The International Writers Magazine:From the Diary of Tabytha Towe
End of an Era
I can only imagine how many times I have told myself that this is an ‘end of an era’ or even written it, as evidence, as a kind of proof, proclaiming the same thing. However, this time it really is for real. Sadly, Hackwriters, this brilliant magazine is coming to an end. It will be missed by people, internationally, by both readers and writers.
Although each time something ends, another something begins, so lets just call it turning over a new page. Now just because Sam happened to entertain the idea of me being a part of it when it began back in 1999, I will miss Hackwriters.com.
It's for these reasons what it has meant to me:
I only found out today, and my first thought was how much I haven't written over the last year, I really haven't said anything for yonks it feels. And I just got it, knowing that soon it will be gone. It is a gift of a story to share, proud or not, alone or revealing, sad or humorous, words without inhibition, and yet even without financial reward, it is rewarding. It's true, decent exposure allows you to explore yourself and others around the world, to see things from their side. I was a 17 year old girl sharing with anyone in cyberspace my quirky, harmless little insights and events. Oh the day in the life of a hard working teen who just quit pursuing further education, who wants to gallop across the globe, but has gas to pay, parties to attend and a lazy boyfriend at some point or other to pick up.... along those lines. Those were the big deal, the things I wrote about back then; are you kidding me? I guess I never could fully expose myself as a true person. I couldn't say all for various and extreme precautionary reasons, so I censored a lot. A LOT. My parents couldn't read half the shit otherwise. Then I lost myself in my style of writing as being lost in thought. I wrote as I would speak, but that was just my mind going off. I don't blab as much in conversation for I am aware of it, luckily people tend to interrupt quite a bit as well, but when I write my brain does not tell me to shut up. However, with this particular magazine, I have not truly given my real self, therefore, it seems to me that I've existed wholeheartedly in character living life as an alter ego.
Saying this now makes me wonder if in fact that really is me? Still writing in the same spastic style a month shy of 29 years old?
Being an adult, having travelled and lived independently, paying my bills and keeping great company, regardless if friends or family from a distance, I know who I am and what I want. Or in particular, what I don't want. Or perhaps censorship is indeed necessary. I do hide things by going on about nothing for a sub-conscious reason unbeknownst to even moi.
Admittedly after twelve years of having written for this site I am obviously not a novelist, my sentences are all over the page, my grammar is insane. I hardly ever write anymore, I didn't take classes... for Christ’s sake I still type with two pointy fingers! Although I always knew I had this to fall back on and I am passionate about the art of writing, I feel it's better out than trapped inside. With this gig ending, who knows for whom I shall scribble for?
I can document things from when I was a silly teenager and see how much (or lack thereof) I have grown up over the years. Things I have experienced and loved, lived and learned. Funny enough two years ago I thought 'lol' in a text meant "lots of love", wow! And I bought my own computer just a year and a half ago. Except I need one where I can actually store all of my files and photos, I'm still scared to download anything on my little laptop.
I don't necessarily reflect back by reading my own whimsical or hysterical or what have you gibberish that I have indeed send forth. Much was for memoirs and I never romanced any of it, it was held back. Mind you after all this time I have a portfolio that I may want to save now. Having had an opportunity to be a personal contributor made it fun, it was nice to know I was published regardless, especially if anyone, in fact, was actually reading it. A nice thought to think that someone out there was, and maybe even related to you, without knowing you, but thinking they did. Or if they vicariously felt the warm sun on them as they read about me swaying in a hammock in Thailand, or felt alone when I was lost in Macau, or smiling while I was drinking beer bare-footed on the cold Dublin pubs' floor, or were there when I cried over how the world is a helpless place and no one seems to bother to help her heal. I wonder if I ever made anyone else wonder?
To be honest, I started off as a wild child "youth correspondent from Vancouver". I prefer the term "free spirit"! My mother stills looks at me as her butterfly, maybe because I can be flighty, but because I like to be free and she knows I'm not ready to get settled yet. I had a damned good life so far; a good family and countless homes, and things were obviously not always perfect, but still good. Growing up, trust me there were problems, as any, and yeah perhaps probably more than could deal with, but I always thought that others' problems were bigger than mine. That was my biggest problem, feeling guilty; it drove me nuts. When our house mysteriously burned down a looooooong time ago, I felt for those who never had a home in the first place.
