My life as a writer started when I was still very young, but back then I used to write stories in my head.
Being a nature child I found myself inspired when outside and instead of thinking about the game at hand, I would be narrating the life stories of imagined friends and characters. Often they would be in a struggle of some sorts.
As many writers, I would imagine, not many people got me or understood my stories. Therefore I clearly remember the first time a teacher ‘got the plot’ of an essay I wrote. The title was “In die spreekkamer’ (In the doctor’s rooms). This however, is a bitter-sweet memory, as he asked-suggested that I used a specific phrase in a symbolic manner, and if this was coincidence and if, I was aware of it. Please! Of cause I was aware of it, nothing in that essay was accidental, the only accidental part was that he understood it.
A few years passed and as before, very few teachers ever understood my writing. Even at university, it continued to be a lonely, less traveled path until my third year in the Sociology class of Miss van der Spuy. The assignment gave me the space to voice my ideas on Apartheid and gender issues – and she understood and approved of my understandings. To this day this memory fills me with a burst of joy.
Here after in my honnors year, I came to love exam times, as my exams gave me the opportunity to voice and share my knowledges and making meaning of that that I was taught and how I interpreted it. Theories became conversation partners and sometimes even fencing partners.
Yet again, I was energized by those who were able to embrace my other-ness and who did not interpret different ideas as different-ness or indifference.
Many years passed then and the only writing I then did was letters to my parents, love letters to my husband and birthday cards to our children and close friends.
But my dance with words was to regain momentum. I became involved in a women’s organization and once more I started to write. Now there were computers and Windows.
I taught myself to be computer literate and this brought immense freedom to my writing. Editing was now no longer this time-consuming re-doing action of retyping on a typewriter, but fast, effective and accurate.
Up till here I used to write about learnt knowledges, but from 2000 I started to write about my personal experienced knowledges, thus my understandings and making meaning of lived experiences and knowledges gained. I became a Local Preacher. Before I used to write for no audience, Now, writing so-called sermons, (I prefer the term messages), I was writing for an audience. This was very different and held an almost crushing social and ethical responsibility. At times the complexity of this almost silenced me, especially as I understood and related to theology very differently than the dominant discourse.
But all of this was necessary as it prepared me for the writing of my dissertation and thereafter my doctoral thesis. Again I voiced a message not often accepted or embraced in the church. Sexuality, desire, passion, pleasure and faith. God forbid! Speaking the unspeakable. My writing became the vehicle with which I challenged, protested and created awareness. It enabled me to participate in the constructions of new realities of myself and of others. My writings shaped by my feminist ideas, became a powerful tool to construct and participate in the realties of others by offering a different way of hearing and seeing the ‘given’. It became the medium with which I rejected many dominant religious discourses. It became the tool which could transport my passion. It became a way in which I could show compassion, share my experiences and reflect on life. A way to negotiate meaning – for myself but also for others.
Being a writer invited me to explore places and spaces that no other experience, lived or imagined, could. It gave me a voice; no it gives all women in my life (socially and professionally) a voice.