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A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

Dear Old Me

I miss you. I wish you were here. You’d be so pleased. I’m in my last year of college. I’m not majoring in Media and Management like you wanted me to though. Also, I know Management was your way of making mum happy because that’s what she wanted for you. Well, I don’t make people happy. No, instead I make them very very unhappy. I fight and argue with them all the time because I’m sick and tired of everyone else making decisions about my life. It’s MY life.
I wanted to choose Media and Management. Believe me, I really did! For some reason I was unable to choose that combination so I went with Media and English instead. I thought if journalism didn’t work out I would be a teacher instead and write a novel in my spare time. (Btw, speaking of novels, your second one was rejected too. You took it pretty well though. You didn’t cry).
Anyway, Media was a total bore. I wanted to suffer through it for your sake but like I said before, I don’t do things for other people. Not even you. Besides I was the one who would have to suffer through the classes. I deserved to study something I would enjoy.
So I chose Criminology. Except I’ve recently discovered that to be a Criminologist you need a PhD. I don’t understand why no one mentioned that before. Obviously I’m not going to be a criminologist now since I can neither afford nor do I want to study beyond my three years. English is pretty boring but I love it. It’s so great looking at a piece of literature that makes no sense and then slowly unravelling it piece by piece.
I don’t write as often as you do. I stopped to focus on school. I do however have a blog. I bet that thrills you. You always wanted a blog.
I review books and talk about life as a college student in general.
There’s something you need to know -those petty people you keep complaining about? Yeah the world is full of them. Sorry. So whether you become home-schooled or not you’re still going to have to face them eventually.
But that isn’t why I wrote this letter. I’m writing this letter to tell you how incredible you are. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes but it’s true.
At sixteen you were fearless. You wrote articles and submitted them to any email address you found. I can’t even pitch an idea to anyone because the mere thought terrifies me.
You were eager to get a job and be independent. I applied to three retail positions and cried when I didn’t get any. Yes I cried.
Here’s the thing though- I’ve been through so much shit. Life was easier for you. Your biggest problem was whether you should nap or log onto your social media. You have no idea how cruel the world is. And now I’m cruel too. I’m cynical and jaded. Just thinking of your ridiculous optimistim annoys me. I want to travel back in time and smack you on the head. But that would probably hurt me. Actually no, I think it would totally be worth it.
There’s one more thing you have that I want. You have my dog. You get to see her alive daily and you don’t even appreciate it. Now I’m going to start crying so I’m stopping here (you know she’s not going to be around forever but it doesn’t hurt any less when it is time for her to go).
All this is to say that I miss you, I’m jealous of you and I hate you. You’re annoyingly happy and so very naive. I wish you would have stayed that way. I wish the world hadn’t ruined you.

Sincerely
Me

Advice for Teen Writers

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As a teen I always wanted to share with others what I’ve learnt about writing. Now at twenty (excuse me a minute while I have a small freak-out about my age), I feel I’ve gain enough experience and maturity to offer advice to teen writers. So here I go:

1) A Writer is Someone Who Writes- For the past three years I haven’t written any complete novels. I have however written mediocre and excellent essays, blog posts and online articles. My point is this- you’re not a writer unless you write. You don’t even have to be published. As long as you write you are a writer. (Sorta like how if you kill someone you’re a murderer).

2) Write everything and anything- write whatever you can. Above all, write what makes you happy. This allows you to see what kind of writing you’re good at and what you enjoy. Maybe you’ve got the skills to be the next Enid Blyton. Maybe you’re the next horror movie director. Perhaps you’re just an ordinary teen who hates high school. Bam! You have a novel ready and waiting. Everyone hates high school.

3) Be prepared for rejection- this is very very important. Writers face rejection every day. We have our work rejected by publishers, magazines, etc. I’ve had two of my novels turned down. And while the first novel was horrible, both weren’t turned down because of my writing. They were turned down because there was no market for what I was writing.

4) Haters gonna hate- *sighs* there is no way I can say this without sounding like a conceited ass but I will try. People will discourage you. Be it because of the belief that “writers don’t make much money” (true but I’m assuming you’re writing because you enjoy it) or simply because of jealousy, you’re going to have to deal with people trying to stomp your dreams into pieces. Don’t let them. You do you! (Also if this happens and you need someone to talk to, email me! This is not a joke. I’ve had to put up with this for years. Sadly it doesn’t get better).

