Christmas in the Karoo

I’m in the middle of packing up for our Christmas holiday: a two-week Map_of_Karooroadtrip from our home in Johannesburg to South Africa’s coastal Western Cape – a diagonal route from the country’s northeast to its southwest. We’ll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on a cattle farm in the Karoo, a semi-desert region in the middle of the country. And when I say a farm, I mean it: the owners have a small cottage on the property they rent out, but that’s it. No hotels, no shops, no traffic. We’ll be about as middle-of-nowhere as you can get.

I can’t wait.

To say we’ve had a busy year is an understatement. In the last twelve months we bought a house, welcomed our first baby (!), dragged her across three continents on four long-haul flights, and saw my transition back into full-time work after six months’ maternity leave. Y’all? I am EXHAUSTED.

I’m also feeling more positive than I have in a long time.

After a creative dry spell of almost a year, I recently finished a 68,000-word book in six weeks – the same pace at which I was writing before I got pregnant in June 2014. Is it up to the standard of its predecessors? I have no idea. Will it ever get published? Haven’t a clue. But it represents something massive: a reclamation of part of my life that lay dormant for 18 months, and which I’d begun to fear was over forever.

We’ll be effectively off-grid in the Karoo, so my packing list includes solar lights, charcoal and a gas stove, not to mention fiddly utensils like a potato peeler, a corkscrew and a serrated bread knife. Sure, it would’ve been a lot easier to check into one of South Africa’s many luxurious, all-inclusive resorts for the holidays. It probably would’ve been easier to stay home, in fact, and not attempt to entertain our busy 9-month-old daughter through hours of driving. This year, though, I’ve learned to find beauty and fulfillment in what’s hard.

Writing is harder than it used to be. Wondering whether I’ll ever publish anything again after such a long hiatus is even harder. But over Christmas I’m going to set aside my fears, focus on my triumphs, and try my very best to find glory in the attempt.

christmas-tree-baubleHappy holidays from sunny South Africa!

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