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burning racehorse

I have been watching, not the London riots as such, but the commentary on the riots, with many exasperated sighs. It does not take a genius to work out what is going on in these communities which have been cut adrift from society. Yet so many commentators seem at a loss. Yes, someone broke the social contract; yes, it was a handful of criminals. But they were safe in their boardrooms and million dollar mansions while the streets were burning. I admit I can’t help enjoying the chaos a little, if only because I am far away from it. If it was my city, my inability to buy the life that i am taunted with would certainly incline me towards some opportunistic looting. I am not a bad person, but I could really do with some shoes without goddamn holes in them.

But London is not my battle, and honestly, I would probably find myself wielding a broom, the same way that as a young anarchist, I found myself trying to nut out positive ways of organising our communities, and trying to make peace, and finally took to writing as a way of expressing my dissatisfaction with the narratives we are offered, instead of burning shit down.

But i still believe there is a time and a place for burning shit down.

Perhaps it’s cowardice, but the quiet life in the country is all the more enticing. Back in chilly old SA, enjoying the changing of the season as spring extricates itself excruciatingly slowly from the frozen earth. Excruciating slowness seems to be the order of the day; I am battling a cold, and trying to write feels like winching a submarine out of a sand dune. Still, I managed to finish a short story yesterday and send it off to somewhere. It is another pebble thrown pathetically at reality’s front window.

Perhaps the slowness is a kind of punishment for my constitutional impatience, or my spirit baulking at the competitiveness of the writing world, which sometimes seems overwhelming. I am not doing so well at the racehorse model of being an author today. At times persistence in the craft is just a matter of holding steady, holding the huge weight of a thing while the sand slips off its sides, hoping it eventually becomes visible. Wanting some other life to be seen, to be broken open, whether or not you know it has a meaning. The meaning of things is sometimes an oppression.



  1. Lucia wrote:

    Well said. Sometime it feels I am weighted down by the world and all its problems. Tweets tell me everyone is writing, publishing, publicising while I’m starting at a blank page and my inner critic is squawking “Not good enough!” Love your line: It is another pebble thrown pathetically at reality’s front window. I’m still at the gate and today it’s a struggle to unlatch it…

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  2. jenjen wrote:

    Thanks Lucia. You know everyone on twitter is totally lying about their word count!

    Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  3. straycat wrote:

    hey love, nice to read and know that we all share such moments. Duration has its place. I’m trying to become friends with it and redefine my own pace. Always, always get seduced by those fires though.xn.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  4. Ann O'Dyne wrote:

    ‘ a time and a place for burning shit down’

    well you certainly burned-the-page-down at the place I found you, which brought me here, to find in your blogroll, four people I know.
    I hope you realise your dreams.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  5. jenjen wrote:

    Thank you for that, Ann. I will try to dream more honourably!

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  6. Prime wrote:

    Yeah those pebbles add up. It’s a step up from a ping pong ball!
    It’s bloody hard to go against the grain these days. Conformity is the order of the day. The competitiveness of the modern workplace can be intimidating, but it’s mostly show. Shitscared pretenders hoping desperately not to be noticed. Don’t let it get to you.
    It’s a good thing the business and workplace culture is so successful… otherwise some people might ask if it’s the best way to do things!

    And it’s ok to drift along sometimes.

    Love that submarine comment, that’ll be getting a run in my repertoire, interchangeable with ‘swimming up a waterfall’ which is getting a bit stale.

    Keep up the good work. Righto.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink