BY RINA BESTER
My life was a mess: children grown up, husband retired. In the background, an unnerving prodding from my unfulfilled dreams begged me to listen. I found myself with an empty nest and had to repurpose my life. Panicking, I headed for a psychologist.
For weeks, we peeled away at my armour, created by being wife and mother – the organiser of lives. Discarding all those layers, we eventually exposed who I had been all along: the little girl who found pleasure in dancing leaves, comfort in the movement of shadows, and whispers in the long grass.
Why should this part of me be important at all, you may ask. It is simple. It is who I am: a dreamer, a believer in magic. Even before I could read, I would escape nightly into an imaginary world. I made up stories by following the shadows on my bedroom wall. By day, I found living creatures in the shapes of clouds. The world of make-believe followed me everywhere until I mastered the ABCs and discovered even greater magic hidden among the pages of books.
In my heart there was a secret dream that one day I would write my own magic words, fill blank pages with my tales, have them bound between beautiful covers and call it my book.
So I enrolled in a writing course, and then another. But still, I was stuck. Although by then, I knew most of the rules of writing, I didn’t have the confidence to pen my deepest thoughts. I was paralysed with fear – a fear of what exactly I could not pinpoint.
That was when the psychologist let the dogs loose in my writing courtyard. She instructed me: ‘Go home. Sit down. Think. Then, in writing, describe the process that made you realise you are serious about writing.’
‘And then,’ she said, ‘for heaven’s sake, do something about it!’
I really thought it was the most ridiculous assignment ever. But oh, what an order it turned out to be!
I started with the word ‘process’. A process could be a slow motion or an enactment, or, in my case, a dead stop. I sat down and started thinking. This was the beginning of a process too, was it not?
That day, when I sat down to really put my mind to the business of writing, it was like a coup d’état – a sudden and revolutionary change of ‘government’ – but this time by my own force.
To me, this insight was more freeing than the actual act of writing. For the first time, I started considering what I was really about: how I would organise my writing and how I would become an author. By not being a nanny to children or at the beck and call of a husband, I would become a full-time writer. All other endeavours and sideshows in my life would have to take a back seat to make way for my new focus. I had been instructed to consider what I wanted in life. I found the answer deep inside myself: a burning desire to write seriously.
It is a lesson I still return to when I become despondent these days when this new way of life gets tough. Writing is never easy, but neither is not breathing.
What hard work it is to write, but what a joy.
I am because I dream. Therefore, I write.
About the Author
Rina Bester was born under the star sign of Sagittarius on the 16th day of December to speak and dream in Afrikaans. She later attended the predominantly English Eshowe High School, hiding behind books.
Life happened for her for a few years, where she fulfilled her duties as wife and mother, putting her writing dreams on the back burner. Her passion for cooking and gardening are self-taught hobbies. Through the years, she kept the writing flame alive by enrolling and completing the Comprehensive Writing Course in 2009 with College SA. In 2011 she enrolled for a short story writing course presented by the well-known Afrikaans author Riana Scheepers.
After a turning point in her life in 2018, she started taking her writing more seriously. The decision paid off, and she has since won several prizes for her short stories and poetry.
In 2023 she started a blog featuring her own writing and other small pleasures such as cooking, reading and walking. Rina suffers from fibromyalgia and is working on a series of articles for her blog, highlighting her own symptoms and how she copes with life living with this painful condition. Read more on rinabester.wordpress.com.
Rina was a finalist in the June 2023 My Writing Journey Competition.