Sunday, 2 March 2014

On storytelling

My entire past is made of one carpet, one clock and two folders, a brown one containing writings dating back to my first few years in London, and a yellow one containing whatever I rescued from my Italian life - some documents, a few photos, poems. I was rummaging through these two folders looking for, and finding, typewritten pages to photocopy and cut up for my journal. I miss the typewritten page, with its mistakes, rewritings, and the different strength at which the keys are pressed.
It was interesting to reread all of this stuff. Most of it seemed to be Introductions to novels I never wrote, especially autobiographies. I was under the impression, as most of us are, that you needed a story in order to write, and I couldn't find a story. Not in the usual form of character, problem, conflict, resolution. Nothing in my life has ever taken that shape. So, my frustration was that nothing exciting enough had happened to me to warrant a biographical narration. It would take me virtually up to now to understand that such structure might, or might not, be a requirement for novels, but it certainly isn't for all writings. Poems, for instance, don't need it, and they are, or can be, mostly autobiographical. While reading those fainted pages and discovering a past that I remembered rather differently, I was disappointed that I hadn't written more. Not factual, diary pages, but more meditations, quick panning shots over a time now gone. My pages were full of colour, memories and dreams. I wanted to read more of them, many more, but there weren't anymore because of my ever present fear of pointlessness. Now I am trying to change that, I am writing more, so that all the magical things I live everyday will not be wiped out by a selective memory. I have also come to understand that what counts is the process of creation, not the potential audience, which can be a limiting factor if you attempt to guess what is readable, or understandable, or interesting or, even worse, saleable. Art, and sketching in particular, have taught me that simple, everyday objects can be amazingly interesting if you take the time to observe them. Good photos can also be uneventful, just capturing an atmosphere, a moment, something funny or quirky. Now I carry a notebook with me all the time and I jot down all the un-events as they happen. I imagine characters, and myself, doing nothing at all, just being, and thinking and living, without a clear separation between me and others, reality and fiction. Because, well, nothing happens anyway.

No comments: