Writing Reflections 2 – The Teacher in Orhan Pamuk

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Finally, I am once more to be found with bent head while seriously writing.

Today, I mirror the earnestness purported to an accidental survivor who has lived her life a little more flamboyantly than others, nearly tipped off destiny’s razor-sharp edge once or twice and yet strangely enough, managed to hone her individualism to a meteoric rise.

Now, caught in an age group that measures wisdom from the burnished summer of her life; I am eager for my writing journey to be once more hastened, for its infant garden to be watered and tended with lavishness and for a cluster of flowers to summer.

Henceforth, I shall pretend not to notice any approaching signs of an icy winter that may wait with a sublime, thoughtful reproach locked in the hidden shadowy background. Gales may strive to topple my hopeful inclinations but ambition returns and for me, writing is all about time, discipline, industry and accomplishment. I form metaphors to make the toil sweeter.

I may pack my bags and leave Ireland for a longer sojourn  in a month or two – I haven’t yet made up my mind, with the exception that a rough travel timetable curled into small, tight whispers currently rests pillowed up in my head. As the moment, my schedule stretches up to Christmastime and slightly beyond.

I fight like a true-bred adventurer with a heaped plate, to curb an impatient nomadic spirit that cajoles me all the time like  a possessive, beckoning mother. The wanderlust bug is nourished by an individual’s own wide-eyed sense of  learning and open intellect.  I am often lured by an assortment of travel playthings comprising nostalgia, history, elaborate social culture, geographical data, an enchanting passion for literature,  accompanying  intimate  bookshops in welcoming foreign lands and other charming effects that sit comfortably with my modest luggage.  This,  while waiting to command an erratic series of enticing air and road journeys.

Perhaps than it is a potpourri of all the above that  has  prodded the urgent shaping of my personality,  to have been  moulded into one of determined clear-mindedness and focus. I have too many eclectic passions as it stands. When the mood and time permits and daily at the least, I indulge in either reading, viewing or pursuing outdoors…one of these many hedonistic pastimes that are now vital and compulsory to my writing craft. They shape my thoughts, broaden the mind and even resurrect important memories that may have long slipped into hibernation via the cosy cave of the subconscious; back to the surface. These may lie in the appropriate  realm of indulging in a culinary journey or long city walks, a cultural documentary, Nigerian cinema, artistic Persian films, world literature, nature rambles and even perhaps, a riveting detective drama re-run wound around one or the other of Britain’s famous fictitious sleuths….a storytelling form I have adored from childhood. Here, I am just touching the tip of the iceberg.

It is the pursuit of long years of  travel that has employed itself as my best organiser.  I am persuaded by how I conduct my own physical journeys, to now structure my beloved subjects into a swift, neat framework in my mind. When I travel, I think fast on my feet. I travel alone,  am accountable and also responsible for everything that surrounds my person, my luggage and my credibility as a passenger. This, to be silently  observed by foreign customs, immigration and security officials. While I am  somewhat untidy with my paraphernalia in real life, I sincerely have formed for myself a very tidy mind.

It is with this inclination that I desire to use in future postings, Orhan Pamuk’s Other Colours as a valuable guide to my writing refelctions…or rather, what I am now engaged in…the hearty writing of a novel.  I own a splendid hardback that details Pamuk’s writings on life, art, books and cities.  It’s aptly titled Other Colours: Essays and a Story. The short story is named To Look out the Window. You can easily find many good reviews of this work of non-fiction scattered about on the web. Below, I have placed two pieces under Further Reading.

I connect so closely in spirit to Pamuk’s essays and in this case, am drawn to the high romanticism that forms for the extravagant flavour of the Nobel Prize winner’s introspective writing journey. I confess to a splendid time devouring his latest translated work not too long ago, titled The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist.  Here his own inspections of what theories made for the shaping of the Novel, the reading and the summing up of each book’s technical aptitude, influenced me successfully to a deeper inspection  of my perceived perspectives towards literature in general. What proved thrilling for me was of Pamuk’s affectionate probing into life’s insights and the prism of environments that appeared to colour and lead his daily journeys as he busied himself sketching tales.

I came away feeling regaled and without hesitation, celebrated my own life where everywhere I turned, books continued to spiral up my destiny in the way that  the hungry high stacks may have been concerned with chasing a distant star.  Surely, I can do no harm with Pamuk as the invisible teacher and I, the apprentice to a renewed writing craft. There has been so much soul-searching within me of late especially with time snatched off from virtual networking in the last years. While this pastime had once proved intoxicating and addictive and now feeling far more sober with the rudimentaries of life, I don’t think I gained anything worthwhile at all, with the exception that a few kind souls bought my little poetry book. However, these trivial successes did not measure well with the actual time I spent on say, Facebook when I could have been accomplishing so much more. From hindsight, I see it as monumental time lost.  I wish I could be wrong but I have run some past episodes so many times in my head, that I sadly doubt it.  However, more of this later.

I thought that with future posts on Writing Reflections,  I would enter a deeper personal analysis, as regards the subjects that Pamuk essays so simply, in Other Colours. I am struck by the notion of how I would love to dissect such an intriguing work – little by a little – almost as if it were a classroom syllabus and that here were lessons that would require a singular mastery on my part.

Some of the striking subjects explored range from from the fear of death and how writing may erode such an anxiety, the observations of nature – and one of my own favourite birds – the seagull is mentioned where  its movement and actions may signal a series of reflections on living the life, the joys that literature may bring to a writer, the importance of time and rule, the value of cultural heritage, supression and the freedom of the writer, travel and expeditions, the books a writer may have chosen to read once before and the different impact that the same book may sought to herald for that startled writer, many years later.

Perhaps, I won’t always agree with Orhan Pamuk. I am after all, my own individual. I sculpture secluded explorations. The happy contents of my  library have been hand-picked by myself over the seasons and today, holds a vault of exclusive, personal memories that only I am able to comprehend. My experiences in life were terribly different after all.  Yet, the saving grace is that I seem to understand Pamuk’s everyday observations without question. Plus, I look forward to being taught on how to perceive my artistic pleasures observing each one’s every embellishment, that must so surely distinguish my own art without realisation on my part.

What excites me is having Pamuk on board as my invisible teacher but whose voice I continue to hear with rich depth and clarity. The apprentice in me that still seeks to learn her art in a new way and to probe a distinct odyssey into the writing of her own novel, where once the book is finished…there may have not been one but two. A manuscript for the publisher and another secret one, detailing what may otherwise have been a lost slice of life, both in her head and open heart. – susan abraham

Further Reading:

To know more about Nobel Prize Winner Orhan Pamuk’s work of Non-Fiction in Other Colours: Essays and a Story – Translated by Maureen Freely, do read

The New York Times &
Random House.
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