As a kid I was too young too understand, then I blocked out emotions, which is stupid to do when you become an emotional pre-teen. My parents may have fought a lot, I may have taken up to drugs too early (I loved experimenting and getting high), we may have been a little broke, more so than not, I may have been bullied at a very tender, pubescent, awkward stage in my life, I may have never learned another language or how to play the guitar - my dad dreamed of one of his girls to gracefully play the violin and I was still trying to be a tom boy. Now of course I wish they had forced me to. I may have been mean to those I love and I have had bad school reputations, but we had each other and none of that never bothered me. Things always get better and one grows stronger in any given situation. Life and its curve balls. I was becoming skilled at trying to dodge them, but then I was like, damn it I can throw them back! Plus I had fantasies to want to believe in and writing about that was an escape. Although when you become a teenager that suddenly changes, then you hate everything. It's something you can never learn from until you’ve made enough mistakes. I was called the good girl turned demon, just didn't understand and was so curious about everything. Strange to see now how things turned out. My friends are married and on second kids, or either doing well in business, or buying their own places- my ambitions and me have remained the same.
I just want to travel, live healthily enough, earn enough money, help others, be happy and be inspired. I only had one tattoo back then 1999, now I have 9 and counting, and in one of my first so-called articles I remember writing about was losing my ink virginity. Back then I was worried my father would freak if he busted me, he did waaaay later. Then I got both of my folks branded somehow. Now I see him, well, not even consistently, my entire family at most, if lucky, three times in over four and a half years. He doesn't even mention my other tattoos anymore. I recall writing about my first car! Wow, I was a crazy driver, but I loved the freedom it gave me, also a lot of trouble, or that was just my doing. Now I haven't even got a car, nor do I need one anymore. I have lived in the same spot, Toronto, Ontario for almost three years by this point, a place I was just passing through on my way home. Turns out I like a lot of homes.
Besides I haven't driven once yet since I left Australia, I bloody lived out of a van for two months when I arrived there and it was brilliant. I used to look forward to getting into my car for escape. Though looking back I drove to places I also wanted to escape. What the hell was I trying to get away from? I think it was more I was only trying to look for something else. It was never that bad, though decisions I took in my youth usually were. I figured that no matter what you do or where you go, you couldn’t escape one thing: as mentioned earlier it's your own guilt or disappointment. It can be that you are your worst enemy. I just always felt guilty, for not being a good student, for not having enough confidence, for not having a career planned out by 23, for not being able to save abused or extinct animals that I feel so passionate about. Yet I'm a complete hypocrite ‘cause I still eat meat and fish once in a while and I freaking love it (especially when it's after the fact I signed a petition or donated money to an animal organisation for awareness or a sanctuary.)
I am a girl, but I'm not a girl in a third world country who gets sold by their own family for money, or raped by their men in their own community village to see my own, sick and hungry children suffer and die too young as well. For some reason, ever since I was little, I knew I couldn't change the world or save people and other species, so I always felt some sort of responsibility to suffer for them, ‘cause I couldn't save them. I used to be so dark with the friendliest face. I may have repressed anger with substances and bad behaviour to forget. I didn’t realise others around me may have cared by worrying about me. Who knew? Apparently it meant I cared too much. The more I found out the more I felt shallow and compassionate, yet useless. I was in despair yet trying so hard to be loud, be normal, or just fit in. Then I found my loud voice and didn't control turning it off. Except for this: I'll do it later. For someone who is always running out of time, there is never enough time; I sure seem able to procrastinate. One of those extremely stubborn insecurities where you don't think you'll do your best until...
Not many close to me know this. I haven't confronted my own diary for over a year, unless hopelessly drunk. Its intention now seems to be leaving my partner whom I live with ripped out pages saying "hope you had a great day, please sweep up the floor, left you leftovers...." or some generic yet also honest, perhaps passive-aggressive notes. He did actually read it a few weeks ago, the only time I wrote in ages. I couldn't make out at least 40 words of my emotional state, angry, tired, under the influence and obviously needing to vent (ps. that is what they are for, in the moment, that is exactly why they are private!) But reading it he seemed to realise something that I never told him. Did I give up on writing my own diary? I started one when I was eight years old. Anne Frank did a number on me in grade three. I don't have a clue what secrets I would have had then, but I'm sure in my hyper, sensitive and often twisted imagination of mine, I would have said a lot. Things I may have convinced my young mind of, like fairies exist and demons are out to get the better of us. I made up some weird ass shit in my head that's for sure. Crazy to admit all of this so suddenly, because I used to, but then I'd erase it for not wanting to spoil the truth of it, didn't actually want any one to know. Ironic. I'd pretend I wrote everything in one night, when my mind tends to go off, hence why I'm nocturnal, (the nicer way of saying insomniac), is that for once, I wrote this in an entire sitting without re-reading it the next day. I'm rather pleased with myself for that, for then I cannot go back on my words and change anything. Uh oh, not entirely ok with it but I'll wing it.
Oh gracious fool! This may be the most honest piece I have ever written for Hacks, because now that it's over, I can. I can also go on, and on and on, but as they say, " the show must go on" and this time instead of just splattering random paragraphs on a page, I too must make an attendance for my own show. But sleep first then growing up, which no one likes. I think I'll retire the idea of not wanting to do that. Getting old happens so fast but one must endure the journey and appreciate yesterday, look to tomorrow.
It's only been nine years since I for left South Africa on my first time travelling solo at the naive age of 20. So ready was I, so unprepared yet so ecstatic. Definitely ready for this new adventure again nearly a decade later. Ah memories, I still can taste the air. I expect it to be something that I have never been prepared for no matter how long I have anticipated it. I haven't gone anywhere solo in years, but I am grateful for all of the journeys I have made with others and I am looking forward to when my man comes down to meet me in Cape Town later on in this two month, bewildering excursion through Africa, so that I may show him. We are going to do wineries in the Western Cape, then head up through Namibia, which I am too excited about. Camp with the San Bushmen, go on wild life safaris then head up to Zimbabwe to get the overwhelming view of the stunning Victoria Falls. I cannot wait! And don't have anyone but my journal to write for, noooo! But for now, that will be good enough for me. So far I have heard that my cousin, whom I wrote about being introduced to and his lovely friends and the life that I wanted so badly then (back in 2003 in an article), that he is nevertheless leaving about a week before I arrive. Typical Tabytha life story.
I appreciate the last 12 years more than anyone knows and hope to take a course and write more in my life, hopefully with a future more than just an occasional hobby. Patience is not a virtue and I accept having to go after things now, because let’s face it, I'm 30 in 13 months and bartending is a quick cash scheme and I do enjoy it immensely, but I can't do it forever. My liver won't make it. Though I surely take advantage of my line of work to be a participant in both selling and consuming booze, what can I say I'm great at it. Nor am I the type (yet) to stay in one place until I have found where I truly want to be. A place is not just another country; a place is where you find that desire.
I thank you everyone who has been a part of this for putting in so much, and for letting me, a graduate of high school no less, no more, have a chance to write about mishaps, happiness, moments, expenditures (even though I only exploited 20% of actual events,) in the places she has been lucky to have discovered in her life and for trying to find my own writing voice again in it’s departure. Best wishes to every writer, critic, traveller whom have all set many fingers, hours, fiction or non, contemplation, late nights, caffeine filled mornings, heartaches, the unexplainable, the other critics, editing, constant wondering, (lord knows in my case certainly not editing but several cigarettes) of sharing yourselves with us and for this wonderful site. Maybe I'd be better off paying someone to write a goddamned book about someone like me … One day.
Hackwriters, you will not be forgotten. But if there were another chapter to come from this site, you would hear about me quitting smoking also, which will probably be the inspiration of writing in future. See, people can sort of grow up, (notice how I haven't said "fuck" this entire time :)
Never change, just make choices, and never give up or stop writing. Cheers!
Thanks to the editor - Sam North, especially for the opportunity and for reading and revising my work.
Signing off, sincerely, Tabytha Towe, aka your-not-so-Vancouver-girl-anymore
© Tabytha Towe November 2011
We can't leave it there: here are some earlier entries from our ex Vancouver Girl
Tabby Gets Fired
Tabby On Time Keeping
Girls Only Want to Have Fun - Actually
Breaking up on Valentines Day
Tabythat in Thailand