I often think of those words when analysing creative writing. Do we stretch people's lives when we let our imagination flow? A photographer freezes an image and makes us think of a past and future. What motivated that woman's smile? How come that old man is frowning when he is surrounded by loved ones? And why is that girl running away? Why is she crying? Why is her body covered in napalm? A sculptor tames the hard stone into a three dimensional still. We sometimes see a head, but not the body. The (missing) body is a blank canvas for our imagination. A writer, on the other hand, composes a series of tableaux vivants in motion where we get to stretch and freeze different scenes as and when we wish. I see that bag in the wind as the recipient in which writers put the spoils of their creative search as they go through life. The woman smiles because the girl was saved and her husband frowns because the world is not fair. After all, they still haven't found that missing torso.
How do you hunt similes? Where do you find your metaphores? What sleight of hand do you use to turn that personal name into an antonomastic phrase? I sometimes imagine writers sitting at their desks and asking themselves: 'What colour do I want the car with the driver holding a hands-free mobile phone to be?' I've heard of writers who have internal dialogues with their novels or poems: 'If you fancy something, just say it. Don't hold back.'
In order to stretch that second into a life, writers have to listen to their inner voices. They are the only creatures who are allowed the freedom to cash in on their paranoid schizophrenia. And it is a far from harmonious situation as each of those voices they hear claims to have the upper hand. A writer's job is to delegate roles to each and every one and build a cohesive and cogent argument about the existence of them all. But this suggests a logic. And writing is illogical. Creative writing, that is. You are constantly assailed by these voices that tell you, no! command you to fight them, to wrestle them into submission. To break them into smithereens. Shards. That's what writing sometimes seems to me. A kaleidoscope of confusing but alluring shards.
As my final thought tonight I will paraphrase Spacey's soliloquy in the aforementioned movie (sorry, can't do the voice, though, he's unique in that department, believe me, I saw him at the Old Vic some years ago). It's the very last part of his monologue:
'...it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beautiful literature in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then books flow through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, maybe. But don't worry... you will someday. '
Next Post: 'Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar (Review)', to be published on Thursday 13th May at 11:59pm (GMT)