Saving our Country!

Last night I spent the evening speaking to the counsellors at LifeLine here in Johannesburg. It was such an honour to be invited and an amazing audience. They gave me truly a wonderful evening. We will do it again. And I’m busting to tell you all about it.


But today was not the day for talking about me, or my books, or my mission. Today was a chance to protest. To stand up for the millions of people in this beautiful country who were freed over twenty years ago, only to have so many of those freedoms denied by a new dictator.

Our country says NO!
We say it’s time to go Zuma!

Your reign is over!

We don’t want you for our President!

Nelson Mandela would be devastated.

This is NOT what he fought so hard for!
What a great day we had! We had so many protest options, and we mulled over them all. It would have been cool to go to some of the biggest. But in the end, we decided that they aren’t great places for wheelchairs, and if things turned ugly, I can’t get away fast or protect myself.

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And so we picked the protest run by our church. It’s at the corner of a massive intersection and there is a tonne of space to stand. 200 people is not a lot in the whole scheme of the rallies and protests around the country, but boy, did we do our thing! And the noise from the cars honking in support was huge! And the feeling of standing in unity in a multiracial, multitalented group (yeah, sorry for the stereotyping there but white people can’t sing or chant like black people can 😂 but that’s not a reason to stay home) and stand up for our beautiful country!

What a privilege and what a day! Because we are a God loving church we also prayed. Together. In our different languages, which in and of itself was beautiful. Lots of tears, so much love!


200 isn’t a lot but we were just the afternoon slot, there were people out all day. And there were groups at all the major intersections.

I am praying hard that we can get rid of our president and show the world that it’s possible!

***

As a side note, if you are going to have a car accident, doing so in the middle of an intersection with 200 witnesses, many of whom have cameras rolling, is not a bad place to have it (when you are the innocent one).

This poor delivery guy on a motorbike was collected by a car going the other way. In an instant, dozens of people dropped placards, stopped traffic, and as the fuel tank gushed its contents my hubby and a bunch of others moved him well clear. He was able to walk (amazingly) but they called an ambulance anyway, moved the motorbike off the road. This guy could not have had more love, help or support! 😊

 

Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 

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Growing Facebook

Facebook Campaign-2

One thing I hate doing is self-promotion. Blowing one’s own trumpet has never sat well with me. But in the current world, we have little choice even if we aren’t selling anything! To build a community of any kind, we need to advertise and ask and shout and put ourselves in front of people, otherwise, they just don’t see us. So I am going to be brave again this week and ask for support. I need to grow my Facebook followers. If they grow then my “online presence” grows and my updates are more likely to appear on newsfeeds. It is a never ending circus, but I have no choice. So if you would like to help, then please follow, share my posts, leave comments, and if nothing else, please share this post.

All new Facebook followers and all who sign on HERE for my monthly newsletter will go into the draw to win a signed copy of MY BOOK. So please help get the word out there today! Thanks!

To follow, share, support etc: My Facebook = https://www.facebook.com/JPeaSmith/

Or any of these links: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 

A New Voice in my Head!

img_5205-1There is a new voice in my head, and it’s a good one. First, there were all the people in my life who tried to tell me “You can’t write that!!!” “How dare you write that!!!” “You will regret this young lady” and so on, and so on. I have pretty much dealt with them, thanks to Social Media and the almost steady stream of comments like “Tell your story!” “If they didn’t want you to write about them then they should have behaved better” and the like.

There are other reasons that I am able to mostly silence those voices, but that is for another day. For now, my latest concern is that Social Media is also awash with experts, and not all of them are on the same page. “Publish like this” “Publish like that” “You shouldn’t use this voice” “You can’t use that voice” … AAAHHHH!!!

But a couple of weeks ago I signed on for four sessions with a writing coach. No, coaches ain’t cheap, but the thing is, she is a bit of a veteran in the publishing world and she doesn’t know me from a bar of soap. She is a total stranger and she reads my work in the same way that someone buying my book will. She knows nothing of my history, my imperfections, my excuses.

I was a little worried that I would not be able to remember all the rules that she will teach me, that I will not be able to stick to all that she teaches me, but as I have been writing the last few days (and I have written a lot, she inspires me!) I would find myself asking how Brooke would respond if she were reading it. She is the new voice in my head. I have no doubt that she isn’t perfect, but so far she is more reliable than those who love me and want my writing to be good.

