Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE: REPLY FROM SYDNEY


Yolande


Your favorite qualities in a man:
Softness, thoughtfulness, self reliance, imagination

Your favorite qualities in a woman:
Self reliance, intelligence, practical, humor, wildness

What you appreciate the most in your friends:
Support, intelligence, generosity, creativity

Your main fault:
broken fingernails and bossiness

Your favorite occupation:
designing/creating

Your idea of happiness:
Deep meditation followed by a boozy lunch. Being alone. Reading. No longer being bothered by others habits. Acceptance of all things. Travel

Your idea of misery:
being entangled with angry people

If not yourself, who would you be?
Morandi

Where would you like to live?
I like where I live but would like to build a house a few hours out of Sydney.

Your favorite poets/writers:
Richard Flanagan, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tim Winton, Hannah Kent

Your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction:
The old man in Goldfinch and the heroine from Burial Rites, Agnes Magnusdottir

Saturday, October 25, 2014

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HAUNTED?

dead tulips
It's Halloween and I've been thinking about haunting. I was going to write about the new McMansions in this neighborhood - and how starting with a blank slate of a house might be the way some people do away with haunting. Haunting comes down to memory - the memories of other people who once lived in a house,  as well as memories in the history of your furniture and in your head.

This month, I read Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House, where she suggests that architectural disproportion, angles that are slightly off, doors that aren't centered and uneven staircases might contribute to mental imbalance in the house's inhabitants. You feel haunted.  Also poor taste and somebody else's misguided creative imprints on a property can amount to a kind of haunting.

But I want to talk about a different kind of haunting now.  That of memory.  People speak of being haunted by past mistakes, heartaches and failures.  Maybe writing is a way of dispelling those ghosts.



petals

I'm going to tell you something personal - and I feel safe doing so, because you are my loyal reader and you are still here, reading. I'm going to tell you about a haunting I experienced when writing my novel I Know Where I Am When I'm Falling.   I wrote the novel with thoughts about a man I once loved - and the story is largely about him - although some of it is imagined.  For instance, at the end of the novel - I imagined how the character of Angus might have died at sea.

I was living in Rome when I wrote a lot of the novel.  And while I was writing the part where I imagined Angus dying,  I was also teaching at The American University of Rome.   This particular afternoon, I had been deep in my writing, imagining how Angus might have gone missing at sea, and the writing took a lot out of me.  I had gone very far into my imagination, to pull up certain elements of the man who inspired Angus.

I needed a break.  So I stopped writing, and turned my thoughts to a course I was teaching.  Suddenly the opening lines of Dickens' Hard Times came to mind - "Now, what I want is Facts."  It struck me as amusing, and I thought I might begin my lecture here, so I turned to the bookcase behind me, to see if I had a copy of that novel.  It turns out, I didn't.  My Dickens set was incomplete.

The Dickens collection that has followed us around the world
Bear with me --- because here comes the haunting - either that or a series of coincidences worthy of Dickens himself.  My husband Ben and I have traveled all over the world, and our books have followed us from country to country.  Some of them we had not opened in years - and this became evident in what was to follow.  Because when I saw I didn't have a copy of Hard Times, I took down another Dickens' novel, Bleak House.  I don't know why I did it.

I opened the book at random - and to my surprise, I found a card, that had been slid into the book many years before.


tucked into a copy of Bleak House
 It came from the man who inspired the character of Angus.  He had written this card to me.  I opened it and this is what I read:

his message


Astonished, I then found a second card in the book.  This one was a Christmas card - again from the same man.

I have no recollection of the original context

What did he mean, he thought I knew? I couldn't remember the original context of that message.   But eager for more apparent 'messages' from beyond the grave, I took at random a second book from the shelf - a book from the same incomplete Dickens' collection,  Child's History of England and Christmas Stories.  

Once again, I opened the volume at random - and my eyes fell on these words:

 A Message from the Sea

Several years passed.  My novel was published in April, and a few weeks ago, through a mutual friend, my former brother-in-law, the brother of the man who had inspired the character of Angus - got in touch. He asked for a signed copy of my novel. I sent him one with pleasure, and I included with the novel a letter in which I told him the story I've written here.   He  then wrote back. Earlier this morning, I went to the post office with a second letter, which I mailed to him.

I've been thinking a lot about 'Angus'. All that history is in my mind.  Haunting me? Not really - but companioning me, certainly.  Anyway,  on my way back from the post office, I decided to stop at an antique shop.  I was looking for a reading lamp.  I didn't find one. But while I was browsing, I came across some books.  They were the precise editions of the  incomplete Dickens set that contained those haunting messages.  So I purchased a copy of Hard Times~  the one I had been looking for!
a missing book to add to my collection


I then took the photographs you see in this blog post. While I was taking the photographs, I opened the Christmas Stories at random, looking  once more for the "Message from the Sea".

But it opened to a different page.


I kid you not

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE: REPLY FROM ROCKY HILL, CT

Daya


Your favorite qualities in a man:
The ability to stand up to pee, and/or pee almost anywhere.

Your favorite qualities in a woman:
The ability to feel pure emotions, almost to a fault.

What you appreciate the most in your friends:
That they appreciate me for WHO I am regardless of WHAT I am.

Your main fault:
Feeling that I have no value, validity or purpose in life. Letting those feelings cloud my judgement and influence my decisions.

Your favorite occupation:
That I have done:  Building web sites, building furniture.
That I have not done: therapist, architect, sociologist.

Your idea of happiness:
Worrying about nothing. 

Your idea of misery:
Worrying about everything. 

 If not yourself, who would you be? 
Any cis-female, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Andreja Pejic, Katharine Hepburn. 

Where would you like to live? 
Bora Bora, New Zealand, Seychelles

Your favorite poets/writers:
Ayn Rand, Susan Sontag, Jeff Noon, Nicholson Baker, Neal Stephenson

Your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction:
Howard Roark, Valentine Michael Smith, Tracy Lord (from The Philadelphia Story)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

AN EXCHANGE ABOUT WRITING WITH DOUGLAS WHYNOTT



Douglas Whynott

He's written about beekeeping, he's written about tuna fishing and in his latest book The Sugar Season Douglas Whynott writes about maple syrup.  We probably all know about the timeless New England tradition known as sugaring off. I won't bore you with my childhood introduction to the practice, which was actually a disaster. We'll leave that one alone.  What I didn't know was that maple syrup production has now developed into a sophisticated and complex industry. This book tells that story, as well as the story of the Bascom family and the wonderful characters who have produced maple syrup for generations.

Doug comes from Cape Cod and although our paths have not crossed exactly, he now teaches at Emerson College from which I graduated years ago, and where I also taught Creative Writing.  So in the spirit of my recent posts about writers and their work, I contacted him and asked a few questions. I was delighted at his response, which I share with you here:

