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On the journey of long form

Date Released: Mon, 23 September 2013 08:20 +0200

By Fabio De Dominicis

The JMS 4 Long Form Journalism Writing and Editing module was a term-long, adventurous, soul-searching, coffee-and-muffin-lecture filled course which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Coming from a non-reader (that’s putting it mildly), this course allowed me to appreciate and understand the value of reading. Never before had I read, or taken out as many books from the library, than I did during the month-long course. I finally found out who world famous writers Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe and Susan Orlean were (if you’re reading this and those names do not mean anything to you, please make your way to your nearest library).

Seminars were conducted by the ever-smiling, ever-generous and ever-enthusiastic Gillian Rennie, who through a variety of exercises and techniques, allowed the 11 students in her class to be whisked away into their own unique world which reading creates, allowing each individual to discover something new and embark on a new, exciting, sometimes challenging, but in the end rewarding adventure.

Seminars were supplemented by guest lecturers as well as past students of the course, who directed, advised and often comforted us on our arduous and diverse treks.

We were also fortunate enough to be mentored by decorated South African writer Rian Malan, who gave individual guidance and suggestions for each of our stories. A little intimidating at first, Malan became almost a class mate himself, accompanying us all on our individual stories, throwing himself fully into the dilemmas, contradictions and difficulties we were having with our pieces.

My personal story was about the Grahamstown Train Station, a previously booming and vibrant building which has since been dilapidated and abandoned, a provincial heritage site discarded and desolate, left for ruin. After a few weeks, my story hit a bit of a brick wall as I was unsure of where to go and what to do with it, yet the ever-inspiring Rian Malan re-ignited my enthusiasm and reminded me of the initial reason why I chose to tackle this story.

The result was a highly rewarding, satisfying and somewhat reminiscent story of the good old days, as well as the possible future outcomes of the historical Grahamstown Train Station – a story which I hope you will enjoy reading.

Photographs by Fabio De Dominicis

Main photograph: The Grahamstown Train Station from above

Photograph 2: One of the desecrated rooms in the train station building

Fabio pic 1

Photograph 3: The former ticket office

Fabio pic 2

Photograph 4: The overgrown platform and flooded tracks

Fabio pic 3