The End of The Road

Writing and I have a love- hate bittersweet type of relationship. Half the time I cannot stand writing because it he hurts me so much. Somehow, writing manages to be that manipulative and emotionally abusive boyfriend who, in a passive way, manages to make me insecure and doubt myself.

However, whilst stripping me of my confidence, writing also has a way of making me feel liberated and happy, he sometimes gives me a feeling of emancipation. After he has stolen a few minutes of my time in a day, I feel like a completely different me, but in a good way. The cycle is never- ending though. No sooner than he puts a smile on my face, he rips my heart out and crushes it before my very eyes. Writing hurts my feelings by making me feel like I am not good enough.

The most puzzling thing about writing well, is not knowing whether you are doing it right. I know that there are no set instructions for how to write, and that is what frustrates me the most. Anyone can write, the challenge is how to write well. I thought that by the end of this year I would at least have a clue about what it takes to be a good writer.

I am generally a woman of principle, in many respects. In the academic context, what I find to work best for me is: to give me the task, give me an overview of the expected standard and which principles to follow. I will then carry out the task to the best of my ability, my performance will be assessed using set criteria.

The beauty of knowing what the criteria and standards of an assignment ought to be, is that you know exactly what is expected of you. Honestly it helps give direction. However, the set- back of constantly being told what to do is that one is given no freedom to do what one enjoys. As a course having one of the most flexible systems, I can commend the Writing and Editing course for allowing students the freedom of choice.

If I were to truly reiterate what the course has meant to me, I would refer back to a post I wrote on my blog “Dear Diary” about “What it Means to be A Writer”.

To me, writing is not a trivial activity but a cure for emotional baggage. The words of American writer, Solotaroff make sense to me when he says that writing is not necessarily a matter of talent.
Journal writing is one way of curing one’s emotional baggage. Writing my feelings in my journal proved to be a cathartic experience. The reason I enjoy writing in my journal is because I am not writing for anyone. I have no anticipation of criticism and judgement.

Writing has shown itself to be a gift not only to me but also to the world in the sense that it teaches people and it keeps them informed. If I could take something which helped me and use it to help the world, then why not be a writer?
As a high school pupil, I hated writing merely because I was terrible at it. My lack of writing skill made me question the whole point of writing. What I could not understand was, how on earth could a person make a career out of such a trivial activity? Most importantly, the main question I wondered about was what is good writing?
My high school English teacher, Mrs Peverette introduced me to Ernest Hemingway. Subsequently, I enjoyed his novels. When reading his work, I would experience the same feelings of alertness, curiosity and creative thought; the kind of feelings elicited by Roald Dhal in a young Zinhle. Hemingway still inspires me. I would love be able to do what he had done in my own writing as well. Of course I realised that not everyone has to be an Ernest Hemingway writer. Although I enjoy his work, but I am not him. I have to be Zinhle.

As a journalism student, my challenges with writing carried all throughout first year of university. But second year changed everything. Perhaps that had something to do with my tutor and my lecturer. Suddenly my marks improved. Oddly, I began to enjoy writing. I enjoyed it so much that I started keeping a journal and eventually, I abandoned the idea of TV and I chose to write.

I find my inspiration to write well from Ernest Hemingway who once said that “there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I am happy to say that it has indeed worked for me because I have written my best stories by letting my heart bleed through the ink in my pen. Being a writer means that you can share your work with the world, if you choose to be an author. Being a writer also means that you can educate the world by writing about what they need to know and being a journalist. There is more to writing than what people think, it can serve a variety of useful purposes, I know that now. The Writing and Editing course helped me come to this realisation.

When I first applied for Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, my idea of being a journalist was to be the voice of the people. Helping those who cannot help themselves, and holding politicians accountable. All of that changed over the years. Instead, I find myself asking one question, what exactly I would do with this qualification. I found that this question bothered me the most this year as I feel that I have not learnt any particular skill in the Writing and Editing Class. The majority of the things we have been taught are not new to us, we are a technological generation that is very familiar with ‘tweeting’ and blogging. In all honesty on many occasions I have been filled with regret. I have imagined how different things could have been if I took TV journalism, design, radio or photography. The reason for all this second guessing is that I do not feel complete in this course. If someone were to ask me which skills I have learnt in this course, I would not have an honest answer to give besides, no not really.