You are a non-fiction writer - but you have a strong sense of narrative in your work.  How do you think the approach to writing non-fiction differs from the approach to fiction?
Of course the basic difference is that in nonfiction you are trying to develop a narrative based on facts, that nonfiction is a literature of fact, though both are rooted in realism.  When I was an undergraduate studying journalism and anthropology, I asked a professor how I could succeed at writing what he called documentary journalism and I now call narrative nonfiction.  He told me to study fiction in an MFA program, and that’s what I did, study fiction with the intention of writing nonfiction like that of John McPhee, Peter Matthiessen, Lillian Ross and others.  (I loved Ross’s essay about the group of kids that came on a school bus to New York, how she described their everyday lives in such a way to convey so much that was sociological and yet also meaningful in the way a short story or novel is meaningful.)  While in that graduate program studying fiction I began my first book about migratory beekeepers, Following the Bloom.  I have continued to try to learn how to write strong extended narratives that are nonfictional but also literary in the sense of a story that conveys some sort of human meaning. 
In your latest book the Sugar Season - you write about maple syrup and the industry behind producing it.  How did you realize that you had a book in this subject matter?
I began with the idea that I wanted to write about trees and forests through the eyes of a forester—I wanted to know how they see the woods.  I had moved to New Hampshire and was hiking in the woods and mountains, as a way of recreation and also contemplation.  I live in a prime region for maple syrup production, and after the discovery of an invasive insect that attacks maple trees I called someone named Bruce Bascom, who is the largest producer of maple syrup in New Hampshire.  I immediately thought that writing about the maple syrup industry through his perspective, and getting out to others through him, including a couple foresters, would provide a great set of themes for a book.  It took me a couple of years to convince others of that, however.  My agent at that time thought it was “too small a story,” so I found a new agent.  Eventually I found an editor, Lissa Warren at Da Capo Press, who was very interested and took it on.  The issue that eventually sold the book was the effect that climate change could have on the industry, though that theme had been present from the beginning. 
You write a lot about nature.  How do you find your way into your subjects - which in many ways are rather ordinary subjects, and yet you make them so compelling!
Thank you for saying that.  I write about nature because of where I grew up, Cape Cod, because I inhabited the marshes, woods, and shoreline.  I studied marine life from a young age and thought I wanted to be a biologist, but in college I got interested in anthropology, which I thought would be an ideal way to approach writing, with the study of human culture.  I then left college, feeling my education wasn’t going in the way it should, and that’s when I got a job as a fish curator and dolphin trainer at Sealand of Cape Cod.  I left that job after a year, with a new plan—to become a piano tuner and go to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst to study journalism and anthropology.  I think the dolphins inspired me to do that.
What is your day like, as a writer.  What are your writing habits.  What do you find particularly difficult about the craft and what comes more easily?
My days and habits depend on what phase of the process I’m in.  When I was researching The Sugar Season I went to the maple farm every day I could, and also took trips out to other places,  such as northern Vermont, Maine and Quebec.  I love the travel and fieldwork part of the process. When I move into the writing phase and as the work progresses I spend longer days at the desk.  I wrote the first draft with daily work, nine to four, over a six-month period.  I took the second draft to Colombia, where I had a Fulbright fellowship to teach at a university in Bogota, something I had arranged so I could work on the book in seclusion.  I taught one day a week there.  For most of the other days I wrote, producing through three more drafts in six months.  Each day I usually worked for about four hours, then took a break, usually a walk, and wrote for another four hours in the afternoon.  I sent my drafts to a former teacher and editor, someone whose advice I really trust, who read each draft and helped me immensely.  I think that’s highly important, to get another reading of your work, from someone you admire and trust.
How do you find teaching complements your writing life?  You've had so many other interesting jobs - working with dolphins, as jazz pianist etc. How did those activities feed
into your writing life, or draw you away from it?
In the beginning I tuned pianos as a way of making a living, and that supported much of my education.  Tuning was a good complement to a writing life, and I would have continued had I not started teaching freshman composition in graduate school.  When I finished my degree I was invited to teach a junior-year writing course in the Agricultural Economics Department at UMass, a good match because I was working on a book about migratory commercial beekeepers.  I taught in that department for six years, and picked up other courses as an adjunct, in fiction, literature, technical writing, and journalism.  Eventually I retired from piano tuning.  I think teaching is also a good complement, though getting writing done can be difficult when the semester is in full swing.  I can do research though, and am investigating new topics now.  I believe that it’s necessary to read a lot between books, to develop and renew yourself, to almost become a new person before getting fully involved in the next project.  



Thanks Doug!  I hope some time to meet you face to face - in the meantime, there are your lovely books...
Maple woods




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A PROUSTIAN QUESTIONAIRE: REPLY FROM BERLIN



Neil

Your favorite qualities in a man:

I cannot stand "macho men", loud men, "men" men. There's too many of them in the world running around and fouling things up with their testosterone piqued egos. I am a man myself. A combat war veteran. And still I cannot see the use of this type of posturing. I enjoy the company of sophisticated, educated, eloquent, poetic, talented, well-rounded men. Men who can fly a plane, build a computer, play the flute, write an essay, cook more than BBQ, explain the musical evolution of classical and jazz without being too wimpy to go on a 12 day hiking trip or too squeamish to kill their own food. I want it all in a man, just not the noise or the pride. 


Your favorite qualities in a woman:

Independence and self-confidence. And the ability to hold a conversation and tell a man when he is full of shit. Men need to hear that more. Especially from women they respect. Unfortunately, the sociopath clowns who run this economic game don't respect anyone, so god could tell them to their face that the world would be better if they jump off a cliff, and they would still go about their business of looting and pillaging the middle and lower classes. 


What you appreciate the most in your friends:

Unfortunately, since I moved to Germany and married a Germany woman, I still haven't been able to make any friends here... It gets harder as you get older. It's one of the things that does not get easier with age. Friendship requires trust, and as we age, we find it harder to trust in others. Oh well.

Your main fault:
Ask people who know me better than I do.

Your favorite occupation:
I used to pretend I was a dinosaur, but my wife found me running around the woods, screeching like a prehistoric bird, and told me it was time I'd grow up. I think that was two days ago.

