So there are two ladies. Vicky and Ciku. Very sharp chicks. Both ferocious readers. Vicky, an artist at heart, read The Road by Cormac McCarthy in three hours. She sniffs books. The only thing she probably spends more on – apart from shoes – are books. Her English is crisp. She is the kind of person who will finish an email by saying, and I quote “your magnanimous nature is appreciated and regarded with high esteem,” (roll eyes) only for me to realise later that it was a sarcastic jab at me.
Ciku, a doctor, on the other hand is studious, keen and curious. When they say the devil is in the details, they mean Ciku. She will pick nuances in language. They both have one thing in common; they hate typos. Grammar Nazis.
They would constantly write me emails berating me about my numerous typos. So, to save the world of my grotesque spelling mistakes, they offered to be looking at my copy before it runs here. They also offer opinion on what they think about the stories, the length, readability, flow, sensitivities etc. Sounding board. I need it. As volunteers, I don’t pay them in cash. I pay them by buying them books. Everybody wins.
Both are excellent at constructive criticism. They don’t pull punches. They don’t pussyfoot. They are brutal. What I was supposed to run this week was about some glitzy event I attended and my observations of the people there. It was a roomful of important people drinking wine and talking about important things. A roomful of stuffy folk making appearances.
They both hated the story. These are two people who have never met each other. Both said it was shit. Which meant it was shit.
“It just doesn’t go anywhere,” Vicky said of the piece.
“What do you mean, it doesn’t go anywhere?” I asked, slightly stung because, well, writers are egoistic people who hate being told they suck at it.
“I mean exactly that, “ she whatsapped back, “You didn’t say anything in that story. What was your point?”
“Do I have to make a point? Why can’t I just write sometimes for the sake of it?”
“Why don’t you write a diary then, Biko? Then write about your day?”
“Aren’t you sunny today, Vicky?”
“Stop throwing a hissy fit, and be objective,” she continued, “Did you even enjoy writing it?”
“Well, it doesn’t show!”
“You are a mean person.”
“I won’t go to heaven.”
So I asked Ciku what she thought and she said she didn’t “particularly like it.”
“What didn’t you like?”
“You were just dropping names of important people.”
“But there were important people in that room, should I have given them pseudonyms?”
“I just think it’s a hollow story.”
“Yes, like it has no soul. It’s empty. Dead inside.”
“Are you sulking now?”
“Leave me alone.”
“Come on, don’t sulk.”
“You are mean. ”
“Oh, come on, it’s not personal.”
“ You are a hollow person.”
So I binned the story for this week. Maybe next week “some people” will be in a better mood.