I have always wanted to be a writer.
I could share pictures with you of my school reports that say things like ‘Jenny is very creative (read, a little strange) and writes very well’ but nobody needs to see those nerdy things. I remember learning to read with my mum at around four years old and thinking – wow, when someone writes a book they allow you to go into a new world at any time you want to, all by yourself! How cool is that! It’s like time travel, but for free.
In junior school my best friend Roxane and I used to have reading sleep-over parties where we’d read Sweet Valley, and some way more serious books I promise, and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company. At high school I discovered great women writers and was amazed at their fearless and important stories.
In 2012 I left my job and decided to take myself seriously as a writer. I used all my savings, moved back to Cape Town, and I started a Masters in Creative Writing at UCT. Two years later I had my first draft of my first novel. Two years after that, it came out in print with Penguin SA. Ta da! The Peculiars (p.s get it here).
It got great reviews and I was (and still am) so proud to have finished it and put it out into the world.
Then I went back to work, thinking that I could keep writing in the evenings and mornings (when I was energetic enough). I did, but it was really hard. After a tough year in 2016 I spent the December holidays doing some thinking about the life I want to live. There are so many quotes about being a writer, but the one that resonates with me most strongly is from Gloria Steinem, who says:
Writing is the only thing I do that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.
I mean, look how happy I look.
So, at the end of last year I started applying like a maniac for writers residencies, retreats, jobs, competitions and all sorts of activities.
And with some luck and some incredible support from other writers, I put in an application to the Camac Art Centre and I got in! I’ll be going to France for June and July 2017 to write my third novel. Think crazy politicians, magical creatures, radical activists, and more.
It’s a dream come true, but it’s … well … an expensive dream. That’s where you come in! I’ve paid the 520 Euro deposit (gulp) but I could use a few extra euros to help me get there.
You can donate here.
Thanks so much for reading and supporting me!