On the 30th December last year, I was driving with my friend Sophia Al-Maria on a dirt road to a campsite in the mountains, four and a half hours outside of Cape Town. It was crazy hot, the kind of heat that sits on your chest, like the nightmare incubus in the painting, but it was dread too, weighing me down. We were talking about climate change and how screwed up and scary the world seems now. I was low, trying to figure out what the point of writing books is at all under these circumstances. Shouldn’t we all be making like Nero, fiddling while it burns? Isn’t partying to death a reasonable and sane response? We talked about living in the 80s under the real and present danger of nuclear war, but how that was always a terrifying maybe, rather than a irreversible reality happening right now. What’s the point of telling stories about made-up people? It took me a couple of days to process it, but on the morning of the 1st, facing my keyboard and a whooshing deadline, I wrote myself a reminder about why I write.





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