Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Looking for Inspiration...

It's been a frustrating day of non-writing. As promised to myself, I've definitely put in the hours sitting here in front of my computer, but without luck. In search of inspiration I picked up this book. I bought it in India and it traveled in my backpack much of the way. It is well worn with thin, yellowish pages, printed and bound in Calcutta.

However, I am not reading it. I'm smelling it. (yes, really).

Page 117 smells like the white marble floors and aluminum cups of a restaurant I frequented in Delhi--the one that was 2 steps down from a busy street where endless streams of pedestrians, beggars, bicycle rickshaws, and even an elephant went by. There was a high ceiling with fans going constantly round and round, everything in constant motion. There was marble on the walls as well, grey veins breaking the monotany of white. I often went there to write, would order a mango lassi or chai. Across the street was another restaurant with the best samosas, but populated only with men--I would order them to go. And a little further away, was the bookstand where I found this book.

Page 243 smells like a small shop in Mysore where I tried on my first sari. They too had white marble floors, but the walls were covered from floor to ceiling in every color imaginable. Fuscia, teal, blue, green, orange, purple, red. Yards upon yards of fabric some embellished with gold thread, sometimes sequins. Two women helped me clumsily wrap the fabric round and round then fold, fold, fold into small pleats before tucking it at the waist and finally bringing it around my shoulders.

Page 166 smells like the air in the foothills of the Himalayas. An equal combination of the Ganges, cow shit, and sand.

Page 57 smells like the guest house I spent my first week in after arriving. Fluorescent lights, Gold Flake cigarettes, brushing teeth with bottled water, an empty backpack yet to be broken in.

Page 213 smells like Kota, Rajasthan--of incense and women behind veiled windows and dark doors. It smells like the museum where I gazed at miniature oil paintings, all in a row, hanging on dark wooden walls. Historical treasures slowly, slowly rotting in the humid heat. Lower on the page, it smells like young boys running down narrow, dirt streets.

Page 282 smells like not wanting to return home.

Page 3 smells like wishing I could be there now.

So this is what I have...image after image after image. A quilt whose pieces are haphazard, random, and small--pieces I have not yet made sense of.


Amber said...

I'm envious of what you do have. This week, I've learned that I don't consider it really writing unless it extracts the soul from a scene or an object and transfers it to paper. And that's my problem. I've actually been writing this week, because here - I think - I expect less from myself, so instead of draining my creative energy trying to create the perfect images that aren't always necessary or available, I've been weaving the sinews that get a story from one image to the next. It's not as pretty, but I feel accomplished nonetheless.

Anyway, your sketches inspire me. Gorgeous.

Renee said...

You did write, at 10:11 you wrote and shared. You filled my mind with images, the best kind of writing, I say. Thank you for sharing it and not keeping the smells of those pages a secret, sitting there in your green room, inhaling your memories like a private opium, thank you for passing it to me and remindind me of the best drug, writing.

Signora B. said...

How beautiful.It brings back the times I would spend in the Indian Boutiques in London,1957.
Touching ,smelling and dreaming of a Land full of wonders.

Jessie said...

So why is it that it's so much easier to write for blogger than it is for academia?? Oh yeah, stupid question.

Amber, I must admit that I was a little jealous of your ability to actually produce. And I agree about there needing to be "soul" in writing. I'm also interested in what you said about weaving sinews that get you from one image to the next--that's when writing starts turning into an act of magic--magic that perfectionism would never get at. I look forward to talking about that more in the dim light of our office. Your accomplishments inspire me to not give up.

Renee, you lift my confidence every time. Remeber when we used to write long e-mails back and forth? It would help me get started because you, more than anyone, are receptive to the way I write. Your traveling soul understands me well.

Signora b, London in 1957 must have also been amazing. It seems that you have lived a very interesting life. I'm glad you found writing, because now I'm able to enjoy it!

Thanks chicas.

Wenda said...

Smells good to me. Thanks for taking me with you.