I recently visited a website for ‘non-fiction writing prompts’ as a way to get me back into writing again. I've always considered a prompts website similar to a writer’s rehab, where one goes when he has no other options but seeking reform. I've had my qualms about my writing, stroking at my ego and telling myself it’s only a rough phase, and I’m just spending my creative thinking elsewhere. While all these things are highly plausible, and perhaps even true, it was time I realised I wasn’t the same person anymore. I wasn’t the same reader anymore, not the same kind of thinker. I used to have an attention span. Experience gives, but it takes away what it wants to, from right under your watch, and perhaps it did.
So it was time to push back and try again. That’s all we have for ourselves. Some perseverance, and some hope that it pays off.
I’m going to write about a book that I recently went on another hunt for. Checking all the Crosswords and Landmarks and book stalls, roadside and otherwise, across town, trying to hunt down one book. A book by the name Marina, translated to English, written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The only vendor online that sells it outside of a kindle gets it imported and costs a fortune. I bought this book without much thought, having found the hardcover on discount a few years ago, from a local Landmark. I saw a version of it again, 2 years ago, when I still owned it. I lost my book a year ago, and since then, I've been trying to find it everywhere I can.
Why am I so hung up on this book? I don’t know. The only way I can explain it to you is by explaining what Marina is about, and what it meant for me.
“Marina once told me that we always remember what never really happened.”
It's the kind of self referential statement that you'd probably find in any teenage romance book these days, perhaps. But this had more impact, especially because of the extents that this book takes the characters to, and where it leaves them at the end. A simple, yet oddly intertwined Gothic story set in a Barcelona that could best be described as a ghost town. It had seen prettier days, newer and more lavish mansions, but all the remained now was a mere ghost of the past.
It's hard to explain why I love that book so much. Maybe because there's death in the end, in what could be the most aesthetic ways to write a character out of a book. Maybe it's because the story had an end, but no definite beginning. It drew a line, a solid line beyond which the story couldn't go on. But it left you wondering about the characters and how they'd come to be what they were. They weren't supernatural, or even extraordinary in any way. If anything, they were as ordinary and mundane as life could make people, bound by familiar flaws, believing in the same fallacies. Maybe that's what made them real.
I'm extremely vague about how the plot goes in my writing, and it's because I have a little strand of hope that I will find it and read it again and it'll be different from how I remember it, and I'll feel the same way as I did when I finished the book for the very first time. Melancholy, but of a soothing kind.
You seek a lot of things in your time here, and most of them are driven by ambition. But everyone has one thing that they want not because it's special, or sought after, but only because it's soothing. Some people seek love, some seek validation, and despite what you'd say about either of those things, there's something comforting about having those things, however material or even petty they may seem to anyone else. For me, it's that book. Giving that much importance to something material is stupid, and I don't recommend it. But some things capture you. Like a fish in the pond that's bound to fall for the bait at some point.