NaNoWriMo 2017

I know this post is a few weeks late, as I had the word document all opened up before the end of November to account my 1st experience with NaNoWriMo. Well, things don’t always go as planned and still raw from the experience of writing my first loose draft of my novel, I did not feel like doing it at that time, but here we are.

NaNoWriMo!  Something that I have only found out about this year and had no clue that the writing world was so jacked up with all these wonderful motivational tools that encourage us to Just Do It! No more excuses, no more hiding behind the shrouds of mystery that you have created in real time and no more wondering if you will ever write that book that you have been talking about since your 19-year-old son was just born. The best time is the right now, which is what NaNoWriMo offers you.

Before I continue, let me just highlight what exactly is NaNoWriMo and what does it mean to be one of all the other winners of NaNoWriMo. Firstly it stands for National Novel Writing Month which is the month of November, every year. You have 30 days to write 50 000 words which are about the word count of a Young Adult Novel or a toss between a Novella and a shorter Novel. You enter your word count on the website as you progress. You reach 50 000 words within that month then you are considered a winner. There are other elements to the concept too and you also get virtual badges as you reach certain milestones whilst you on the WriMo journey. You do not even have to write a novel or work towards a novel and just write blog posts or short stories which means you get classified as a NaNo rebel, which I suppose is cool too.

The question is, was Nanowrimo beneficial to me? The answer is actually both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I bought into the concept and I did win but would I write a novel in this manner again? Probably not!

I started out the first day deciding that I was a Pantser meaning the words will fly from the seat of my pants and wrote down 2500 words and then I hit writer’s block the next day. I had no clue as for where to go to from there and could not even get a proper visual in my head to continue with a story that I wanted to write for almost 2 decades. Then I found out about the Hero’s Journey and then the Heroine’s journey and tried to use that as a basis to plot my story.  How does someone hit a roadblock when you haven’t even gotten past 2500 words? It took me 4 days to plot the gist of the story still not sure about what goes where and how, but I just started plotting scenes and this now makes me a Plotter by the way, which is self-explanatory.

Right, so I got the story sorted in my head and was back at it again. A long story short, I did finish a couple days before the end of the month reaching slightly over 50 000 words, but the novel was far from finished. So yes, NaNo has helped me get to 50 000 words and I was able to do something that I thought I would never get done, let alone in under 30 days.

The downside (for me) was not being able to exercise the full potential of my creation of words and sentences and it worked terribly on my OCD and quite stressful in general from this aspect and not forgetting the genre I was writing was a drama and my poor MC (main character) faced a fate of ‘series of unfortunate events’. The story itself was emotional as I had to re-visit certain aspects of myself and draw on many experiences of my own life to write this story, so it did not give me enough time to reflect and digest my own feelings and make my OCD happy, writing and editing all at the same time, which is not the NaNo concept fault of course as it is different strokes for different folks. The story focuses heavily on child abuse and child sexual abuse and rape culture so I think it was quite a heavy write to create and assimilate in under 30 days.

NaNo’s support was really great though. It was beautiful to see and experience the comradeship that was either online (which I participated in) and some towns around the world had their weekly meetups in coffee shops or other common venues. There were many that did not get to 50 000 words and were gently reminded that the words that they have now are much better than they had a few days ago. The point of it is, you have got something done in otherwise would not have gotten done. I was cheered and coaxed and encouraged on this journey by the Samaritans of the writing community. Let me not forget the support I had from family and friends and other members of the public who did not join the NaNoWriMo and the continued ongoing support that I am still getting.

Where to from then? I am extremely glad I did do WriMo because I finally wrote a book even if it is just a loose draft. I have given the story a break and will return to it in the first week of January 2018 and re-write a lot of the scenes and I have at least 20 000 words more to add to the story. I think if all goes well then I will publish anything between July and December next year. I will certainly use WriMo again but will return as a rebel as I can do short stories and blog posts which probably are not so close to my heart like writing this book.

Here is an excerpt from the book ‘Little Specs of Dust’, a name I may or may not keep as its title.

