Most successful people talk about how they got where they are with a perfect balanced life and you feel like kicking their guts because the reality is that you often have to give up a lot, make a lot of compromises etc before tasting success. Which is why I like the South African novelist Wilbur Smith…..he is honest about what he gave up in his interviews and despite his success, is known to be very patient, gentle and down to earth. And what I most admire and I hope to god I become like him one day is his ability to move on. Trust me….I’ve tried but I get so attached to people, places, situations that often it is to my own detriment.
I read about Wilbur Smith sometime around 1997/98 and thought very differently then. Now, having had a taste of all kinds of people, their motives, often dishonesty over the course of the last year or so, I actually would love to be like him and be able to compartmentalise my life into components, have the ability not to forgive and move on to my next project and make it work without owing anything to anyone. At first I felt it was thoughtless that such a brilliant author could cut off links with his kids, forget the names of his ex wives but having delved more, I realise that perhaps his ability to not put up with any nonsense in his life has worked in his favour and he has been able to focus and come up with successful books by following his dream and passion for writing by cutting out everyone who didn’t have the same passion and vigour for creativity.
Most of all, I admire this third wife (Danielle). Men can naturally be not very nice creatures as we all know with their drinking, cheating and philandering and often need a decent woman to break their bad habits. They can also be gullible as I have discovered recently when they are drunk or irresponsible when their priorities and focus is less on productive work and more on dodgy sabbaticals with equally dodgy people or I’ve even come across vagrants who don’t have money to eat but will sell their soul for sex and alcohol. So it was certainly heart warming to read about Daniel, or Dee as she is known, who apart from being Wilbur’s muse, researcher, editor was also able to get him to give up smoking, change his looks, travel the world and become more open minded about the world than he already was. I wonder if there are women left these days who are able to shape men this way for the best or help them become better people.
Anyway,,, for now I am ashamed I still have not read A Sparrow Falls, When the Lion feeds, The Burning Shore and The Sound of Thunder. The next time I have withdrawal symptoms of reading something offbeat, I will turn to Wilbur’s work, his life as an author, where he gets his inspirations from and more on his favourite books. If you have any of his books in your library, let me know as he is the next author I am spending my time on for leisure reading. I would love to meet him in Cape Town to see what his next book is all about and how he gets his characters so perfect in the way he portrays them.