At a Group Reading

It is always at group readings where I realize that that could actually be me someday; up there, reading, reverently repeating each word my soul has heaved onto the paper or the blank white stare of Microsoft Word. I hear their voices; the sweet lull upon the wine-soaked air, the smell of quick, two-minute, half-smoked cigarettes wafting out of their mouths, onto the audience. Their lullaby of words is soft and mellow; sweet and harsh at the same time upon rejected ears. There’s admiration and–at the same time–a longing and a question of ‘Why couldn’t it be me?

There’s always that, right at the end. (Or to be honest, it is there throughout.) It’s always on my mind; my wish to be the one up on that podium, reading something people can applaud to or just listen and enjoy. I want the words my soul heaves out to touch the souls of all who hear or read them. I want the words I’ve moulded out of tears, laughs, and the most inspired moments to make others gasp; to make them feel like I’ve uncovered something that emerged out of the deepest, darkest corners of their souls.

I want them all to see my colours; to witness me in black and white; in print – in words, bled out upon the page.


I Write Because

I write because I love it. I love the words and how my inner voice recites each word I write like poetry. I love how, as I’m writing now, I hear the music flowing through my ears and my head; the rhythm of my sentences unfettered verse. I write because I feel the words streaming like blood out of my veins. My soul heaves out each word, expression, sentence; every comma, dash, or full-stop.

I write because it makes me feel alive. I feel my heart race, my blood pumping, as the scene unfolds before me. I feel like a creator; the creator of that universe. But so, so human all the while. There is no other moment where I am as alive or human as the moment when I write. There is no moment where I bleed more profusely than the moment where my words become black letters on a page. There is no moment where my muscles tense up, stretch, and flex so hard; no moment where I race as fast, as when my fingers type the words. There is no moment where my soul dances as beautifully, naturally as when I’m quickly drumming the white letters on my keyboard like that native rhythm in that forest somewhere long ago and far away. It makes me feel alive.

I write because I’m young and inexperienced. I write because my writing teaches me about myself. It teaches me about the way my brain connects the dots. It teaches me about my nightmares. It tells me all my deepest secrets and shows me all my darkest fears.

I write because I know just who I am. But I keep finding facets of myself I never knew were there.

I write because I’ll never know exactly who I am. I will keep growing every day into the best that I can be.

I write because it makes me feel like I am good at something; like there is this one thing; this one expression, that defines me; who I am and what I do and who I want to be.

I write because one of my favourite authors, Margaret Atwood said that ‘A word, after a word, after a word is power’. A word, after a word, after a word is immortality in ink.

I write because someday, perhaps in 60 years or so, I’ll die, but this will live forever.


How finding my style made me understand and love ‘The Great Gatsby’

I remember always wanting to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Being Maltese, I didn’t get much exposure to such novels. I was more frequently exposed to British literature, with the exception of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. This was, of course, until my undergraduate years. Still, The Great Gatsby never showed up on any of my reading lists. So – one might ask – why would I be so interested in reading this great novel to which I had had no previous exposure?

I have always been a frequenter of American television shows and films, and I have always envied the American high school experience – if the whole truth is to be told. In each and every one of these films and television shows, The Great Gatsby is at some point discussed in these high school settings, and the stereotypical avid reader makes references to this novel at some point during the film or television show. Needless to say, there was a build-up of expectation leading up to my first reading of Fitzgerald’s novel. When I found out that Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of the novel was to come out, I decided that it was time to get round to reading it. So I went to the bookshop and bought it. I read the novel in a matter of days, just in time to watch the film at the cinema.

In all honesty, while I enjoyed reading the novel, I felt let down. It wasn’t that the story wasn’t good or that I didn’t enjoy it. It was just that I had been building up my expectations of it; I had expected to read it and feel instantly swallowed into the narrative. I expected to have the same response to it that I had had for other great novels, such as the instant head-over-heels-in-love reaction I had to my favourite novel – Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of being a Wallflower. The reason this didn’t happen with The Great Gatsby was the build-up itself. I felt, upon reading the novel, that it was over-rated and that the story wasn’t as exciting as to justify its being mentioned on all those films and television shows. I watched the film and enjoyed the soundtrack and the acting and lots of things about it. The disappointment I had felt upon reading the novel, however, stuck. I was disappointed and I felt let down. I felt like my excitement had got the best of me. I felt betrayed by my own hopes and expectations for the novel.

