From infancy, my parents read to me and, when I could string words together to read ‘See Jane Run’, they provided me with a wealth of reading material. My parents’ home was full of adults’ and children’s books – both fiction and nonfiction. But cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes, my dad’s evening newspaper and my mother’s magazines were also devoured.
I kept a diary sporadically as many teenage girls do, but I only began to see myself as a writer in my mid twenties when the woman who had written what passed for the town’s society column in the weekly newspaper retired. Nervously, I phoned the publisher to ask for the job. My jubilation at his casual ‘sure, you’ve got it’ makes me smile now at the memory.
A few months after that phone call, pleased with my writing and reliability, the publisher soon asked me to expand my writing to include features and news. Around the same time, I began studying toward a first degree.
An English composition course helped me gain more skill and confidence writing across genres. Other courses in British, American and African literature and drama gave me insight into a wide range of authors and genres as well as more practice in writing.
Eventually, I travelled abroad to work in public relations and publishing. Both environs gave me space to write and on-the-job editing and proofreading training through the British Council and my employers enhanced my development as a writer.
Undoubtedly, the wide reading required for my Literature degree and the exposure to mature authors in my publishing career helped prepare me for writing and publishing my own work.
The networks I forged as an editor also assisted in creating opportunities for me to write and be published.
I have published poetry, fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults through Arcane, Macmillan, Heinemann, Nasou via Afrika, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. In 2010, Nolly Books published my first romance novel.
But a writer never stops developing. I still interact with fellow writers and read publications and ezines for writers.
I have finished two novels that I am fine tuning and hope to publish in the near future. In the next five years, I plan to write full time and my daily writing schedule, my ongoing professional development and the networks I am building now will ensure I reach that goal.
The advice I would give to other aspiring writers is to read widely, write every day across genres, grab every chance to enhance your skills, seek out opportunities for sharing with other writers, even if only through cyberspace, and never give up on your dream.
Pamela Moeng lives in Johannesburg. She has worked as feature writer for a small weekly newspaper, a public relations manager in a cultural centre and editor for two educational publishers. Her published works include “English in Our Lives” teachers guides for grades 7, 8 and 9 and “Let’s Use English” teachers guide for grade 8, published by Heinemann, and “Learning Arts and Culture Can Be Fun” learners and teachers guides for grade 5 for Nasou via Afrika. She has also published six supplementary readers (fiction and non-fiction) through Cambridge University Press. She has edited the Oxford University Press’ publication “Starting Your Own Business in South Africa 11th Edition,” contributing the chapter on women in business. Nolly Books published her first romance novella in 2010. Learn more about Pamela and her works at http://damariasenne.blogspot.com.
WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION: ADVICE FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
Research, write, publish and promote historical fiction using digital tools!