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Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Artikels | Features

2007, The Year Ahead


Michelle McGrane - 2007-01-23

Michelle McGrane finds out what local and international writers have to say about their plans, goals, hopes and desires for the coming year.

Arthur Attwell

I'm bracing myself for a big year, if 2006 was anything to go by. While I haven't written a thing in a year, my tadpole-sized publishing company, Electric Book Works, is eight months old and growing its first froggy legs – we hope to get kissed by a prince by August. My colleagues and I have been having as much fun making books as I ever had writing them – a good spreadsheet, as it happens, is not unlike a good poem – and (authors willing) things will stay just as tough and as edifying in 2007.

Diane Awerbuck

I hope to have a print-ready manuscript for Exquisite Corpse from my co-writers (the fabulous Henrietta Rose-Innes, Mary Watson and Lauren Beukes) by mid-year. Electric Book Works, the small publishing company run by Arthur Attwell and me, is coming along nicely. Our first project, the dual-language children's book UTshepo Mde: Tall Enough, is already a Wordsworth bestseller (www.utshepomde.co.za). We intend to grow this list. I've also just registered for a PhD in Technology and Trauma Literature at UCT, despite the warnings of anyone who's ever gone through PhD hell. And a baby, maybe. That would be nice.

Gabeba Baderoon

I resolve to phone everyone for Eid, and Pumla for what can't be said. I resolve to get in touch with Gail about visiting, return Mrs Vedam's yoghurt pot, stick that note on the fridge that says REMEMBER TO STRETCH, finish watching the movie from when I fell asleep next to Dorn, send that article to Des, book the flight for March, not plan so many things that I fall asleep just when something exciting is about to happen, remember, organise the recycling, write that letter to Eve, clip out that article about post-traumatic stress disorder, apologise to Maria, ask Drew to post the books, tell Shaida we can share the room, remember.

Doreen Baingana

This year I will accept myself even more than ever. It sounds simple but isn’t. Accept that discipline is a challenge and so, for example, work with another writer who will demand to see my work at regular intervals. I will also accept that writing and teaching are what I do best and enjoy most. My main goal this year is to finish one main draft of a novel. But dreaming and planning and other forms of procrastination won’t get the book written. I must therefore break up my goal into doable everyday chunks. So, my New Year resolution is to write my novel for at least one hour every day, five days a week. That’s it.

Ken Barris

Around this time of the year I become a seething torrent of hopes, goals, dreams and desires. This is no different from any other time of the year, but like the road crash death toll it gets more attention right now. It’s a good thing to have many hopes and goals, because if any of them happened, it would make me a better person. I would be efficient. I would waste less time getting drunk and watching the cooking channel. I would be kinder to stray ducks, should any cross my path. Yes, it’s good to seethe with dreams and desires: this way, you live for the future.

Gail Dendy

The child is knocking on my door.
Beyond the door there are snowdrifts
and evergreens, and no butterflies.

My door is made of the best hard wood.
It has the best brass lock.

The child is persistent. He knocks and knocks.
His cheeks are red. He has bright eyes.
When will he learn there’s no door, here,

that everything’s open to the sun and moon?
Birds gather in the trees. Here I can breathe.

Without a door I see how cold the summer is.
I run to the house of the child; resolve to warn him.
I knock and knock.

Mark Espin

This year I want to drive more slowly. I want to be more tolerant of others and breathe more deliberately. I want to revisit places I haven’t been to in a long time, like Goedverwacht and Vinkrivier. I want to sit alongside mountain streams and think about nothing that is significant. I want to be less concerned with sports results and the shenanigans of politicians. I want to inoculate myself against the afflictions of love; be less violent with the punch-bag at the gym. I want to appreciate more sunrises and sunsets with nobody in particular.

Gus Ferguson

For poets I wish a wider audience.
for the audience, better poems,

less carping, less personal narrative,
less "me", more metaphor,

more mystery, more wit, more fun,
more compression, slimmer volumes,

more respect for the reader,
less respect for the critic,

shorter CVs, minimal blurbs
less jealousy, more gratitude,

less teaching, more reading,
free dictionaries,

the total banishing of
the phrase creative writing

and, to please my wife, no poem
longer than the length of your hand.

Diana Ferrus

May all druglords be arrested and put away for good in 2007. Youth in my community and family are at the mercy of Tik. This drug is fast destroying a generation of young people. In the so-called coloured community traumatised parents can only watch as their children turn into monster-like skeletons while druglords and their lawyers beam like fat cats. Over the Christmas period the police's efforts to nail druglords in Worcester ware commendable. While the helicopter circled above the municipal flats, enthusiastic policemen were searching and scaring the daylight out of drug-smuggling cowards. This wish is for a Tik-free 2007!