The Mail and Guardian says that university is supposed to have a purpose, a meaning behind the madness. It’s supposed to give you not just life skills but training that will allow you to become a productive member of the workforce. Do I feel that this course has one that for me? No. I do think however, that it has shown me what I cannot live with. Uncertainty. Perhaps there was uncertainty on the assessor’s part too. What began as a flexible environment of choice, later became a system of mandatory criteria. This would not be a challenge had the powers that be decided which direction to take early enough and communicated it to the students. Instead requirements were communicated halfway through a short fourth term, many students found themselves under pressure and short of time as a result of what seems like a “split decision”. This applies to both the personal and beat blogs. Delay was also a challenge when it came to uploading my stories on the beat blog, I had two stories waiting to be uploaded by the necessary administrator who insisted I get a particular angle out of the subjects. Unfortunately, the subjects were unwilling or perhaps unable to schedule another meeting, which I understand because they are extremely busy individuals. In light of that, I do not understand why I was urged to constantly bother the two ladies any further for what seemed like three to four weeks, while my stories sat in a DFS folder. It was demotivating, and I personally felt it was unnecessary. We cannot control the sources’ schedules nor can we force them to do something which they are unable or unwilling to do.

When Muncey said making meaning is not static, it cannot be measured, but it’s meaningful, and human behaviour is generated and informed by this meaningfulness. It is almost as if she was preparing me for what is to come this year. I know now that I found no meaning in the course. For this reason, I thought that there was nothing worthwhile which I learned. And as Muncey says, my behaviour was informed by this lack of meaningfulness. What had happened with my beat stories in the beginning of the term was a very demotivating start. I believe the experience affected my approach to the course later on.

In terms of the personal blog, I struggled with having too much choice. It led to uncertainty about what exactly I should write about, the style in which I wrote, and the subject matter of the beat itself. However, even though it was difficult to decide what to blog about at first, I learned to write for me, and thus became more comfortable with my writing.

Taking away all the negativity, I must say that at least I have found my own voice as a writer. Typically, in first and second year we were told how to write as a journalist, that was to say write objectively and your voice should not be heard. It was the opposite this year. I was nervous at first because I was not a confidant writer, this all changed this year.

As amateur writers, we pick up a few tips from well known, talented writers whom we consider experts at writing. However, the reality is that we are all different. We cannot all write the same, just as we cannot all think in the same manner. If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that I need to work at making my writing flow more and to not be afraid to explore ideas in more depth. I guess one could say I tease my readers to much and do not show them enough. I have walked away from this experience feeling puzzled. Am I a bad writer, or is it this course which was insufficient? When it comes to writing, I guess at the end of the day it is a question of whether you have it in you or not.

At least after all the madness, pressure and confusion which I experienced all for the sake of Writing and Editing, I get to walk away with a credit and hopefully a degree.

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The Devil is a Liar

BIBLE BLOG

“‘How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the LORD,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?
Jeremiah 8:8

This is a verse a friend of mine recently brought to my attention. I think it poses a very good question, one that has been lingering in my mind for a while now. I am not very good at expressing my feelings. Even though writing usually helps me deal with my feelings, most of the time I have a hard time actually putting my feelings into words.

For those of you who perhaps figured it out from my ‘apology’ post, I have been having a hard time these couple of months. I do not exactly know what to call it, whether it is depression, fatigue or just plain laziness, I really do not know. All I know is that I have been struggling to cope. I found myself more frequently in bed guzzling down a bottle of dry red and having a lot of take out. I think the main reason for my episode of feeling defeated has to do with the fact that I needed answers and I was not getting any.

I have always wanted to be a successful person in life, I wanted to enjoy life and be as happy as can be. However, I found this more and more difficult to do when I could not even figure out what the point to life actually is. Why have I spent the last 14 years and 20 months in school, is life not meant to be lived? I just began to question everything. Although I do not exactly know what triggered it, I do know that the root of it all was the question of religion.

I was raised Christian, and although my parents were not the type to shove religion down my throat, as an adolescent I happily followed suite because Christianity is all I have ever known. During my episode of, depression, or whatever it was, I questioned religion. Particularly Christianity. As a Christian, I personally have not read the Bible back to back like most, I actually have not read the Bible at all. Perhaps I have always questioned its content, or perhaps my parents did not motivate me enough lie other people’s parents. I don’t know why I did not read it, I just did not.

