FAQ Friday: About autobiographical reference

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Photo & Editing: GOTOX, 2011

I admit, it’s not always easy to separate the author from the work.
How often did I have to read novels or short stories for my literature studies and was wondering what the heck the author had for breakfast to produce something like that.

Like Fabio Volo describes so nicely on page 51 of his novel Il tempo che vorrei:
“Stealing ideas somehow belongs to creative work. Nicola and I do that as well. You steal from films, songs and conversations that you overhear while queuing in the supermarket or while being on the train. Like vampires the creatives suck everything out of whatever they encounter. They catch a word, a sentence or a thought and suddenly they know: This is what they had been searching for all the time. And they don’t even realise that they are stealing. They think everything is at their disposal. That’s why Jim Jarmusch’s words are the Bible for the creatives: ‘It’s not important where you take things from, it’s about what you make out of it'” (translated by me from the German version I read)

It might not be as severe as he describes, or maybe it is, I don’t know, but I agree, sometimes you catch a word or phrase or you’re standing at the train station with nothing on your mind and suddenly you see a movement, hear a sentence, see a smile or something else and you know it’s there, bam!, the moment you needed and then it starts running on it’s own, sometimes so fast that you can’t act quickly enough to get pen and paper out. And sometimes you take what you caught and you put it safely into a box and you think “One day you’re going to be part of a story, but right now something is missing.” and then bit by bit it’s adding up like a puzzle and it has to cook until it’s ripe, and then you know the moment has come where the story wants to, needs to be written. And that can happen during the week after midnight while you’re half asleep but you have no other option than to get up and to do what is demanded.
Therefore, not every conversation displayed in my stories has really happened. Maybe it has, somewhere, far far away, but I mean I haven’t necessarily experienced it myself. Of course, everything helps, sometimes it’s something a friend told me about, sometimes it’s an approach I found in a text I read mixed with a word from a film that heated up my creative machinery. Sometimes it’s a pure game of thoughts and has nothing to do with something that I or anyone I know has experienced. I don’t want to deny that sometimes there might be a sentence that I heard or even spoke myself.
So when I just have to speak for my own texts: Yes, yes, you can find my blood, sweat and tears, my sleepless nights, the wordplays that hit me in unexpected moments, my time, my energy, my love, my despair caused by the difficulty to find the right words to express what I want to express, yeah, a part of me in there.
But: My texts are not my life! What you read is not a one-to-one documentation of my life.
Of course, there are texts, especially here on the blog, that are more personal, like this one or “Tiswitis“, but even here it’s not a pure documentation of my own experiences, but like in a good recipe my own experiences are folded in like whipped cream and placed carefully within fictional elements.
But neither do I write as a cathartic exercise (as I was once accused of in a charming voice), nor to meticulously conserve my own life (there are diaries for that). I don’t even want the readers to find me in the pages, between the lines, in the letters. But I rather wish my readers to be able to find themselves there, or something that might be a support for them in troublesome times, something that gives them comfort in times of sorrow, something that gives them joy on a dark day, something that’s maybe just pure entertainment, something that moves them, touches them, yeah, maybe even inspires them.
At least this is my wish when being asked what I hope my readers find in my texts.

If you’re interested in an entertaining and a bit of a saucy text that bears as a background the question of autobiographical reference and is written with a bit of humour and sarcasm, I recommend you read my story “Sex sells“.

Do you think you ever thought a thought

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar

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Do you think you ever thought a thought
that nobody else thought before?
That even never was thought of before
in the whole history of our mankind?
Do you think you ever had an idea
nobody else had before?
Might there really be anything entering your mind
which has never ever
entered another mind before?
And what would this mean
regarding security and individuality?
I mean, if you cannot be sure of your own thoughts
– regarding the thesis that they might have been somebody else’s thoughts before –
what can you be sure of then?
Maybe it is just like the Indians once said
“We do not own the world, we just borrowed it from our children.”
Maybe it is the same with thoughts and ideas?
Maybe it is all about timing
and thoughts and ideas
have to enter different minds over and over again
until their time has come
to be put into practice
at the right time
in the right place
the right moment
with the right surrounding
and by the right person.
Do you think you ever thought a thought
that was never thought before?

Gina Laventura © 2011