Arthur Goldstuck

One of the surprise cinema hits of 2006, Snakes on a Plane, earned its place in movie mythology as a result of the sheer obviousness of its title. Where can a storyline go when it starts off blowing the plot wide open? In truth, all air trips have something of a Snakes on a Plane (SoaP) inevitability about them. Sitting on a plane as I write this, I am sandwiched between two other passengers. Thanks to the SoaP syndrome, I stoically accept that I must surrender my personal space to strangers. But it also highlights the fact that many of our SoaP moments in life are self-inflicted, due to actions that make unpleasant consequences inevitable. My plan, hope and desire for 2007 is to ensure that any of the snakes I find on my 2007 plane are not of my own making.

Shaun Johnson

My personal dream for 2007 (but then it's been the same one for more years than I care to remember), is to do a great deal more writing than talking. I am beginning to understand the courage and dedication required of full-time writers of fiction (as opposed to dilettantish dabblers, among whom I number). It's dead lonely and it's shamefully unremunerative, but it's the only way to do it properly - and most of us are too chicken to let go of our safety chains on both counts. Ah well, perhaps next year ...

Aryan Kaganof

i always find new year's resolutions phoney. for example, i am going to stop smoking as of the first of january. stop smoking now. or, i am going to be optimistic as of the first of january. be optimistic now. using the arbitrary date (1 january) as a crutch is a perfect way of avoiding the truth. the truth is that people who make new year's resolutions are avoiding taking responsibility for their lives. life is always now. there's no such thing as a new year in life. there's only now. live now, be now, decide now, resolve now. responsibility begins now.

Anton Krueger

... didn't both socrates & einstein say the only real goal of life is death? ... so to deal in goals is to deal in death ... to plan means failing to live now ... you keep trying to get today out of the way & so the future starts tapering into a more and more constricted space; pinching you into a gully, a ditch, a ravine ... might turn out to be a better idea to keep making room for the future; to keep your knees bent & ready to pounce, cause you never know what's going to happen next ... hope? ... well, w/ hope comes fear: fear of failure; fear of not getting what you hoped for; fear that that you might have hoped for the wrong thing ... so here's the impossible desire – no plans, no goals, no hopes ...

Silke Heiss

My hopelines: Murderers shoot themselves in own limbs, then pursue placid occupations (painting or gardening). Thieves - including those in the highest echelons of business and politics - cut palms of hands on thorns or glass. Fifa admits Cape Town unfit for hosting 2010 World Cup. South Africans boycott Kentucky Fried Chicken and MacDonalds. Over-loud music in traffic and public places banned. Porcupines, baboons, mongooses, genets and other wildlife haunt developers in their dreams at night. 2007: Year of the Ear. I dream of people hearing and actually listening both to human and non-human voices.

David Lambkin

I’m going to dump my infantile reliance on a personal god – remove this Oriental metaphysical conceit and the moral turpitude of the universe becomes simple indifference; help wild animals, trees and wilderness survive our onslaught; pay more attention to the laugh lines around women’s eyes; give my girlfriend more kisses. I’m not going to abuse earnest people who mention Michel Foucault at dinner parties; buy glamorous lingerie for acquisitive girls half my age; drink Clicquot Rose in bed before eleven in the morning - except on Sundays; take myself seriously ever again.

Rod MacKenzie

Be able to converse in Mandarin by December. Self-publish in China my fable Ricky and the Dolphin Notes – most of my one thousand teenage Chinese students love it. Get from my arty students some illustrations for the book. Finish writing my (136 000 word) novel and go through the deeply spiritual exercise of trying, yet again, to get another book published. The endless rejections are a wonderful opportunity to practise non-attachment. Write the sequel to my novel. (I realised I was battling to finish it because the manuscript needs a sequel.) Visit Tibet and Beijing in August. Practise daily a lifestyle of gratitude, which, along with humour, lies at the heart of the "spiritual" life. Read more stuff by Eckhart Tolle and Ken Wilbur.

Mzi Mahola

They stole the manuscript to tear my soul. I so much wish we could meet again
Over a cup-o-tea; reminisce about those interrogation days.
I’d autograph them my latest effort, proof that theirs was in vain,
We would play back the recovered tape of time.

I would tell them of my spiritual pain of fourteen years after having lost my only child.
How my ship lost direction and floundered without the compass; storms blowing and battering it.
They would tell me of their turbulent souls, if they have any, after stealing the instrument,
to commit poetic murder.
We would shake hands and hug like true South Africans.
After all
They made me write a better manuscript.