Your idea of happiness:
People living together in a well regulated capitalist society. Or a hunter gatherer society. I still haven't figured that one out yet.

Your idea of misery:
People who live in misery and accept it when there is a possibility to change. However, we don't all have the possibility to change. That's how they rig the system.


If not yourself, who would you be?

Superman.


Where would you like to live?

Where I am: Germany.

Your favorite poets/writers:
The ones who don't suck.


Your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction:

Vigilantes. Because our "justice" system sucks, that's the fantasy I keep alive.  

If you want to be part of the fun, send your photo and responses to these questions to irrelevanceofhope@gmail.com!











Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'M GORGEOUS INSIDE

You see, this is the problem with living in a so called  "desirable" neighborhood like ours.  It's becoming less desirable, as all the mature trees are cut down to make way for buildings like this one.




oh, just a little house on the corner




Monstrous houses are going up on tiny parcels of land. Then they 'landscape'  with evenly placed shrubs, to make it look like the meridian strip on a suburban highway.

another one bites the dust



There's a little house for sale on the corner. It's surrounded by trees and fits snugly into the land.  The sign outside promises,  "I'm gorgeous inside!" It's as if to say - don't let all these trees fool you. I may look crappy on the outside, but inside I am gorgeous.  And by gorgeous they probably mean it has granite countertops.

"Inside? HA! Never mind what you are inside.  We are gorgeous outside!"  the neighboring McMansions cry.

bigger than big

When we saw that another house was slated for demolition, we asked the new owners what kind of house they were going to build.  Their children were scampering across the grass.  "A big one," they said.  Turns out, they aren't going to be living here after all.  Instead, they are flipping it.

 The two houses that are going up down the street evidently both have five full bathrooms. My neighbor said, "Who is going to keep all those bathrooms clean!"

the field where my sons used to play soccer, now two houses





Our house is small and we love it inside and out.  In fact, it is gorgeous outside,  because it has trees and it fits in the land, and I can use my imagination here. That's what makes it not a house but a home.

our garden this morning





Thursday, October 9, 2014

A PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE: REPLY FROM WASHINGTON DC

Wanda

  


Your favorite qualities in a man:
 Willing to chew the largest red pepper in the Kung Pao just to make me laugh, so therefore amusing, serene, adventurous, caring, generous of heart, and self-possessed.
 


Your favorite qualities in a woman:
 Smart, witty, unflappable and never ever above a generous sprinkling of the “F” word.

 

What you appreciate the most in your friends:
 Courage, kindness, sensitivity to the plights of others, and the willingness to be an unflinching secret keeper.

 

Your main fault: 
Implicitly, I trust no one.

Your favorite occupation: 

Soapmaking and all things artsy, top secret internet researcher, and essay writing.

Your idea of happiness: 

Helping a person believe that even in the darkest moment, everything is going to be okay, maybe not now, but eventually. And potato chips.

Your idea of misery:
Gnawing loneliness when you’re with others.

If not yourself, who would you be?
Day job? White House Pastry Chef. Night job? Batman of course.

Where would you like to live?
Penthouse condo, top floor with a proper cook’s kitchen and sweeping city views.

Your favorite poets/writers:
Khaled Hosseini, J. K. Rowling, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes and William Carlos Williams.

Your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction:
St. Thomas the Doubter, Atticus Finch, E. Braithwaite (To Sir with Love character though truly it’s a nonfiction tale) Anne (Shirley) of Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, Jane Eyre, and Mary Magdalene.


If you feel like joining the fun, scroll through this blog for questions on Sept 18 entry and email to irrelevanceofhope@gmail.com~ include a picture, and tell me your city.  Thanks!

Monday, October 6, 2014

ALMOST FICTION, ALMOST TRUE: a conversation with YELIZAVETA P. RENFRO and ANANYA BHATTACHARYYA



I'm halfway through Volume 2 of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard.  I told my son Elliot, "under no circumstances are you to read this book. Because once you start, you won't be able to do anything else."

I spent several hours this afternoon, chatting with two friends Yelizaveta P Renfro and Ananya Bhattacharyya. We met as fiction writers. Lisa's volume of essays,Xylotheque was recently published by University of New Mexico Press, but her debut, a few years back, was a collection of short stories. Ananya's fiction is charming, evocative and witty, but oddly she's more successful placing her essays, which appear in The Washingtonian, The New York Times and The Guardian.

