin Wilson
83. The power of now - Eckhart Tolle
84. The power of one - Bryce Courtenay
85. The power of positive thinking - Norman Vincent Peale
86. The practice of the presence of God - Brother Lawrence
87. The prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
88. The richest man in Babylon - George S. Clason
89. The road to Mecca - Athol Fugard
90. The shoes of the fisherman - Morris West
91. The silence of the lambs - Thomas Harris
92. The sneeches on the beeches - Dr Zeuss
93. The teaching of Buddha - Bukkyo Dendo Kyoki
94. The trial - Franz Kafka
95. The vestibule - Jess E. Weiss
96. Two years before the mast - Richard Henry Dana
97. Voyage beyond belief - Terence Kelly
98. Your erroneous zones - Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
99. Zen and reality - Robert Powell
100. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig

Friday, October 2, 2009

newnoise1 rushes the read

Rushing the Read

The saying goes that you shouldn't buy shares on media reports. This is easy to say but what are you suppose to do? Go out there and work for the company for a few years?

Look at the news I scanned through today:

One news report claimed that according to Ricky Ponting, the Australian cricket team captain, the pitches they were playing on are life threatening. Then, when I watched the game, the commentators couldn't get over how wonderful the pitch was. So, I probably scanned so fast and through some twist of fate still don't know where they were playing today. Okay, so I fell asleep once or twice during the game and missed out on that part.

So this left me quite confused in a day when I needed every bit of my alleged intelligence to try and understand why Julius Malema was raving on about Nedbank. It's like I've missed some important episode of Dallas - the one where JR got shot. How hard to I have to concentrate to know what's going on!!?? The entire thing sounds like you need to have at least some post graduate training to understand the issues. I think what I'll do is go to Nedbank and open an account and while I'm there perhaps they'll kindly inform me on what the hell is going on.

The other thing I picked up in the Business Report this week is that e-books will do well in South Africa but hand held reading devices are more popular in America. My conclusion in the end was that to download an e-book to your computer is probably cheaper than buying a reading device to do it with. Your guess is as good as mine.

Other confusing news is that FNB is quite optimistic about house prices starting to rise soon while Standard Bank isn't or something like that.

How's that for noise?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My snarky day so far

I am 40-something with a number of responsibilities that include not jumping off a cliff on the spur of the moment. To get me to laugh out loud twice in less than 10 minutes is quite an achievement. That's why I have added Miss Snark to my links list even if the blog is only open for viewing and closed for contributions.

In her blog, Miss Snark, a book agent, gives acidic editing advice to sometimes clever, more often clueless questions from what she has named her "snarklings".

No surprise then that you will find a category headed: "Miss Snark sets her hair on fire". If you have ever edited documents where the same mistakes are repeated over and over, you will feel like an alma mater of Miss Snark and pass her the blow torch. If you are a writer you will find a treasury of information on what to do too drive editors and agents nuts.

While I am sad that Miss Snark's blog is now closed it is also a relief. At least I will not be tempted to send her a book proposal in the early morning hours after a bottle of wine or five.

Miss Snark gets the newnoise badge of the week.

Further on my snarky day, I am rereading Alice in Wonderland for my intended plan to identify newnoise in books. I am a bit stuck with progress on Alice as I've also just picked up a copy of Deliverance by James Dickey and it's quite a promising start. Also I have been reading for 4 hours straight about blogging and so forth.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My list of 100 books that make newnoise

I have an ambitious plan. The plan involves listing 100 books that I have read more than three times and that I feel contains newnoise. I wil then do a short analysis on why I think the book makes it to my newnoise list. I am not looking at the date the book was printed, a book that was written 2 000 years ago can have more newnoise than a book printed yesterday.

I'm sure I can learn something through doing this and I hope that this micro-analysis will inspire you to find your voice. My first submission will be Alice in Wonderland.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

District 9 - the best disgusting movie I've ever seen

In District 9, Director Neill Blomkamp, is saying something like nobody has ever said it before, in other words, its pure newnoise.

Starting with the hilarious notion that if aliens should visit earth, they will, of all places, hang around Johannesburg for longer than a week, the film zooms in on the slum conditions the aliens soon find themselves in after being secluded behind razor wire in District 9.

The new government, having followed the seclusion solution as set by the apartheid government, now proceeds to follow it some more by getting rid of the aliens through forced relocation. The relocation is documented on video and during the filming an entire subculture of alien life emerges. Crime, especially. As one poor human in the film complains about the aliens, "They steal your tekkies off your feet while you're walking down the street." Crime . . .South Africans joke about it like communist Russian's use to joke about the KGB.

