What do you do when you’re tired? And I don’t mean the kind of weariness you can just sleep off in a night, but the kind that makes you feel mentally stretched across too many projects, until your creative energy just fizzles out. All the words I would’ve written are probably stuck in limbo somewhere like in the movie Inception, and the ones that I do think of pop ineffectively, like an obnoxious teenager blowing gum.
I’ve spent the last few months in little boxes, living in a yellowish room a couple of square feet big with all my possessions piled on top of each other. Most of the time, I’ve been working at essay assignments that require the same structures- introduction, premises, argument, conclusion. My neighbours all live in similar spaces, with the walls so thin I can listen to their music videos or Chinese broadcasts.
As I’m working through the last of my assignments, everything begins to seem a bit surreal. It doesn’t help that there’s this very annoying little song on a tv advert I hear a lot lately, which features badly animated cardboard boxes floating around while a woman sings:
And the people in the houses / all went to the universities/ where they were put in boxes / and they came out all the same
Pretty ironic considering they’re trying to sell us phone contracts, but even more so that they’ve forgotten that the whole point of this university thing is to learn how to think critically.
But it is not an easy thing to stay creative when your days are spent solving set problems until you’re so tired you can’t think straight. Maybe this is why I love to write fiction – because it’s all mine, and there are no expectations.
Better yet, there are no rules. If I want to take those boxes and turn them inside out and fold their parts back and paint them orange, no one’s going to stop me.
Personal space, to me, is about that moment of silence between the things you think and say, a lack of stress and clutter, thinking about things without any direction.
It’s the space memory and imagination work best in, which I sift through to refill these boxes for later use, like the Pensieve in Harry Potter. These are the things I would put in ;
A fox on white feet in the road at night,
the coincidences that bring different people to the same town, a rainy spring day and the smell of moist earth, green dollars bills stapled to the wooden ceiling of a Virginia bar, orange peels, a brown cow chewing dried grass along a Pyrenees trail, sitting on a park bench with my chin on your shoulder
unstoppable laughter at an inappropriate moment, a snake tattoo across a man’s calf, the deer that come out to graze in the woods behind the house when they think no one is watching, a tropical fish with a bump on its head, rain on the canals, red paper lanterns, handwritten postcards with a silly picture on the front.
I’ll be writing again – soon.