We talked this afternoon about Knausgaard, and that fuzzy line between fiction and non fiction, exemplified in his work.  What's the different between fiction and non-fiction? Knausgaard's work owes its power to the excruciating detail with which he mines and chronicles his life. And yet he calls it fiction.

Why am I so fascinated when I read about Karl Ove  after his father's death, cleaning his father's house, scrubbing down counter tops, throwing out bottles. Why is this compelling to me?

"It must be because of the honesty in exploring every little thing and making it real for the reader," said Ananya. "You are in his head. But yes, it’s a little inexplicable, what's intriguing about it.

"Really, in terms of the second book, it's about being in that couple's kitchen and seeing what their life is like.  I think it appeals to that gossiping nature in us."

Yes, I said, but that still doesn't explain how he manages to be revealing and yet remain, as a figure, essentially enigmatic.
Ananya

"The more he reveals the more you want to know," Ananya said. "It's like you still don’t know him. He's capable of this, so what else is he capable of? What makes it fiction is that he has taken liberties. These are almost novels, almost fiction."

Anyone would want to be that kind of a writer, I said - one who readers can't put down.

"I don’t know if I could ever be that kind of a writer," Ananya said.  "I don’t know if I would be able to spill my guts out.  I mean, I have been writing personal essays but you can pick and choose details that you want to reveal.  His work is almost confessional but he’s doing something more than confessional.   Maybe the reader identifies with that aspect."

Yes, I said.  He writes about intimate things in his life with his wife - but he isn't writing about the cliche intimacies you might expect in fiction.  It isn't about sexual intimacy, for instance. It's more about embarrassing interpersonal arguments – his inability to confront issues head on, her pouring juice on the carpet in an argument, or gouging the dining room table.  And he's not flattering to himself either. Nor is he painting her as the villain. It's more the male female dynamic.  "She’s amazing to allow it, don’t you think," I said.
Lisa

"As a writer I think she gets what he’s trying to do," Ananya said.

"But sometimes as a parent I think, I need to protect my kids," Lisa put in. "I don’t want to go there because some day they‘ll be old enough to read this.  Even with non fiction, there are things I haven’t written about, and I think it's largely because I have kids."

"For me, there are things I can’t write about because even if I attempted to, my awkwardness would show," said Ananya. "The fact that I’m not totally comfortable would show.  If I could overcome that, I think it might be possible. But at this stage there are things that I cannot write about."

She laughed.  "I have attempted to write things – non fiction from my life. I sent a piece to my aunt and she said, 'I hope this was therapeutic.  Because this doesn’t work.She’s very honest.  'This is not working but hopefully it was therapeutic for you.' And I saw what she meant, later."

I told them that when I was writing my novel, which was based on a lot of personal experience, I realized there were some things I couldn’t have included. People would have said– oh that's  absolutely  ridiculous – that couldn’t possibly have been!  And so, for the sake of the story or the arc of the story, I couldn’t put some of those things in.  I also may have conflated certain people and things to serve the arc of the story.

"Are you writing fiction any more," I asked Lisa.

"I’ve gone back to the novel you read," she said. "I’ve revised it again but I may give up on it at this point. I’m mostly writing non-fiction.

"Sometimes I feel like the same material could be fiction or it could be non fiction and I just have to figure out which way I want to take it.  In certain cases, fiction allows you to approach material that is otherwise unapproachable.  Maybe it’s that awkwardness.  Fiction offers a form of protection.  You don’t have to admit that some of the not so nice impulses are your own, or some of the experiences  are your own.  So I think, in that way, it protects you.  Fiction also allows you to explore stories that are other peoples'.

"Something will grab me sometimes, which is not my own experience, which I'd just like to observe from the outside – and I think - how do I tell that story – and that becomes fiction."

Later she reflected, “I find it harder and harder to write fiction.  But feel like I’ve come full circle. As a student, I was convinced I wanted to be a journalist.  This was my passion and in college I was a journalism  major, I was the editor in chief of the college newspaper, I got a job working in newspapers while I was still in college and I did that for 4 yrs. 

"And then I realized, journalism can never be as in depth. We’re only looking at the surface here – we’re not going deep into why things happen and how people think and all these other things. And I  thought, that’s not the kind of writing I want to do – then it must be fiction.  So I went over to fiction.