It's not just the fantastic science fiction special effects or the disgusting habits of the aliens that makes this a must see. The mockumentary brilliantly brings together the global apartheid between the rich and the poorest of the poor. Spine chilling sensations crawl down your back as you realize you don't need aliens for these slum conditions to arrive at a theatre near you soon, they have always been around. To top it all you have paid cash to have all your illusions ripped from your head.

Soon you will be gagging on your pop-corn as you realize that you to could mutate, become poor and join the ranks of the aliens. You too will develop cravings for cat food and love to eat from dustbins. You to will be seen as the refuse of society, misunderstood, unable to operate in a technologically sophisticated world, uneducated and encouraged to have an abortion if you are pregnant. The government could even decide to use you in medical "research" and nobody will know.

While I watched the movie, the guy next to me was eating his pop-corn kernel by kernel as pop-corners like to do. This normally freaks me out to the point where l I feel like grabbing the pop-corn bucket and flinging it to Mars. Then, about fifteen minutes into District 9, it dawned on me that at least pop-corn is clean and I'm sitting in a soft seat in an air-conditioned movie theatre. I felt comforted by the normality and watched the screen, closed my eyes every two minutes, held on to my lunch as best I could and enjoyed the comforting, crunching noises the pop-corn eater made.

Revolting, disgusting . . . if any woman older than sixteen can sit through all of that without closing her eyes, at least once, I suspect she has seen sides of life that's not worth seeing.

All in all, the aliens turn out to have, despite their prawn like features, hearts that beat to the same rhythm that human hearts do. Seclusion has a way of stopping us from seeing this, as wires and walls tend to do.

The film refuses to include any of South Africa's famous tourism hotspots such as Table Mountain or the Apartheid Museum or any breathtaking, sunny beaches, or even one of the big five. It's Mad Max slumming it, all the way as the space ship hangs in the air above Johannesburg like a gigantic ball of pollution. Ironically, the film was shot in Soweto named by the apartheid government - SOuthWEsT, one of the biggest "townships" in South Africa, where high electric lights use to shine night and day to keep track of what residents were up to.

This is a must see, even if you see it with your eyes closed half the time.

Remember to make some newnoise this week, find your voice!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Think ahead . . . your move has consequences

I'm always listening for something to write about. Often I hear something worth writing about but don't get around to writing it down. So something happened that I think is worth sharing. I'm not sure what the moral of the story is.

We were having a sports day at work. I chose to play chess and landed up playing against a black man who was somewhere in his fifties. He was a good player. His face was square and silent as he moved. No surprise, even if chess is a quiet game, memories of a life time of being treated like slaves by white women taught older black men in South Africa that it is wiser to be quiet in certain company.

After the game, I asked him where he learned to play. He said he had learned to play in jail.

"I was jailed for killing a white man." his face was expressionless, only the warmth of his voice distracting from the severity of the comment.

Stunned, I just sat there, not moving, I was playing against a co-worker who had murdered someone - how rare was that?

"That was very long ago, many years," he said. "In jail I learned many things, how to play chess, also to weld." He looked straight at me while I tried to remove all expression from my face.

"So I changed from a bad man . . . when I was released the company gave me this job as a welder." He smiled a big, broad smile, strong white teeth flashing against his dark skin. With that he turned around and left. His humility stunned me as one of a dozen impressions zoomed through my mind.

Did he think it was more important to me that it was a white man that he had killed? How could he be so open about it? I looked down at my white hands and wondered how big the divide between one human being and another can be.

I considered that the one thing we did have in common is that people were willing to teach us and we were willing to learn. Of course he had much tougher circumstances to rise above than I who use to be part of the then privileged white minority.

We crossed the divide in the game of chess, the game that teaches you to think ahead, work out a strategy, think before you make a move and remember . . . your move as consequences.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ten ideas for stories and free editing

Here are some ideas for your to write about. Send your story (500 words) to and I will edit it and send you my opinion. The 10 best stories will be published on my blog.

1. A man comes home and finds he has been burglarized.

2. A woman's purse is stolen.

3. A child fails his year at school.

4. A mother remembers her youth.

5. A woman decides she wants to be rich.

6. Her first day at school.

7. His first day at work.

8. A man has a problem that he solves.

9. Six characters you invented.

10. An achievement.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Things to write about

Everyday brings dozens of ideas to write about.

