When I was 11 years old I took my first shot at writing a novel. I managed a solid 40 pages before abandoning my masterpiece forever more. I have always dreamed of writing a book, but have never managed to complete the task. I suppose I am too much of a perfectionist.
That is why when South African author Jacob Dlamini said to me: “If you find a perfect book, you should be suspicious”, I realised where I had gone wrong.
One may always strive to write perfection, but at the end of the day, perfection will always remain unobtainable. Language is just not suited to it.
The award-winning creator of Native Nostalgia said this in a half-an-hour Q&A session with my class of third year writers on Monday. Despite his incredible success, and the enormous intellect he is, which becomes obvious as soon as he starts talking, he is surprisingly casual and approachable. He makes a point to ask the names of anyone asking him a question, in order to facilitate a conversation rather than a monologue.
He is a natural storyteller, sharing anecdote after anecdote with the class, be it abotut he time he wasn’t allowed to take a pen or notepad with him when interviewing Eugene de Kock in jail, or about his early career as an apprentice. Through all of this he was able to depart knowledge and advise invaluable for an aspiring young writer.
“What is important is to know what you want to write, and to communicate,” he told us. But the most necessary quality of all in creating a book, he said, is obsession.
It is time for me to renew my obsession with writing. It is time for me to write my book. Quite simply, I aspire to one day be like Jacob Dlamini.