News from the same-lands

Hello reading and writing friends out there in this continuously wild and unpredictable world. I hope you and your loved ones are getting on okay. Somehow when I looked down at my planning diary yesterday it was mid-August. The year is winding down already, almost in its last quarter, a waning crescent. It feels hard to believe.

Despite what is an immense lack of control over the universe and a world (and country) that is careening from one disaster to the next, I’m finding it easy to feel overwhelmed with the sense of sameness.

I wake up with my morning alarm, my husband and I have tea in bed, and then yank ourselves out into the day to do our morning yoga and meditation, and then I work somewhere between six and ten hours before bed. Sometimes there is eating something interesting or walking or swimming thrown into a day, these small actions great markers of when anything happened. But usually, each day is the same. Each night when I write my evening journal I find myself stretching for things to say that aren’t just lists like this paragraph, this and then this and then this, and then covid stats. It’s definitely not of the quality of those diaries of famous people in libraries, the kind that allow people to marvel or at least laugh at times gone by. But, I console myself, it’s writing at least and that means I’m still a writer and that is one sameness that I find comforting.

Over the past few months I’ve had two short stories published that I’m quite pleased about. The first was a reworked version of something I wrote almost a decade ago via the Fresh.Ink platform. It’s a story of a boy and his father, a world where the climate is taken for granted, and what it means to connect. You can read Take a Photograph here.

The amazing cover of Omenana Issue 18

I also published a speculative fiction story via Omenana Magazine, about a woman who meets the mirror image of herself one day at lunch, and has to decide what to do about it. It’s a dark and twisty tale that asks us to consider how we feel about the lesser parts of ourselves. You can read it here. A third story I’ve written will be out in a print literary journal in South Africa this September. I’ll reveal that when I can.

A few months back I sent all three of these stories to a writing friend, Máire Fisher, who kindly helped me work out some of the kinks. Máire runs creative writing workshops with another writer, Chantal Stewart, and I knew she’d be the right person to help me get unstuck and see what wasn’t working in the pieces. It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes, especially kind and encouraging eyes, can have on your work. Having someone else read what you’ve written is an absolute privilege and I feel extremely grateful. It also helps you to see the bits you were holding onto just because they were there, and to slough them off so you end up with a more polished product. I highly recommend finding a writing friend and asking them to read things you’ve written. So thank you Máire!

I’m also working on my first full-length non-fiction book that will be out with Kwela next year. It’s a total secret at this stage (sometimes the contents are a secret even from me who has a 23 August completion deadline – eek) but I’ll let you all in on it as soon as I can. Hopefully it’s the type of book you’ll buy to give to everyone in your life (no really, please do that).

I hope that in your same-lands you are finding hope and love and creativity. What are you all working on? How are your journals? Have you done anything exciting?

Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear how you’re doing (this is a shameless solicitation so that I have something interesting to put in my journal).

Take care of yourselves.


2 thoughts on “News from the same-lands

  1. Hey Jen

    Thanks for the cue. Always good to connect with a writer. Enjoyed The Peculiars enormously. Identified with many of the characters. Am from an attention deficit family so finishing it was a landmark in 2019. Wanted my kids to see me with a book in my hand rather than kindle app last year so bought hard copy of The Fall but it disappeared in the mayhem that is our lives. Last week discovered it under the drivers seat in car. Picked up where I left off. Good writing. Sound bites from the last decade and earlier hooked me. Looking forward to your next once I’m done.

    I’ve preferred lock down to normal life so have flourished having a quieter life these 500 days. No commute. Prefer zoom and teams to the limitations of physicality. Wife says she never realized how much I talk at work. Share my screen ten times a day. It’s fun.

    Keep writing. It’s giving pleasure to many.

    Hope you got your jab. Had mine.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Best regards


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