Ok so a little about me…
Hi I’m Yolanda and I was born and raised in South Africa to Portuguese immigrants. My parents’ marriage was spectacularly unsuccessful (no adjective can truly describe how awful it was). One of my earliest memories is of my dad arriving home from a night out on the town (he was a notorious gambler and womaniser) to a barrage of verbal insults and flying plates. The trouble you see is they were both far too young and too tempestuous for a serious commitment like marriage. When eventually they parted ways (in very dramatic fashion – locks changed, suitcases left outside, father hammering on windows, police intervention) my father moved to another city and my mother went on to live the life of a single lady.
My sister and I were mostly raised by our grandparents. I started working ‘to pay my own way’ at fourteen years of age. At the time of course, I was resentful of the fact that I had to work if I wanted Corn Flakes for breakfast or a Duran Duran cassette. By the time I was twenty I had worked as a wedding photographer’s assistant (great job – when I think back I can still sometimes smell the chemicals in that dark room), waitress, receptionist and dental hygienist.
Eventually I saved up enough money for university and went on to major in Counselling Psychology but I didn’t practice until I was in my early thirties. Although I now work in marketing I am and always will be passionate about the benefits of therapy and personal development.
Writing has always been an escape of sorts for me. I write to make sense of my thoughts and my feelings and I also write to make sense of the world. I started writing stories when I was eleven or so and I would share them with my friends and one of my English teachers who was very encouraging of my future career as a romance novelist. In high school I had a number of my poems (very dark, mostly inspired by dead poets like Owens and Plath) published in the year books. I should have gone on to become a famous poet or a Mills & Boon author (I have a high school friend who went on to do be just that) instead I went to work for ‘Big Corporate’ and got caught up in ‘making money’. My blog, Scribblings, is my way of committing to the craft of writing – expect to read random posts on thoughts about family, nature and life. There was a time I felt a sense of extreme urgency to ‘get published’ thinking at the time that I was ‘a prodigy’ waiting to be discovered, but countless rejections have since proved otherwise. Now all that matters to me is that I write something that moves people.
What celebrity do you get mistaken for?
John Stamos. I think it’s the dimples. Also I have had more than one male friend tell me I look like Mariah Carey. You should know said friends were not sober at the time and this was back in the early 90s when I still had a big voice. Um, big hair.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would love to play the guitar. My eldest son plays beautifully but is an impatient teacher and I have short, stubby fingers. I love dancing and find it impossible to sit still when some Guitarra Latina is on the radio (or Spotify and Songza) for example but I move to just about any beat.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
My sister and I spent many happy hours baking mud pies and climbing trees in the African sun. I used to entertain myself, my younger sister and my friends with tales of wild adventure. I read Enid Blyton growing up, so there was always the possibility wasn’t there, of finding buried treasure in our backyard or that our neighbours were smugglers (despite living in a land-locked city)?
I miss the innocence. I miss my childhood friends, most of whom were boys. Two of them died in their teens in car accidents. I miss reading comic books and looking cool doing so. Nowadays you’re a nerd if you happen to know the difference between Green Lantern and Green Arrow. I miss that feeling of rolling in cool mud on a hot summer’s day. We (kids) were always dirty. I wish more parents embraced dirt and encouraged their children to run around in nature barefoot. I miss being small enough in the bathtub pretending I was a mermaid. I miss holding my breath underwater (now I just worry I’ll stop my heart). I miss the smell of ozone just before a Summer thunderstorm.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I would have to say that following my heart was the hardest thing I have ever done (oh how cliché I hear you say) My husband and I intended to move to Canada soon after getting married (20 something years ago) but family members were understandably upset at the prospect of us moving and we allowed ourselves to be held back. If we have any regret now is that we didn’t move sooner. We love North America.
What do you think the greatest invention has been?
Refrigeration. I know… I should have gone with ‘The printing press’ because what would life be without books and more books but I really do love my swanky refrigerator. So do my boys. I’m all for things that make my life easier like the internet and email and plumbing – oh yes, plumbing. I am very grateful for plumbing.
Thank you for reading.
Thanks for taking the spotlight, Yolanda. I love your thoughts on getting published, I feel the same. Up next week it’s Sherri Matthews.