Creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our ‘inner’ pool of resources – knowledge, insight, information, inspiration and all the fragments populating our minds – that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world and to combine them in extraordinary new ways.”
Maria Popova, Brainpickings
I hate the saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”
I want to klap a person over the head when this is said to me. The worst thing is when you start saying it to yourself. After my fall, I had to learn to do everything from scratch. Among a host of things, I had to learn to walk, talk, handle my right side once more. I would mutter this mantra to myself before finally ‘hurling’ it out at the world in utter frustration. Thank goodness, that as the years progressed so did my skills. Nevertheless that sentence still causes me to shudder!
I met Rosie Fiore.
And, she demonstrated to me how successful a person can be by trying and trying and trying again. Innumerable times. Indeed this is the pattern of her life!
We hadn’t been ‘friends’ before my fall. We knew each other. I was delighted to hear that Rosie had seen me “give a great performance” in Othello! We would probably smile at each other at theatre get togethers and move on. I had my fall and gradually moved back into the land of the living. Rosie became my friend on Facebook. She has an astute way of phrasing things. She expresses herself in a way that often causes me to think or draws a smile onto my face. I liked this person and so four years ago, on a visit to England, I arranged to meet her.
She has a face that is transparent. It reveals what she is thinking. Rosie’s eyes laugh together with her mouth. We sat and spoke for ages which was when I learned that she was an author.
“I thought you were an actor,” I exclaimed. “I’m sorry, Rosie, my memory isn’t all that good.”
She explained that she had studied drama at Wits. Her first paying job after drama school was to dress up as a cherry. She wore a giant fibreglass spherical costume complete with green tights. She then had to hand out leaflets for a travel company. She was an out of work actor who needed to feed herself. Glory, what a nightmare, I thought. I remembered my out of work days spent toiling in a restaurant. That didn’t last long. I was groped by a customer so I placed his food on the floor, where he deserved to eat it. Naturally I was fired!
Things didn’t improve much for Rosie and in desperation she approached her agent. He suggested that she write a play about out of work actresses earning their living as strippers. Rosie didn’t believe in doing things by halves. And so, with a 21 year old’s confidence, she worked as a food and beverage manager in a strip club on Bree Street, Johannesburg. This was certainly a dangerous place for a young woman to be frequenting. There she met other girls, her age, who were earning money by doing what strippers do! The experience was eye opening! What amazed Rosie was that these women were not all victims. There were those that actually chose to do it. It gave them pleasure. There was one woman who worked as an investment banker by day and stripped at night. These strippers gave Rosie her first play This is Not My Real Job which was short-listed for the Amstel Playwright of the Year Awards. At this time she also began writing for children’s TV.
Forget acting. Rosie was now a writer.
In 2000, Rosie moved to London. This was a big step. A new work environment called out to her. She began doing the thing she knew best: writing. This time she didn’t write for anyone else. She had a novel inside her that was like a caged bird waiting to be freed. She finished writing it and on a visit to South Africa, Struik Books agreed to publish! Her first novel This Years Black was out! She was overjoyed and returned to London ready to live the life of an author. After all she now had a published book behind her. She was sure it wouldn’t be difficult.
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
“It took me four years and about thirty rejections to get a UK agent. Then another five years and a further three novels to get an English publication deal.”
Nine years before she finally managed to crack the English system and get a book published.
My admiration for Rosie is vast. To write three novels and have them rejected would have crushed me. How did she have the courage to put aside a finished book that she had slaved over for about a year and then begin another? And another?
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”
When things didn’t go easy for her, she didn’t curl up into a metaphorical ball and abandon all hope. Her flame of optimism continued to burn. She tried again, struggled on and finally succeeded.
I laugh at the fact that Rosie writes about 1200 words a day. With my brain damage, I battle writing ten lines. Two different women, two different histories!
Rosie has now written eight novels that have been published. I asked which was her favourite and she replied unhesitatingly: “After Isabella. I wrote it after a friend died of breast cancer. It was a way to explore complex relationships between women and the care of the dying. It was painful and difficult to write but I think there’s truth and compassion in it.”
I am so glad that I’ve got it on my Kindle!
Recently I read The After Wife which she wrote under the nom de plume of Cass Hunter. She was under contract to another publishing house and they owned the name ‘Rosie Fiore’. I had forgotten that this was my friend’s book and just found myself utterly enthralled.
I love Rosie’s attitude to her writing.
“I just want to be a better writer. I wish to close the gap between the book I dream in my head and the book I finally manage to write.”
Rosie is a person that is ‘awake to the world’. This aliveness is a quality that I treasure.
Recently she has branched out into something new. Or rather, went back to taste her past! Rosie has written an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and she is now directing it at the Bridewell Theatre in Blackfriars.
It is an enormous project. It has a cast of twenty, a large production team and they are working in a beautiful London theatre. She has been used to working on her own with imaginary characters conversing in her head. Suddenly that aloneness has disappeared and she has other creative minds contributing to the process. This is an exhilarating, collaborative procedure.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”
In every walk of life, there will always be things that you have to try, try and try again. You only have to look at the Springboks recent rugby past and their phenomenal victory last weekend, and this saying causes you to smile. Indeed it wants to make me dance!!!
We were suddenly interrupted by a young boy who threw himself at Rosie.
“Found her, Dad,” he shouted to this man walking towards us, smiling broadly.
“This is Ted,” Rosie laughed giving her child a kiss and here is my husband, Tom.”
I was about to greet them when Ted, unable to control himself, blurted out:
“Mum told me that you jumped down five storeys.”
“You are just so cool!” he enthused.
My heart smiled. It is a remark like this that makes me pleased that I have tried, tried and tried again…….