It is almost exactly a year ago when I first went down to Cape Town to begin my preliminary set of interviews with Sally Little. What a mad, exciting period this was!
When my spouse, Sadia, and I arrived at Cape Town International airport, we were picked up by Sally herself. As we drove into town, she smilingly said, “I will drop you off at your apartment, which is down the road from where I live. Settle in and then we can start your process.”
Years before, someone asked me what my ultimate ambition was and to imagine what my life would be like in five years time. Without even thinking, I conjured myself up as a novelist, sitting in a home overlooking a stormy sea, furiously working on some story or other.
So when Sally dropped us off, it was quite amazing that our apartment would be on Beach Road in Granger Bay. Everyday, before I walked down to Sally’s place, I would take a picture of the sea view – some days clear and beautiful, and other days moody and foreboding.
Our apartment, however, did not have a sea view as in my ‘ideal’ writer scenario, but it had the next best thing: a stunning view of Signal Hill! My contract stated that I needed to deliver my first chapter within this two-week period. Under the shadow of that calming Signal Hill, loaded with such significance to me, I churned out my first three chapters on Sally Little’s life.
Unfortunately, it was not that easy, because it was not as if the writing flowed out of me like a river, far from it in fact. When I arrived in Cape Town, I developed a severe muscle spasm in my neck and shoulder that required a chiropractor (Sally’s), physiotherapists, a doctor and finally a sports scientist. All that help came later. In the meanwhile, I wrote my first few chapters by using medical heat patches and a beanbag that I heated in the oven to give me temporary relief.
When I think back on that period now I wonder if it was the nervous anticipation, the pressure of the limited time period or something else. What I couldn’t allow was this situation holding me back and preventing me from getting this process moving. Perhaps, I even drew some inspiration from my physical pain because besides my chapters, I also wrote several pieces of poetry…
Literally, the first three chapters of Sally’s book, were borne in fire!