Sunday, July 22, 2007

Good

I'll never have anything published in this country. This is a fact. Well, man... it feels ridiculous to write in Portuguese. Seriously. Although I have not gone that deep in terms of significance with English language, I find it way much easier to bring about any word I need in this language. Every usable word, which has to show up in the back of mind, vanishes in Portuguese. And while I'm writing in English, they are simply there. That may seem stupid since I am a Portuguese speaker, but hey, life is stupid every now and then. I've got an explanation: maybe that is "because extended vocabulary hardly has its place in Brazilian Portuguese modern writing", according to Simone Campos (a Brazilian writer who writes in English just like I do. Better saying, she does not write like I do because her writings are way better than mine. That was a joke and I hope you got that.)

I come from a family whose parents are ESL teachers. By the age of seven I started taking my English as a Second Language course (in Brazil, foreign languages aren't widely required in regular Elementary School curricula). At the age of fourteen I graduated and started helping my parents tutor some of their beginer students. That is when I took a Portuguese language composition course and I acquired interest in writing. I became mesmerized by the mere power of words. And I have been still. I had discovered them even way before that! I wrote my very first poem by the age of 10.

A few years later, in High School (when I was 14 and had been taking that comp course), I would read mature writers for mature readers... Gee! Then I became moved by literature. Hence, I decided to major in Journalism. I innocently believed that that major would make me a real writer. But there, I was not learning all the usable words in their depth. I am pretty sure I learned how to write as a journalist should. Whatever others may have thought of me producing as a journO, it was all stale to me. I lost interest. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to write beyond my own capacity. That's when the other languages come in. "To replenish thy cup of thirstiness for writing." In 1998, I took a plane to the USA and started taking a creative writing college major in St Pete, Florida. That means that I won't ever publish a book in Brazil (period).

Nowadays, I find it really hard to write in my first language. I feel the need to come up with words and shapes. Yes, even shapes. "I have to develop new syntaxes." I many times notice in me a strange habit of writing in Portuguese words as they were mistranslated English ones. Or Japanese. Or Spanish. Or French. Or even German. For I had the chance to interact with Native Speakers of all the above languages cited while living in the USA. I used to feel at ease in that American-Floridian-English world. It's easy to write here on this blog, for example. It's breezy to have "sentences popping out one after another." In Portuguese, "I have to sit and wait. A lot." And the worst part is the final result, which seems so much lame, at least in some ways.

Yesterday, I came across this paragraph on Simone's writing: "Now you're gonna ask me why I detest my poor mother-tongue. Well I love my language. But I can get enough of it. I'm a slut, that is. I'm prostituting with all other tongues. In fact, I write in all of them at the same time, same line. It feels so good." These words had to be in THE PAWNSHOP blog. I could not let them slip through my fingers. Oh Simone...

I haven't given up on my Portuguese writings. As a matter of fact, I still get some really good shit in my language, especially when I deconstruct what may seem not right. It is for sure my coolest (not BEST) way of writing. But when the subject is book publishing, I do believe that my first novel, that very first Laila's fiction book, will come out in English. But the second book will be released in Portuguese(?), Spanish(?), Chinese(?). Who will read me in this country? Oh, man, I am so confusing. I wish I were simpler. There are moments I wish I were a fly or a silver fish. But I was made to be complicated. Or even better, I wish I were a multilingual dictionary. I wish I were also a vintage book. That very book that "exposes today's challenges in an old-fashioned way." I wish I were a pun. I wish I were all words, at least, as many words as can be written and said.

There are days I wake up not feeling well. There are days I get up and wander around my house thinking - 'One more day without making a difference in the universe of words, clauses, exclamations, cited sentences, idiomatic expressions, phrases and so on. One more day without locating my own odd style.' "Variety. That's the word for my style. I'm always playing around. I develop ways. I'm a carver. You can't go and tell me I abandoned my previous style – you just hadn't seen all of it, love. If I wanted to bestsell, it was easy. I'd just have to write in English, then translate. But until now I had been tied up by the language "of my own" - I write around it." Oh, Simone! I'm in love with your words.

My waking life feels as though it's all fiction. I can't believe that I am able to exist outside my mind. Many lives do exist inside our collective minds. People do not realize that somehow. I create and recreate characters in me because many times I am not capable to carve them into words. I act as if I were somebody else. Trouble is, I think I'm dreaming too much and living too little. When I come across difficulties in life, I usually say: 'God, just leave me out of this bad dream!'

I find myself in actual dreams in which I am still dreaming but I clearly feel as if I am awake. Then I see myself through the eyes of someone else in those dreams. I tell myself then: 'You're sleeping and soon we'll have to wake up, so enjoy this moment to the fullest. Then the dream is almost over and I feel like waking up, but I force to put me into that dream again. And now I'm working still in the dream. I'd like to wake up. Difficult thing. I have been mastering a weird technique of traveling into the dreams I normally have since I was a little kid. I am very much afraid that, one day, this technique won't work anymore. I want to hold this particular ability of placing and replacing me into good and bad dreams forever.

Simone has also put these words on the dreaming subject which I think it is so worthy reading: "I had always had the theory that the line between my conscious and subconscious mind was not that thick. I could always remember what I dreamed with an amazing amount of detail. When I dreamt I knew it was a dream and I had a real life to get back to - and I'd even learn to tell the difference, within time. But that was only the you're-not-that-postal part. Sometimes I could see places I had dreamt of repeat themselves in real life, sometimes I'd write fiction and tiny details of it subsequently came real in a quite haunting way. Things were escaping into life and I'm sorry that they do. But now apparently what I want is to escape life, because somehow, I'm not really sure that I woke up today."

"I had always had the theory that the line between my conscious and subconscious mind was not that thick," THIS READS SO RIGHT. But there is one tiny little thing that I can't agree with Simone and it starts from here: The subjects and matters of my writings (Laila's writings) do not mostly come from dreams I've had though. They are built in my awareness. The reveries which I sense in my waking like are molded as words, my own words, my multilingual dictionaries, puns, clauses, exclamations and phrases. My characters, poems, settings, and plots are originated in the deepest of my traumas which emerge in real life, in the eye of the swirl of my observational fluids. My literature is born and killed on blank sheets of paper or blank computer screens. Yeah. But in English. Sure that I won't ever publish anything in this lame country. Damn Portuguese!

Ms Burden

PS: Whatever is between "", it means those words were borrowed from SIMONE CAMPOS.

2 comments:

  1. More power to you, laila. Intriguing, the fathomless depths in you. you are so in touch with your self. I flutter on the surface, maybe deliberately?!

    Speaking for my generation and the next of urban Indians, its a telling comment that we have assumed English as the primary language to think in and live in. I personally dont know any who would face the dilemma you do, of carving words in their mother tongue. That could also be a result of the mind-boggling diversity of cultures within the nation itself. Made me think, you did, Ms. B.

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  2. yeah, I could blame the globalized world. I could blame the internet thing. I could blame the fact that I work teaching English almost 14 hours a day. And that is the reason why I don't get to make friends because since English is mostly spoken by me, how do people get to know me??? I am a WEIRDO! Yeah, I am. Just because English is my 'almost first language'.

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