Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Journey Thus Far . . .



Journeys have been an overarching theme in my life of late, whether it’s at work or at home. Journeys are perhaps one of the overarching themes of all life. That and running a race. All my teachers in primary school loved comparing life to running a race. I digress, though. What I want to get at is that when one is on a journey it is good to stop once in a while and take stock. Just stop, catch your breath, relax and look back at the way you have come. A little break also allows you to look at the road ahead and to plan a bit. I recently joined the wonderful people over at Freelance Cape Town as a freelancer (duh!). Marius Vosloo, the guy who heads the team up, immediately made me feel welcome and at home. They recently launched their blog, called Our Voice and it serves as a platform for creative people to be heard. Marius asked me to write something about my journey as a freelancer thus far. I haven’t looked back on the way I have come in a while and this proved to be the perfect opportunity for me to pause, take stock and reflect on my journey as Charles thus far and to add my voice to theirs and see what sort of music comes of it.

Dear Reader and fellow traveller, sit down and rest your feet a while and let me tell you my story.


My name is Charles Siboto and I am a reader and lover of beautiful stories. I haunt places where I can find good stories. My love for stories has resulted in me becoming someone who works with stories, whether they are my own or stories that other people wish to tell. I mainly prefer stories that other people tell because there is nothing better for me than getting so caught up in someone else’s visions that you just cannot help but love and understand that person a bit more than you did before being moved by their story. I grew up as a reader and from early on I knew that stories are magic and that I want to be a part of that magic when I grow up. I never knew in what capacity I would help make and spread more of this magic but at least I had a general direction in which to start looking for where I can fit in.

I am not even all that picky in my love for stories. I love the stories my grandmother told me as a child and listened to Gcina Mhlope on the radio every Saturday morning on a show she had that was sponsored by Joko tea. I can’t remember the name of the show but I loved the monsters she always told of and how the children in the stories always outsmarted them. I read books, comic books, played video games, watched movies and listen to weird radio dramas. I landed up studying English Literature, Linguistics and Literary studies and I loved most of it and hated some of it. I remember one instance in my fourth year of university where I read the comic book, Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and had one of the greatest moments of my life reading a story and it shook me to my core. Final Crisis is a massive story in its complexity and when Zillo Valla (if my memory serves me well), one of the beings in charge of protecting the multiverse utters the following words it just gets me every single time I read that story: "Behold: we monitors who were faceless once . . . We all have names now, and stories. There are heroes and villains . . . secrets and lovers." Things like this unstitch me. Somewhere in that comic book Superman asks that the words, To Be Continued be carved on his tombstone because humanity’s story never comes to an end, it always carries on. I read and love J.R.R. Tolkien and he taught me that some stories can break your heart and yet still strike you with sorrow as sharp as swords, eucatastrophe he called it, the good ending that breaks your heart.


Stories lead me to where I am today. My name is Charles Siboto and I am an editor of children’s books by day at one of South Africa’s biggest publishing houses. This is a great honour and privilege for me because it was a struggle for me to get my foot in that door but like any good character in your favourite stories I persevered and always kept on going. I am also a freelancer in the sense that I use the majority of my free time to blog and write about books, movies, comic books, video games, technology, lifestyle events and even a dash of politics for various online media. I also offer my services as a proofreader and editor to almost just about anyone who needs it. Interestingly enough, French engineering students turn up on my doorstep with reports for me to proofread on a regular basis. This led me to my exciting new venture, Charles Siboto Bulletproofreading forInterns Abroad. A bit of a mouthful, right? But it’s all very exciting and I hope the venture does well. I have even dabbled in doing voiceovers, officially becoming the voice of one our book characters at work, Dogtective William.


This, dear Reader and fellow traveller, is where I find myself currently. I am juggling a publishing career and exploring many avenues as a freelancer. I am learning a lot in both spaces and I love it. I’m working with stories and helping people who tell them find ways to tell them as clearly as possible, whether it’s an author writing a book for children or a company that needs content written to succinctly share their vision. My own story remains, always, to be continued . . .
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