My writing career

I could read and write before I went to school. From a very early age I devoured everything that I could read. I liked to write rhymes (some of them may pass as child poetry).

We grew up on a farm, where money was a luxury. To earn pocket money, I wrote poems and short essays for the children's column of the local quaterly newsletter of the agricultural co-operation that my father belonged to. I also wrote a sequel for them and I earned 50 cents per "episode". That was a lot of money for a kid in those days! The sequel dealt with young heroes who caught "dagga" smugglers on their grand father's farm during a school holiday. It is a pity that I do not have copies of those pieces any more. 

During my teens, I would get a story in my head, and each night, before I fell asleep, would play out the story in my head: chapter by chapter. I never wrote those "novels" down, but can recall the story lines. One in particular was about a farm attack. Even in those days, I think, we already sensed lurking danger for South African farmers. Today I realize that this "teenage" story concept laid dormant for years in my sub-conscious mind and re-emerged in an altered way in "Vonkelwyn".

Over my life time, I wrote many things ranging from pure nonsense to winning first prize for senior scholars in the National Festival of English 1970 with an essay titled "The Vision of the Poet". In my final year at school I wrote a play titled "Honderd Een en Twintig Heilige Woorde". The play was staged at a local festival in Bloemhof on December 16, 1971. Hertzog prize winner, Sangiro (A A Pienaar) congratulated me on the script, and encouraged me to keep on writing. 

However, I decided on a scientific career an ended up with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pretoria, majoring in Mathematics and Chemistry. My love for literature nevertheless motivated me to complete English on first year level as extra-curricular subject. I felt honoured when the Head of the English Department, Prof Sabbagha, commented that I had a "natural talent for literature" and encouraged me to try not to neglect it whilst I pursue my scientific career. 

2012 is a year of big changes in my life. My children are all grown-up and independent. I now can sell our family home to settle in a smaller place where I can finally focus on starting a writing career.  I know it will not be an easy road,, but I look forward to the challenge. My first small step back into literature is to complete a course in the writing of children's books under the able mentorship of Janie Oosthuizen. At the same time I am working hard to complete a technical book on Traditional Longhair cats.