More recently, I found myself looking at the Bible and wondering where it came from and why I am told to believe what is written in it. I found that to be my biggest problem with religion. The idea that we should take what someone has written as truth, without there being any proof thereof. I guess that is the biggest problem with writing. At least these days we are told what is based on real events and what is fictional. However, even from those texts which are allegedly a recollection of reality, we cannot possibly take everything as truth. It is known that it is human nature to spice things up in order to make a book a hit, or autobiography whatever the case may be. My biggest issue was not knowing which version to believe, the Islamic, Buddhist, or Jewish version? We cannot deny that religion is based on similar ideas which have taken on different forms. Which one of these versions is the closest reflection of the actual truth?

Although I am not the most religious person around- I do not go to church much if at all, and I have never read the bible- I do strongly believe in a higher power though. For someone who enjoys reading, one book which I have not yet brought myself to pick up and read is the Bible, and to be completely honest I feel no urgency to do so. I know, for someone who believes in God, the first and only book I should believe in the most is the Bible, but that’s not the case really. I just believe in God, and I am sure all the people involved in writing the Bible did a very good job. Well done to them. I am sure God will tell me all the stories in the Bible when I meet Him one day.

Black Jesus 1

Cool Story Bro

“You do journalism and law, don’t you get tired of reading?”

Academic writing1

When a friend of mine asked me this question over a meal at supper, my first instinct was to defend the art of writing by replying with a firm, no. I know how tough it is for writers to get people to care about reading, because if people do not care about reading then who are they writing for? There would be no point to writing.

His obvious disdain for too much writing made me wonder why he hated it so much and how many other people despised written texts as much as he does. What I misunderstood however, was that he had nothing against the art of writing itself, he had done too much reading in his life and I suppose he was beginning to grow tired of it. Upon self-reflection I realised, that I do in deed get tired of reading. I suddenly began to notice how, as a journalism student, I avoided reading articles and preferred to listen to the news instead. When reading textbooks and other school related texts, I noticed that I was in a rush for the writer to get to the point so I can extract from the reading whatever is important or necessary. Now is that not being tired of reading? I think it is.

bored baby

I do not feel bad for being tired of reading, even though I am a writing and editing student. I think academic writing falls into a whole other category on its own. The best description I can give about academic writing is: it is an educated person in a particular subject who wants to tell you more about the subject, in a way which makes them sound smart so as to ensure that you take them seriously, even if it means they write in circles and bore you to death. That is academic writing for you, now all other writing which is not academic writing can be described as an art. Academic writing is not an art, it is merely the regurgitation of learned facts. Hence I am not the slightest bit offended when people hate it so much. Heck, I am tired of it too.

Academic writing 2

The Art of Make- up

Most people associate make- up with vanity and being superficial. for some, make- up is a form of art. Stace Scallan is an art major at Rhodes University who, along with her many other talents, loves to show case her talent of applying make- up. Jade Kebbie and Jarryd Munslow were her canvas today.

Jade Kebbie was the first to be made up:
“If I’m going to be totally honest, I think I am awesome. For a long time I struggled with my skin and all that stuff and eventually you just get to that stage where either you accept the things you don’t like about yourself and you learn to love them, or you get depressed.”

Jade1

Jade: “Do my eye- lashes look burnt to you? I was freaking out about [them] the other day”.

Jade3

“Sometimes I get pissed at my eyebrows, sometimes I have a bad nose day you know, like most people.”

Jade2

Make up artist Stace Scallann says she always starts with a little bit of base, she uses BB cream to ensure that it “doesn’t hide the natural beauty underneath, so you can still see her freckles” and it is softer on the skin she says.

Jade4

“I’m so bad at make- up. I’m such a girl, I love nails, I love fashion, I love shoes I love everything, but when it comes to make- up.”

Jarryd went into the whole experience blind, but in the end he was glad he did it:
“This is fun, I only have a 2000 word essay due, but hey, we all have that orb. Oooh, do I get to choose my [eye shaddow colour too]?”
Unfortunately Jarryd did not get to choose his own eyeshadow, but he still looked as beautiful as ever. He enjoyed his new hair too.

