Floating: Bringing it All Together

Floating on the breast of the ocean, lifting in the slow surge and counter-surge to and from the beach, I feel like Gulliver all alone on a strange, moving continent. The water buoys me up like a solid element, yet my ears and hands and feet are in it, cool, but sun-warm. I smell unseen fish and taste the salt in my nostrils. I hear the sound of the whole ocean crackling in my ears like a million tiny crustaceans dashing themselves against a reef, all in stereo, inside my head.
Turning my feet into the approaching wave, I see them rise into it first, and my head follows bonelessly. The surface as it comes toward me in the late afternoon light is bubbling silver. I breast the wave and sink, breast the wave and sink, rising and subsiding like an eel.

I am no fool: I know there is danger below. In my mask and snorkel in other waters I have steered around the rocks, and I have followed sharks and rays and morays. But here I am caught between the deeps of ocean and the deeps of heaven, pinned on the surface, safe in a sandwich of sea and sky. If I squint into the setting sun my eyelashes make a rainbow, and I am making my own magic.

© Sandra Shaw Homer, 2015

Photo by SSH

Photo by SSH

More García Márquez on Writing

“. . . al cabo de 30 años, descubrí algo que muchas veces se nos olvida a los novelistas: que la mejor fórmula literaria es siempre la verdad.”

“. . . at the end of 30 years, I discovered something that we novelists often forget: that the best literary form is always the truth.”

On Reading Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”: “Por lo pronto comprendí que existían en la literatura otras posibilidades que las racionalistas y muy académicas que había conocido hasta entonces en los manuales del liceo. Era como despojarse de un cinturón de castidad. Con el tiempo descubrí, no obstante, que uno no puede inventar o imaginar lo que le da la gana, porque corre el riesgo de decir mentiras, y las mentiras son más graves en la literatura que en la vida real. Dentro de la mayor arbitrariedad aparente, hay leyes. Uno puede quitarse la hoja de parra racionalista, a condición de no caer en el caos, en el irracionalismo total.”

“Suddenly I understood that there existed in literature other possibilities than the rational and academic that I had been exposed to in my school books. It was like being stripped of a chastity belt. With time I discovered, however, that you can’t invent or imagine whatever you please, because you run the risk of telling lies, and lies are a greater sin in literature than in real life. Even within the greatest apparent arbitrariness, there are rules. You can only peel away the fig leaf of rationalism on the condition that you don’t fall into chaos, into total irrationality.”

“[La inspiración] es una palabra desprestigiada por los románticos. Yo no la concibo como un estado de gracia ni como un soplo divino, sino como una reconciliación con el tema a fuerza de tenacidad y dominio. Cuando se quiere escribir algo, se establece una especie de tensión recíproca entre uno y el tema, de modo que uno atiza al tema y el tema lo atiza a uno. Hay un momento en que todos los obstáculos se derrumban, todos los conflictos se apartan, y a uno se le ocurren cosas que no había soñado, y entonces no hay en la vida nada mejor que escribir. Eso es lo que yo llamaría inspiración.”

“Inspiration is a word that has been discredited by the romantics. I don’t think of it as a state of grace or as the breath of the Divine, rather as a reconciliation with your subject by dint of persistence and control. When you want to write something, you establish a kind of reciprocal tension between you and your subject, such that you enliven the subject, and the subject enlivens you. There’s a moment when all obstacles collapse, all conflicts fall away, and there occur to you things you never dreamed of, and then there is nothing in life better than writing. That is what I would call inspiration.”

From El olor de la guayaba, Conversaciónes con Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Gabriel García Márquez, 1982, translation by SSH

Photo by Gina Clark

Photo by Gina Clark