Today’s Guest Post comes from Lucinda E Clarke. You will have to read Lucinda’s story to believe what a fascinating life she has led, it’s truly remarkable. You will understand after reading Lucinda’s post how she has managed to fill several novels with her adventures!
Thank you for being my guest today Lucinda, it’s a pleasure to share your larger than life story.
A Life Anything But Ordinary
As long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. Now do bear in mind this was in those long forgotten days when most of you were probably not even born!
The family were less than impressed. I had to get a ‘proper’ job, earn money, stand on my own two feet – yes, back in the days when children left home in their late teens and supported themselves and ‘the bank of mum and dad’ was just a blissful dream for the future.
I thought writing was a proper job, after all my grandfather owned and ran a newspaper (OK it was in China and he’d been repatriated years earlier), but he’d also worked for Fleet Street on the major papers. He took me to one side and explained that most of the really big stories were obtained by drinking your contact under the table and journalism had its sleazy side.
So I dutifully went off to learn to teach children, my only success being a short piece in our local parish magazine – few people saw it, I’d snaffled most of the copies from the back of the church.
Move on a few years to Libya (yes, the Ghadiffi one) when I worked part time on the local English language radio station and I had to write my own links as anchor person. Not exactly Shakespeare, but it was a kind of writing.
Travel again through time to South Africa when I went for an audition at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, again as anchor person. I fluffed it big time. My reading a page in Afrikaans brought the house down (I don’t speak Afrikaans) and I cheerfully told them that a famous South African opera singer held a government position.
Called to a drama audition with 24 hours notice, I hastily scribbled some lines and battled my way through in front of the microphone. The producer stared at me for several terrifying minutes before declaring that I was no great shakes as an actress, but where did I get my audition material? I mumbled that I had written it myself. He finally said the magic words. “You can write, go home and write.”
I floated out of the studio, and next morning I was up at 5 am scribbling furiously. I was given an entry form for the SABC Playwright of the Year competition. So immediately I began to write my first radio play. Then I noticed it had to be typewritten! No problem, my charismatic Ex arrived home the following day with said instrument under his arm. There was only one small problem, there was no letter ‘n’. However, I ploughed on and when it was all finished, I carefully inserted all the n’s by hand – you have no idea how often we use that letter in English!
I came first and after that there was no stopping me. I bombarded the local newspapers, the magazines and of course the SABC with plays and short stories. I wrote in the early morning and well into the night, juggling home, children and a teaching job.
Within six months I got my first break, an SABC contract to write a series on ‘Man and Animal’ for the Black Radio Educational Department. Of course I knew absolutely nothing about local living, farming or animals (if you don’t count personal household pets) especially in Africa. I would need to do a lot of research. Enter the encyclopaedia Britannica – no internet in those days, and it took me three days to write a 15 minute script.
More commissions, for various educational departments, began to flood in at 52 programmes a contract, until it dawned on me that I was earning far more writing, than I was teaching in the classroom. I took an enormous breath and handed in my notice.
At the peak of my radio writing, I had 3 programmes being broadcast daily, each a quarter of an hour long, and I finally lost count over the following years how many I’d written, it must have been in the thousands.
You know how we all think the grass is greener on the other side? Television had the glamour that radio lacked (especially as most of my writing was translated into the 13 official black languages), so I gravitated onto the screen.
What a culture shock, now I was hampered by the budget, no longer able to fly into space or plumb the depths of the ocean at no cost, visuals like that had to be paid for and they cost megabucks.
A huge adjustment, as I slowly became absorbed into the production side, as location scout, production secretary, props collector, director and producer. When I moved from Johannesburg to Durban I set up my own production company and made video programmes for a wide variety of clients from major corporations to local governments, international conferences, and small businesses.
“I’m a writer” I told myself, I’ve had a fabulous career in writing, I adored every single day, thrilled to see my scripts come to life on the television or big screen.
But of course years pass and it was time to leave and retire to Spain. Once settled I suffered enormous withdrawal symptoms, scribbling the shopping list no longer satisfied my creative cravings. So I started to write books. And that is a whole different ball game. From the top of the ladder I started all over again right at the bottom, but that’s a story for another day.
Lucinda E Clarke bio
Abandoned in the African bush with a 9 week old baby and no resources Lucinda could look back on a childhood of mental abuse, without knowing that before her lay an even more bizarre future. She would run the worst riding school in the world, broadcast live with a bayonet at her throat, be fired from her teaching position and thrown into the media world. She would learn how to lie in the name of propaganda, write about dozens of topics for a variety of clients and have her own newspaper column. She would meet kings and statesmen, international artists and rural Africans. She would win several awards along the way for her scripting and films. Eventually she would reluctantly leave Africa to retire in Spain. A few months later she would begin writing books – seven to date in a variety of genres – and start a whole new career.
You can connect with Lucinda via her website
Lucinda has published several books which you can find at Amazon: