The Wordsmith of Oz
Writer, Translator, Teacher

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مقالات باللغة العربية

The Writer's Desk
 
I have been writing since I was a child.
 
There was something inherently appealing about a clean piece of paper and an elegant pen. I don't remember what I was writing at that stage, but I look at some old photos of me as a kid, and there I am, skinny knees and elbows sticking out, crouched with my head about 5 cms from the table - I was born very short-sighted, but only got spectacles in primary school - pen in hand, writing.
 
My first recollections of something well written were in Year 6, when my Polish Language teacher showed my composition to Year 8 kids and told them off for not writing like me - especially as my schooling to that point was done mostly atop a Land Rover somewhere out in the Arabian sands..
 
My second very vivid recollection was in Year 11, after a poem I wrote about the administration of the elite private school my father sent me to made them decide I was too much of a s**t stirrer, and so they sent me with glowing recommendations to their competition. It took me one year in the second school to have the principal deported to UK for harassing little girls in the name of religion.
 
Then came university years, and the student publications, and my satirical writings and poems and plays; but also the beginning of political activism and the writing of pamphlets and training manuals.
 
In my first year of uni I discovered I could teach, so for the next 15 years I was writing educational materials, never failing to have a brand new set for a new academic year. I hated being bored, and I hated having bored kids in my classes. Teaching was fun, but I had other ambitions, so at the age of 24, I established a small publishing press. It attracted the attention of a large international publisher in the USSR, and for almost 5 years I was translating REAL stuff: philosophy, history, politics, economics. There is no better way to get educated than to have to translate a book - one reads it at various levels of comprehension and meaning, what it says, and what is said through it in the white silences between the lines.
 
Then came manuals for the UNICEF, and trips to refugee camps, and all that real life experience which I was happily protected from inside my glossaries.
 
In 1995, I gave up on third world countries and moved to Australia. I was getting old and tired of running around, but not of writing. Directions and interests changed, too. I edited the English section of Egypt News for a while, then went back to translating and doing my postgraduate studies. The focus now was on the Internet, on technology, on business.
 
I miss the humanities. Maybe one day when I am too old to keep running after ICT, I will settle back into something pleasurable - literature, maybe?