ONE YEAR LATER 

I have been expressing myself through creative writing for fourteen years and counting. As time passed by, I tried out different styles, discovered what worked and what didn’t, and sometimes grew out of particular styles as well. Very recently, however, I have discovered what my style could be. It is an inspired style, i.e. it does not come out automatically and at all times. The style that is singular to me comes out when I am writing in inspired form. This is when I write best, as I have already mentioned in a previous blog post. Rewatching The Great Gatsby, I found out that much of the words were taken directly from the novel. I also found that they were bewitching – at least to me.

I wanted to reread The Great Gatsby, and so this is what I am doing at the moment. And let me tell you, I understand. The story is wonderful, however the magic does not lie in it. The magic lies in the words; in the writing. Rereading The Great Gatsby, I have realised and now acknowledge fully and wholeheartedly that Fitzgerald is a master of literature. He is a wizard, wielding magic out of words; stringing together phrases that – like music – echo in the heart and soul of those who encounter them with an open heart. Rereading The Great Gatsby, I now understand that Fitzgerald wrote a novel in inspired form.

For this, not only do I understand him and his novel. For this, I love him and the power that his words have over me as I read and reread each and every one of them, savouring their taste inside my mouth as I whisper them, their sound inside my ears as I perceive my whispers, and their echo in my heart as I succumb to them.


If Only It Could Last Forever…

I have felt infinity. I understand that “some infinities are bigger than other infinities” [thank you, John Green]. It is easy, then, for me to understand why and how my infinity could be so short. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t wish for it to last forever.

In answer to the question of Pace Oddity, I would like to say that I would never choose to speed anything up. I get bored sometimes and yes, it can drag on and on and on. And, in that moment, I would probably exclaim in frustration how I would give anything in order to be able to speed it up and getting it over with. In hindsight, though, it doesn’t seem as bad as it did back then. In fact, it’s over now, and it’s just a distant memory from the past.

But what I wouldn’t give to drag on moments that come back in snippets; beautiful, wholesome, and brutally short. I would give anything to widen that spectrum; to make my little infinity a forever one.

I would give anything to feel infinite again.

But then…then, I begin to wonder. Would it feel so special if I could feel that way every day? Would I desire it so often? Would it feel like the forbidden fruit when it becomes my daily bread? I wonder. And when I wonder, I usually conclude that no, it wouldn’t. It would become as old and dull as anything I wished for once then got then tired of. The sparkle would dissipate, the glow would die down, and the feeling would be killed forever.

I want to feel infinite. I have tasted of the fruit and it has changed me. I want to feel infinite again.

And I will.

In short bursts at a time.

As I was always meant to.


Urges Without Ideas

We all know about writer’s block, i.e. when you need to put something down with pen on paper but the words just won’t come out. You’ve got your topic, you’ve got your subject matter – you might even have the ending down – but you just can’t write. It won’t happen.

I have sometimes come to experience the reverse. Inspiration hits me like a thunderbolt and the need to write is like a hunger, gnawing at my insides, urging me to write, write, write. I have poetry inside of me at that moment and I know that if I write, it’s going to be great; one of those pieces I wrote about in my last entry – one of those that survive in spite of time and keep on moving me beyond belief. I know my mood and I know the vibe I’m getting; I know what style I want to write in, what kind of words I want to use. I know what I want to feel and what I want the words to make the reader feel. I have it all inside of me. Just one problem. What am I going to write about?

I’m a novelist. This means I always have ideas; parts of the plot I have yet to explore, scenes I’ve been looking forward to writing, chapters that I have to improve, or chapters that I’ve been longing to get the inspiration for.

