Sunday, 31 July 2016

Experience


Senior year was a waterfall of university applications and exam preparations, assigned readings stacked knee-deep and writings presented with a prompt. Entire daydreams were dedicated to the books I’d read and the words I’d write the moment freedom kissed my fingertips. Summer was the arms of a hug into which I sprinted, and it hasn’t let go since. And while senior year might be over, life has slid into its place. Turns out freedom hugs tight.  

If I had to pick a word to describe the past two months, I would be incapable. From girly holidays in Mykonos to guy weekends in Ibiza, from pre-planned theme park trips to spontaneous science museum visits, from card game evenings to morning ears still ringing with the soundtrack of the night before. Sleep became a non-existent priority, little other than wishful thinking, while hobbies were postponed for “lack of free time.”

Guilt is inaccurate, as it implies summer’s memories should be stripped of their sun-kissed smiles and buried under a sea of clouds. Although some moments are blurrier than others, none will be regretted. And the sky, as far as I can remember, was cloudless.  

Writing is nothing without experience.

How can an author choose the appropriate adjectives to describe a kiss without tasting another’s lips between their own? What’s the point of documenting an argument if one’s veins have never burned on the brink of eruption? A beach sunrise cannot be captured on paper without one’s eyes having first seen the snapshot in person. If fiction were a flower, the petals would be the sentences – seductive, yet superficial. The thorn of a rose or the stem of a daisy. It’s the roots that keep the plant standing, the invisible yet crucial thought between the lines written. An imagined emotion is just that, imagined.

Fantasy cannot compare to reality.

There are three components to the craft. Reading, to learn from the talent of those inevitably more talented, and to become aware of what to avoid from the books published as a bad example. Writing, to practice the techniques borrowed (or stolen) from others. The third is the most neglected. It’s life - the one that slips in unnoticed between the words read and written.

So notice it.

Say yes to the opportunities that’ll later transform themselves into stories, not the stories that rob you of every last opportunity. Write to taste life twice, instead of swallowing fast and forfeiting the flavour. Seize a spontaneous invitation, surrender your spot on the sofa and go out with unwashed hair and no plan for the night. Laugh until your lungs split (metaphorically) and let your heart decide for you (theoretically).

Life was not meant for hunched backs and numb bums, sitting at one same desk to scribble away about other worlds. Neither was it intended to be lived in solitude, exposed only to the recurring voices inside one’s head.

I want to write. But not without living first.