Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Monday, April 16, 2007

returning to an old friend

Some books form a personal connection with me. One of these is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. I picked up my copy after several years and remembered my dear friend Maria from Spain, who had sung praises of this bible for Spanish readers. The dog-eared bookmark with Maria's fading handwriting, exchanging personal impressions as we discussed my progress through the book, the soft focus sepia tinted memories returned.

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." Thus begins One Hundred Years of Solitude, from a terrifying point in the distant future, where the firing squad is preparing to shoot to kill. Dream and memory whirl into a heady mix to draw the reader into a narrative where time moves in many directions at once. This matter of fact yet incredibly farfetched note typifies the essence of Magic Realism.

I entered Macondo again. Staying awake till the early hours, I joined the villagers of Macondo as an insomnia epidemic threatened to erase all layers of culture and identity. I witnessed "the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forevermore, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."

One of the world’s most famous modern-day classics, One Hundred Years of Solitude encompasses in its epic sweep the history of the Buendia family. A mix of the political, emotional and magical, this novel is among the best known and most popular novels in the tradition of Magic Realism. This novel has been translated into many languages including English, and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It portrays the history of Macondo on a larger-than-life level, tracing events from its mythic foundation to its final disappearance. A middle-class family chronicle set against the backdrop of Latin American history, this novel tests the boundaries of narrative fiction. Garcia Marquez once said that he seeks to bring out “the magic in commonplace events.” The events in the novel may seem fantastic, but much of it has a solid grounding in reality. The massacre of hundreds of banana plantation workers in the novel is based upon an actual strike by workers against the United Fruit Company in 1928.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

pearls in writers' groups

My writer friend Behlor Santi says, "I returned to my old stomping grounds...There's a lot more coffeeshops and bars and boutiques there. There's plenty for the tourists. Yet I felt that I'm returned to the same bullshit,...looking the exact same way they did in 2002. Back then, I was in a more fragile emotional state, and I yearned for these hipsters' approval. Not, I laugh at them. I notice how pathetically they lie, how cheesy and classless they are. ...To artists everywhere else--I ask you this: do you feel alone in a sea of poseurs? Or have you found solidarity with fellow artists who create the real deal?"

Yes, I also feel alone in a sea of poseurs sometimes. And then I see that I, too, am a poseur, pretending not to care about so many things like rejection slips, comments in shrill voices punctuated with raised eyebrows like "Oh, so YOU wrote that article in yesterday's paper? I read the one next to it and it was really interesting. But yours, ..." Or, "You sure do have a lot of idle time on your hands."

And I pretend not to care when someone welcomes me in a new on-line writer's group and the thread is immediately hijacked to a completely unconnected topic. (That's happened to me thrice)

But then I do find solidarity in this sea of, well maybe not poseurs but but people who couldn't give a damn. Because of people like you who drop by at this blog. Because we sift through the sand and eventually do find lovely sea shells and even pearls.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fooling around

It's April Fool's Day. What better way to celebrate than fool around on my blog? Fooling isn't something to be lightly dismissed. It's serious business, the breeding ground for creative thought. Would Issac Newton have thought of gravity while chopping wood, labouring in the farm or getting traumatised at the dentists? Quite unlikely. If an apple fell on his head while he was washing his car, he would probably have cussed,kicked the apple into the gutter, and gone to put an ice pack on his aching head.

For those professional fools, the clowns, fooling around is serious business. Their comic style varies, from witty, loaded quips to being just plain slapstick silly. There are sad clowns and there are scary clowns just as there are enough people who are afraid to laugh and unwind.

And me? I laugh most to combat stress. When overwhelmed by adversities, I've seen people take a brief, lighthearted break. Laush in privacy at the things and situations that seem msot daunting, and you've made them surmoutnable and won half the battle. A hearty laugh helps put things in perspective before getting down to business again.