Imagine being in a movie theatre. Velvet seats; maybe they recline (if you’re feeling fancy), a bowl of popcorn, the vacuous sound of a projector, and on the screen: life. Life in all its colour and noise and diversity. A car-horns-honking, running-in-the-rain, swimming-in-the-dark kind of life. A second-hand clothing, tears, poetry, and music kind of life. A ‘don’t wear makeup just to please him’ kind of life. It’s beautifully vivid and yet, in the theatre, it is dark and empty. There is a room where words form and link arms, like I made paper chains as a child.
There is that man on the New York subway, dressed entirely in gold. There is a finger tracing the shell of someone’s ear and look, there is love; a pulse through every scene. How delicate that word is. You cradle it in the palm of your hand as you sit in the movie theatre, trying to distinguish its multi-faceted, multi-coloured shape. Occasionally, you throw it at the screen and then think “no, that’s not right; you don’t belong there”. Sometimes you can’t hold it tightly enough and it leaps out of your grasp; sometimes you barely even notice as it creeps into the movie until love is all that fills the screen.
And all this time, you write. Pages and pages of sentences surround you. You can’t help but notice where the movie inspires words and soon, they’re caught on paper, like black ink butterflies in a white net. This is how I imagine my mind to be.
Someone asked me recently “Do you write?” and my response was “How could I not?”. Since being young I have always noticed things – tiny things – and these things need an outlet. They crowd in on my brain, buzz around me demanding to be heard. Asking me questions; how can sadness be held within a pebble? What does loneliness look like? Can empty paint cans tell a story?
“Yes” I say. I say it louder. Everything can tell a story if we imagine one for it.
My grandma told me stories as a little girl and now, here I am, telling my own, and one day maybe my grandchildren will tell stories about me. Families narrate their own paths through history, winding and unfurling from generation to generation. Fiction is not an imitation of life; it moulds it and shapes it and acts within it. Odysseus moved people to tears with his stories. We cry out of pity for the stories of fictions, strangers, and animals and when we talk about ourselves, we create our own narrative.
I don’t want to give you something you’ve seen before; a catalogue of where I was born, my hobbies, my degree. Creativity isn’t born at the point where I tell you ‘I read and play piano and study English’. I want to give you my words and the freedom to add your own voice. I want to tell you ‘I have no identity’ because life is always changing and we inevitably change with it. I want to be vulnerable because I believe that it is the moment of vulnerability where beautiful things happen.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to write. Write about everything: the empty mug on your table, patriarchal structures, grief, love, and the colour of the sky. Write loud and write bravely and write yourself or you’ll find that the world writes your narrative for you, and where’s the fun in that?