I am only half way through these sessions and already I can hear her voice in my head telling me to rewrite a paragraph, to tell it differently. The changes are both significant and meaningful, yet it is still my voice. She is giving me new roots for all the writing ahead and this is changing the course of the way that I express myself. I write memoirs and the story hasn’t changed, but the way that I tell it has. And if the next two sessions produce as much fruit as the first two, then watch out Authory world, here I come!

Inspiring Others?

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To be honest, I don’t feel inspirational. And I am not sure that I actually do ever inspire people, but as I find my voice and begin using it out loud I starting to hear this word used more and more often and in the context of me! That used to freak me out a lot and I am not sure that it will ever sit well with me, but I have learned to become a little more comfortable with it since I reminded myself that we are all just ordinary people really. That when ordinary people do things that other people would love to do, that makes them inspiring. I will never climb Mount Everest and nor do I have even the smallest inclination to either climb or rise above others in any kind of way. But I do want to have an impact on people who walk next to me day to day. It is these people who inspire me the most and I am pleased that I can sometimes do the same for them.

Finding my voice isn’t just about writing, it is about saying what is on my heart and being prepared to now and then be the only one who says what everyone else appears to be thinking. Not in a rude or arrogant way. But I have noticed that when people tell me that I inspire them it is never because I did anything huge, it is simply that I spoke my truth. And often, that truth that I speak appears to be the truth shared by others.

First go at Prompt Writing!

Ok, so this is a first for me, normally I sit down at my laptop, my soul and fingers go for it … and I hitch along for the ride to see what happens (well not quite, but I am rarely at a loss for what to say and it seems to come quite naturally, no doubt from having a stifled “voice” most of life, it is now making up for lost time). So this is an interesting exercise for me! The idea is to see this prompt from Liz “TheWritingReader“… and write about it. I have never written anything in my life other than non fiction and from my own perspective so this is going to be very interesting and can you tell that I am putting it off as long as I can? But I want to do this, I really do. It will be a great exercise …I think.. I have NO idea what I am going to even say!

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Everything about this image makes me want to go inside. It makes me want to know what is within, what stories it holds and who lived there … not who now lives there for it feels as though when I open that door the room will be physically empty. Empty but for the stories in the walls, the floors, the fire place …for I feel sure that there is a fireplace. Who lived here, cried here, made love here and fell in love here? Who hurt and who bled, who breathed their first or their last breath here? Who owned the dreams that were made, shared, won and lost?

And which outweighed the other? Was it a happy home filled with children and love, community and success, or was it a place of pain and loneliness, lost dreams and broken hearts. Did those who lived here carry their burdens heavily and drag themselves through a miserable life or where their yokes shared well and their miseries few?

In the very beginning, who painted those walls and carved those stairs?  Who added metal bars and why? What colour was that door when it was brand new? …For once upon a time that door was very much brand new, as were those stairs and walls and windows. They were someone’s dream, someone’s creation. Were they proud of what they built and bought and moved into, or was it a compromise, a “scaling down”, a rent they could barely afford which would never be theirs? Was it all they every dreamt of or was it what they had to settle for?

There is nothing left now but darkness and cold, empty walls and scratched bare floors. But each and every one of those scratches and marks, those worn through patches and shiny scuff marks, ..tells a story. A story of a person with a beating heart and a rich deep soul. A soul that belonged to a life… a life that was either well lived, badly fought for, or a mixture of happenings of both. Who won the battle for each of those souls… the devil himself or the God of Heaven and earth? Where are they all now? Where did they go, their human lives long gone, forgotten, no longer relevant … or did they live on in the memories of the generations after them. What marks did they leave on the hearts and souls of their children and grandchildren, …or did they leave no mark at all, but the scuff marks on the stairs?

Twitter’nStuff; hindrance or help?

Nearly 6 years ago I started my first blog. It was private with only a small handful of readers that I trusted. “Share your heart” they said. “Share your story” they said. “We will listen and hold your hand” they said. And some did. But most just read it without support, feedback, thanks or encouragement. I felt hurt and let down, ….but a door had opened that could never be closed again.

