I’ve been quite quiet lately because I’ve been “busy”. For me, that means oscillating between periods of utter apathy, Words with Friends and alarming quantities of snacking; and moments where all the important things I must achieve put so much pressure on me that I work frantically on one whilst feeling guilty that I’m not doing the others. If you look over my shoulder and observe me typing up an email to a translator, politely asking how one enters into the specialty of translating cookbooks (my current life goal), you can be sure your nose is brushing the angel that sits there screaming in my ear, ‘you have two essays to write this month what use is it knowing how to get a job if you fail your degree because you were too busy jobhunting to study you imbecile‘. Yet, when I am studying, the angel decides this would be the perfect time to take the entrance exam for the internship I applied for last week, and criticises me for being too much on-paper and not enough on-the-ball.
And in between all of that, I feel this furious need to blog. Why am I suddenly so inspired, and why at such an inconvenient time? Because I’m writing my long essay / mini dissertation, and the subject matter has me all giddy. You see, last July I put behind me the stage of education where you study what you’re told to, and it usually involves literary movements so long gone that you have to read five books about French history just to understand the context of each one. Since I got back from my year abroad, I choose the topics I want to study (out of a list of options, of course), and I’ve been choosing the most modern ones I can find. Now, don’t get me wrong, everything I learned in first and second year was incredibly useful and laid the foundation for more contemporary literary study, but now I have the incomparable privelege of writing my degree essay on an author who is actually still alive. She’s written about a dozen novels, she’s conducted probably hundreds of interviews, and she writes a weekly column in El País Semanal. She is Rosa Montero, and she is incredible. I just read an article by Mario Vargas Llosa (another living, breathing author we’re studying in my course on the novel of the Spanish Transition) about Rosa Montero, and aside from all the gold I sifted out of his article, which I’ll surely use in my essay, I just felt all tingly because I could tell I was part of an actual live conversation about literature - current literature, that’s being written as I sit here typing to you right now. I understand the importance of Voltaire and Racine and Unamuno, I really do, but I can’t help but think that more people would be more interested in literature if they were introduced to the literature that is happening right now. (Why am I using so many italics? Because that’s what people do when they’re inspired).
Now this may make me sound stupid, and if there’s one thing I don’t want to do it’s give my readers any more reason than they already have to believe that I am, but I honestly didn’t really think people still wrote literature like they used to. Literature worth writing about, I mean: literature that middle-aged failed writers pore over and criticise and publish their own writings on. (That was a horrible stereotype to include, one that I don’t even believe in myself, but for some reason I typed it anyway so I think it’ll have to stay). But I’m beginning to realise that this isn’t the case at all, despite what the existence of Stephanie Meyer and of Fifty Shades of Grey might have you believe. But hey, the fact that the entire world is listening to One Direction, reading mommy porn and watching Honey Boo Boo doesn’t negate the existence of The Lumineers (my current ear candy, via Grant), La loca de la casa (by Rosa Montero, yes the only books I ever get around to are the ones on the reading list) or Doctor Who (say what you will: best show on tv).
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m excited to be in a place where I get to decide what I want to learn about, I’m relieved to know that there is still fascinating writing being produced – and I’m sure it’s happening in the UK as well as in Spain, but Spain is what I know – and I’m so inspired to write this essay that I just spent an hour writing a blog post about how inspired I am instead of actually writing it. My brain really does screw me over sometimes.
What writers / musicians / any kind of creators give you hope that art is still alive?
Something to think (and comment) about.