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Not at all glamorous, but exciting stuff

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Last week was the start of the South African school year and, as is always the case, it featured on the seven o’clock news. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about.

The news reporter collared some poor little thing in her brand new school uniform and informed us that she was scared but excited. We got a glimpse of her mother holding back her tears and a comment from her father saying she had been up since four in the morning and was dressed in her school uniform by four-thirty. Then the reporter shoved the microphone in her face and asked her what she wants to be when she grows up.

They always ask that question. The answer is always a profession that is perceived as glamorous or heroic. Teachers, nurses, doctors, firemen and policemen. I recall that the very naughty, younger brother of a childhood friend wanted to be, not a policeman, but a police dog when he grew up but I don’t remember what I thought I wanted to be on the day I started school. Whatever it was, it wasn’t any author.

I suppose that at some point in my childhood I must have thought it was glamorous. You know, arriving for book signings, flash bulbs popping, with your ‘minders’ keeping the press hounds at bay. Well, it’s not like that. The creative process is fabulous, but the rest of it is slog. Long, lonely hours at the computer, racking your brains. Then you hand it over to your publisher on a memory stick and promptly feel depressed. Convinced that your ramblings can’t be turned into anything that anyone would want to pay good money for.

That is, until the first proofs come back to you and you discover that the photographer, graphic artist and last, but by no means least, the book designer have turned the bytes on that memory stick into a work of art, better than you ever imagined it could be.

Between that and the next exciting thing – when it goes to print – there is more hard slog. Proof reading. Over and over again. Your concentration keeps going walkabout, and the tenth time you get up to make yet another cup of coffee, you wonder if perhaps you are not a candidate for Ritalin in industrial strength doses. Eventually you decide you have done what you can and if you have missed something you just have to hope that someone else will pick it up before printing.

The latest exciting news is that ‘Crewel Twists’ is ‘on the water’ having left Singapore on a ship bound for Africa. We hope, of course, that said ship doesn’t meet the same fate as the Costa Concordia because, in the midst of successive heat waves, we are preparing for it.

I live in a place that we call the ‘armpit of KZN’ because it is a hot and sweaty little hollow with no pleasant little breezes to freshen things up. Ladies are supposed, not to sweat, but to glow. Not here, they don’t. They sweat. But we keep going. Putting together print, bead and thread packs to accompany the book so that embroiderers will be able to just get on with it.

Limping along is a stitch DVD which will cover all of the stitches used in the book, because some of them are a little out of the ordinary. The book is, after all called Crewel Twists. It’s not your common or garden crewel work. That little task does, of course, involve long hours under hot lights, making the heat wave even more enjoyable.

But we will get there. By the time for we load up the trusty steed and hit the highway for Johannesburg and Hobby X to launch this book, we will have wiped the sweat from our collective brows, done something with our hair and fingernails, cleaned ourselves up and will be ready to roll. And when I come back from that I will hit the ground running because three weeks later I’m off to Beating Around The Bush in Adelaide, to teach the Australians how to do those less-ordinary stitches. Note to self: get on with applying for visa, otherwise that last thing won’t happen.

So, not at all glamorous, but exciting stuff.

Written by: Hazel Blomkamp - 30 January 2012
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