And so I went deeper. I started to tell things as they were, unfiltered and unmasked. I didn’t invite anyone who knew me to see any of it, but I hit that “public” button instead of the private one and hid behind a pen name. Lots of strangers heard my voice and commented and replied and asked questions and encouraged. It was thrilling that for the first time in my life I didn’t worry about what anyone expected of me, no body told me that I was wrong, and for the first time in my life I felt “heard”. I was going through the hardest time of my life, going through heartache that I had never ever imagined would be mine (in this way anyway). My soul had been shredded by those closest to me and I was in so much heartache that I could barely breath.

I didn’t know until later that I was in such deep trauma that I was in danger of a complete breakdown, but every day, instead of allowing it to destroy me, I wrote and wrote and wrote and strangers heard me and carried me and for the first time in my life I belonged somewhere, to a group of fellow journeyers who were as crushed and broken as I was.

I worked hard at healing and growing and eventually I needed more light in order to survive. My heart ached for those women who were not able to climb out of those holes, often through no fault of their own. But my own light and survival was so new and fragile and it became unhealthy for me to spend time in that dark desperate place. I want to write about that place and share it one day, but first I need to create a safe enough space, up in the light of the rest of the world, before I can do that.

A year ago my physical mess of a body was diagnosed and I had a whole new space to write about, process and a different journey to share. This January I at last felt robust enough to start writing my whole story, …. and this blog was born, to carry me through that journey and hopefully lead to one day finish writing my book. I have felt encouraged and blessed in the process, but 2 weeks ago I was encouraged to take it another step further…

You need to get Twitter they said, and Instagram they said, oh yes and Pinterest they said… Just use this or that handle and everyone will retweet you they said… “it’s easy” they said…

What they didn’t say was that it is fast and overwhelming and scary and crazy! What they didn’t say was that complete strangers follow you hoping that you will follow them, and that some of them are great people but for others it is just a numbers game and if you don’t follow them back then they dump you. Even though they “tempted” me with their cleavages and their duck faces…

They didn’t say that there are apps and ‘bots and programs who churn out tweets at a great rate of knots and that if I am not careful I could sell my soul to be heard or seen or noticed… I am learning that you can’t just speak and someone will hear, …you first need to become noticed (and cool and popular? Like school maybe?)

I feel a little like I am back in school again, …. And back to being invisible … I don’t want the Twitter Train to run me over or kill the voice that I am only just now starting to find, but I’m also pretty sure that I still don’t want to have to change everything that I do so that I too can be cool and “fit in”….

Maybe I’m just feeling fragile today … Maybe today isn’t a good day to bear my soul….

Hang on …. Must I only bear my soul when I’m feeling strong and uplifting and encouraging and make everyone else smile and feel good about themselves? … Am I only to use my voice for everyone else’s good?

Thank you for all the support of those who have risked following me on this journey, I hope that I stay worthy of your follow, and if not … well … I will cross that bridge when I get there, …but I am determined not to be bowled over by the Twitter Train!

Which kind of reader are you?

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 10.41.09 AMI was just reading this article on real life books and bookmarks, and it got me thinking… I see the writer’s point of view entirely and felt a little sad reading it, that I am no longer in that tactile and beautiful space of real life books. Many of my bookclub friends are also bound (in a positive way) to hard copy books and all that they add to life, …but reading that article made me realise that I am no longer in that camp.

I am totally and utterly converted to e-readers (for me Kindle on my iPhone) and the ease of it in many many ways. I truly thought that nothing could be as wonderful as the smell and feel of a good solid soft cover, hard copy novel, but I am surprised by how quickly I moved on. For me I guess the main reason is simple …if a little embarrassing; instant gratification (if I see a book that I want I can buy it NOW … as in 10pm and curled up in bed now… without having to wait for days if not weeks to get my hand on a hard copy).

Other more practical and less “first-world-problem” reasons are that I actually live in a country that is not big on libraries and so borrowing is a very remote option for me but buying gets expensive and e-copies are usually a little cheaper…. We move a lot with my husband’s job and so bookshelves of books are not a realistic option for us, we travel a lot for the same reason so not having to bring hard copies with me is a huge blessing, and last but not least is that I have health issues with my hands and so reading on my phone is way less taxing than a real book.