The long walks to school were a breath of fresh air, we could cross the river on the far left from the mini bamboo-forest closer to the stream side and hopscotch on rocks to safely land on the other side and make our way to the sweet aunty to get our early morning sweets. We never had money for that but stealing a 10 cent from the auspicious brass chombu that sacredly held the weekly coins placed in it every Friday as an offering to the mother luxmi, the goddess of good fortune, did get us quite a few items for the week. Bubblegum was 1 cent for 3 and bor and figs were 1 cent a packet. The sweet aunty would sit on a very low stool sprawled out like a Buddha in her sari tucking it in places to hide the rolls that seem to find a way to take a peek every now and then, as she systematically collected the coins for the exchange of the goods spread out on her cloth that she neatly set out on the ground. She smiled all the time and every now and then she would take her right index finger to push her thick-framed glasses back up the ridge of her nose because it slid down from the beads of sweat forming on her forehead from the exotic Durban heat.

Before we can even get to the sweet aunty there was another obstacle we had to face after the river, they would be there some days which gave us other days a smooth passage to the sweet aunty and then climb the small hill to get onto the road where our school stood in front of us. When they were there the trip to school seemed longer and the breath of fresh air became stale with fear. They usually followed the herd boy when they were majestically passing through the plane heading in the direction of the bamboo forest but sometimes they lounged in the open air whilst the herd boy sat on the ground very much basking in the morning glory. The bottom jaw seemed to have a mind of its own moving from side to side busy chomping away whatever it is that cows chomped on. My sister would hold my hand and I would walk behind her clutching onto her school belt as we both braved the fierce beasts that towered above us and they took their place on their grassy thrones. We would walk quietly at times trying not to disturb their rituals and meditations and there are times we would scurry through the spaces between them when they decided to let us know how unpleased they were with a huge “Moooo” from their now disturbed chewing. When we made it through this, then only we would start breathing again and I would run behind my sister while she held my hand pulling me to safety. All this was left in the distant air once we reached the sweet aunty.

© Pragashnie Naidoo





About yesterday, #MeToo

I am normally one to fight for others and don’t generally speak about my experiences, personal to myself. But yesterday I could not help but share the #MeToo because I am beginning to see the importance of it and creating a conversation about it. I realized I will be a hypocrite [to myself mostly] if I did not create the conversation [as that is what I have been doing the past year or so is going where it is painful and opening conversations that needed to be spoken about] and join in solidarity with my fellow females. I am also frankly tired of hiding behind walls.

What are we afraid of?

Are we afraid that we would embarrass our family and friends?

Are we afraid that the world would know we actually know what a penis looks like at the age of 6 or 7?

Are we afraid to let our culture be exposed for what it is?

Are we afraid to not have the conversation because it would make someone else feel guilty about our plight [especially as kids]?

Are we afraid to let the world know why you helicopter your own kids and keep them close by and when something unaware has happened and you actually not knowingly put their lives in danger you beat the crap out of yourself?

Are you afraid to tell the world that disgusting vile acts of men [and women] are really true?

Are you afraid to let people down because you know you were not given the time of day as a kid [and it is not anyone’s fault as everyone does what they know best at any given time in their lives] and everything would have been hushed anyway?

Are you afraid to say that nobody really cares about the kids and self-esteem and ego will get in the way of adults because nobody wants to tell the world that their child was abused?



Yes, I am aware that this happens to all genders and sex but for once I want to focus on ME as a female in this world [no, it does not make me less compassionate about my male family and friends who went through the same atrocities and it does not dismiss what they have been through], I just want to focus on this particular conversation. The conversation of women and children [especially girls] because I want it to be a focus of as much as men get sexually assaulted too but let us just focus on me as a woman for a change.

I want to tell you why I hate old Indian men.

I want to tell you why I do not leave my home and only go with very close family members like my life partner, my kids, my parents, my siblings. I want to tell you I am afraid to be left alone with any man in a room [no offense to anyone but the only men I truly trust is my dad, kids, and brother, no one else].

I want to tell you why I have been depressed most of my life.

I want to tell you why I have low self-esteem.

I want to tell you why I never felt physically attractive.

I want to tell you why I am an emotional person.

I want to tell you why I hurt so much when kids get hit or have their rights violated.

I want to tell you why I taught my boys from as young as possible that NO ONE but NO ONE is allowed to touch them without their permission.

I want to tell you why this is so important to leave kids to make their own decisions about EVERYTHING as they learn that no one can violate their space, whether it is their mother, father, uncle, aunt, NO ONE but NO ONE must violate their space in touching, hiding, spatially and verbally. IT IS THEIR BODY AND THEIR BODY ALONE!

I want to tell you I will kill the person that touches my children, I am THAT mother.

I want to tell you why it hurts me so much to see hurt and pain caused by other humans.

I want to tell why I feel there is so much injustice in this world, especially towards women and children.