Jarryd 1

Stace uses a lighter colour on the eyes as well which she says is more of a base tone.
just by the way I’m going to be putting false eye lashes on you [Jarryd]

Jarryd 2

To accentuate the features Stace recommends making the inner parts of the eye lid [the parts next to the nose] darker, and the outer parts lighter.

Jarryd proper

“So what is being applied to my face?”

Stace used foundation on Jarryd instead BB cream. Foundation is a little bit thicker than BB cream, it would probably be a better option to use on Jarryd’s bearded face in order to achieve a more feminine look. Foundation makes the skin stand out more.

“So now when girls talk about make- up I can offer my comments.”
Jarryd reminds me that he feels fine with his appearance, he just chose to do this for the experience because I asked him to. I hunted Jade on down on a Grahamstown Facebook page and she was willing to part- take.

Jarryd last

Jarryd personally enjoys costume parties, with no make- up involved, because there are no limits. his best memory was attending a “no clothes” party, he attended it in a cardboard box around the most private parts of his body.

My opinion on the end results, I think the best part about Jades’ look are her eyes. I particularly loved Jarryd’s pouty lips.

My Relationship With Reading

Cat in the Hat

The first time I remember reading a book was when I was in grade 2 and we were forced to rotate between Arts and Crafts and the reading book. I can still vividly remember the cover of the book I picked up, it had a long, slender cat wearing a distinctive red and white hat. The book was by Dr Seuss’ ‘The Cat in the Hat’. I would re-read the book everyday for about a month and eventually my teacher encouraged me to be more adventurous and try and read another book. Reluctant to read anything else for fear that all the other books would be inferior to ‘The Cat in the Hat’, my teacher eventually persuaded me to try another book from Dr Seuss. I cannot remember the name of the book, but I do remember enjoying reading the book. I read Dr Seuss books exclusively for the rest of the year.

By the time I was ten we were required to read Dick-King Smith’s ‘Babe’. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would create mental images of what I imagined to be happening in my head. Naturally, I went through a Dick-King Smith phase and would read all his books available to me. In grade 6 my English class read ‘The Hobbit’. I enjoyed the fantasy world of goblins and wizards and I found reading novels about fantasy worlds incredibly entertaining. Around this time I discovered Meg Cabot and read most of the books written by her including ‘The Princess Diaries’ series and her series for teenage readers. After the Meg Cabot phase and a small fascination with chick lit, my reading habits progressed to Mizz Magazine, Seventeen and whatever other teenage focused publication I could get my hands on.

By the time I got to university I was reading as little as one book a year. Only recently I picked up “Ways of Staying” by Kevin Bloom, I’m told it is a good read. Even though the first time I picked up a book was not out of my own will, I can say it is the only occasion forced upon me which I am grateful for.

Why the system is such a fail

So I tried this publishing platform called storify, I think it’s really cool. It let’s you tell a story using visual content found anywhere on the internet.

This is embarrassing so please don’t judge, I am not the most “tech savy” person out there. The story was done probably about a month ago and as it turns out, my Dear Diary followers (if any) cannot automatically see the story once published, so here is the link. Enjoy. https://storify.com/Z808/why-high-school-sucks-and-what-makes-uni-better

Reading in University

Book2

Gone are the days when reading was pleasurable. Here are the endless readings and analyses being shoved down ones throat as if one cannot watch a documentary and gain the same information.

University makes reading so boring. While in school, particularly in primary school, being forced into reading was actually quite enjoyable. Yes, the stories were fun and exciting, so I enjoyed reading. Now, I would much rather stare at all wall than read half the things I am forced to read all in the name of education. Why read confusing articles when I can just watch a documentary on a particular subject, I’ve always loved documentaries. I think the biggest issue I have with academic writing is that unnecessarily big words are used to make a very simple point which can very well be articulated in simple terms, I mean are these writers trying to make sure that we do not understand a thing? Secondly, there is no imagery involved, it’s all nothing but words on a page, and did I mention that it’s confusing?

The bottom line is, I am a technological age kind of gal. When I pick up a text to read, it better be interesting or I would much rather be on my computer watching stuff or on my phone texting. It is what we do after all. What I would like though is some time off the boring university readings so I can read the pile of 8 unread books that have now sadly become part of the furniture. Who knew books could make for good decorations? Well, now you know.

Books 1