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  • Writer's pictureChris Dresser

Writer's Block?

A blog for me is the antithesis of the "writer's block" which fortunately I've never encountered.


Ideas are like a spring that bubbles up on a mountainside, coming from a vast unknown depth below the surface and streaming downwards to eventually join with the river far below, heading for the sea. Ideas, like flowing water, also stream together to create an amalgam of ideas that form today's ever-developing culture.


My movie screenplays, television dramas and comedy series, poems and now my novels have joined this flow of dreams and illusions. Hopefully I can keep up with this fast-flowing global expansion of creativity.


A dictionary definition of a blog is "a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group that is written in an informal or conversational style."


When the publishers of my "Willjohn Trilogy" novels asked me to contribute a blog to their website, I had already been writing a blog on another website for nearly two years. I was delighted to agree. A blog offers the writer a freedom of expression that is a rare commodity in today's world of increasing censorship and 'cancel culture.'


I've lived a life filled with adventure and often bizarre incidents, which have led me to develop my writing and film making skills. Some writers stick themselves away in an office or study, determined to block out any extraneous noises and often applying a rigorous timetable during which no intrusions are allowed.


I can understand that but never had the luxury of such a space until ironically the past two months, where at the ripe, perhaps over-ripe, old age of 85 I finally have my own office and quiet space. Lacking that I have previously written mostly in cafes and restaurants, ideally ethnic places whose language I cannot understand and where the food is good.


Writers like Hemingway also lived great adventurous lives. I wonder where he did his writing? Possibly he jotted down notes while watching a bullfight or in a tent near a battlefield in the Spanish Civil War and maybe in the African bush where he visited in later years. He probably scribbled away in cafes as well, with an ample supply of liquor on tap.


Fortunately, I got jaundice (Hepatitis) when I was 21. Fortunately? Yes, because I could never drink more than one glass of wine or beer without getting sick. So I could never get drunk. That particular so-called emotional prop was not available to me.


So here goes. I'd like to tell you about my life, not necessarily in sequence but rather emphasising how the creative urge gradually overwhelmed my other great love, that of playing rugby!


***********


"I’m eighteen years old. I stare out from the stoep (porch) of our house overlooking the rolling sands of the Namib desert. It is the oldest desert on earth and contains the highest sand dunes in the world. It is starkly beautiful and offers a sense of space and solitude seldom found elsewhere on our planet.

Just to add to my appreciation of what I am looking at, my newfound interest in classical music, has Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto wafting out from the record player in the sitting room. The second movement provides an almost ecstatic mixture of both joy and grief, almost in tune with a wisp of sand cut loose from the top of the nearest dune, blown by the daily winds that scour the desert clean of much of man’s pollution.

I am at a crossroads in my young life. What on earth am I going to do? I have been provided with a decent education, which I mostly wasted, at one of South Africa’s top private schools. All I took from those scholastic years was the fact that I was quite a good rugby player which, in those days, was still an amateur sport, and a reputation for being an academic idiot.

My Dad with his warped sense of humour, opened up the first ever fish and chip shop in Namibia for me to run. Something to do with bringing me down to earth from the lofty corridors of a seat of learning, run on British Public School lines.

The fishy smells that permeate my clothes, are enough to keep the pathetically small number of interesting young local girls at arm's length. The small town of Walvis Bay is not exactly a young person’s idea of a place for some future dynamic career."

The point of all this, is that this was the moment that I had my first inkling of what, apart from rugby, I may have some talent for. It was in the field of creativity, the arts. My very first story emerged from that emotional moment on the edge of the dunes. How I ended up in television and eventually movies, is another tale.

I just read that it is estimated that by 2050 virtually all work will be done by robots, leaving us poor humans to twiddle our thumbs and no doubt pick fights out of sheer boredom.

If we have any sense, we should start to prepare ourselves for a future in which the arts and sports predominate. I suffered the usual purveyors of doom and gloom of the "don't put your daughter on the stage” variety, plus a father-in-law who said that his son-in-law was a nice chap but didn’t actually work. In fact, I was putting at least 15 hours a day into writing and directing documentaries but to his mind that wasn't work it was just play. Despite that I have had a wonderful career in the TV and movie business. The creative process expands the mind far beyond anything else – except perhaps for the exhilaration of touching down for a try in rugby!


Somewhere in between filleting and frying fish, peeling potatoes and making chips, playing every available sport in the small port of Walvis Bay, Namibia and the regular forays into the majestic Namib desert, right on the edge of town, I found pen and paper. My first efforts at writing were as primitive as the ancient desert around me - but somehow, I just knew that one day I would write a book.


It was a long, long journey but here we are. The first novel of the Willjohn Trilogy, "The Pursuit of Treachery" is already on sale as an Ebook on Amazon Kindle but Pagoda Tree Books will be publishing the printed version any day now. All three novels in the series contain plenty of action and adventure, laced with a powerful romance and a brief but intriguing background of the history of the Magaliesberg Mountain region in South Africa. The novels span the years from 2001 to the present. I hope you'll take a look at them.

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