  • You can write about your day. Was it colourful, drab or nasty. My day was colourful. I was in the thick of things watching two thousand people marching through the streets of Pretoria, on strike for wage increases.
  • Did you learn anything new? I learned that my computer has a cd writer. This was amazing after months of begging people to write things on cd for me.
  • Listen to old people talk. They have many a story about what happened when Steven wanted to marry Lucy but Lucy was more into Jim and then poor Jim died.
  • Listen to children.
  • Read the papers for some good ideas. I saw a poster on a lamppost this morning: Neighbour stole my toilet! The mind boggles.
  • Remember your childhood and the things you got up to. Write about the colourful characters. If they weren't colourful, make them colourful! Think again of the people and see them now through the eyes of a grown up - do you realise things about them now that you didn't realise then?
  • Bonzai, birthdays, beaches, ballrooms, billiards, bedrooms, bicycles. Free associate.
  • Draw up a chart and write something new about each character every now and then until it feels as if you know them and they actually exist.
  • Smell things.
  • Write about the future, how you think things will be like two hundred years from now.

Find your voice!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Warm bath Binchy

Reading Maeve Binchy is like soaking in a warm bath filled with foamy suds before you've considered opening a tap. Her characters are complex and grow throughout her stories, her style is warm and smooth forcing you to turn the pages even when you know you have to get up early for work. She gives a unique perspective with each character experiencing the same events from a personal point of view. Her deep love of Ireland shines through in all her writing.
Maeve Binchy is a master at work. She is an ideal author for the beginning writer to study, especially her character perspectives and expert story telling style.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Know your wallpaper and find your writing voice

Wallpaper is what forms the background to what you are actually busy with. It could be the television that's on while you're doing the dishes. This wallpaper is light green with a dark green paisley motive.

Wallpaper can be a death in the family that you are thinking about at work. This kind is in your face, you can't think of anything else. Actually, the death is not the wallpaper the work becomes the wallpaper. The work as wallpaper is a watery yellow color with no pictures.

I'm thinking of the book A day in the life of Ivan Ilych, his wallpaper was his own authentic voice that he ignored. His life was based on what others wanted of him at home and at work.

I can make a list of things that make excellent, colorful wallpaper. So real is this wallpaper you could think it's more real than death and confuse it with stuff that's real:

Soap operas
Things that distract you from your goals
Things that scream louder than your own authenticity

T.S Eliot was very good at describing wallpaper. He described it as measuring out his days in coffee spoons and cigarette buts.

My point is, find out what is your wallpaper and what is real. Of course everything is real and part of reality. As George Orwell would put it: some things are more real than others.

Don't be so blinded by the unreal that you miss out on the reality of your life.

Find your writing voice!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't quit your day job

"Writing is easy, sit in front of the page until drops of blood appear on your forehead"

I can't remember who said this but it's quite true. There is only one thing that is more difficult than writing something and that is trying to sell what you wrote.

To write in South Africa, especially part-time, is about as lonely a past time as spending time in C-Max prison. Perhaps it would be easier to write there. You could force someone at knife point to read your stories or perhaps they could force you to read theirs.

Let's face it, you do not have people running after you for your articles. You probably have a trunk full of dusty manuscripts underneath your bed. Breaking into the writing industry (is it in industry?) is about as difficult as breaking out of C-max prison.

This blog serves as a platform for aspiring writers. Those who want to make some new kind of noise and find their own voices.

I want to ad some resources and some inspiration to those who hope to one day quit there day jobs to write full-time. Advice from those who read this blog on getting work into print is welcome. I am also of course doing research and hope to inspire myself into writing my story on how I escaped from C-Max.

Factors that contribute to writing a good article:

  1. You need to have a bright idea. Attack the same problems with a new idea. It must be real, relevant and riveting.

  2. You need to know something about grammar and spelling.

  3. Know your audience.

  4. Select categories that you can make your niche.

  5. Connect your categories with the audience to the right magazine or newspaper.

  6. Answer the fundamental questions: who, where, why, what and how.

  7. Read for grammar, content and research purposes.

  8. Using quotes makes a story more interesting.

  9. Contact the magazine to hear if they would be interested in your article.

  10. Sell your article.

My goal for August 2009: Deciding on a topic to write about, writing the article and sending it to a magazine for publishing.

Remember - find your voice!