"It's only recently that I’ve realized that creative non fiction is both worlds.  It's taking the journalistic aspect – this really happened in the world – but it's also taking the creativity with fiction.  You can use all these different lenses for looking at something. You can look at an event from so many different perspectives.  So I almost feel like it's taken me this long to realize this is the kind of writer I want to be – or maybe I was all along, but I just didn’t know it."


Ananya said, "I've been writing all these essays.  Then I had this impulse to write a short story about something I couldn't have explored in non fiction, because it was just a tiny event.  It was just too minor to mean anything as non fiction.

"With fiction, I could extend that and add stuff – connect it to other events and make something out of it.  So I started doing that again.  I don’t think I've decided that non fiction is where I'm  most comfortable. But it's easier to publish essays. That's something very attractive."


My novel, I told them,  is very autobiographical.  I knew I had this material and people would say sometimes, do you think you could write about that story. I would say, well I don’t know if I'd be able to write about it and do it justice. Or, maybe it was too close to me in some ways.  But after a certain amount of time  - you can do it – because you say to yourself – oh,  if I was imagining that I was a character - someone not quite me – then maybe I could think through this story in a useful and insightful kind of a way.

Yelizaveta P Renfro
Ananya Bhattacharyya

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE: REPLY FROM HONG KONG

Shu Wing








Your favorite qualities in a man:
 Natural, interesting, witty, genuine, kind n neat

Your favorite qualities in a woman:
Sophisticated, creative, original, genuine n kind


What you appreciate the most in your friends:

Their time n love

Your main fault:
Self reflecting

Your favorite occupation:
Live life 

Your idea of happiness:
Loving myself 

Your idea of misery:
Greed


If not yourself, who would you be?

A great dance n martial artist


Where would you like to live?
A peaceful place with my loved ones

Your favorite poets/writers:
 Italo Calvino


Your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction:

I don't really like fiction..







Thursday, October 2, 2014

WHAT ARE WE DOING WHEN WE SIT DOWN TO WRITE?



I do it every day. I sit at a desk, and open up the latest project I'm working on.  I write.  I might have a specific idea in mind when I start. Or I might read over what I wrote the day before, or the week before, and pick up a thread from there.  Often I'm distracted from writing by trying to edit instead, although editing should probably come later.

When you sit down to write, you really want to do away with an impression you might be trying to make. I think you want the impression to be secondary to the creative act itself. At least at first, you want it to be raw.  This flies in the face of social media-  (of even this blog post, in fact!) Because if you're thinking about the impression you're making, you've got an editorial hat on - instead of just letting it all flow out.

But if it goes well, as you sit down to write, you find you are giving authentic voice to important and perhaps conflicting feelings.  When I write, I am trying to think,  and what  I mean by that, is to think through the voices of characters. And when at last I have finished thinking about the subject to my satisfaction, to the story's satisfaction, I have finished writing.    

And yet I am also trying to craft something - make something separate from myself.  Telling stories is a way of externalizing them  – so that they are apart from me, but also somehow have a life.  I put them away - but also give them voice.

Perhaps we all do this, for fear that our stories and thoughts will die inside us.  When I write, I must get the stories out in order for them to live.  I want them to have a life beyond me – a life apart from me.  

But were they ever me? Or were they just thoughts?  And if they were fleeting thoughts and feelings, why do I feel I own them?   

Perhaps when I write, I am trying to disown them. Giving stories and thoughts to my characters who in turn offer them to the universe.  Maybe I'm saying here's one for humanity!

Maybe I don't know what I'm doing at all. Perhaps it's all madness. I'm writing this blog post, because I'm a little bit mad, and yet I want to think the madness through.

How about you? What  do you think you are doing, when you sit down to write? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE: REPLY FROM ISLAMABAD


Aryan
Your favorite qualities in a man:
Loving and caring

Your favorite qualities in a woman:
Sincere and trouble-shooter

What you appreciate the most in your friends:
qualities of sincerity and keeping secrets.

Your main fault:
To err is human

Your favorite occupation:
Journalism and teaching

Your idea of happiness:
Serving the needy people

Your idea of misery:
troubling others' lives

If not yourself, who would you be?
Maxim Gorky

Where would you like to live?
In a place where I will be treated as human ( which is indeed not Pakistan)

Your favorite poets/writers:
Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak


Your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction:
the heroes and heroines in fiction written by ex Afghan president Noor Muhammad Tarakai and Gorkai  (in the mother novel)