5) Write Online- The internet is your friend. It makes publishing super-easy. You can submit work to websites, publish ebooks or fanfiction and start a blog to display all your work. Starting a blog also allows you to have a collection of pieces to show off. Ta-da you’re a writer with published pieces. Good for you!

6) Write Often- I’m not going to say everyday because that’s going to be difficult. However it is incredibly important that you write regularly. I stopped writing during eleventh grade to focus on school. It took me two years to start again. So write. Write on napkins, on your phone, on the cover of your Maths book. Just write.

7) Live- this is very very important. Do not lock yourself up in your room to write 24/7. Yes it’s fun to escape into another world but you NEED the real world. How else would you gain experience and ideas for your stories? While I regret my two year hiatus from writing, some of my greatest memories and plotlines were drawn from that time.

Lastly and most importantly- okay equally important as living- be sure to have fun. Writing doesn’t have to be serious. In fact it’s better if it’s not. Trust me, college has enough serious writing waiting for you. Have fun with your writing. It’s an entire world that you created. It’s almost magical.

Why You Should Try for Eight Hours of Sleep a Night

I did an article for Her Campus where I tried sleeping for eight hours each night. You can find the article here.
Since completing that experiment I strongly believe in eight hours of sleep a night. It makes waking up in the mornings easier, I find myself more prepared to work than nap at campus. Now I’m not saying that I don’t nap because the truth is that I’m incredibly lazy and yes I do need my naps.
But instead of being unbearably tired and unable to function, I know it’s simply the effort of travelling to campus (I leave home at 6AM) that makes me tired. I am able to do the work I need to do and I don’t fall asleep in class(something I’ve had a serious problem with in the past).
That being said, if for some reason you absolutely cannot make it for eight hours, keeping a regular bedtime is just as good. Your body adjusts and starts to realise when it should be getting ready to sleep and when it should wake up.
Have you ever tried sleeping eight hours a night?

Why Your Blog Needs a Business Plan

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Whether you’re blogging for fun or to make some extra cash, you NEED a business plan. It’s like a road map for your blog and it’s so helpful!

Why I Created a Business Plan
The first person to take my blog seriously was my uncle. He was also the one who suggested I draw a business plan. I thought he was crazy because why did I need a business plan? Except I did. My blog was a mixture of book reviews, college posts, fashion and me ranting about stuff. My blog needed direction. Creating a business plan helped me decide precisely what I wanted out of my blog. As a result I was rewarded with greater opportunities and page views.

Why You Should Create a Business Plan Too
Creating a business plan allows you to see where your blog is and where you want it to go.
By writing everything down you’re able to see if there’s any gaps or mistakes you’ve made and how to rectify them. My business plan allowed me to see that I knew nothing about stock photos and if I really wanted to be taken seriously as a blogger, I needed more content and less “me using my blog as a diary”.
I strongly suggest that you create a plan regularly to ensure that you’re on track with your plan. I revise my business plan every three months just to keep it fresh and relevant.
The business plan of someone blogging for fun will obviously differ from the plan of someone blogging to make money but you can see how to create a business plan here

Why You Gotta Be So Rude

At the start of the year, my resolution was to be the biggest pain in the ass that I could be. Now that sounds odd but let me explain why.
For as long as I could remember, I’ve had to deal with people who are rude or mean and I’m expected to be the bigger person. I’m supposed to just let them say what they want to me and it’s okay.
I can’t stand having people tell me how they think I should live my life since for most of my life I’ve had family doing that for me. So when people come around being like “you should do xyz” it upsets me. Here’s the thing though- it’s never to help me.
Take for example my uncle who’s helped me set up my blog. His words were “you should get a domain”. Why did I listen to him? Because he spoke to me like an adult and never forced me to get a domain. There was no “you should get a domain because no one would take you seriously as a blogger” (which is true but I know certain people who would say that in a totally condescending way).
All this is to say that I don’t do well with people telling me what to do when they’re using a condescending tone. I generally don’t do well with people telling me what to do but the condescending tone just worsens it. Anyone on one such occasion when someone decided to be both mean to me and tell me what to do, I snapped.
Sure it wasn’t that person’s fault (though God knows I was furious) that they were unable to articulate themselves in a polite, non-condescending way or that I was now fed up of people telling me what to do(I’m turning 21- Can I not make my own decisions?).
But my response to that person’s rudeness was that I simply walked out the room whenever they entered it and I refused to speak to them for weeks.
Except here’s the thing, while my family supported me in my anger with that person which made me feel better, I would go home every night and cry.
I felt horrible for treating someone like that. It was just so cruel.
And yet this is someone who had always picked on me over and over again. In my mind I thought they deserved my anger. They also didn’t know I was angry or if they did, they didn’t care. But it didn’t stop me from feeling like shit.
So I caved. Out of the blue I made a comment one day to the person. I remember reading somewhere that you can’t control how someone treats you but you can control how you react.
Sure I had family that agreed that my feelings were justified and that made me feel better. But being rude and petty didn’t sit well with me.
Yes I would love to be an ass to everyone who is an ass to me. But I can’t.
Honestly I don’t even know how they do it. I tried for one day to get back at someone and all I accomplished was making myself cry. I have no idea how people like that sleep at night.
How do you deal with people who are rude for no reason?

