Turn Your Life Into Your Writer’s Retreat. I DARE YOU.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about what I really want to do and where I want to do it. Location location location, right?

In trying to figure out what this life looks like, this life where I work with my favourite people — young women — I discovered that I also want to write. A lot. To be fair to myself, that wasn’t a new discovery, I’ve always loved writing, but I just never ever allowed myself to imagine a life where I write for a living in a place of my choosing. Where I live has always been about where I can afford to live, and for the first time in my life I’m daring to think about where I want to live.

I spent Easter weekend in what is my favourite city for now. I say for now because I’m sure that once I have travelled more I’ll pick a new fave. While sitting over breakfast, with mimosas nogal, it hit me that this is the life. This is the life I want to live.

Mimosas overlooking Umhlanga Beach

Not the mimosas so much — I can afford champagne and orange juice — but the freedom to sit as long as I want in a beautiful location and not worry about much. I remember sitting there and looking at the ocean and wishing I had my laptop because I felt like writing. That’s when I decided to build a life where I can always write, where I don’t have to wait to be on holiday to feel like writing because my entire life is a writer’s retreat. A life where I can have a breakfast I want in beautiful surroundings and not worry whether my 30min is up yet, which is how I spend my lunch break at work: wondering if I’ll have enough time to prep my food and eat it before my time is up, or if there’s enough time for a glass of water to wash down a barely chewed repast. I decided right there and then that I want to turn my life into my version of a writer’s retreat, as far as that is possible, given that I am also a single mother
of two young children.  

create yourself.jpg

And so here is my two cents for anybody who has ever wished they could sit on the beach and write their days away:

Your life is your writer’s retreat.

The life you’re building? You’re building your retreat. If your retreat is messy, unpleasant to be in and not conducive to your writing process, then you need to stop whatever you’re doing and start over. You know writing is life, what are you messing about for? Fix yo’life!

I don’t want fancy, I just want comfortable and oceanside

My happy place is quite generic: it’s warm, I can hear the ocean and it’s warm. So my ideal life is one where if I don’t live withing hearing distance of the ocean, I at least get to be there as often as possible. What’s your favourite writing location? Do you even know? Or have you decided it’s so out of reach that you haven’t allowed yourself to really imagine it, let alone actually begin to work toward it?

If you want to be a writer then you need to be ruthless about turning your life into a writer’s retreat, YOUR writer’s retreat, right now. It might not be perfect yet, but it will do for now while you write yourself into the perfect one.

set up your life like a vacation
your first thought is – easier said than done, right? but have your TRIED?

I heard something Octavia Butler said in an interview that made me stop and think. She was college-educated but after graduating she chose to take menial jobs so that while at work performing mindless tasks she could think about her stories. She got up at 2am EVERY DAY to write, then worked a full day and you know, rinse and repeat. She made a choice to forego the fancy title and fancy salary for the sake of the writing and look if it didn’t pay off big time: she was eventually able to live her ideal life: a big house with a big yard and enough money to book herself into hotels to write. She turned her life into her ideal writer’s retreat, and what a retreat! That hotel life? Trust me, I can dig it. 

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the view from my hotel room at sunrise

The reason why most of us will always want to be writers and never actually be authors is that we’re not willing to pay the price to actually get what we want. We all know that nothing in life is free, so why do you think your ideal writing life must come without cost? What are you willing to give up to live that dream life? You know, the one where you wake up and do what you want and write and do what you want? Do you really want to wait until you’re 40 or 50 to live that life? I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve decided I don’t want to be an old woman before living my dream life. I want to live it now. I mean, who says ‘No, wait with the good thing?’

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middle of the day view

I have children and can’t just pick up and leave because I have two whole lives to consider. But what about you? What’s your excuse? I dare you to find a legitimate reason for why you keep putting your dreams on hold. Legitimate, I said.