I want to tell you what it feels like to have been driven throughout Johannesburg without a clue as to where you are going, in and out of consciousness with somebody who was supposed to have been trustworthy.

I want to tell you how scared I was to have left my kids at home and it was the first time I did that and I how afraid I was of not getting back to them.

I want to tell you the first question people ask “why did you not speak about it when it actually did happen, why did you wait till now” which makes you feel like you lying.

I want to tell you that those you thought where your family actually become strangers because they side with the wrong person.

I want to tell you that other women who have been abused DO NOT SUPPORT YOU.

I want to tell you that even though you try to open up to people you thought were friends and would help you actually give you the cold shoulder, because they do not want to get involved and because the events that followed did not suit their idea of an abused woman, because it was not told the same time.

I want to tell you why I love animals more than the human species.

I want to tell you all of these things but mostly I want to tell you IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT AND YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL EMBARRASSED OR ASHAMED OF IT AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I also want to tell you I DID have support from my close family and family members [including some friends] that were close to me, and that I am eternally grateful for.

Let us take this conversation somewhere.

Let us bring the men [and women] involved in abuse to the forefront.

Let’s eventually shift the focus to the men who rape, the men who violate our space, the men who caused us that pain, the men that verbally abuse you.

Let us shift the focus eventually.

Why must we carry the burden alone, why must we carry the burden AT ALL?

They should be the ones on the guilty stand.

They should be the ones incarcerated.

They should be the ones that live in a prison.

Let us break the silence, let us shift the focus.






My dad has always been the most positive and unconditionally loved male figure in my life. We do not necessarily agree on a lot of things and our arguments can lead to tears at times and most times our theories about life can collide in explosions.  He does come from a patriarchal background; [who has not in his generation], but he is the kindest, most caring and considerate man I know, and certainly, has respect for my sister and me as women now and us growing up as kids. He showed the same to my brother. He was the type of father that plaited our hair for school and gave us a bath when we were younger without batting an eyelid. He provided not only a shelter and food but also created a safeness, warmth and fatherly love that have remained unchanged and he extends this to his granddaughters and grandsons.

My father is not the perfect man but he certainly is NOT trash! My life partner is also not perfect but he is not trash, either! When I saw the hashtag ‘Men Are Trash’ circulating social media, I told myself once again it seems we are moving from one extreme to another. Generalizing is what gets us into trouble in the first place [I have done it too, but have since learned], coupled with radicalness of any activism.

Yes, I have read the dreaded,  heart-breaking and tragic event that was the onset of this hashtag, and I have many experiences already that give me all the reasons to hate men and if we had to tie it down to race, in specific, Indian men.  Unfortunately, I cannot categorize my hatred/resentment, as my life partner is Indian and my two beautiful boys are the results, who are nothing like my perpetrators. If anything they are quite the opposite and so is my father and my brother and other decent male influences and interactions in my life.

My childhood [and adult life alike] was not filled with fond memories of women either. When I first heard about feminism in my late teens, I did not take the first placard against men and parade yelling my disapproval of how men treated females or even how men treated males. My first question was how is there not a group for violence against people? I do fully understand the detriment of the patriarchal world and I absolutely understand male privilege and I do get those women have had the bad end of the stick is a huge understatement and yes, we absolutely need to change that but do we change that by taking a tractor and running over our own sons and fathers and brothers and friends who do not fall into the category of men that harm?

In my lifetime I have seen women beat up their husbands, belittle them and verbally abuse them just as much as men have done to women. It still is a daily occurrence in many homes, and there is a huge stigma attached to a man being beaten by his girlfriend or wife or being verbally abused, so very unlikely these get reported anyway. So as much as women do not report abuse of any kind, many men, on the other hand, are ridiculed even if they have to mention it in a by the way conversation.

The likes of Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump, leaders of the world do not make it any easier on males to be spat upon giving [unspecified amount of] feminists all the reasons to behave more callously and disrespectfully, fuelled by anger and hatred from their experiences and/or experiences of people they know. BTW before you jump on my case please note the feminist groups are also made up of male members who have also adopted this same type of attitude towards the male species too.

The most significant aspect in this whole equation [for me] is my two sons. How as a woman and a mother to my two sons, can I induce a healthy outlook for them about gender equality, in an age where these issues have been brought up onto the surface, still raw and very much still alive in our culture, without tipping the scales to extreme radicalism where, making them feel demeaned and just as horrible and guilty being born a male in this era as the females have and still are experiencing?