An Open Letter to Drivers Everywhere

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This video has recently come to my attention. It shows a driver who tries to intimidate another vehicle off the road and ends up almost causing an accident. Here’s why the video pisses me off:
I have a eighteen-year-old cousin who’s missing out on his first semester at college because he was involved in an accident. I would gladly give anything and everything to not have him in such a position or even for the whole thing to be his fault- atleast that way I can say that he deserves it. But it isn’t.
A bakkie driver overtook a bus and hit my cousin’s car. My cousin was unconscious while his best friend, the passenger seated in the front was dead on impact.
For a long, painful week, my family and I waited uncertain of his condition. He woke up soon after the accident but was unable to stop shaking. His jaw was broken as well as his neck. His heart was bruised and there was a bleed in his brain.
All these injuries simply because someone chose to overtake on a road without being able to see if his way was clear or not.
My cousin is recovering from his jaw surgery but it frustrates me that he’s so badly injured and has lost his friend over such a silly mistake.
I would love to blame the bakkie driver and a part of me does(especially since he was unlicensed, drove with fake number plates and his family insists on spreading the word that it was my cousin’s fault). But the thing is that this is a mistake anyone could make. To me it seems like common sense to NOT overtake a vehicle if you can’t see the oncoming lane. Apparently it isn’t the same to everyone else. I know this because everytime I stop behind a vehicle and am unable to overtake because I can’t see the next lane, I have people honk at me impatiently or just overtake.
When you drive a car, you’re using a vehicle that may or may not hurt others around you. It’s for that reason that people need to learn how to drive, go for a driving test and learn the rules of the road. Driving is no small thing. It can actually be really dangerous. I spent about R4000 on learning to drive. I had 40 lessons for six months because I knew I didn’t want to be a danger on the road. When I took my driving test, I wanted to know what I was doing.
So it amazes me how easily people take these risks. You can kill someone with your impatience. And it literally would not kill you to drive with caution and not take risks.
We’re supposed to learn the rules of the road for a reason. We’re also supposed to obey those rules. It isn’t fair that lives are lost, people are injured or property is damaged simply because of some recklessness.

YA Fantasy Giveaway

Rachel Morgan is having a giveaway for the following books:

Throne of Glass, by Sarah J Maas
Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

Interested?  Enter the competition here

Writing Wednesday: Meeting with my Ex-Jerk

I took this piece from the old Playground of Randomness site:

Her face is alight with a huge smile. Her eyes are brighter, glowing mischievously. Dressed in the usual skinnies and boots instead of the short dresses, she looks exactly like she did a year ago. Dark hair left opening and flowing, the usual denim book bag slung across her shoulder, Blackberry in the hand… You can’t really see the changes unless you look really close. There’s moments when she tenses, when the smile fades and her brows furrow into a frown. Those moments are when you see the girl that he’s changed her into. The broken, fragile pieces start to show through the cracks. She doesn’t bother to look his way- another thing that hasn’t changed. She’s chatty and bright, speaking to everyone but him. He returns the favor, not looking her way. He stays with his friends and she stays with hers. No one messes up that balance. And yet, despite the distance(or maybe because of it) she doesn’t seem to care. She looks good, happier; more carefree. You wouldn’t think that she had had her heart broken. You wouldn’t know that she still hurts despite the facade she puts on. But then again, that’s what she wants you to think. She has always been a master manipulator and this time is no exception.

Senior Year: Day One

I swore this would be a strictly content and nothing about me blog but of course that hasn’t lasted long. It’s the first day of my senior year of college. I’m freaking out. I don’t know what to expect. My distraction in the meanwhile is my gorgeous nails which I painted with Essence magnetic nail polish. I believe if you have great nails you can take on the world (or just have great-looking nails).

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