EXTRAS

 

These are my extras: a little look into how I became a writer, through the text and images of the women in my family. Before I studied creative writing I studied curatorship and worked in the field for a number of years, so I suppose it makes sense that I like to collect and archive paraphernalia. Usually, this paraphernalia is kitsch bits and pieces (like those in the photos on the other pages of this site), but sometimes it is family keepsakes.

When people ask me if I always knew that I wanted to be a writer I say yes, mainly because it’s easier than explaining to them that for the first seven, or so, years of my life I wanted to be a witch. And, as evidenced by below, I may not have always been the most creative with my words.

My witchy side came from my granny who made marionette witches that she would fly across my bedroom window, or shower curtain, when I visited her in Johannesburg, telling me magical stories, or sometimes, even, my fortune. My writing side also came from my grandmother.

 

Grade two report card with creative writing marked as "average".
Me in grade two
Childhood drawing of my pet cat.
Worksheet with "When I grow up I'm going to be..." and answer written by the writer as a child: "witch".

Lucky packets?

I didn’t realise lucky packets were a South African thing, until two international writer friends asked me about them.

They were (and sometimes still are, although the best of them existed in the 90s) colourful bags filled with surprises. And the “surprises” were almost always cheap, off-brand sweets and plastic toys. You were always trying to get your parents to buy them, and the almost never would.

Mother's day card signed with name and surname.

But our love for writing may have skipped a generation. My mother has certainly never been overly fond of the craft. She said of her diaries,

“We were forced to keep them! They were compulsory in our household, and I hated it!”

Below is a photo of her with her siblings and her father (my grandpa) that I found in one of these diaries of hers.

In fact, when I told my MA supervisor of my mother’s postnatal depression after she had me, he put this down to her “knowing” I was going to be a writer (I guess instead of a lawyer, or something like that?).

But my grandmother knew too. Once, when I was little, she did a reading of my handwriting, and told me I was either going to be a writer or a ballerina. And while I am not quite a witch, and certainly no ballerina (although I still feel I have the potential to be the former), I do consider myself a writer.

Image of my pregnant mother.

My grandmother, herself, was both a witch and a writer. She wrote and illustrated children’s books which she self published. She kept many, many diaries, for herself, and on behalf of her children, with locks of their hair, and records of when they said their first words and took their first steps. Even her cookbooks are filled with stories about the people who gave her each of her recipes.

Below are two excerpts from a retrospective diary she wrote about her childhood in London, and further below that a recipe.

Page from the my mother's childhood diary.
Entry from the my grandmother's diary.
Written entry and illustration from my grandmother's diary.
Entry from the writer's grandmother's recipe book.
Primary school creative writing certificate.
Me as a baby sitting between my two grandparents who are in bed reading the newspaper.

Nowadays, I mainly write fiction and hope that I have at least some of my grandmother’s snark. I tend to write what I think of as the opposite of romance stories, with witchy women who have been described by my writer friends as “weird” characters.

Slowly, I’m noticing how that word seems to be emphasised a lot where I’m involved.

EXTRAS

 

These are my extras: a little look into how I became a writer, through the text and images of the women in my family. Before I studied creative writing I studied curatorship and worked in the field for a number of years, so I suppose it makes sense that I like to collect and archive paraphernalia. Usually, this paraphernalia is kitsch bits and pieces (like those in the photos on the other pages of this site), but sometimes it is family keepsakes.

When people I ask me if I always knew that I wanted to be a writer I say yes, mainly because it’s easier than explaining to them that for the first seven, or so, years of my life I wanted to be a witch. And, as evidenced by the mother’s day card below, I may not have always been the most creative with my words.

My witchy side may came from my granny who made marionette witches that she would fly across my bedroom window, or shower curtain, when I visited her in Johannesburg, telling me magical stories, or sometimes, even, my fortune. My writing side also came from my grandmother.

Worksheet with "When I grow up I'm going to be..." and answer written by the writer as a child: "witch".

Lucky packets?

I didn’t realise lucky packets were a South African thing, until two international writer friends asked me about them.

They were (and sometimes still are, although the best of them existed in the 90s) colourful bags filled with surprises. And the “surprises” were almost always cheap, off-brand sweets and plastic toys. You were always trying to get your parents to buy them, and the almost never would.

Grade two report card with creative writing marked as "average".
Mother's day card signed with name and surname.

But our love for writing may have skipped a generation. My mother has certainly never been overly fond of the craft. She said of her diaries,

“We were forced to keep them! They were compulsory in our household, and I hated it!”

Below is a photo of her with her siblings and her father (my grandpa) that I found in one of these diaries of hers.

Page from the my mother's childhood diary.

In fact, when I told my MA supervisor of my mother’s postnatal depression after she had me, he put this down to her “knowing” I was going to be a writer (I guess instead of a lawyer, or something like that?).

But my grandmother knew too. Once, when I was little, she did a reading of my handwriting, and told me I was either going to be a writer or a ballerina. And while I am not quite a witch, and certainly no ballerina (although I still feel I have the potential to be the former), I do consider myself a writer.

Image of my pregnant mother.

My grandmother, herself, was both a witch and a writer. She wrote and illustrated children’s books which she self published. She kept many, many diaries, for herself, and on behalf of her children, with locks of their hair, and records of when they said their first words and took their first steps. Even her cookbooks are filled with stories about the people who gave her each of her recipes.

Below are two excerpts from a retrospective diary she wrote about her childhood in London, and further below that a recipe.

Entry from the my grandmother's diary.
Written entry and illustration from my grandmother's diary.
Entry from the writer's grandmother's recipe book.
Primary school creative writing certificate.

Today, I mainly write fiction, and hope that I have at least some of my grandmother’s snark. I tend to write what I think of as the opposite of romance stories, with what have been described by my writer friends as “weird” characters.

That word seems to be emphasised a lot where I’m involved.

Copyright © Lyndall Cain 2022. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Lyndall Cain 2022. All rights reserved.