How do I harvest the goodness of gender [in this case feminism] activism if these groups of people cannot see that this is going to hurt the future generation of people by generalising a hashtag such as ‘Men Are Trash’. Are these females [that support this hashtag] not mothers to sons? If they are does it mean their sons are Trash too? Tell me again how is this #MenAreTrash movement even justified? Would a #WomenAreTrash be justifiable? Certainly not!

My kid’s generation are not going to know anything but equality [assuming that is what they are decently exposed to]. My sons will not understand the hashtag and will take personal offense to it, simply because their male figure at home and the male figures around them that they look up to, certainly do not treat women in a humiliating and degrading way. In the same breath they have experienced male abusers indirectly and find this preposterous and inhumane because it is not how it is in our home. They understand the patriarchal existence and are growing up in a world where gender equality is important to move forward and they are all for it. We have plenty of discussions of gender equality in our home. For them equality would mean sharing the negatives and positives with their partners with dignity and respect. They believe they are decent men who will treat everyone with respect gender neutrally.

Unfortunately, I am not sure if this balance is even anywhere in the near future. I certainly do not want my sons to have partners that disrespect them when they are being brought up by both parents who treat them with love, compassion and respect. I would not want my sons, to be trapped in a pregnancy trick. I would not want my sons to be accused of rape just because some female felt rejected by him. These are very real issues that have seeped into the generation of my kids and are well and alive as much as women are being raped by men.  This is what the future generation of sons are going to face if we use such condescending hashtags, not that it is not already happening. These are real issues my sons converse with us as it is a concern to them. So here are these wonderful men and men in the making have their heads screwed on right are left wondering how is it women get away with all of these atrocities when there were supposed to be gender equality?

Do you not think a start of a hashtag as such can throw a spanner in the works and course future decent men in the years to come to feel that they have had enough of the derogatory? Do you not think that wo/men are really taking it too far in this incident? What a negative message this sends out to our decent men. Do you not think one day there would be lash back assuming this continues?

I am a mother of two sons and they are not trash. I blatantly disagree with the hashtag. I am all for gender equality and against abuse of any kind, but please excuse me if I do not religiously pick up a placard every time there is a woman being beaten up or raped, as this also happens to men. As a mother I need to be present in a respectful way to both men and women so my sons can mimic the same, as they would be boyfriends/husbands/life partners one day so they need to carry this respect into their own relationships and not resent being with their partner because their mom [or females around them] had no respect for men [and women] and has followed the hashtag ‘Men Are Trash’ movement. As mothers we owe it to our sons and society to create a space that is safe and respectful so our sons can go into the world and be respectful, loving and caring husbands and fathers and not demonize them with such hashtags.


#the problem is real

#gender inequality is real

#men are abused by women

#men are raped by men and women

#women are abused by men

#women are raped by men and women

#men are used for their wealth by women

#men get tricked into pregnancy

#the law does not favour men in child rearing

#men are wrongfully accused of rape

#Men Who Hurt/Harm Are Trash

#Women Who Hurt/Harm Are Trash

#the problem is a human one

#the problem will not go away if you use derogatory to fight derogatory it just flips the coin


These are just but a few problems our future generations will be facing, taking the old problems and adding new and unnecessary ones that can be avoided. We need to deal with these issues with love and compassion and display your anger at the perpetrators rather than to one specific gender as I tell you there are good decent men that exist and probably more than the harmful ones other there.

I do understand there is a fine line in some of the hashtags mentioned above, like men being wrongfully accused of rape as many rapists can get away easily with something like this, but men getting wrongfully accused is a problem too as these men face jail time that is unnecessary not forgetting the humiliation that they have to go through. Are men not humans too? I believe if you want gender equality then this equality should also extend to the courtrooms and all walks of life were everyone benefits and not only one gender. Gender inequality is rife in both men and women and I am afraid that the scales will be tipped again by people that do not think before they act, by people that cannot see the bigger picture, by those who’s arrogance and anger blinds them to everything else that is happening around them and by those that jump on the bandwagon and uses this to harness power for their own selfish ego, trapping unexpected victims.

Women are powerful beings and so are Men! Why are we not using this power together to create something spectacular and to defeat the ones that do the damage and harm?

So have some of these activists become revengeful and/or using feminism to get what they want, pushing their [powerful] femininity across its negative boundaries? If that is the case then, this is no more a gender problem but a human one!