Like a horror film when you want to scream at the screen and tell the ingénue, ‘Get out. The killer is in the house,’ the agent figuratively tore those first pages to shreds. Later, I climbed down those metro steps like a zombie wondering what conceit had led me to believe that I could write a novel? How could I have wasted five long years working on a Masters when obviously I had no talent? I should fling myself, or at the very least, symbolically fling the novel in front of the train.
I’m NOT criticizing the ABNA process. The opposite, in fact. I see it this process as extremely useful. It mirrors the submission hoops writers have to jump through to attract an agent. Learning how to write that tight, brief, über engaging query letter with a synopsis that makes an agent want to pick up the phone and call you.
Reluctantly, we said goodbye to La Petite Dauphine and Franschoek and headed off on the last leg of our South African adventure. The next stop - a three day safari in a national park an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth.
There are so many safari experiences to choose from in South Africa. The parks are divided into two regions: malaria-free and malaria-risky. From the list of non-malarial parks I chose Gorah Camp. Gorah is a 5000 hectare private concession inside Addo Elephant Park. There are
The first plan was to hike up the mountain trail. By the time we’d finished a gourmet breakfast at Cafe BonBon with Hendrik the cheeky cockerel strutting between the tables, it was almost noon and it was hot. We looked at the mountain trail, looked at each other and decided … that hike was just not going to happen. Wine tasting sounded much more ‘us’.
It was the late 80’s. Early afternoon. I was at the Inn at Lake Bonavista in Calgary with my daughter, then just a toddler of two or three. She had a colouring book open in front of her and kept herself happily amused while I discussed politics and, dare I say it - espionage, with an elegant, well-spoken gentleman from I.D.A.F.S.A.: The International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa.
Day Two was earmarked for driving the Cape Point Route. During another excellant breakfast at Villa Zest - our snappy seven-room boutique hotel in Cape Town - we sat down with Janice, the Assistant Manager and planned our day. Our primary goal was to go to the Cape of Good Hope - that end-of-the-world point that sailors had been rounding for centuries before the Suez Canal made short-cuts possible. The Cape of Good Hope sits at the tip of Cape Point on an appendix-like peninsula of land.
Beauty on Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Cape Town is a pretty place. It has blueblue waters. Charming restaurants and shops line the quayside. Seals sunbathe in the harbour. And once during our stay we saw a pair of Right Whales playing in the water beside the ferry dock. But the sight that had the greatest impact on me was something witnessed at the top of Table Mountain on my first day in Cape Town.
By January it felt like I’d been living in a monochromatic tunnel for months. The fall in the Netherlands this year had been wet, cold, grey and seemed to stretch on and on and on like an old grey Silly Putty egg in the hands of a bored child. I’d built so many fires in the sitting room fireplace that by December I had to order second behemoth crate of firewood, then I burned through half of that as well. I craved warmth. And more than warmth, I craved sunlight and clear blue skies.