Sunday, January 17, 2010

The White Squaw

I never did much reading when I was young. I always believed there was something better to do than lying on a couch with a book in my hand. I think the only book I voluntarily read from start to finish before I left school was the Bible in fact. This took me four years to complete. Then there was of course the books that I was forced to read in order to hand in my quarterly book reviews. One particular book I remember from school was called The White Squaw. The reason I remember this one so well was because it landed me in the headmaster’s office. I cannot remember the plot so well but my English teacher didn’t think it was good English literature and I wasn’t going to read another one just to please her. What the woman didn’t realize at that point was that no matter what the adult rating of the book was it did teach me a couple of new English words like moist, shaft and loins, to name only but a few. It was also my first introduction into interracial relationships and in South Africa that was a big taboo then. I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about and today I realize I was actually light-years ahead of my classmates and English teacher. It is only now later in life that I see the real benefits of reading. I do not only learn new words every time I open a book, but I also learn a lot about other topics. One topic I particularly show interest in is stories on people and their views on life. Fiction? Never in my life…I still believe there are better things to do than to waste time on fiction. For that I have a DVD player and a big screen.

I just finished a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Eat, Pray, Love. Although it is supposed to be a "girlie" book I started reading it and actually finished it in about 5 days. What caught my interest was her style of writing and specifically how she has the ability to describe things and events in such a way that everyone could relate to them. “With those giant brown liquid-center Italian eyes..” I also realized that she knows a lot of English words that I didn’t even know exist, “fervent”, “imbibed”, “maw”. I guess if I had read better English literature at school I might have picked up on these words a long time ago. Admittedly I never had the opportunity to use moist, shaft or loins in any of my posts yet. Another thing I realized not only from this book, but also from the couple of post that I have done so far, is how observant one has to be when writing. Especially when describing situations and scenes. One good thing about this is that it makes you see and experience things in a different way than just plainly doing and seeing it. People, names, time, places, finer detail, all becomes important. The more you look at these things, the more you learn and the more interesting life itself becomes. We get so caught up in our thoughts that we sometimes miss all the finer detail. We go to place, come back and can’t even remember what we saw or heard.

I won’t call myself a writer by a long shot, but what I do know is that reading makes you a better writer. Even if it just makes me see and experience live from a different perspective, then I guess I have achieved something. To my English teacher just the following…if you had encouraged me to read instead of trying to convert me I might’ve been a better writer today. To the white squaw…you might not have taught me a lot about English literature, but you sure got my imagination and creativity going.


  1. I like the word fervent....then again...I'm a lover of the english Language as a whole, and should've been your teacher.

  2. I think "impassioned" is more thought provoking than fervent.......a bit like the blogs.

  3. Thanks for the comments. English is my second language and whenever I ask an English speaking friend of mine to review my grammar,only then do I realize how poor my English really is. Anyway, I still prefer writing in English. How many people understand Afrikaans in any case?

  4. Please don't stop writing in English. I enjoy all of your post and would be saddened if I couldn't read them anymore! :)