Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back to Basics

It was a moment that happened somewhere and somewhen in the recent past. In the middle of regurgitating once again the script that is to be my graduation project, I find myself floating the thought in my head that this is not exactly what I want to be doing at that moment. Further reflection revealed itself to be something that was a little more vague, though as much as I can deduce, I was still on the right path. I still want to read, to write, the watch, and to learn as much as I can, while I still can, the intricacies of not just films, but life as well.

Slowly, but surely, then, the truth of the matter revealed itself to me. I wondered, often, how it was that Nabi Muhammad had managed to get through a lot of what was given to him. He was, after all, a mere mortal, a man, who would not have been able to absorb, as he did, much of the information handed down to him by the Angel Gabriel himself (who, of course, in turn, received the said knowledge from the Almighty).

At that least, that's what I believe.

I mention this, because I suspect that the moments must have been somewhat as miraculous as mine was. Not that it was any sort of miracle, but then again, how do revelations work? Is it something that hits us with the force of a hammer strike by Thor himself? Is it a slowly, burning sensation that seeps its way through our veins, slowly, and subtly, reinforcing its presence within our very being? Is it something that has always been there, awakened only from its slumber by something external, like a lock that could easily be picked, or a safe that would be...well, unsafe, once the door is opened?

I don't know what it was like for him. But for me, it was...the second one. The slow, burning sensation. I say burning, to describe the impact it had on me.

And that realisation is I haven't written anything new. I haven't read anything new.

The weapons of a writer, if it seems less obvious to some, is to read and to write. It has eternally been my father's most consistent advice; no matter how different his political conclusions may develop, his analysis of films may evolve, his understanding of religion may advance, at the end of the day (in some cases, literally as well), it is the act of reading and writing that fuels the imagination of the writer. More importantly, it gives me the fire with which to burn that imagination, to set it alight with words, comprehension, images, illusions, mirages, sentences of abnormal length, or mere simplicity of the emotions expressed in an unspoken word.

I have, of course, written regularly enough. There is this blog, and another blog, which I try my best to maintain on a regular basis. There is also the rewriting of scripts and translations of the rewritten scripts into something to be comprehended by my classmates. It is not always perfect (the writings and the translations), but there is writing.

However, what I merely have been doing all this while was working on something that isn't new. I've written a lot, but I've not written that which has simmered in my heart and expanded in my mind. Hearts and minds, that is what we aim for. But what was in there, wasn't being expanded into the wider world.

So I sat down, and listed almost every single idea I had over the past year (a year! Three hundred and sixty five days without original material! What the hell was I thinking?). And I realised that I had enough workable ideas for at least five short films, four feature films, and (at least) one documentary. All this while it has been shut up inside of me, like a great secret that was to be kept safe from the intruding enemies of without.

How the ideas got there to begin with was a mystery as well, because I haven't been doing much reading, either. I should clarify: I've been reading like a madman. But what was it that I've been reading? Newspapers, magazines, film books, biographies, reviews, football updates, political analysis...and more film scripts. But I've not read fiction for such a long time. While the rest are all good, nothing feeds the mind more than seeing for yourself with your own eyes how other people, who had other ideas simmering within them, express themselves. They pick up the pen, turn on the computer, burn the midnight oil, and...write.

Writers are writers because they write. But they cannot write without having read to begin with. We ourselves cannot communicate without understanding how such communications are made. The rules, the regulations, the conventions...this are all essential ingredients of any piece of work. This, and the decision to discard them. To break the rules, first you must know what rules there are to break.

I have not read. And I have not written. I have not been inspired.

It may not work in the exact same way for everyone else, but that's what works for me. Reading and writing. In chasing after the bigger dragons, the more material achievements, I have neglected the two biggest things that enabled me to pursue my ambitions to begin with. I hope this won't be neglected for much longer.

For everyone in the world starts at the same point. Somewhere on the blank page.

And without the inspiration to write, to start on this blank page, I am not a writer, merely a re-writer.

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