Friday, June 3, 2011

The Writer's Challenge

Well, I had my meeting with my advisor, and while it went well, it's always bitter sweet.

"You're an incredible writer," he always tells me. "So clear, so elegant, so beautiful."

As for my project, one thing I've been struggling with is that I keep feeling the need to confess in my writing. I don't want it to be chronological, and feels like it might have to be that way. Instead of writing analytically, personally, retrospectively, and importantly about South Africa, I keep feeling the need to explain everything about myself.

Kaffir Boy explained a lot: it followed the protagonist (Mathabane, also the writer) from childhood in a township outside Joburg all the way to him leaving for college in the States. I feel the need to put that amount of depth into my story, but Advisor 1 thinks it's a bad idea. He's worried about it sounding like I'm whining.

Advisor 2 thinks I should put it all in: that it would give my reader more of a view as to who I am and where I came from. But what if I don't know, myself? I don't want to sound trite in my writing: it might be my biggest fear.

But really, if I'm going to stick with my "Morally Honest" perspective, what I'm really afraid of is that I really have nothing to say. What could a 21 year old have learned that she could impart on the greater readership?


  1. Do whatever it takes to make your writing reach its full potential. Don't inhibit yourself with rules and regulations.

  2. Essentially, that's what they both say; I just have such a hard time not constraining myself. I always feel that if I'm not working in a box, I'm not doing something right. Which is the complete opposite of what I want to be doing.

  3. Good writers almost always have at least 'hints' about their own lives in their work - same as artists, musicians etc. The best advice would be to read over your work as if you do not know yourself at all. Although you probably already know that. Good blog!