Linda Mannheim

January 1st has always felt like a false start to me, an artificial division between the old and the new, and New Year’s resolutions have struck me as homework ever since one of my school teachers told us to write them. So I was surprised to find myself, this December, reflecting on what had happened and what was to come. This was what I decided: more time for fiction, more time for people, and more time to not do anything at all. And in the wider world, I have big hopes about the potential for change in the US right now. I hope the newly triumphant Democrats don’t squander that potential. I hope that potential is realised.

Goodenough Mashego

imagine acres & acres of land
stretching for kilometres can't see the horizon
filled with fresh strawberries cauliflowers next to a lake
glittering cold blue water to quench the thirst
take a sip feel your body clear toxins in a rush
it's 35 outside but cold & smells like a shrub

picture 1 000 ghetto angels all in tropical couture
each got a halo on their head see how blessed they look
harvesting sunflowers & roses 'til the break of dawn
diving headfirst @ waterfalls swimming alongside mermaids
when sun sets darkness falls time for campfire tales

Michelle McGrane

On my desk is a pile of new and second-hand poetry books which I am reading from cover to cover, hoping to discover more poems like Ezra Pound's "Salutation"1: "O generation of the thoroughly smug/ and thoroughly uncomfortable,/ I have seen fishermen picknicking in the sun,/ I have seen them with untidy families,/ I have seen their smiles full of teeth/ and heard ungainly laughter./ And I am happier than you are,/ And they were happier than I am;/ And the fish swim in the lake/ and do not even own clothing."

Sally-Ann Murray

My life is full, and full of "wants" - with the paradoxical gaps and surfeits which wanting implies. I'd like to visit the Antarctic with our son before it's gone and he's gone off; to write more, feeling able to claim the time that writing demands and believing myself capable of animating the page and knowing where, simply, to leave blank; to while away a day – sans children - with Annie Dillard or Rustum Kozain or my husband; to let our indigenous garden sprawl into the neighbourhood, over verges, objects and objections. Maybe this is the year I will.

Patrice Nganang

My wishes for 2007 are simple and short, and they are a continuation of my long dream: may Africa have the leadership it deserves. A very simple dream, I would say. And I hope to live long enough to see it fulfilled.




Rootgirl Oscarine Latoya Malabele

our greatest thoughts take us back to serene days of birth/ of blowing candles making wishes that have no chance of success/ we conceive hopes and dreams never followed by action/ obese souls hoping to lose kilos while renewing vows with food/ we swear to give birth to riches while hard work is aborted/ hoping half the world is prepared to lose sweat and tears/ in pursuit of its hopes – its dreams and wishes/ hope we sacrifice for a cause worth the breath in our lungs/ dreams eternal in our minds to complete the life we are living

Lesley Pearse

I’m not one for making New Year resolutions – it’s like planning to keep a diary; it fails before I’ve eaten up the remains of the Christmas chocolates. Instead I lapse into fantasy. This year’s is that I am being sent to a hospital where they put me to sleep until March. While I’m unconscious they starve me, give me a tummy tuck and a face lift, and I wake up for spring looking twenty years younger and gorgeous. My hopes for the new year are that I can be more tolerant of stupidity. Mine included.

Arja Salafranca

Having looks that point to my Spanish ancestry, a Spanish surname, and possessing a maroon Spanish passport, it’s time I explored my roots. My cousin’s husband remarked that I must be the only Spaniard with a passport who can’t speak the language. Well, I can’t verify that, but this is a bit of an unusual situation. So, my plans are simple: return to Malaga, the city of my birth, enrol for an intensive four-week Spanish course and learn the language I first heard in my cot. I’ll never lose the South African accent, nor see what or who I would have been had my parents elected to stay in Spain, but I will, finally, understand the stories of my Spanish family without the veil of translation.

Lisemelo Tlale

As the Knife, I’ll find the Freedom of not owning a wristwatch – turn Left for the turns of my Life have little to do with the urgency of a burning pot.

As an Explorer, I’ll move on, in search of the Sultry, the Bittersweet and the Elusive. Office tap-dancing, from yesterweek, seems like child's play – no Fear.

As a Ms Three-and-Three, I pledge not to lament for a "wrestling fanatic, a sinewy theatre adventurer with no fears of uninhibited sexual favours" because Kashiefah and I will come out the other side of this cycle chasing sheep in Badbury Rings!

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

Inside the old year’s belly,
a sphere
floats
light-rimmed,
desultory.

Flailing
possibilities
accuse
the void
aching around it,
compete to
breach its
brazen
fragility;

the victor
buries his promise in the earth,
the future
mutates into flawless creation.

spent sperm fall:
paint the crimson walls with
silent fireworks.

The new diary,
a meadow of potential:
my pencil, a panga
slicing a wild bouquet.



1. "Salutation" was first published in 1913 and later collected in Lustra (Elkin Mathews, 1916).