In pursuance of my obsession to learn more about the writing craft, hours are spent in relative silence hunched over my laptop with my reliable friend Mr G. Mr Google. He and I appear face to face and then he greets me with his little blue circling google dance and we wait to see what he comes up with . It reminds me a little of those slot machines I saw for the first time at Sun City years ago when Bophuthatswana was still a place on our map, the ones which would irregularly align the jackpot bar amongst sevens, lemons and cherries and occasionally some coins would rattle out the mouth, proclaiming you a winner.
Of the things Mr G and I engage in is ‘writer’s retreats’. There are a fair number of these and to add to their allure and romanticism, they’re never a hop and skip away from where we toil, Mr G and me. There are some scattered seclusions around Magaliesburg or Joburg, the odd one perhaps in MacGregor but none that I know of in Cape Town. Uh uh. No. They sprout up in places like Fiji (the furthest possible place from Cape Town) and Tuscany and Bali spewing ‘oh by- the- way’ pictures of writing with cocktails on sunset beaches, or lunch time sessions shaded by beautiful green canopies of shade.
They seem frequently dotted around the US and England or in places like Venice and Paris. You know? The little round table on the pavement, the sign ‘Boulangerie’ strategically visible on the wall behind. Makes my tummy ache.
And then they lure you in further accompanied by the words, ‘New York Times Best Selling Author invites you to join her on her next retreat…’ and I’m thinking, what part of my aging body can put to good use somewhere, anywhere, to accumulate some funds? The Rand is going to hell, I’m not getting any younger and it’s about the closest I’m about gonna get at the moment to the Big Apple. I might as well give it a try.
I’m kidding. I guard my body jealously but don’t the words ‘New York Times Best Selling Author’ just hit the sweet spot, every time?
I open my mail the other day and one of these people is hitting Cape Town. What do you know? So, Mr G and I click on ‘currency converter’ intermittently and I concede that okay, the week- long one’s gonna dent the budget big time and the weekend one is pretty pricey too so I book for just a leetle leetle one hour session and sort the payment ( and pray that my kid’s tennis shoes last another month) and watch the Rand collapse. But then the details change and only those who book for the whole one can attend the half one or even the one hour one that I booked and can I re-consider and I say I can’t and there’s a week-long worth of admin to get the payment refunded and emails are exchanged and a week passes and I send another email to clarify some confusion and I get a response with ‘oh, incidentally , did you know about the sponsorship programme’ and I send in my five best pages of writing (which I think are still way way into the future but whatever) and suddenly …
I’m going on a weekend writer’s retreat. With a New York Times Best Seller. In Cape Town.
So whaddoyousay to that huh?