Barefoot in Africa

knysna

Sunset in Knysna, Garden Route, South Africa

Hello, I’m Martin and I’m wearing shoes.

This shouldn’t be so. I spent many years working at the wrong thing – until I found my calling as a writer. And then when I did I tore into the fight with swinging arms and eyes wide, and on the world’s most wobbly, terrified legs.

And the fight for me was a fight against anything I thought was wrong. I railed against injustice, I wrote for democracy, I scribbled for equality, I typed for the environment.

I quickly developed a reputation, too. I was a walking controversy and, given that I’ve always – literally – preferred walking barefoot,, it wasn’t long before the locals started calling me Knysna’s Barefoot Writer.

I was proud of that and, oh, it was heady. I wrote columns and columns of anger and vitriol (and some humour) for the local papers. I blogged all over the internet in the days when blogging was just being born. I wrote short story after short story. And I started – and finished! – first drafts of two different novels. (Rather workable novels, I thought. Still think.)

But living costs a fortune these days. You have to eat, you have to pay your rent, you have to settle the school fees – which is why I didn’t even notice it at first. A commission here, a paying job there – everything written to the party tune – and my work began inevitably to cover itself in a dull, dry, dusty grey veil, and before I know it I was barefoot no more.

If I’m going ever to write again, I’m going to have to lose my shoes.

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