So there is my list of reasons why e-readers win hands down for me… even though I wish that hard copies won this battle …. what is your preference and why? Go on, pull at my heart strings…

Who said this?

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I just read this quote on a mug on another author’s page (or an updated version of it anyway, swapping the word typewriter with computer) and fell in love with it. It is how I feel so often when I write, …that I am bleeding onto the page. Especially as I write the first draft, when pen is first put to paper and I see the words written down for the first time ever. Many of my stories have been told before. Most never have been. For those stories that have been told they have been a little white washed and have little to no context. Even telling these stories of me for the first time is deeply painful and hard.

Anyway, I wanted to find the source. I want the mug, I want the saying, …but neither are mine. So who said this? Where does credit go? So I asked Mr. Google and he told me many useless things, but I did find this fabulous article which explains where it came from. Roughly… It would appear that the most likely candidates are Red Smith and Ernest Hemingway, or a mixture of the two.

So it would appear that I can use it anyway, as it doesn’t really belong to anyone, but the popular source is Hemingway, I guess because that sounds like it gets more cred that way?

 

Break in writing…

image1 2It is exactly 6 weeks since I last wrote.

Writing your own story when it is a traumatic one is hard. The words flow and it is too long already, but it is emotionally draining, it causes nightmares, and I am not a nice person to have around when it weighs heavily on my soul as I write about it…

But I need to tell it as it is first before I start chopping bits out to make it “sellable” and in the right package… and I need to immerse myself in it in order to tell it well.

It is 6 weeks since my last blog post too, because when you aren’t writing you can’t blog either, there is nothing to say and I can’t keep repeating the same thing: that there is too much busyness, too many interruptions, too many things that are spoiling the flow… down to stupid things like the day after we returned home from the writing time away the pipe burst in the bathroom which led to another, then another and yet another problem ….and builders in my house for the last 3 weeks straight. And builders make noise, and mess, and ask a gazillion really important questions that they need to ask… it isn’t their fault and I am thrilled with all the things that were fixed and all the other things that needed doing anyway that are now done. My house is a better place to in … and a better place to write in. I am thrilled…

So now I am hoping that this is it… that the things taking me away are coming to an end and that I can start again! Oh I hope so!!! Sleeping aids are ready to hopefully stop the nightmares, time is set aside, dog is willing and able and cross with me for abandoning her, and we are ready to go!!!

Starting Book Two Woohoo!!

When I started my first book, it felt like it fell out of me and onto the computer. I have heard some people say that they feel as though it is not them writing the book and I get that now. I never ever ever even considered for a second that I would ever be a writer. I wouldn’t know what to say and I am not sure that I have that much of an imagination. I just lived my own life, through the good the bad and the ugly, and while I always knew that I was different, I never considered my story to be anything more worth telling than the next person. But after years of letter writing which moved to blogs and articles and one offs and so on, I realise now that I have decided to tell my story, that I have actually been telling it for well over a decade. Writing in small pieces here and there, and verbally telling it in tiny conversations, none of which do any of my story justice, and both myself and the listener are left wanting more … they ask for more and when we run out of time they tell me to write a book, and I need to tell it as well, and for people to hear me … It’s hard that no one gets to hear the whole, and I have never got to tell it…

And so in February I started typing, thinking that to tell it all, over three or four books, it will take years just for the first draft. So much to sift through, so much to speak of, so much to look way too closely at and digest … but after six weeks of typing, draft one of the first book is done, edited, and nearly all of Draft two is off to the readers for feedback! I am pleasantly surprised and yet not so… I am surprised as I thought  it would take long, but not surprised through those six weeks it just spilled out onto my computer so easily…

I have truly let my story tell itself, and I want to tell it all before I try and make it “packagable” and “readable” … but I am really hoping that I don’t have to do very much to it, and that is will sell itself and be good enough “as is”… I don’t mind doing lots more work on it, but I won’t “bend” it to dramatise anything, it has to be enough as it happened otherwise it would no longer be my story…

Anyway, the first massive milestone was Book 1, draft one, the second was draft two, and now I am about to embark on the third: draft one of the second book …. here goes!