But on these days, I cannot write a part of my existing novel or novels. It’s something else entirely. It’s like this urge to write something I’ve never even dreamt of before. And then I realise.

It’s inspiration.

So I turn on Mozart or Beethoven or some New Orleans style Jazz and Blues and get to writing. And these are the days when I write poetry.

Because you see, I call myself a novelist. But that’s just pigeon-holing things.

I will not pin myself down to the novel. Defining what I am is limiting, constricting, and to twist around a quote from Keats, I shall not let it clip my wings.

I am a writer. I wish for nothing more than to get urges such as these – an urge without ideas, an urge not pre-conditioned by my own limiting and binding definitions; not pre-conditioned by ideas, themselves pre-conditioned by a plot line.

So there will be these days; frustrating at the start – when I want desire  wish  need to write; something, anything that’s good and free and – most importantly – inspired. And on these days, I won’t know what to write about. I’ll glare and frown and scowl at the blank page and blinking cursor on my laptop. I’ll try to start that chapter I’ve been meaning to write and haven’t been able to.

And then this strangest thing happens. I feel my breath hitching in my throat, and my eyes open slightly wider. My lips part almost as if to speak or smile but doing neither, being indecisive. My fingers seem possessed, and something happens. Sometimes it’s manifested as a plot twist – a new character that changes everything or a new twist within the story that causes repercussions that reverberate throughout the text like an inspired domino effect. And this, though prose, comes out as poetry.

I long for it. I long for the frustration that this urge without ideas brings. I long for it because it drives me to a staring contest with the smug blank page; because it drives me to keep trying and to persevere, and to be stubborn – Don’t give up! it seems to say.

Relax. I never will, I reply, smiling. And then, poetry.


Being a writer is tough

but rewarding.

Being a writer can be tough; in fact, it usually is. You often write pieces which become dear to you and you read and re-read them over and over again. And you enjoy it each and every time. I know I do. Then comes that day; oh, that fateful day. You haven’t reread the scene in a while. The initial infatuation you had with the words and how they sounded as they fell upon your interior ear – while you silently acted out the words inside your head, fervently repeating them or whispering them, and whispering more and more loudly as you got closer to that part which made your mind climax with exuberance – has died. So, for a while, you left the document untouched, and it eventually disappeared from the recently viewed documents list on Microsoft Word.

But that evening (for it’s usually evening when this happens), you decide to open it again. You click on its title and wait for it to load, and you’re somewhat excited because you’ve missed that feeling, and you might have felt something similar with another passage or chapter or scene that you may have written in the meantime. But it’s never the same, is it? Each chapter, each scene, each sentence renders a feeling that is uniquely theirs. It cannot be duplicated. The affect they render is unique – like a fingerprint. There will be similar affective resonances, but it can never be exactly the same. So, you have missed that. You want to feel it again. You wait. It loads. You begin to read.

Doubt. It hits you like a thunderbolt monster truck seeking vengeance. You feel something, but not that feeling you distinctly remember. You begin to second-guess yourself; perhaps your fondness of the memory of writing it and reading it has grown with time and become overblown; exaggerated. Truthfully, though, this is rarely the case. The problem with being a writer of fiction, especially if you are writing serial fiction, is that you are human and humans grow.

We are affected by everything we see, read, hear, touch, encounter, think of, learn, and experience. Every single day, we become someone new in little ways. And when we change, so does our perception of the things we read and write. And when we re-read something that was written quite a while before, we’re reading it with different eyes that may have seen the world afresh. And it’s disappointing. Trust me; I would know.

And sometimes…sometimes, no matter how much time has passed, there’s that one chapter; that one scene or sentence, that you wrote – your creation – and no matter how many days or weeks or months or even years have passed since you last read it, you open it again and get the shivers. It gives you chills. Your own writing manages to move you in perpetuation.

And that, my friends, is what makes all those other disappointments and nerve-wrecking doubts worthwhile. That is one of the many things that make being a writer so rewarding.


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