Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Getting into the Groove
My brain can’t seem to function in the afternoon except when I write. Perhaps writing works into my mental grooves which have the most use. So I am glad I could write during these afternoons because it makes me be more confident as a writer. Perhaps writing uses a different set of mental muscles (or synapses as I think they are called) which I have cultivated through out the years. So these mental patterns are well-used that I have no problem writing when I feel that my mind is shutting down. I guess that is what it is meant by the settling ‘into the groove’ or ‘being in the flow’. So when the mind is disoriented, one should find the activity that one is ‘in the groove.’ Writing makes me go into this mode so I wonder what other activities does it for me.
Visiting the Thomas Wolfe home in Asheville was a revelation. I think this is maybe the first time I have visited a real well-known writer’s home. Of course, it does not show the places where he actually wrote his books but at least it gave an idea of the environment he grew in. It satisfied a curiosity in my mind about the influences a location does to a writer. For example, Hemingway in Paris, or Greene in Capri and so on. But I guess if it the development of the writer. I guess the correct analogy is Hemingway growing up in Chicago or Greene in London. For Wolfe writing life, I guess it would be the hotel rooms in New York or boarding houses in New Jersey or his dorm room in Harvard. So the years and location of a writer’s formation is of course different from the location where he started writing.
The common element in most writers’ background is their access to books. Most writers are voracious readers and Wolfe had very good books in the library of the boarding house. Most of the works are by well-known European writers like James Joyce or Leo Tolstoy. It’s a good grounding on literature. Looking at my influences, although I have read great writers, my enjoyment was basically on the pop culture of spy novels, thrillers and horror writing by contemporary writers. For instance, Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsyth, Trevanian, John le Carre, Stephen King and Ken Follet. Some strange and mystical works as well by Carlos Casteneda or J. Krisnamurti. The great writer that has shaped my youth was only Ernest Hemingway, although I discovered Thomas Wolfe via the American library sometime during my early college years in the Philippines.
I cannot think of other great writers that have influenced except Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Yasunuri Kawabata. I have never been influenced greatly by any European. It was only during college when I discovered the great writers like James Joyce. So most of the literary writers I read in my youth were actually B-writers whose focus was entertainment and fun. Rounding out my exposure was more a conscious effort of study. I guess it is the same thing for me in movies. These days borrowing from the library has bored me if I borrow the art house pictures from Europe or Asia. I fall asleep these days instead of watching in eagerness like in the past. It looks like moving here has reduced my fascination for the exotic and the different. But I do get excited looking at works about Japan or the Philippines. I guess the American experience is novel enough for me and satisfies most of my curiosity for the time being.