Reading Thoughts: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

While scrolling through my Facebook timeline I noticed a link to a blog, so obviously with my curiosity I clicked and found myself on the following page https://www.facebook.com/citychicksjournals

City Chicks Journal is a virtual story series/diary-like series. It is purely fiction. The story follows the journey and cosmopolitan lifestyle of women and men juggling between careers, relationships, spiritual and emotional issues. The main character is Khanyisa, a woman in her late twenties, single mother and survivor of all sorts.

I will not lie, after reading the first entry of the series, I was hooked! It became a daily ritual of mine to read at least two posts a day and to journey with Khanyisa through her life experiences. The storyline starts well but over time, it gets too complicated and confusing.

This for me, is an example of bad writing, in the sense that the writer – whose identity is still a mystery – is always adding new characters throughout the story. Each character seems to be related in some way, or know each other somehow from a past that is never explored or explained. This is simply unrealistic. The writer is also causing his/her readers to question a lot of the links in the story.

Having questions while reading a story can be a good thing; it creates engagement with the text, but City Chicks Journal overdoes this and in the process loses the essence of the actual story. The grammar and spelling sometimes is also irritating to have to read through, e.g. Instead of ‘she wanted to SIT down’ it will be ‘she wanted to SEAT down.’

However, as I read the series, I began asking myself questions about the black readership of South Africa. Immediately, I went on to have a look at other virtual reading series/diaries such as the well-known Diary of a Zulu Girl (https://www.facebook.com/DiaryOfAZuluGirl), which I had read in the past. They all have a similar format. They are based on stories and characters that the black reader can identify with.

Take Diary of a Zulu Girl for example, the main character moves to Johannesburg from a small township in KwaZulu Natal to go study. On arrival, she makes friends with the wrong crowd and is pulled into the life of sugar daddies, drug rings/illegal businesses, drinking and partying, all because she wanted to fit in. Not to say all black people can personally relate, but most of us know, or know of, people who have been through such.

I must say though, even though these virtual book series/diaries are not in the calibre of writing Greats, but at least they cater for an audience that has previously been excluded from the literary realm for decades. These virtual book series/diaries have also allowed South Africans who are not English literate to read in their mother tongues, e.g. Diary of Umakwapheni (Diary of a side-chick), which is purely written in isiXhosa.

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