Go for it. Start imagining a life that is conducive to writing and then CREATE it. As Captain Planet said:

The Power Is Yours!




Words Will Be The Death Of Me

Y’all stay lyin’, stay tryin’ to please all the masses,
Forgetting that sooner or later they’ll all show their asses
And you’ll wish, when that happens,
That you’d paid more attention to the chances
That were offered you on a silver platter
Before you ended up like the mad hatter:
Lonely in a prison of your own making
Because you forgot that to some of us words matter.

This life, she is complicated and divine
And of all her gifts the most fine is the gift of choice:
You get to decide how to use your voice.
If you’re not choosing me that’s fine but do you ever stop to think,
When you do the things you do,
That one day I might stop choosing you?

The problem with falling in love with words —
And if nothing else, Lord let this be heard —
Is that speakers forget what they say
And then you spend many a long day
Holding onto the dust of dreams (I’m sorry, but that shit ain’t okay).
If you’re going to speak then please don’t be weak:
Say what you mean, mean what you say,
Anything else is just unnecessary cheek.

And you who falls in love at the drop of noun + verb,
You can have a seat or move in reverse.
Calm down, slow down, seriously, stop playing the clown.
Your job is to protect your heart and frankly
If it’s words that get you open,
You suck at playing guard.
-Beauty’s Daughter

On The Messiness of Life

“Your standardised ideologies will not always fit your life, because life is messy.”
-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2015 Wellesley College Commencement Speech

Life IS messy. You go into the wrong field and work your ass off proving a point to an audience that couldn’t care less, calcifying your soul in the process. You fall in love with the wrong person then try to re-invent yourself to be someone that they could fall in love with too – if ever there was an exercise in futility! You seek validation from people whose opinions you really should only pay dust. Life IS messy.

By the time you trust your inner voice enough to leave that job, switch careers, dare to be single into your 30s *gasp* ‪#‎fail‬ because you haven’t yet met the man whose word you can trust and who doesn’t bore you to tears (punks and fuckboys all round); by the time you trust yourself enough to listen to your heart’s truth and act on it – by that time you’re also dealing with the consequences of choices you made when the external was more important than the internal. You’re damaged by the neurotic asshole of a boss; you’ve got several pieces of designer luggage from years of fuckery in relationships that never should have happened and never should have lasted as long as they did; you have to kill yourself in the gym to try and mitigate the damage done to your waistline by comfort eating and cortisol, and in between visits to the head-shrinker and midnight tears because dear God why is your life like this, you still have to do the whole adulting thing, because reasons. Face it, life IS messy.
But you know what?
Live it anyway. Live YOUR truth anyway.

You’ll be lonely at times but eventually like-minded women will come alongside and walk their own truth journeys with you and you won’t be so lonely anymore, because you’re not the only one who’s trying to live true: other people get it.
Eventually you’ll meet a man who won’t be intimidated by the belly-fat nor by your ascerbic wit; who won’t tell you you’re what he wants while he chooses someone else; who’ll appreciate the person you are and not punish you for the person you’ve been; a man whose growth game is all the way as strong as your own, who wants to give more than he wants to take. Well that’s the dream, right?

Be open to the possibility that the people who ‘get’ you won’t necessarily be like you, and that they won’t come in the box you expect. Maybe they were raised differently or practice a different religion or practice no religion.
Be open to the possibility that valuable relationships can be found in the strangest -in comparison – of people.
Remember that just as much as you want to be accepted and loved and appreciated as you are, other people are dealing with their own mess too, and you need to extend the same generosity of spirit that you expect to receive. As the song goes – “what you give is what you get returned.”

Most importantly, forgive yourself and be kind to yourself – you can’t expect love from others when you don’t love yourself, nor will you know what love looks like for you.

Here’s to living your best life as your truest self. Life IS messy, but you’re not doing yourself any favours by lying to yourself so you might as well be your true self. What have you got to lose?
-Beauty’s Daughter