It started with the books. The ones that they distributed at school. They were hardback, shinier and more colourful than your paperback ones. Their pages were smoother. Your hand slipped across them as your fingers traced words you did not yet understand. You learned by seeing, by making up your own stories about the blonde haired, blue-eyed princes and princesses and the other kids, not understanding the words either, believed you. That is until the girl who was your friend said otherwise. Then the kids were not quite sure who to believe. Then it became a contest of whose stories they liked better. Looking back now, a part of you wonders if that was the start of it. One look at those glossy, printed pages and you were sold. The people in them actually looked like real people. Their faces were actually different from each other. Not the same blank face that every girl, boy, woman and grandma had in your books, with only different hair and different clothes to set them apart. Long hair for girl, short for boy. No, in these books even the eyes were different. The princesses had wider eyes, longer lashes with small, thin frames that seemed to sway in the wind along with their dresses while the princes would stand hand on hips, jaws squared. The houses in them weren’t muddy, the roads weren’t dusty, the utensils weren’t made out of wood but steel. Soon you began to dream of foreign names, foreign lands, foreign weathers. You learnt the words and repeated them until your tongue became foreign, became light and rolled ow-t thee vow-els puh-ro-pehr-lee.
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I never share my writing on here mainly because I want to get it published in magazines and journals, a lot of which, understandably have a rule against accepting previously published pieces including on personal blogs. I’m going to start sharing some of the ‘warm up writing exercises’ I sometimes do though. Or pieces that I have not found a home for anywhere and still cherish. Or pieces like these which I wrote during my Masters as a beginning of something but never really used and don’t really know where else to fit, because it sure as hell ain’t one for submitting.
I guess I’ve always had a fascination with languages, being bilingual myself, and how languages form parts of people’s whole identities sometimes. Languages can open up whole new worlds and stories, and even create barriers, and I find that so interesting to write about.
A poem of mine was recently published in The Stockholm Review of Literature in which I explored the idea of languages and how that can even create barriers in love, and overturning the idea of the ‘savage tongue’. Click here to read it.
This is what I love about free-writing exercises; they unlock parts of your subconscious, that develop into a conscious interest, a thing to further explore and write about. They unlock creativity. If you’re stuck on writing this weekend, just write anything. Write a thought you are having, however mundane, and let it lead you. This is also why I will forever be grateful to my MA for giving me the space to learn, write and explore such things.
Planning some new posts and things for the blog at the moment, so watch this space.