Rejection | Why it's OK (and important) to be told 'no'

How much of our lives is geared towards avoiding rejection? Whether in love, the workplace or simply booking a table at a popular restaurant, us human animals seem to be allergic to hearing the word, 'no.' The grief and humiliation of no extends it's sticky tentacles deep into our past, touching those bruised places where we were bullied, laughed at or ignored, prodding that uneasy sense that yes, you were right all along, you are not good enough after all. 

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Meet the author: Zola Nene

Zola Nene is one of those people you definitely want at your dream dinner party. Not just because she has an infectious love of cooking, but because of her wonderfully warm personality. Speaking to her and reading her book is a reminder that, at it's heart, food is about love, family and connection. When you read through each of her recipes, it's like getting a taste of her history, which reminds you of your own. I was lucky enough to interview Zola and get a bit of behind-the-scenes info on her new cookbook, Simply Delicious. 

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What I am learning as I pitch my novel

I don't know how to be cool when it comes to pitching a novel. 

I'm good at writing books. Once I've settled into the writing process I'm relatively free of self doubt and reliably chug along, producing a certain number of words every day. I retain my composure over the editing process. I don't think I'm unique in this. It's a wonderful time of gestation, where the words you are working on could become absolutely anything. And let's be honest, you could be destined for absolutely anything. It is far less complicated and more glamorous to announce at a dinner party, "I am writing a novel," than to say, "I have written a novel." 

Because once that novel is written, the expectation kicks in.

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Meet the author: Joanne Macgregor

Young Adult fiction is hotter than ever, for those going through their teens and those of us who have survived them. As you will read in my interview with prolific YA writer, Joanne Macgregor, this is no surprise. Deep down, we all remain the same person who pined over their crush and worried what to wear to civvies day. Young adulthood is a time of firsts, of becoming, of feeling everything a bit too deeply, like that shock of cold water when you first step into a swimming pool in spring. Thankfully, we as readers are in good hands with Joanne, who lives a double life as an author and psychologist. She lets us into her writing journey, and her love for YA fiction below.

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Self-care for writers

Us writers are strange creatures. Many would assume that we are self-indulgent, given that we spend hours every day typing out our thoughts and visions. Over time, this has given way to an image of writers all over the world sitting serenely next to a steaming cup of coffee, pondering the view over whichever idyllic landscape they find themselves in and then, eventually, exhaling slowly and typing their memoirs until they are provided with their next snack. The reality, however, is far less charming. If fellow writers are anything like me, writing is a process by which you retreat further and further into yourself, until daily human practices are rendered superfluous.  So, in celebration of finishing my new book, here are a few self-care tips for writers. 

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Writing for my life

I've been a bit quiet the past few weeks, not only on this blog but in real life. My days comprise a small reliable orbit around home, yoga class and Checkers (great bargains people, seriously, my grocery bill is a matter of pride). The rest of the time, I write. It's a crude process of creative input, followed by creative output. Like running a marathon, it's regular and intensive, with an unquestioning rhythm that must be held else all momentum will be lost. 

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Meet the author - Paige Nick

Paige Nick needs no introduction. As a Sunday Times columnist and prolific novelist, you're guaranteed to have read her or read about her at some point. Her writing is light, warm, funny and often deep without getting too serious or self conscious about it. Pick up any of her books and you'll find an instant escape, with relatable local characters that make it feel like home. Interviewing Paige was like speaking with an old friend. She has that magical quality of making you want to tell her everything. In fact, if it hadn't actually been her interview, I probably would have spilled my whole life story, with all the juiciest, unedited, inappropriate bits. I can see how she's had such success in writing about sex and love. So get a cup of tea (or glass of wine if you're having that kind of Monday) and hang out with our friend Paige. 

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Talking African fiction with the organisers of Short Story Day Africa

There is a quiet revolution taking place within African writing. The past decade has seen the launch of new competitions, indie publishers, publications and mentorship programmes, all united in the will to bring fresh, emerging writing into the world. In the past, new and established writers were forced to seek affirmation through publication overseas and acknowledgement in international competitions. While those channels are still relevant, it is critical that African writers have the opportunity to be affirmed and uplifted on our own continent. Short Story Day Africa is one of these champions of local fiction on the continent, and happens to be the first place to publish one of my stories. I spoke to founder Rachel Zadok, and co-organiser Tiah Beautement. 

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Light and funny reads

Confession time: I used to be a stand up comedian. Yes, for a few short months when I started studying at Rhodes University, I used to down a shot of whatever was going and skip onstage in front of dozens of hecklers and a handful of questionable groupies. My stand up career was short lived owing to one particularly gruesome flatline of a set that my ego never recovered from. But it wasn't just that: writing comedy is bloody hard. Finding the humour in everyday events takes a steely resolve, unwavering optimism and consistent confidence. That's why authors who write comedy full time are such marvellous, strange creatures. 

However, looking for a funny book is pretty much like scavenging for a snack: when you feel like one there is nothing to be found, well nothing good anyway. I am not one to let my friends snack on the mental equivalent of dry Provitas, so here is a list of hilarious, light reads that all happen to be local.

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"Stop seeing motherhood as a test" - Interview with author Pamela Power

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous to pick up Pamela Power's Ms Conception. What petrifying nuggets of dried up baby turd would I uncover between its pages? Would it put me off parenthood for good? I'm so glad I braved the first page and kept going, because this is one of the funniest, most enthralling books I have read in ages. The story revolves around Jo, a fabulous, outrageous wine-guzzling Joburg mom whose life I didn't want to leave when I finished the book. The other day I had the pleasure of interviewing the book's hilarious author, Pamela Power. Read below for some amazing gems on motherhood, working moms, writing while raising a family and cracking advice on how to make an interesting...um...pate. 

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Author Jen Thorpe on phobias, fears and female African writing

Jen Thorpe has always been a powerhouse when it comes to publishing fresh commentary on heavy issues. Online, she is best known for editing the blog Feminists South Africa and My First Time, where she tackled issues such as rape, discrimination and abuse with compassion and humanity. So at a glance, it's a bit surprising that her debut novel is light and funny. It's an engrossing, warm read that is perfect for a night in when you just want a book that just feels like home.

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Lessons from an emerging writer

This isn't one of those articles by a bestselling author where they dish out the secrets to their success. I am not that author. But I have been an emerging author for many years and know the muck I am attempting to emerge from pretty well. While I'm sounding pretty sarcastic about this, I do believe there is grace in being an emerging writer, in being both terrified by a lack of hope and emancipated by a lack of definition of who you are yet. It is an important stage to go through. So if you're keen to start taking your writing seriously, here are some tips...

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Bookish crush : Yrsa Daley Ward

Ysra Daley-Ward's poetry uses simple, blunt phrases to convey complex emotions. It is uncomfortable, but often hopeful. She says The Thing in many different ways and voices, capturing the fluidity of what it means to be human. I love that her writing is so accessible, meaning that anyone can pick up a poem or a quote from her poem and find some resonance in it. That's what we are searching for in the digital muck after all - a precious gem of authenticity. 

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Interview | 'Writivism is not just about creating the Africa we want, but the Africa we need'

The Writivism programme is one of the most exciting literary initiatives I have ever taken part of. Through attending their workshop in Cape Town, and joining a mentorship group, I was exposed to other writers from across the continent who challenged my prose and my outlook, and inspired me to do better. I recently got the opportunity to speak to Kagayi Peter, Writivism's Anglophone Coordinator. Like the programme itself, the conversation challenged my perceptions of what 'success' means in African literature, and the problem of classifying 'African' literature itself. 

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