To The Unpublished Writer

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I met you this week. It occurred to me that I have met you (or some version of you) many times before.I could have met you at a university, led you in a workshop, chatted to you at a residency OR MAYBE you are the person who comments on my status updates.

Your sentences flow beautifully. Your prose is to be envied at. You write the type of phrases that I wish I could have thought of.

You want to write as well as Adichie. Nay better than Morrison. You would like to outdo Smith. And wag your disapproving finger at Winterson.

When you are done, Beukes, Bandele, Coetzee and Chinodya will stand and take notice. Forster, Baingana, Gappah and Wanner will just have to sit down and put their laptops in retirement.

So today as I write this I would like to ask you to please STOP! Stop revising chapter one over and over again and just finish the manuscript already.

I really should not tell you what to do, of course. You are just the greatest writer who never published and I, I am an average published writer.

But I am telling you because I would like to read your great book before I die. So dear greatest writer who never published, please finish that damn first draft!

Zukiswa Wanner


About Author

South African Writer. Feminist. African. Mother. Lover. Author of London- CapeTown-Joburg.


  1. abdullah Omar on

    what an encouraging piece of advice!beautifully scripted but I thought no harm done if you had prepared him for the heaps of rejected manuscripts that he may have to climb and be damned before published sometimes alas posthumously

  2. Pingback: Read Zukiswa Wanner’s Open Letter to Unpublished Writers | NB

  3. Without advice and all, I think the best way to break that buffer is to self publish your first work no matter how crappy. The rest will fit into place.

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